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Senate Passes Thune Measures to Combat Reservation Crime and Meth

Amendments Would Authorize a Boost in Funding for Tribal Police and Federal Prosecutors and Fight Meth

March 14, 2008

Washington, D.C. —  The U.S. Senate today passed Senator John Thune's reservation crime amendment to the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget Resolution by unanimous consent. The amendment seeks additional funding for police and prosecutors to address the growing problem of crime on American Indian reservations.

"The spike in violent crime on our reservations is alarming," said Thune. "Tribal leaders recognize that improving the justice system in Indian Country is an important part of improving the quality of life. I applaud the Senate for recognizing this need by passing my amendment."

Thune's amendment would provide an additional $200 million in budget authority over the next five years to 1) increase the Bureau of Indian Affair's Public Safety and Justice Account, which funds tribal law enforcement, tribal court systems, and tribal detention centers, by $25 million a year for the next five years; and 2) increase funding for U.S. Attorneys to prosecute crimes in Indian Country by $15 million a year for the next five years.

"It is critical that we act now to help restore the basic levels of public safety and security in Indian Country," Thune said.

Senator Thune's amendment would allow Congress to increase funding for tribal police officers and federal prosecutors as part of the Fiscal Year 2009 Appropriation cycle.

The Senate also passed Senator John Thune's bipartisan amendment that would provide an additional $99 million in budget authority for funding of the COPS Meth Hot Spots program for 2009. The COPS Meth Hot Spots program trains state and local law enforcement to investigate and prosecute meth offenders.

Senator Thune's COPS amendment would also provide funding for environmental expenses relating to the clean-up of toxic chemicals used to produce meth. Meth producers frequently dump waste into streams, rivers, fields, and sewage systems.

Last month, the U.S. Senate also passed S. 1200, the Indian Health Care Improvement Act, which included Senator Thune's amendment to require a Government Accountability Office study of the tribal justice systems of North and South Dakota.