Pascua Yaqui tribal courts have two outstanding warrants for Violence Against Women Act offenses, but no one else knows about it.
Tribal authorities suspect the individuals are in the region, but they aren’t able to share the warrants, Pascua Yaqui Attorney General Alfred Urbina said.
In fact, the Pascua Yaqui tribal courts have been unable to share a single Violence Against Women Act conviction with the state of Arizona or through the National Crime Information Center.
“It’s almost as if those orders are being written in invisible ink,” he said. “There are going to be times where they’re not being enforced.”
Exchanging crime information is a problem many tribes face, Urbina said. Even though certain laws like the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 granted tribes access to national crime databases, Pascua Yaqui court-issued orders of protection, warrants, and criminal convictions still aren’t available to outside agencies and courts.
“It just never materialized,” he said. Access to crime information varies from state to state. “It was just very frustrating for tribes.”
But Tuesday, Aug. 2, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe will join a U.S. Department of Justice network aimed at fighting crime by improving this exchange.
They are one of 10 tribes nationwide to participate in the initial feedback phase of the Tribal Access Program, or TAP.
“It is our hope that TAP can minimize the national crime information gap and drive a deeper and more meaningful collaboration between the federal, state, local and tribal criminal justice communities,” DOJ spokesman Joseph F. Klimavicz said in a news release.
Before the program, if Pascua Yaqui tribal courts issued an order of protection against a domestic abuser, for example, Tucson Police wouldn’t have known to enforce it unless the victim carried a hard copy, Urbina said. “This (program) will basically close that loophole.”
He warns that tribes face similar loopholes across the country.
The DOJ wants additional funding from Congress to enroll more tribes nationwide in TAP, Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates said in a press release.
The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation of Oregon already enrolled in TAP and uploaded domestic violence orders of protections, firearm purchase restrictions and their sex offender registry, tribe attorney Brent Leonhard said. “It starts to put tribal public safety on equal footing with state public safety systems.”
Tribes enrolled in TAP receive training and computer kiosks to improve information exchange, process fingerprints, palm prints and take mug shots, according to the DOJ.