FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

OTJ (202) 616-2777

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 1998

ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO REQUESTS INCREASED FUNDING IN FY 1999

TO IMPROVE LAW ENFORCEMENT IN INDIAN COUNTRY

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an effort to combat rising crime rates on Indian lands, Attorney General Janet Reno today told a meeting of tribal leaders that she has asked Congress for more than $157 million in new and redirected funds for Fiscal Year 1999 to improve law enforcement in Indian Country. Speaking before leaders of Southern and Eastern tribes of the United States, Reno said the requested funds are part of a $182 million initiative with the Department of Interior that will raise the level of law enforcement in Indian Country to national standards. The requested funds will help increase the number of officers per capita as well as the quality of detention facilities. "Violence and crime in Indian Country impose a terrible toll on Native American citizens," said Reno. "This budget request will allow us to take important steps to improve peace and stability in all Native American communities." Of the $157 million that the Department is seeking, $52 million will fund grants to construct and expand juvenile correctional facilities and jails that suffer from insufficient staffing and inadequate inmate safety. Fifty four million dollars of the requested funds will be devoted to hiring police officers, through the Community Oriented Policing Service, exclusively in Indian Country. Currently, Indian lands have only 1.3 police officers per 1,000 citizens, compared with an average of 2.9 officer per 1,000 citizens in non-Indian areas with similar population densities. Also, if Congress approves the request, more than $51 million of the additional funding will help pay for 30 additional FBI agents and 26 attorneys to enhance investigations and prosecutions and reduce violent crime, gang-related violence and juvenile crime. An Indian Tribal Courts Program, Drug Testing and Intervention Program and At-Risk Children's Grant Program will also be established with funds requested in the FY 1999 budget. In August 1997, President Clinton directed the Attorney General and Secretary of Interior to work with tribal leaders to address the law enforcement problem in Indian Country. An Executive Committee was established and a report was presented to the President in January outlining the necessary steps needed to improve safety on Indian lands. At today's meeting, Reno also stressed the importance of enhancing tribal courts as institutions of justice and building viable reservation economies so Indian people may continue to live according to their own cultures on their own lands.

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98-046