Will AB 3099 create a more uniform and positive response to criminal activities occurring within California Indian Country?

By Denise Bareilles, CILS Eureka office Directing Attorney

Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 3099 into law on September 25, 2020.  What will it accomplish?

Under Public Law (PL) 280, passed in 1953, the state of California was granted concurrent criminal jurisdiction in all of California “Indian Country”[1].  What this means is that the state can enforce its criminal laws on the reservation and tribes can also enforce their own laws on their lands.[2]  PL 280 can and often does create jurisdictional uncertainties, inconsistencies and confusion on when and how state and/or tribal authorities should respond to crimes in Indian Country. AB 3099 seeks to address policing issues in Indian Country.

AB 3099 will provide technical assistance to state and local law enforcement agencies with Indian lands within or near their jurisdictions as well as to tribal governments with a tribal land base, regardless of whether the tribes have law enforcement agencies.

Furthermore, AB 3099 will address missing and murdered Native Americans in California by determining how to increase state criminal justice protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls.

AB 3099 will directly impact 34 county sheriff agencies which have Indian lands within or near their jurisdictions and 109 California tribes with reservations or rancherias. There are also numerous individual Indian trust allotments that will impacted.

The California Department of Justice is charged with implementing AB 3099.  Below are the specific AB 3099 mandates:

The first mandate addresses the inconsistent application of PL 280 throughout California Indian County  

  • Provide guidance for law enforcement education and training on policing and criminal investigations on Indian lands that support consistent implementation of California’s responsibilities for enforcing statewide criminal laws on Indian lands that protect the health, safety, and welfare of tribal citizens on Indian lands.
  • Provide guidance on improving crime reporting, crime statistics, criminal procedures, and investigative tools for conducting police investigations of statewide criminal laws on Indian lands.
  • Provide educational materials about the complexities of concurrent criminal jurisdiction with tribal governments and their tribal law enforcement agencies, specifically to tribal citizens on Indian lands, including information on how to report a crime, and information relating to victim’s rights and victim services in California
  • Facilitate and support improved communication between state and local law enforcement agencies and tribal government or tribal law enforcement agencies for consistent implementation of concurrent criminal jurisdiction on California Indian lands.

The second mandate addresses the crisis of missing and murdered Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls (not limited to Indian lands).

  • Determine the scope of the issue of missing and murdered Native Americans, particularly women and girls.
  • Identify barriers in reporting or investigation.
  • Identify ways to create partnerships to increase cross-reporting and investigation among federal, state, local and tribal governments, including tribal governments without tribal law enforcement agencies.
  • Outreach to tribal governments in California, Native American communities, local, tribal, state, federal law enforcement agencies, and state and tribal courts.
  • Submit a report to the Legislature upon completing the study that will describe the data collected, an analysis of the number of missing Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls, and the barriers preventing the provision of state resources to address the issue(s).
  • Recommendations, including proposed legislation, for improving the reporting and identification of murdered and missing Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls.

 

See here the full text of Assembly Bill 3099

 

[1]  “Indian Country” is defined under federal law as including: tribal lands, Indian allotments and dependent Indian communities.  18- U.S.C. § 1151

[2] Please note that PL 280 also granted the state of California limited civil jurisdiction in California Indian Country.