Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $1,098,000)
The Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) and the National Association of Indian Legal Services (NAILS) programs propose to enhance tribal criminal justice systems and improve meaningful access to justice within the service areas of the 17 participating NAILS member programs, with the technical support of the NAICJA, under the Tribal Criminal Legal Assistance Grant. To meet this goal, MLSA, NAILS, and NAICJA will take a fourfold approach: (1) provide direct criminal legal assistance to at least 800 individuals for public defense in tribal courts, (2) provide four tribes capacity building services such as Tribal Law and Order Act and Violence Against Women Act education and 5 implementation, (3) provide five technical assistance events to tribes and NAILS programs, and (4) provide assistance with other projects designed to meet the needs of local tribal communities. MLSA will administer and coordinate the grant, including monitoring grant compliance among the 17 subgrantees. Project deliverables include signed MOUs from subgrantees and NAICJA distance learning modality course or training module. MLSA, the NAILS programs, and NAICJA will submit data and reports to BJA on a regular basis. MLSA and the NAILS coalition expect the proposed services and projects will result in increased access to criminal legal defense services for individuals charged with crimes in tribal courts, as well as an overall strengthening of individual tribal justice systems through capacity-building projects. Ultimately, the proposed project will help ensure due process, protect the constitutional and civil rights of Native American defendants, and allow tribes to develop tribal codes and ordinances, which promote tribal sovereignty.