The legal institutions in Indian country revolve around four main entities: indigenous or traditional courts, general jurisdiction courts, appellate courts, and the Bureau of Indian Affair’s Code of Federal Regulation courts. The National Survey of Tribal Court Systems (NSTCS) is the first complete enumeration of tribal court systems operating in the United States and gathers administrative and operational information from tribal court systems, prosecutors’ offices, and indigent defense providers operating in the United States.
The Indian Reorganization Act in 1934 recognized the right of tribes to enact their own laws and establish their own formal tribal courts. Some tribes have developed hybrid or blended judicial systems, incorporating a more formal focus to ensure due process and the dispute resolution elements of indigenous courts or Courts of Indian Offenses—Code of Federal Regulations, or CFR, courts operated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Formal tribal courts, unlike the CFR courts, are under tribal control and are directly oriented to the needs of tribal members.
The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 (TLOA; P.L. 111-211, 124 Stat. 2258 § 251(b)) requires BJS to establish and implement a tribal crime data-collection system, and support tribal participation in national records and information systems. The Act specifies data collection and analysis of crimes committed on federally recognized reservations, in tribal communities, and on identified trust lands which in combination are commonly referred to as Indian country.
Pretrial release refers to the conditions of release from custody to which defendants must adhere during the time period between the filing of charges by law enforcement and court adjudication. After arrest charges are filed, the courts will decide whether a defendant can be released pending trial and other court proceedings. If a defendant is released pretrial, the courts may issue stipulations on that release that fall along a spectrum of least to most restrictive, often driven by the severity of the charges filed and the defendant’s prior criminal history.
The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution sets forth the right to counsel in federal criminal prosecutions. Through a series of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, the right to counsel has been extended to all criminal prosecutions—state or federal, felony or misdemeanor—that carry a sentence of imprisonment.
The court system plays a critical role in the judicial process, impacting which arrestees are charged with and potentially convicted of a criminal offense. The court system consists broadly of prosecution, pretrial services and detention, defense services, and courts of limited and general jurisdiction, and oversees the adjudication process for juvenile and adult offenders.
BJS maintains multiple data collections covering various aspects of the federal justice system encompassing law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and corrections. BJS data collections range from censuses of law enforcement and annual deaths in custody to federal case processing statistical information, describing the number of suspects/defendants from arrest to imprisonment.
Public Comments Requested on the Proposed Extension of BJS Data Collection: Capital Punishment Report of Inmates Under Sentence of Death
BJS encourages comments for 60 days until December 14, 2020, on the extension of a currently approved data collection: Capital Punishment Report of Inmates Under Sentence of Death.