Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, cosponsored today S. 1870, the Securing Urgent Resources Vital to Indian Victim Empowerment (SURVIVE) Act of 2017. The legislation will improve public safety in tribal communities and strengthen resources for Native American victims of crime.
The SURVIVE Act, which is sponsored by Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and cosponsored by U.S. Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), will increase needed tribal victim assistance by creating a tribal grant program within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime. The bill requires a five percent allocation from the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) be provided to Indian tribes.
“Despite suffering from a disproportionate rate of victimization, tribal communities lack the full access to necessary resources under the Crime Victims Fund,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “The SURVIVE Act addresses this unfortunate gap. The federal government has a sacred trust responsibility to tribes, and tribal members deserve all the available assistance the federal government offers victims of crime. When I was Nevada’s Attorney General, I fought tirelessly for the rights of victims throughout the state. I am committed to continue this fight in Washington, and will ensure that Native American communities benefit from the services offered to victims of crime.”
In addition to extending Crime Victims Fund resources to Indian tribes through a fair and competitive grant program, the senators’ bill empowers tribes and Indian victims of crime by:
- Expanding the types of victim assistance, services and infrastructure for which the funds may be used, including domestic violence shelters, medical care, counseling, legal assistance and services, and child and elder abuse programs;
- Providing for significant confidentiality and privacy protections for crime victims to feel safe when receiving services;
- Enabling tribes to deliver critical, culturally tailored victim services; and
- Increasing the resources available to Indian crime victims from the CVF without increasing overall spending.
The Crime Victims Fund was created in 1984 by the Victims of Crime Act to support services for victims of crime. Under the current system, it is estimated that no more than 0.7 percent of the CVF reaches Native communities, despite federal data showing that American Indian and Alaska Native communities face some of the highest victimization rates in the country.