Governor Sean Parnell today announced that the state is considering entering into agreements with tribal courts in an effort to more fully address alcohol and drug abuse, domestic violence, and suicide. The governor announced the proposal during his address at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Fairbanks.
"I recently met with members of the AFN Board, and we agreed that tribes can often provide local, culturally-relevant justice services," Governor Parnell said. "We came to the conclusion that the constitutional rights of both victims and alleged offenders would be protected in tribal courts."
The state, through the Department of Law, proposes allowing tribal courts to process certain alcohol and domestic violence offenses. In these cases, defendants could choose a tribal civil proceeding, which could result in tribal remedies. If the offender does not consent, the case would go to the Alaska State Troopers for screening and potential prosecution.
The proposal also includes a memorandum of understanding between the state and cities that would allow sentencing for alcohol possession to be handled through community panels. Such panels could include members from a traditional village council, the city council, or a borough assembly, and could issue community service punishments for violations of the city's alcohol possession laws.
Governor Parnell has directed the attorney general and the Department of Law to open discussions in the next two weeks and make a proposal for demonstration projects.