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From Staff Reports

WASHINGTON—Furthering President Obama’s efforts to support American Indian families and protect tribal communities, Assistant Secretary Indian Affairs Lawrence Roberts has announced a proposed BIA Model Indian Juvenile Code.

Officials are seeking public comment on the draft, which will be the subject of listening and consultation sessions scheduled for March and April 2016.

“The BIA’s juvenile code provides federal guidance for tribal governments to help protect rights of juveniles and their parents or custodians while respecting tribes’ need to modify codes to fit each community,” Roberts said. “The 2016 juvenile code improves decades-old guidance to aid tribes in developing their own codes.”

The Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Justice and U.S. Health & Human Services require updates to the BIA’s 1988 Juvenile Code, which was designed to assist tribes in creating individual codes focused on juvenile justice, specifically youth arrested for alcohol or drug-related offenses in Indian Country.

The proposed 2016 Juvenile Code is the result of an information-gathering effort conducted by Interior Department and Justice Department from December 2014 through 2015—that included listening sessions, webinars and workshops.

The intent of the proposed code is to assist tribal governments in creating or revising their own juvenile codes. The code focuses on three areas: Juvenile Delinquency, Truancy, and At-Risk Youth, as well as several principles, including:

  • Ability to divert out of formal process at each decision point;
  • Embedding right to counsel for juveniles in delinquency or truancy;
  • Restricting random use of detention;
  • Commentary on choices in the code and discussion of implementation options, including diversion;
  • Distinguishing between delinquent acts and need for services;
  • Process for ensuring rights of parties; and
  • Coordination of services.

The Department will hold one listening session and four consultation sessions:

Listening Session

Monday, April 4, 2016 (3:30-5:30 pm) National Indian Child Welfare Association 2016 Annual Conference, St. Paul, Minn.

Phone Consultation

Wednesday, March 30, 2016 (2:30-4:30 pm EDT) Number: 800-857-5008, Passcode: 1291169.

Thursday, March 31, 2016 (2:30-4:30 pm EDT) Number: 800-857-5008, Passcode: 1291169.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016 (2:30-4:30 pm EDT) Number: 800-857-5008, Passcode: 1291169.

Thursday, April 14, 2016 (2:30-4:30 pm EDT) Number: 800-857-5008, Passcode: 1291169.

Written comments are due by May 27, 2016; addressed to Natasha Anderson, Deputy Director, Tribal Justice Support Directorate, Office of Justice Services, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1849 C St., N.W., MS-2603-MIB, Washington, D.C. 20240.  Comments also can be submitted by email to:


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