November | December 2014

Advisory Committee on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence Presents Recommendations to Attorney General

Clayton Old-Elk (Apsaalooke' Nation–Crow Nation) offers a traditional ceremonial opening at the November 18, 2014, meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Clayton Old-Elk (Apsaalooke’ Nation–Crow Nation) offers a traditional ceremonial opening at the November 18, 2014, meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

On November 18, 2014, the Advisory Committee of the Attorney General’s Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence released a report with comprehensive policy recommendations to the U.S. Department of Justice. The report offers the committee’s vision for the development of effective, trauma-informed, and culturally appropriate programs and services to protect American Indian and Alaska Native children exposed to violence. The committee recommends a significant rebuilding of the current services provided to Indian country, through increased partnering and coordination with tribes and increased funding for programs to support American Indian and Alaska Native children.

The recommendations were presented at a meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in Washington, DC. The council is chaired by Attorney General Eric Holder. OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee serves as vice-chair.

OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee (left) and Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery at the meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
OJJDP Administrator Robert L. Listenbee (left) and Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery at the meeting of the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

The Attorney General created the task force in 2013. It is composed of a federal working group that includes U.S. Attorneys and officials from the U.S. Departments of the Interior and Justice and a federal advisory committee of experts on American Indian studies, child health and trauma, victim services, and child welfare. Former U.S. Senator Byron Dorgan and Iroquois composer, singer, and child advocate Joanne Shenandoah co-chaired the 13-member committee.

These recommendations are a culmination of the research and information gathered through 4 public hearings held between December 2013 and June 2014 in Bismarck, ND; Scottsdale, AZ; Fort Lauderdale, FL; and Anchorage, AK, and 5 listening sessions in Arizona, Minneapolis, and Alaska in which more than 600 people from more than 62 tribes and 15 states participated. More than 70 experts and 60 community members testified at the hearings, which addressed domestic and community violence in Indian country; the pathway from victimization to the juvenile justice system; the roles of juvenile courts, detention facilities, and the child welfare system; gang violence; and child sex trafficking.

The Task Force on American Indian and Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence is part of the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood initiative. The task force is also a component of the Justice Department’s ongoing collaboration with leaders in American Indian and Alaska Native communities to improve public safety.

On Wednesday, November 19, Administrator Listenbee testified at an oversight hearing held by the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs regarding the disproportionately high rates of exposure to violence and trauma among American Indian and Alaska Native youth. Other experts offering testimony included Yvette Roubideaux, Acting Director, Indian Health Service; Kana Enomoto, Principal Deputy Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; Dr. Rick Van den Pol, Director and Principal Investigator, Institute of Educational Research and Service, University of Montana National Native Children's Trauma Center; and Verné Boerner, President and CEO, Alaska Native Health Board.

"OJJDP strives to strengthen the juvenile justice system's efforts to protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, and provide services that address the needs of youth and their families," Administrator Listenbee said. "We are committed to working with American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, and our partner agencies within the Department of Justice and throughout federal and state governments, to implement evidence-based approaches to preventing and addressing child trauma."

Resources:

To read the advisory committee’s report and for more information about the advisory committee and public hearings, visit the Justice Department’s Web site.