January 17, 2017
Bethel, AK – On January 10, 2017, the Anvik Tribal Council was the first Alaska Tribe to sign the Civil Diversion Agreement with the State of Alaska. Under the Agreement, state law enforcement officers must offer defendants of certain low-level offenses and crimes the option of tribal court civil proceedings and remedies, instead of state prosecution.
The Agreement allows tribal courts – who intimately know the challenges facing their communities and have traditional knowledge of successful approaches – to utilize restorative justice hearings, circle sentencing, and other tried and true procedures to encourage defendants to become and remain healthy and contributing members of their communities. “Improving public safety is the number one priority of our tribes,” states Vivian Korthuis, Association of Village Council Presidents (AVCP) CEO. “This is a necessary step toward empowering tribal courts to address public safety needs in their communities.”
The final Civil Diversion Agreement is a culmination of over three years of collaboration between AVCP, Tanana Chiefs Conference, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Kawerak, Inc., the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, Maniilaq Association, the Native American Rights Fund, Alaska Legal Services Corporation, tribal court judges, representatives from individual Alaska tribes, and the State of Alaska. The negotiations progressed rapidly after Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth was appointed in August, 2016.
AVCP member Tribes can contact the AVCP Tribal Justice Department, (907) 543.7300, for more information or for assistance in negotiating the Civil Diversion Agreement.