Torres bill to protect Native women advances in Congress

Pictured: U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres (D-CA-35).(Photo: torres.house.gov)

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Savanna’s Act advanced out of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives

News Release

Office of U.S. Representative Norma J. Torres (CA-35)

Congresswoman Norma J. Torres (D-CA-35) released a statement March 11 as her bill, Savanna’s Act (H.R. 2733) advanced out of the Judiciary Committee in the House of Representatives.

Named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a 22-year-old pregnant woman of the Spirit Lake Tribe who was tragically murdered in August 2017, the legislation would combat the epidemic of murdered and missing Native women and girls by improving the federal government's response to addressing the crisis and empowering tribal governments with the resources they need.

“Today, we are one step closer to closing a gaping hole in our ability to deliver justice,” Representative Torres said. “The result of poor communication is predictable and tragic – Native American women face a murder rate ten times higher than the national average, and eighty-four percent experience some form of violence in their lifetime. I thank my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee for recognizing this for the crisis that it is, and moving Savanna’s Act one step closer to becoming law.”

Savanna’s Act will achieve the following:

  • Require law enforcement training on how to record the tribal enrollment information of victims in federal databases and mandate that the Attorney General consult with tribes on how to improve relevance and access to federal databases.
  • Require the creation of standardized, regionally-appropriate guidelines for responding to cases of missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, in consultation with tribes, which will include guidance on inter-jurisdictional cooperation among tribes and federal, state, and local law enforcement.
  • Requires the Department of Justice, Interior, and Department of Health and Human Services to solicit recommendations from tribes on enhancing the safety of Native women and improving access to crime information databases and criminal justice information systems during the annual consultations mandated under the Violence Against Women Act.
  • Require data on missing or murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, and recommendations on how to improve data collection, to be included in an annual report to Congress.

Savanna’s Act is supported by the National Congress of American Indians, National Indigenous Women's Resource Center, Seattle Indian Health Board, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Washington, Alaska Native Women’s Resource Center, Western Native Voice, Friends Committee on National Legislation, All Pueblo Council of Governors (representing 20 Pueblos), Intertribal Association of Arizona (representing 21 Tribal Nations), United South and Eastern Tribes Sovereignty Protection Fund (representing 27 Tribal Nations), Muckleshoot Tribe of Washington, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, and Navajo Nation.

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