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OJJDP News @ a Glance

This issue highlights the National Missing Children’s Day commemoration, the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the annual symposium for AMBER Alert coordinators, and a Tribal community of practice.
Message From the Administrator: When a Child Goes Missing
Action Plan - Administrator Liz Ryan

Updated Tribal Legal Code Resource Can Help Tribes Strengthen Juvenile Codes

Thumbnail for “Tribal Legal Code Resource: Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Juvenile Delinquency and Status Offense Laws (2022 Update)”

Tribal Legal Code Resource: Guide for Drafting or Revising Tribal Juvenile Delinquency and Status Offense Laws (2022 Update) provides a starting point for community-based code development appropriate for a Tribe’s specific needs.

The 636-page guide, developed by the Tribal Law and Policy Institute with support from OJJDP, includes commentary on sample provisions from existing Tribal juvenile justice codes plus guided discussions to help identify and consider a Tribe’s unique values.

The 2022 edition incorporates provisions from the Bureau of Indian Affairs 2016 Model Indian Juvenile Code and the 2018 reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. It includes a chapter on Tribal juvenile healing to wellness courts, which rely on cultural practices to treat youth grappling with substance use issues. The appendix includes information about the March 2022 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and a June 2022 Supreme Court decision authorizing states to prosecute non-Native Americans who commit crimes against Native Americans on Tribal lands.

The guide describes components of the juvenile justice system and identifies philosophical decisions that arise when drafting or revising codes, such as the emphasis placed on rehabilitation, restorative justice, accountability, punishment, public safety, and cultural values. It also highlights current research on adolescent brain development and the implications for juvenile justice system reform. A “workbook” section includes examples from Bureau of Indian Affairs model codes, existing Tribal codes, and discussion exercises.

“The hope is that the guide will spark discussions within a given Tribe and between Tribes about where to strike various balances: between accountability and healing; between the requirements of fair process and culture; and recognizing the fact of trauma and facilitating healing from trauma for both perpetrators and victims, including Native families and the Native community.”

—Pat Sekaquaptewa, Chief Justice, Hopi Appellate Court

The 2022 edition reflects updates in the 2016 model code and, as a result, places greater emphasis on due process and the rights of youth, said Pat Sekaquaptewa, who helped update the guide and serves as the chief justice of the Hopi Appellate Court in Keams Canyon, AZ. For example, the 2022 update includes provisions from the 2016 model code that ensure youth have the right to an attorney during Tribal juvenile proceedings and restrict when a child can be placed in secure detention.

Many Tribal entities are revising their codes to establish Tribal juvenile healing to wellness courts and peacemaking courts to keep Native youth in the Tribal justice system, Ms. Sekaquaptewa said.


OJJDP’s Tribal Youth Resource Center produced two webinar series for Tribes that are developing juvenile justice codes and procedures—one in 2018 and another in 2020. The Tribal Law and Policy Institute’s website includes additional resources for Tribes that are drafting or revising their codes, and the institute’s Tribal Court Clearinghouse includes resources on juvenile justice and a collection of Tribal codes.

Date Created: June 13, 2023