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OVC Fact Sheet
July 2013
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OVC Builds Capacity To Serve
Crime Victims in Indian Country

Poverty, isolation, high crime rates, and a chronic lack of services for victims of crime in many American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) communities—compounded by complex jurisdictional issues and the cultural diversity of tribes—all contribute to making this underserved population a high priority for enhanced programs and services. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), acknowledging the urgent need for victim-centered assistance throughout Indian Country, commits a significant amount of its discretionary funding to support community-based services for victims and training and technical assistance for their service providers.

As OVC forges innovative partnerships to develop and expand exemplary tribal programs and services, it maintains established programs that focus on culturally specific training, technical assistance, and case management, among other services. Altogether, these activities support the Attorney General’s Tribal Justice and Safety Initiative—characterized as part of the Nation’s "legal duty and moral obligation"1 to help tribes address violent crime and create safer communities.

How the Crime Victims Fund Supports Tribal Victims

As administrator of the Crime Victims Fund, OVC channels both formula and discretionary grant funding to programs that support the rights of tribal victims; build capacity through training, technical assistance, and model programs; and fill gaps in much-needed services.

Children’s Justice Act Partnerships for Indian Communities Grant Program

The Children’s Justice Act (CJA) provides up to $20 million to be allocated annually to improve the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and neglect cases at the state, tribal, and local levels. The Department of Health and Human Services receives 85 percent of these funds for its child abuse programs and services; OVC allocates 15 percent to support the CJA Partnerships for Indian Communities Grant Program, which helps AI/AN communities improve the investigation, prosecution, and management of child abuse cases in a manner designed to lessen additional trauma. The program further supports the development and implementation of comprehensive programs for abused children as well as child-sensitive policies and procedures for handling child abuse cases in tribal courts and child protection services systems. In FY 2012, OVC set aside $2.7 million to support six tribal participants in the program.

CJA and CTVA Grantees Enhance Services To Tribal Victims
OVC’s Children’s Justice Act (CJA) and Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant (CTVA) programs are having a positive impact on services for crime victims in tribal communities, with more services being delivered to more victims, according to performance reports. Culturally responsive programs are more widely available as grantees establish more multidisciplinary, collaborative partnerships with federal, state, tribal, and local stakeholders to strengthen the overall response to victims. Here are a few examples of the many outstanding efforts.
  • The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and the California CJA Program pursued CJA program objectives through increased collaboration, outreach, and data collection to improve investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases, and by attending trainings and conferences with partners from other jurisdictions. The program’s new collaborative partnerships and multidisciplinary team contributed to a 62.5-percent increase in services provided to child abuse victims during the second phase of the grant program.
  • The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation CTVA Program successfully enhanced culturally responsive services by improving coordination of law enforcement entities across multiple jurisdictions, developing 115 partnerships to improve the accessibility of victim services.
  • The Alaska Native Justice Center, a CJA grantee, established an Alaska Native Unit within the Anchorage-based Child Advocacy Center, Alaska CARES, to ensure culturally appropriate case management of Alaska Native child abuse victims. Throughout Phase II of the grant, 178 Alaska Native children were evaluated and 116 received services—far exceeding the planners’ original estimate.
  • The Victim Assistance Program at the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma has made a significant difference in the lives of those they serve. The 3-year CTVA grantee made 3,080 contacts to victims, assisting with on-the-scene crisis assistance, court accompaniment, protective order applications, individual and legal advocacy, relocation, safety planning, compensation claims, and other supportive activities.

Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant Program

The Comprehensive Tribal Victim Assistance Discretionary Grant (CTVA) program provides funding to help federally recognized tribes or their designees develop, establish, and operate multidisciplinary, trauma-informed services for tribal victims of crime, including culturally appropriate training and technical assistance. In FY 2012, the program provided $3.5 million to eight tribes and tribal-affiliated organizations and, based on feedback from tribal stakeholders at consultations, lengthened projects from 1 to 3 years.

Justice for Victims in Indian Country

Prosecuting Domestic Violence Offenders Effectively

Domestic violence in Indian Country is now at epidemic proportions, and enhancing the legal knowledge and skills of prosecutors, law enforcement, and related professionals is critical to prosecuting offenders successfully. In FY 2012, OVC supported the Executive Office for United States Attorneys in the production of Using Federal Law To Prosecute Domestic Violence Crimes in Indian Country, a DVD and companion guide that demonstrates successful prosecutions on tribal land, including common situations such as prosecution of habitual offenders, recanting victims, and ensuring the safety of victims in close-knit communities.

Identifying Culturally Responsive Restorative Justice

OVC supports a restorative justice program intended to identify, examine, and document effective victim-centered restorative justice practices that are culturally responsive, such as traditional peacemaking and peacekeeping strategies with an emphasis on practices implemented on reservations and in inner-city areas. The ultimate goal of the program is to provide recommendations for a demonstration site that will present identified strategies, evaluate victim outcomes, and disseminate findings to the victim services field.

Building Service Capacity Through Innovation and Collaboration

Enhancing the Response to Tribal Victims of Sexual Assault

The AI/AN Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner–Sexual Assault Response Team (SANE–SART) initiative addresses the comprehensive needs of tribal victims of sexual violence, which research has shown to be epidemic in many AI/AN communities. From the outset of the project in 2010, OVC and its federal and tribal partners have focused on the challenge of building the capacity of tribal communities to provide coordinated, community-based, victim-centered responses to sexual violence. The 5-year project encompasses three demonstration sites, coordinators at the Indian Health Service and the FBI, training and technical assistance, and support from a federal advisory committee and multidisciplinary working groups—all committed to institutionalizing sustainable, culturally relevant, evidence-based practices to meet the needs of tribal victims of sexual assault.

Vision 21 and Tribal Victims of Crime
OVC launched the Vision 21: Transforming Victim Services strategic initiative to expand the vision and impact of the victim assistance field in the 21st century. Among other critical findings and recommendations, Vision 21 stakeholders emphasized the need to overcome barriers to reaching historically underserved populations, including American Indians and Alaska Natives, so that high quality services can be made available to all victims of crime. In June 2013, OVC released a final report that summarized Vision 21’s findings and recommendations. The full report, executive summary, and background information are available at www.ovc.gov/vision21.

The Administration’s FY 2014 budget for the Office for Victims of Crime requested $45 million to support Vision 21-related activities. Of that amount, $25 million is slated for victim services and initiatives, of which $20 million is dedicated to assisting victims of crime in tribal communities. The funding is intended to provide urgently needed data, research, and program evaluation to guide the development of sustainable, evidence-based, culturally responsive victim assistance programs, and to support enhanced direct victim services. The increased focus on the urgent needs of tribal crime victims, and the proposed increase in financial resources to effect real change, was applauded by supporters of justice for victims of crime throughout the Nation.

"OVC and the crime victims field, particularly tribal advocacy organizations, should work with Congress to ensure that victims in Indian Country are no longer a footnote to this country’s response to crime victims."

—OVC Principal Deputy Director Joye E. Frost

Supporting Appropriate Mental Health Services for Tribal Youth

OVC is providing $1.5 million to support a 5-year demonstration project at the Flandreau Indian School in South Dakota, with the goal of establishing a culturally appropriate, trauma-informed system of care for students boarding at the school who have experienced long-term exposure to violence, trauma, and victimization. The collaboration is intended to provide students with essential support and tools for learning healthy coping mechanisms, building resiliency, and ultimately, reaching their full potential in life.

Responding to the Needs of Drug Endangered Children in Indian Country

OVC is developing a series of videos that will demonstrate the impact of drugs and alcohol on AI/AN children and provide examples of culturally based programs that are working to restore health and wellness to their communities. The videos will also help to educate non-Native service providers about the unique issues that exist in Indian Country and the need for culturally sensitive programming to effectively respond to these issues.

Enhancing Victim Assistance for Alaska Natives

OVC, through an interagency agreement with the Indian Health Service, supports a full-time employee located in Anchorage, Alaska, to work on the Tribal Victims Assistance in Alaska Project. The project's goal is to develop and implement a strategy for improving the accessibility and coordination of federal, tribal, and state efforts to support tribal crime victims in Alaska Native villages, while striving to honor, preserve, and protect the government-to-government relationship and traditional governance and culture.

OVC Supports Indian Nations Conference
OVC supported the coordination of the 13th National Indian Nations: Justice for Victims of Crime Conference, held in December 2012, on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation in southern California. The biennial event is the largest Department of Justice-sponsored tribal conference, bringing together a broad array of professional disciplines to improve the response to crime in Indian Country. In 2012, more than 1,000 practitioners learned about tested methods for improving services, current research findings, and tools for strengthening the support provided to tribal victims.

Supporting Federal Specialists To Strengthen Victim Services

Crime Victims Fund annual allocations include support for tribal-focused victim-witness specialists in United States Attorneys’ Offices, 42 victim specialist positions at the FBI that are dedicated to Indian Country, and 12 victim specialist positions at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of the Interior, who provide services to more than 30 tribes in the West and Southwest. OVC also funds an Oklahoma District Attorneys Council State-Tribal Liaison, who works with 38 tribes to improve communication between crime victims and the State of Oklahoma to enhance compensation and assistance services.

1Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., "Oversight of the Department of Justice," Congressional Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, November 18, 2009, https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/testimonies/witnesses/attachments/2009/06/17//2009-06-17-ag-holder-oversight-doj-sjc.pdf.

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