Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Publishes Damning Report on Alaska’s Child Welfare System Violates the Americans With Disabilities Act

Here is the report.

From the press release:

The Department of Justice announced today that it found reasonable cause to believe that the State of Alaska violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide community-based services to children with behavioral health disabilities, relying instead on segregated, institutional settings — specifically, psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric residential treatment facilities. This finding comes at the conclusion of the department’s investigation into whether Alaska subjects children with behavioral health disabilities to unnecessary institutionalization in violation of Title II of the ADA.

“Each year, hundreds of children, including Alaska Native children in significant number, are isolated in institutional settings often far from their communities,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Most of these children could remain in family homes if provided appropriate community-based services. We look forward to working with Alaska to bring the State into compliance with federal law and prevent the unnecessary institutionalization of children.”

Children who are segregated in psychiatric residential treatment facilities commonly stay there longer than six months, and some of them are sent to states as distant as Texas and Missouri, thousands of miles from their families.

The department’s investigation found that Alaska’s system of care is heavily reliant on institutions and that key community-based services and supports needed to serve children with behavioral health disabilities in family homes, such as home-based family treatment, crisis services and therapeutic treatment home services, are often unavailable. As a result, many children with behavioral health disabilities, including a substantial number of Alaska Native children, are forced to endure unnecessary and unduly long admissions to psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric residential treatment facilities both within Alaska and in states across the country. 

With today’s announcement, the department has concluded its third investigation in 2022 involving the unnecessary institutionalization of children with behavioral health disabilities.

DOJ Tribal Consultation on Domestic Violence in Fairbanks, AK (May 1, 2019)

From Monique Vondall:

I was at the historic consultation — a first — with the DOJ regarding domestic violence funding for Indian Country. Of the $169 million in grants available only 59 tribes applied and the cap of $500,000 only allowed $29 million to be distributed.  The DOJ listening session was met with many requests to continue the set-aside funding for Indian Country.

The Southwest region in Alaska reports the highest percentage of women who experience domestic violence in America. The 2019 Section 903 Reauthorization of VAWA found that Alaska Native women experience domestic violence at a rate of 250% more than any other women in America.

Maurisa Bell, NNALSA 3L of the Year


National NALSA 3L of the Year Award recipient, Maurisa Bell (right).

Maurisa Bell grew up on the Wind River Reservation in Riverton, Wyoming. She is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe and was also raised around her Northern Arapaho family. In 2015, she graduated from Montana State University in Bozeman, MT and completed the Pre-Law Summer Institute program during the summer of 2016. While in law school, Maurisa served as Vice President and Treasurer for the MSU-NALSA, an Area representative for National-NALSA, and volunteered as a student mentor for the Indigenous Law and Policy Center.

She spent her summers in Washington, D.C. working for the Department of Justice’s Office of Tribal Justice; the National Indian Gaming Commission; and Dentons, US LLP in their Native American Law and Policy practice group. She is a dedicated and driven leader who, in just a few weeks, will graduate from the Michigan State University College of Law.

Maurisa will work for Dentons upon graduation, pursuing her passion in helping tribes and tribal communities.

Congratulations, Maurisa!

DOJ Justice Manual — Indian Country Provisions

Earlier this week the Department of Justice replaced the US Attorneys’ Manual with the new Justice Manual. [Miigwetch to Chris Chaney for the tip.]


Indian Jurisdiction
Indian Country—Introduction Criminal Resource Manual at 674
Investigative Jurisdiction Criminal Resource Manual at 675
MOU re Indian Law Enforcement Reform Act Criminal Resource Manual at 676
Indian Country Defined Criminal Resource Manual at 677
The General Crimes Act—18 U.S.C. § 1152 Criminal Resource Manual at 678
The Major Crimes Act—18 U.S.C. § 1153 Criminal Resource Manual at 679
Lesser Included Offenses Under 18 U.S.C. § 1153 Criminal Resource Manual at 680
Indian Jurisdiction—Tribal Options Criminal Resource Manual at 681
Successive Prosecutions Criminal Resource Manual at 682
“Victimless Crimes” Criminal Resource Manual at 683
Memorandum for Benjamin R. Civiletti Re Jurisdiction Over “Victimless” Crimes Committed by Non-indians on Indian Reservations Criminal Resource Manual at 684
Exclusive Federal Jurisdiction Over Offenses by Non-Indians Against Indians Criminal Resource Manual at 685
Who is an “Indian”? Criminal Resource Manual at 686
Tribal Court Jurisdiction Criminal Resource Manual at 687
State Jurisdiction Criminal Resource Manual at 688
Jurisdictional Summary Criminal Resource Manual at 689
Embezzlement and Theft from Tribal Organization Criminal Resource Manual at 690
Indian Gaming Criminal Resource Manual at 691

Deadline Approaching! DOJ Fellowship

The Gaye L. Tenoso Indian Country Fellowship, part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program, is designed to create a new pipeline of legal talent with expertise and deep experience in federal Indian law, tribal law, and Indian country issues that can be deployed in creative ways to build tribal capacity, combat violent crime, and bolster public safety in Indian country jurisdictions.

For more information please click here. Applications close September 4, 2018.

Friday Job Announcements

Job vacancies are posted on Fridays. Any posts received prior to 12pm EST on Friday will appear in that Friday’s announcements. If you would like to submit a post for an Indian law or leadership job, please send a PDF job announcement and a brief description of job to

Department of Justice

Assistant United States Attorney, Asheville, N.C. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina encompasses 32 western counties in North Carolina. Our mission is to seek justice. Protect the rights and safety of the public by vigorously, ethically and impartially enforcing the laws of the United States and Safeguard the Federal funds and resources. The duties of a Civil AUSA will include filing civil complaints and enforcing civil and criminal judgments, conducting legal research, writing briefs, taking deposits, appearing in court, and conducting investigations. Applications close on June 15, 2018. Please see the website for more information.

Oglala Sioux Nation

Justices, Pine Ridge, S.D. The Supreme Court of the Oglala Sioux Nation is looking to fill three (3) Supreme Court Justice positions and one (1) Alternate Justice position. All Justices of the Supreme Court must have a Juris Doctorate from an A.B.A. accredited law school and must be licensed to practice law in any state or federal jurisdiction. Justices of the Supreme Court shall be appointed to the Supreme Court by the Tribal Council and shall serve a six year term. Please see the announcement for more information. Applications open until positions are filled.

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Habitat Policy Analyst II, Olympia, W.A. The Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (NWIFC) is looking for a Habitat Policy Analyst to provide policy analysis, support and coordination on emerging habitat issues for Commission and member tribes to advance habitat protection and restoration objective necessary to the protection of tribal treaty rights and resources. NWIFC is looking for someone with a Master’s degree in environmental science, public administration, legal or related fields and seven years of pertinent work experience. Applications open until July 6, 2018. Please see the announcement for more information.

Last week’s postings: June 8, 2018.