WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven (R-ND), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, today introduced S. 1870, the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act of 2017. The legislation will improve public safety in tribal communities and strengthen resources for Indian victims of crime.
The SURVIVE Act, which is cosponsored by Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Al Franken (D-MN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Jon Tester (D-MT), and John Barrasso (R-WY), will increase needed tribal victim assistance by creating a tribal grant program within the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. The bill requires a five percent allocation from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) be provided to Indian tribes.
“It is critical for tribal communities, which experience some of the highest crime rates in the country, to have greater access to victim resources under the Crime Victims Fund,” Hoeven said. “The SURVIVE Act will increase these vital resources and provide tribes with the flexibility to determine the programs and services that best meet the local needs of their communities. This will help ensure crime victims have the support they need to heal.”
In addition to extending CVF resources to Indian tribes through a fair and competitive grant program, the senator’s bill empowers tribes and Indian victims of crime by:
· Expanding the types of victim assistance, services and infrastructure for which the funds may be used, including domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse programs;
· Providing for significant confidentiality and privacy protections for crime victims to feel safe when receiving services;
· Enabling tribes to deliver critical, culturally tailored victim services; and
· Increasing the resources available to Indian crime victims from the CVF without increasing overall spending.
The Crime Victims Fund was created in 1984 by the Victims of Crime Act to support services for victims of crime. Under the current system, it is estimated that no more than 0.7% of the CVF reaches Indian tribes, despite federal data showing that American Indian and Alaska Native communities face some of the highest victimization rates in the country.
The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs has jurisdiction to study the unique problems of American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples and to propose legislation to alleviate these difficulties. These issues include, but are not limited to, Indian education, economic development, land management, trust responsibilities, health care, and claims against the United States. All legislation proposed by Members of the Senate that specifically pertains to American Indians, Native Hawaiians, or Alaska Natives is under the jurisdiction of the Committee.