Press Release

Attorney General Announces Agreement to Divert Matters to Anvik Village Tribal Court

January 10, 2017

(Anchorage, AK) – Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth and the Anvik Village Tribe signed the Civil Diversion Agreement today. The agreement requires state law enforcement to offer defendants of certain low-level offenses and crimes a referral to the Anvik Village tribal court. The State stands ready to enter into the agreement with other individual tribes.

The State has been working collaboratively for the past three years in a working group with various tribes and tribal organizations, including Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, the Association of Village Council Presidents, Kawerak, Inc., the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Maniilaq Association, the Native American Rights Fund, Alaska Legal Services Corporation, representative tribal judges, and other tribes and tribal organizations from across the state. The focus of the working group was to negotiate a model agreement that could be entered into between the State and individual tribal governments to divert certain low-level criminal offenses to tribal court.

“In our vast state, criminal justice resources get spread thin,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “By partnering with tribal governments, we get culturally-based solutions. It’s a win-win for the State and the tribes. I am excited that the Anvik Village Tribe has entered into this agreement and look forward to more tribes participating in this innovative program.”

Under this agreement, offenders who would otherwise be charged with certain fourth degree assaults, reckless endangerment, Class B misdemeanors, crimes involving substance abuse, and certain alcohol and drug-related offenses must be given the option to go before the tribal court for a culturally-based remedy, instead of state court. The offender must consent in writing and agree to a tribally imposed remedy, or face the possibility of prosecution in state court. The tribal court can also decline to take the matter and send it back to state court. In addition, the agreement retains additional safeguards and sideboards before any domestic violence offense would be diverted from state court.

The agreement recognizes that “increasing tribal involvement in judicial services and law enforcement will encourage community involvement, create greater local accountability with respect to public safety, and promote a stronger link between the Tribe, the State, and all Alaskans.”

“We are all in this together, and the more we can collaborate, the more we can improve public safety for all of our communities,” said Attorney General Lindemuth.

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