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Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010: A Primer, With Reservations
By Quintin Cushner; Jon M. Sands
The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) is the most sweeping criminal
justice reform relating to Indian Country in more than 40 years.
Effective July 29, 2010, the TLOA strengthens law enforcement, alters
tribal criminal justice, increases tribal sentencing authority, and
extends federal authority over Indian Country and Indians.1
The questions and answers below are intended as an introduction to the
TLOA for criminal law practitioners who will grapple with the
ramifications of this bill for years to come.
To understand the changes set forth in the TLOA, a brief review of the
four main congressional acts affecting criminal jurisdiction in Indian
Country is in order. The Constitution grants Congress explicit power in
dealing with Indian tribes recognized as “domestic dependent nations.”2
This power was recognized early in the Republic.3 The four
acts are: (1) the Federal Enclaves Act, also known as the General Crimes
Act;4 (2) the Major Crimes Act;5 (3) Public
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