Tag Archives: VAWA

Bits and Pieces: Monday Musings

Jig Saw PuzzleYes, Nevada is paying attention to election laws; and, the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections will hold a hearing on AB 48 this Thursday — Valentine’s Day.   The “title:”

AN ACT relating to elections; providing that a person who is not a qualified elector and who votes or attempts to vote knowing that fact, or a person who votes or attempts to vote using the name of another person, is guilty of a category B felony; revising certain nomination procedures; requiring county clerks to certify certain lists of candidates and nominees to the Secretary of State; extending the period in which a person may register to vote by computer; making various other changes relating to the administration and conduct of an election; expanding the definition of “campaign expenses”; amending reporting requirements relating to special elections; requiring persons and entities which make expenditures against candidates to report contributions and expenditures; requiring nonprofit corporations to report certain contributions and campaign expenditures; eliminating a requirement that the Secretary of State obtain certain advice and consent of the Legislative Commission; making various other changes relating to campaign finance; providing penalties;….

The hearing will begin at 4:00 pm in Carson City, video-conferenced to room 4401 of the Grant Sawyer State Office Bldg. Las Vegas.   Keep up with other Legislative doings compliments of the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus.

Secretary of State Ross Miller will discuss proposals for voter identification at Reno’s Great Basin Brewery, (details here) sponsored by the DWWC.

There’s some informative and insightful reading available in the Silver State blogosphere — there’s Flashpoint, from the Nevada Progressive.   There’s a “Don’t Miss” graph on domestic violence available from The Sin City Siren.   But, wait!  Heritage Action would warn us of the nefarious content of the Violence Against Women Act:

“Under VAWA, men effectively lose their constitutional rights to due process, presumption of innocence, equal treatment under the law, the right to a fair trial and to confront one’s accusers, the right to bear arms, and all custody/visitation rights,” the group wrote. “It is unprecedented, unnecessary and dangerous.” [TPM]

Then there’s  “El Nuevo GOP” from Hugh Jackson in which the pivots, positions, and parsing of one Senator Dean Heller (Nuevo R-NV) are on full display.  What? Senator Heller, run as an arch conservative and then periodically vote as a ‘moderate,’ before reverting to right wing rhetoric — we’re shocked! Shocked I Say.

What’s the first clue?  Here’s advice from the heart (and head) about how to spot a clueless financial reporter –> LINK.  There are many of these unfortunate creatures populating the pages of what’s been passing for economic and business news these days.   Forewarned is forearmed.

Chart for the Day:

Debt stabilizationOff the Charts explains more fully.  There’s an important point buried, and often obfuscated, in the screeching about the horrible terrible no good debt — debt reduction is good, but what we need to do is to stabilize our level of national indebtedness.    How to spot someone who doesn’t understand the characteristics of national indebtedness, or that national indebtedness is NOT analogous to household debt?  Listen for people “explaining” we should “pay off our national debt.”   Nope, at least not unless we want to stiff people and institutions who have invested in our Treasuries as part of their investment portfolios.  Never a really good idea.

Comments Off on Bits and Pieces: Monday Musings

Filed under elections, Heller, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Passing VAWA…again

VAWAS. 47, the Senate bill to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act is sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and 59 co-sponsors, including Nevada Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Dean Heller (R-NV).  Votes are expected sometime after 2:00 pm (Eastern) this Tuesday.

Title IX, section 204 is of particular interest to Native American victims of domestic violence.

“(1) IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in addition to all powers of self-government recognized and affirmed by sections 201 and 203, the powers of self-government of a participating tribe include the inherent power of that tribe, which is hereby recognized and affirmed, to exercise special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over all persons. (2) CONCURRENT JURISDICTION- The exercise of special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction by a participating tribe shall be concurrent with the jurisdiction of the United States, of a State, or of both.”

There are two exceptions to this jurisdictional framework: If the persons involved are not Native Americans, or if the defendant has no ties to the tribe.

This version of the bill has been modified since the last session:

“The Senate version has been tweaked from the version considered last year, with sponsors scuttling a provision on law-enforcement visas given to undocumented immigrants who’ve been the victim of domestic violence. Democrats did this for procedural reasons — it gives the House fewer excuses to ignore the bill — and expect to address this in a comprehensive immigration reform bill, so the issue isn’t being dropped altogether.

VAWA supporters in the Senate did not, however, get rid of LGBT provisions or a measure that extends tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal land.

House Republicans have balked at these provisions in the past, but at least for now, senators don’t care.”  [MSNBC blog]

Now it will be up to the House of Representatives to step up and do the right thing.

Comments Off on Passing VAWA…again

Filed under women, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights

We’re Number One! Female Murder Victims in Nevada

Domestic Violence RibbonOne of the bills stalled in the Do Absolutely Nothing 112th Congress of the United States of America is the Violence Against Women Act.  The Senate version extends the protections of the Act to LGBT citizens, Native Americans, and immigrants.  The GOP leadership of the  House of Representatives objects to the extensions.  [CDThe objections are spurious.  However, that doesn’t prevent the bill from being stalled, and the Next Great Big Debt Crisis — which evidently wasn’t a problem for the Bush Administration “Deficits Don’t Matter” crowd — is chewing up the air time on the cable news networks.  Meanwhile, we have a real economic problem on our hands — domestic violence.

Intimate partner violence is expensive.  We’ve known this since the 2003 Center for Disease Control report. (pdf)

“The costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceed $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services. The total costs of IPV also include nearly $0.9 billion in lost productivity from paid work and household chores for victims of nonfatal IPV and $0.9  billion in lifetime earnings lost by victims of IPV homicide. The largest proportion of the costs is derived from physical assault victimization because that type of IPV is the most prevalent. The largest component of IPV-related costs is health care, which accounts for more than two-thirds of the total costs.”

So, as of 2003 the price tag for domestic violence was $5.8 billion annually, and the price tag for the health care component was $4.1 billion.  Want to help bring down health care costs in this country, then reduce the instances of domestic violence!

For those who persist in speaking of the issue as a police matter, or a “woman’s issue,” consider the following information from that 2003 CDC study:

Domestic Violence Losses

As of nine years ago we were pitching the equivalent of 32,114 full time jobs in the dust bin because women lost valuable work days due to incidents of domestic violence.

The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence updated the numbers and reported that as of 2005, “The annual cost of lost productivity due to domestic violence is estimated as $727.8 million with over 7.9 million paid workdays lost per year.”   That, of course, is $727.8 million that doesn’t add anything to the national economy every year.

If we could delve only in the realm of national, and therefore generalized, statistics Nevadans might be more comfortable.  However, the Silver State has a problem according to Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto:

“Victims of domestic violence comprise the largest crime victim category in Nevada. Although domestic violence is significantly underreported and statistics are incomplete, the Nevada Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report for 2009 reported 29,091 female victims and 12,060 children present at incidents of domestic violence. The Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence reports that 42,877 first-time victims received services from domestic violence programs in fiscal year 2010-11.” [LVSun]

The numbers sting more when they’re describing what is going on in this state alone.   The sting is even greater when reading headlines like this one: “Nevada Ranks #1 in Rate of Women Murdered by Men for Third Year in a Row According to VPC Study Released Annually for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.”   That’s right… We’re Number One… in the rate of women murdered by men for the THIRD YEAR IN A ROW.  But wait, the news actually gets worse.

“The state has held the top position for five of the last six years. The annual VPC report details national and state-by-state information on female homicides involving one female murder victim and one male offender. The study uses the most recent data available from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report and is released each year to coincide with Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

Ranked behind Nevada (2.62) were: South Carolina at 2 with a rate of 1.94 per 100,000; Tennessee at 3 with a rate of 1.91 per 100,000; Louisiana at 4 with a rate of 1.86 per 100,000; Virginia at 5 with a rate of 1.77 per 100,000; Texas at 6 with a rate of 1.75 per 100,000; New Mexico at 7 with a rate of 1.63 per 100,000; Hawaii at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; Arizona at 8 (tie) with a rate of 1.62 per 100,000; and, Georgia at 10 with a rate of 1.61 per 100,000. Nationally, the rate of women killed by men in single victim/single offender instances was 1.22 per 100,000.” [VPC] (emphasis added)

We can extrapolate that the national trends might apply to the Nevada cases.  For example, 94% of the victims knew their attackers.  Of the victims who knew their attackers, 65% were murdered by husbands or intimate partners.  70% of the murders were accomplished with a firearm, followed by the use of knives or cutting instruments (20%), bodily force (12%), and the ubiquitous “blunt object” was the implement of choice in about 7% of the homicides.  (full study, pdf link)

For once, Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) didn’t sign on to the misogynistic agenda of some of his GOP colleagues, and he joined the Democratic majority in the Senate voting in favor of the renewed VAWA. [LVSun] Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) voted with the 67 other Senators who favored the renewal of the act.   Sometimes being Number One isn’t the place to be.

Congressman Joe Heck was eager to trumpet his vote for the VAWA, however it was the watered down House version (H.R. 4970), with no protection for immigrant women, LGBT citizens, and Native American women.  [NVProg]  Congressman Mark Amodei (R-NV2) tapped danced around the issue of tribal jurisdiction over rapes and assaults perpetrated on tribal lands, and supported the House version of the bill.  What might their positions be on the ‘real’ VAWA bill, S. 1925?

They, and their cohorts in the U.S. House of Representatives will have to work quickly to deal with the back-load of bills piling up, especially given that they are only scheduled to be in session for 126 days next year.

One of those precious days should really be devoted to the loss of the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs, the loss of at least $727.8 million to the economy every year, and to the $5.8 billion in health care costs attributable to domestic violence.   Perhaps then Nevada could lose the dubious honor of being “Number One?”

1 Comment

Filed under Economy, violence, Women's Issues

The Republican War On Women Hits The Rez

Passing the Violence Against Women Act should be a no-brainer.  However, the House Republicans — May we include Nevada Representatives Amodei and Heck in that number? — are intent on stripping from the bill some important improvements which benefit woman and law enforcement.  [The Gavel] The House Republican version of the measure has some serious flaws as described by the National Network to End Domestic Violence:

“…(H.R. 4970) that was introduced April 27, 2012.  It weakens or deletes entirely some of the vital improvements in the Senate bill, including the strong provisions that are designed to increase the safety of Native women and the needs of the LGBT community.  The bill also contains extremely dangerous provisions that would jeopardize the safety and often the lives of immigrant victims seeking to report crimes by eliminating important confidentiality protections, undermining effective anti-fraud protections, and rolling back years of progress to protect the safety of immigrant victims.  Finally, it grows excessive and costly bureaucracy that will divert resources which could be used for victim services.”

Let’s focus for a moment on the plight of Native American Women.   The statistics are appalling.

“Native American women experience the highest rate of violence of any group in the United States. A report released by the Department of Justice, American Indians and Crime, found that Native American women suffer violent crime at a rate three and a half times greater than the national average. National researchers estimate that this number is actually much higher than has been captured by statistics; according to the Department of Justice over 70% of sexual assaults are never reported.” [NOW]

There are obviously two problems here.  First, the violence rate is totally unacceptable. Secondly, the rate of non-reporting is equally unacceptable.  And, the current system isn’t helping solve either problem:

“Police and courts tend to ignore cases of violence involving Native American women due to alleged confusion between federal and tribal jurisdiction. Law enforcement and attorneys often are not schooled to deal with the cross-over in dealing between jurisdictions. Eileen Hudon, a sexual abuse counselor from the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center, said there is a “basic ignorance in the whole justice system.” This causes blatant violations of the rights of Native American women. Technically, cases involving a non-Native American perpetrator and Native American victim fall under federal jurisdiction. According to the Department of Justice, 70% or more of violence experienced by Native American women is committed by persons not of the same race.”  [NOW]

The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 made some small improvements toward addressing domestic violence against Native American women in subsection F.

“Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault will now more often encounter authorities who have been trained to handle such cases. The Act expands training of tribal enforcement officers on the best ways to interview victims of domestic and sexual violence and the importance of collecting evidence to improve rates of conviction. The Director of Indian Health Services will coordinate with the Department of Justice, Tribes, Tribal organizations and urban Indian organizations to develop standardized sexual assault policies and protocols.

Special Assistant US Attorneys will be deputized under the Act to prosecute reservation crimes in Federal courts, and tribes will be given greater authority to hold perpetrators accountable. These provisions help to increase communication between tribal law enforcement, Federal authorities and the court system. As numbers of convictions grow, more women may be willing to report the abuses against them so that their abusers may be prosecuted.” [WH]

This was a good start, but definitely not the end of the road.  The jurisdiction issues still place many Native American women in jeopardy, as Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) explained:

“…many of those crimes “go un-prosecuted and unpunished” because tribes cannot prosecute non-Native Americans for domestic violence crimes committed on tribal land. Only federal prosecutors have the authority to prosecute non-Native Americans for domestic violence crimes against their Native American spouses or partners. More than half of Native women are married to non-Native husbands. “Native women should not be abandoned to a jurisdictional loophole,” Udall said. “In effect, these women are living in a prosecution-free zone.” [RS]

Thus, we have more than 50% of Native American women married to non-Native husbands, who are NOT subject to the jurisdiction of the federal prosecutors provided for in the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010.  These women are, if their husbands choose to be abusive and violent, totally vulnerable.

“Current law does nothing to address the jurisdictional gap in Indian Country that leaves Native women without equal access to justice.  In short, an Indian woman raped or beaten by her non-Indian husband often has nowhere to turn for protection under existing law.  Tribal law enforcement has no authority to intervene because the perpetrator is a non-Indian; the State has no authority to intervene because the victim is an Indian; and the Federal Government—the body with exclusive jurisdiction—has neither the will nor the resources to intervene in misdemeanor level domestic violence cases.”  [4VAWA]

Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI4) made the point as clearly as possible:

“…this bill would recognize the tribes’ authority to prosecute non-Indians or Indians who abuse their American Indian spouses or dating partners on tribal lands. Fifty-two percent of women who are beaten, battered, raped, or stalked on tribal lands are not prosecuted because tribes have no authority. And on tribal lands, there is no follow-up and no prosecution.  […] We’re actually sanctioning the abuse that occurs on tribal lands and providing a sanctuary for assailants who commit these crimes on native lands by not providing this authority to tribal nations.. [Rep. Moore (D-WI4) CR pdf]

Why would House Republicans remove protection for Native American women when the jurisdictional issues are patently obvious and painfully real?  Why would House Republicans support a measure which deliberately leaves Native American women vulnerable to abuse by non-native men?

Perhaps they’ve bought into some of the mythology surrounding the proposal.  When we look carefully at some of the more popular myths spread by opponents of S. 1925 there’s a discernible theme:  Fear that non-Native (Should we dare suggest “white?”)  people will be subject to tribal jurisdictions.

Fear Number One: “The tribal provisions in S.1925 would strip jurisdiction from federal or state authorities.” Wrong – there is NOTHING in S. 1925 that alters or removes state or federal jurisdiction, “Rather, S.1925 restores concurrent tribal criminal jurisdiction over a very narrow set of crimes that statistics demonstrate are an egregious problem on Indian reservations.”

Fear Number Two: “The Senate version of VAWA gives tribes criminal jurisdiction over all crimes committed by non-Indians on or off the reservation.”  Wrong – “S.1925 provides a limited jurisdictional fix to address a narrow set of egregious crimes committed in Indian country: domestic violence, dating violence, and violations of protection orders.  It does not extend to other crimes or to crimes committed beyond reservation boundaries.”

Fear Number Three: “The Senate version of VAWA would allow tribes to prosecute crimes between two non-Indians with no ties to the reservation.” Wrong – “Non-Indian on non-Indian crime that occurs on the reservation is within the exclusive jurisdiction of the State.  The new tribal provisions in no way alter this century-old rule established by the Supreme Court in U.S. v. McBratney, 104 U.S. 621 (1881)

Fear Number Four: “Section 904 would permit tribal prosecutions of all non-Indians.” Wrong – “Section 904 of S.1925 is limited to only crimes of domestic violence or dating violence committed in Indian country where the defendant is a spouse or established intimate partner of a tribal member. It does not permit tribal prosecutions unless the defendant has “sufficient ties to the Indian tribe,” meaning he/she must either reside in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, be employed in the Indian country of the prosecuting tribe, or be the spouse or intimate partner of a member of the prosecuting tribe.”

Fear Number Five:  Is honestly one of the silliest,”S.1925 is unconstitutional because tribal courts are not bound by the U.S. Constitution.”  Wrong – “Under Section 904, tribal courts must provide defendants with the same constitutional rights in tribal court as they would have in state court. Defendants would be entitled to the full panoply of constitutional protections, including due-process rights and an indigent defendant’s right to appointed counsel (at the expense of the tribe) that meets federal constitutional standards. This includes the right to petition a federal court for habeas corpus to challenge any conviction and to stay detention prior to review, and explicit protection of “all other rights whose protection is necessary under the Constitution of the United States.”

Fear Number Six:  But wait, it’s really does get sillier — “It is “un-American” to subject non-Indians to prosecution in tribal court because they are not allowed to participate in tribal political processes through the ballot box.”  Really wrong – “Political participation has never been considered a necessary precondition to the exercise of criminal jurisdiction under the concept of due process of law. For example, Indians were subjected to federal jurisdiction under the Federal Major Crimes Act of 1885 almost 40 years before most of them were made citizens or given the vote by the Citizenship Act of 1924. Moreover, due process certainly does not prevent either the federal government or the states from prosecuting either documented or undocumented aliens for crimes committed within the United States, despite the fact that neither can vote on the laws to which they are subjected.

Fear Number Seven: Here’s where the inklings of “reverse discrimination” mythology come into play, “Section 904 of S.1925 would subject non-Indians to tribal courts that systematically exclude non-Indians from the jury pool.”  Wrong again – “Section 904 of S.1925 contains explicit language that tribes exercising authority under these new provisions must draw from jury pools that reflect a fair cross-section of the community and do not systematically exclude any distinct group of people, including non-Indians.”

Fear Number Eight:  Big Government, or we don’t need to do anything because “The amendments to Title IX in the Senate VAWA are not needed because existing law—namely the Tribal Law & Order Act and the Indian Civil Rights Act—are sufficient to solve the epidemic of violence against Native women.” Wrong – “Current law does nothing to address the jurisdictional gap in Indian Country that leaves Native women without equal access to justice.  In short, an Indian woman raped or beaten by her non-Indian husband often has nowhere to turn for protection under existing law.  Tribal law enforcement has no authority to intervene because the perpetrator is a non-Indian; the State has no authority to intervene because the victim is an Indian; and the Federal Government—the body with exclusive jurisdiction—has neither the will nor the resources to intervene in misdemeanor level domestic violence cases.”  [More at this link from 4VAWA]

What do these eight bits of mythology and misinformation have in common?  Perhaps it’s the haunting fear that somewhere, somehow, some non-tribal man will have to face justice in a tribal court for violence perpetrated upon a Native American woman?   Why else would so much verbiage be tortured and twisted into providing dubious issues regarding jurisdiction?   In our current system we have all but granted that “sanctuary for assaults” about which Representative Moore was speaking, and the House Republicans would strip protections from Native American women while giving non-tribal men all but a  license to abuse, batter, assault, and rape them.

And, now the question — which version of the VAWA will Representatives Heck (R-NV3) and Amodei (R-NV2) support?

Comments Off on The Republican War On Women Hits The Rez

Filed under Amodei, Heck, Native Americans, Women's Issues, Womens' Rights