This article about the Tribal Law and Order Act, which gives Indian tribes' courts more power, incorrectly said that the Senate had passed the legislation the previous week. Senate passage came in June.
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Obama to sign bill targeting violent crime on Indian reservations
Under the new rules, the Justice Department will have to maintain data on the cases it does not pursue to prosecution. It will also have to share with tribal justice officials any evidence in cases not prosecuted.
The act also aims to clear up jurisdictional loopholes that allow some crimes to slip through the net. It will allow selected tribal police officers to enforce federal laws on Indian lands, whether or not the offender is Indian.
The National Congress of American Indians says it hopes the measure will mean that more sexual assaults carried out on the reservations by non-tribal members will be punished.
Tribal courts will be allowed to sentence offenders to up to three years in prison, increased from the current one-year maximum sentence.
All tribal and federal police officers in the reservations will receive extra training to interview sexual-assault victims and collect evidence from crime scenes.
According to a 2000 report by the Justice Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than a third of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes, while 40 percent will be the victim of domestic violence.
Jefferson Keel, president of the National Congress, said Wednesday that the signing of the act would be "a significant and historic moment for tribal nations and federal law enforcement officials across the country."
"This legislation will empower tribal nations to begin to address crime rates that have risen in our communities as a result of jurisdictional and resource limitations," he said.
Dorgan, who is standing down as a senator this year, said the next battle would be to secure more funding to boost law enforcement on the reservations. According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, around 3,000 police officers patrol 56 million acres of Indian land, about 48 percent less than the national average.