Bill to let tribes address domestic violence in limbo

AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Tribal leaders and advocates say they’ll keep pushing for a bill that would give two Maine tribes jurisdiction over some domestic violence cases.

Currently, tribal courts in Maine can’t prosecute non-tribal members for domestic violence against members, creating a situation that leaders say makes families unsafe. Because there is often disagreement among federal, state and tribal authorities over who can prosecute what crimes, tribal leaders say domestic violence on their lands often goes un-prosecuted.

The 2013 reauthorization of the federal Violence Against Women Act gave tribal courts limited authority to prosecute non-tribal members for domestic violence. But the wording of a 1980 settlement of tribal claims has kept many that law and many other federal laws from automatically applying to Maine tribes.

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