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Public Law 280 and Law Enforcement in Indian Country--Research Priorities, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2005
20 pages
Publication Series
This report suggests research priorities for examining the impact of Federal Public Law 83-280 (PL 280), which was enacted in 1953 to transfer Federal jurisdiction over offenses involving Indians in Indian country to six States while giving other States an option to assume such jurisdiction.
The six States could not refuse jurisdiction, and PL 280 did not provide for the consent of the affected tribes. Thus, criminal laws in those States apply to Indians within as well as outside Indian country. PL 280 provided no financial support for expanded State law enforcement responsibilities in Indian country. Affected tribes and States have experienced problems in complying with PL 280. These include jurisdictional uncertainty and insufficient funding for law enforcement. The full nature of these and other problems, however, is unexamined because of a lack of research. In 1998, the National Institute of Justice sponsored a review that identified significant gaps in data concerning crime and law enforcement on PL 280 reservations. There is a need for quantitative research that will compare reported crime rates in Indian country affected by PL 280 with rates for reservations not affected by PL 280, as well as with rates in other parts of PL 280 States. Quantitative research on the quality of State law enforcement services under PL 280 should also be conducted. Further, there should be a qualitative assessment of law enforcement under PL 280; documentation and evaluation of Federal law enforcement funding and services to PL 280 tribes; evaluation of the impacts of retrocession and concurrent tribal jurisdiction; and a review of cooperative agreements in PL 280 States, such as between tribe and State. 2 exhibits and 17 notes

Date Published: December 1, 2005