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Learn more about the Implementation of the Violence Against Women Act 2022 (VAWA), the Criminal Conduct Covered, and Due Process Requirements. The Implementation Chart shows Tribes that are currently implementing VAWA 2013, VAWA 2022, and utilizing the Bureau of Prisons Program. Many of these Tribes are also currently accessing Tribal Jurisdiction federal funding through the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW)

What is Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction (STCJ)?

The term “Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction” comes from the Violence Against Women Act of 2022 (VAWA 2022) and refers to the exercise of criminal jurisdiction by tribal governments over non-Indians who commit certain crimes on Tribal lands. 

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA 2013) created a framework for Indian Tribes to prosecute non-Indians for domestic and dating violence or protection order violations on Tribal lands. This was known as “Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction (SDVCJ).” VAWA 2022 amended these provisions to address additional crimes. Both VAWA 2013 and VAWA 2022 amended the Indian Civil Rights Act, and the provisions addressing Tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians are codified at 25 USC 1301-1304.

Many of the Tribes who are exercising criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians have raised concerns about the use of the word “special” to refer to their inherent authority on their lands. We have included an explanation of the term “Special Tribal Criminal Jurisdiction” because it is used in the federal statute. Whenever possible, however, we refer simply to Tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.  



Why was tribal jurisdiction addressed in VAWA?

American Indians and Alaska Natives experience the highest crime victimization rates in the U.S. and often lack access to justice and services. Native women and children are particularly vulnerable, and the vast majority of Native victims report being victimized by a non-Indian.


According to a 2016 report from the National Institute for Justice


  • 84.3% of American Indian and Alaska Native(AI/AN) women (more than 4 in 5) have experienced intimate partner violence, sexual violence, or stalking in their lifetimes.


  • 56.1% of AI/AN women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetimes. 


  • 96% of female AI/AN sexual violence victims experience violence at the hands of a non-Native perpetrator.


  • 48.8% of AI/AN women will be stalked in their lifetimes.


  • 89% of female AI/AN stalking victims experience stalking at the hands of a non-Native perpetrator.


  • AI/AN women are 5 times as likely to experience violence by an interracial partner as non-Hispanic White women.

By enacting VAWA 2013 and 2022, Congress was reacting to the fractured nature of criminal jurisdiction in Indian country that makes it particularly difficult to effectively address violence.  A significant portion of that violence is committed by non-Native partners. Since the Oliphant v. Suquamish decision in 1978, federal law has limited the criminal authority of Tribal governments over non-Indians for crimes committed against Indians on Tribal lands.  Where state or federal authorities had responsibility for investigating and prosecuting these crimes, they often went unaddressed unless serious injury or death occurred. Even then, federal reports showed that federal prosecutors declined more than half the cases referred to them. Congress enacted VAWA 2013, and subsequently amended it in 2022, in part to address this problem.

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