Senators introduce bill on tribal healing to wellness courts
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Senators introduce bill on tribal healing to wellness courts

  • Published Date:

    February 18, 2016

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    On October 22, 2015, US Senators Jon Tester [D-MT] and Alan “Al” Franken [D-MN] introduced a bill, the Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts Act, to assist tribal nations in establishing Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts are a form of drug court, adapted to fit the unique culture, history, and community needs of tribal nations. Drug courts are an alternative to standard criminal and family court proceedings for participants with substance abuse problems, including “criminal defendants and offenders, juvenile offenders, and parents with pending child welfare cases.” These courts maintain a specialized docket comprising cases related to drug possession, driving under the influence, and child welfare. Drug courts offer teams of judges, attorneys, law enforcement officers, probation officers, social workers, and substance abuse treatment service providers, among others, to help participants complete treatment programs. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts offer a tailored approach to drug courts to fit tribal nations’ individual needs: “Tribes and tribal courts (including Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts) can be radically diverse in their cultures, languages, needs, governance structures, and laws.” Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts also incorporate Native healing and wellness concepts and cultural teachings and practices while also respecting and supporting tribal sovereignty. As of May 2014, more than seventy of these courts were operating or under development across tribal nations. bill-tribalhealing.pdf
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