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Juvenile Justice Guidelines for Tribes Ready for Comment

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services have released a draft of the revised Model Indian Juvenile Code for comment.

This is the first update of the code, which provides federal guidance to tribes dealing with troubled kids, in more than 30 years. Matthew T. Ficcaglia and Ron Whitener from the Center of Indigenous Research and Justice authored the document, with the assistance of several other experts.

While the revised code comes from the federal government, it does not pertain to juveniles in county, state or federal justice systems, but only to tribal court systems, which may adopt any of the guidelines that they feel will work in their communities. Troy Eid, a former U.S. attorney who is now an adjunct professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and a shareholder in the Denver office of Greenberg Traurig LLP, says, “the Code reflects prevailing legal requirements and best practices and can be adopted by tribes, in whole or part, in the internal laws to ensure more effective juvenile justice.”

The Federal Register Notice announcing the release of the draft includes a schedule of teleconference consultations in March and April. The BIA will host a listening session on the draft on April 4 at the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA) Conference. Comments are due May 27 and may be submitted by mail or online.