What is AB 3099?
California’s Response to Consistent Application of PL 280 on Indian Lands and to Missing Murdered Native American People (MMNAP)
California Assembly Bill 3099 (AB 3099) calls for the California Department of Justice to provide training and guidance to law enforcement agencies and tribal governments to help reduce uncertainty regarding criminal jurisdiction and improve public safety on tribal lands. The new effort also includes funds to study challenges related to the reporting and identification of missing and murdered Native Americans in California, particularly women and girls. California is home to more people of Native American and Alaskan Native heritage than any other state in the country — with approximately 176 California Native American Tribes and a little over 100 separate tribal reservations.
In 1953, Congress enacted Public Law 83-280 (PL 280), expressly transferring criminal jurisdiction over most crimes committed by or against Native Americans on tribal land from the federal government to designated states, including California. As a result, California and tribal governments share concurrent criminal jurisdiction — with the federal government in limited circumstances — on tribal lands in the state. Although PL 280 has been in existence for almost 70 years, its requirements and implications often remain confusing among state, local, and tribal authorities. Generally, the complexity of PL 280 can and has led to public safety uncertainty and frustration among tribal communities and their neighbors. AB 3099 highlights the importance of providing for the consistent application of PL 280 through education, training, technical assistance, and increased coordination among California’s sovereign tribal governments and local authorities in the 34 California counties that touch on tribal lands.
AB 3099 also calls for the California Department of Justice to conduct a study to determine how to increase state criminal justice protective and investigative resources for reporting and identifying missing Native Americans in California. Numerous studies have already highlighted concerns among tribal nations regarding the number of missing Native Americans, both reported and unreported, across the United States, particularly women and girls. For instance, based on data from the National Crime Information Center Missing Person File, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders combined made up the second highest number of reported missing persons in 2018, despite making up the smallest portion of the U.S. population. However, given many of the existing jurisdictional challenges, clear data on the scope of the issue in California remains limited. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there were approximately 1,496 active end-of-year missing persons cases out of a total of 9,575 reports for American Indian and Alaska Natives across the United States in 2020.
In order to help address these challenges, AB 3099 works to fill the gaps by establishing the Tribal Assistance Program within the California Department of Justice’s Office of Native American Affairs. The law requires the new program over a period of five years, among other things, to:
- Develop guidance for law enforcement training on policing and criminal investigations on tribal lands consistent with PL 280;
- Provide educational materials geared towards tribal citizens about the complexities of concurrent criminal jurisdiction under PL 280, including information relating to victims’ rights and the availability of services in the state;
- Share guidance on improving crime reporting, crime statistics, criminal procedures, and investigative tools for police investigations conducted under PL 280;
- Facilitate and support improved communication between local law enforcement agencies and tribal governments; and
- Conduct a study to determine the scope of the issue of missing and murdered Native Americans in California, identifying barriers to reporting and ultimately issuing recommendations to the State Legislature.
For more information, please see the following resources:
Listen to Audio
5/17/23 MMIP Interview with AG Bonta
CA Attorney General Rob Bonta on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Peoples (MMIP) Crisis
8/17/21 Press Conference
Attorney General Bonta, Legislative Leaders Highlight Major Investment Aimed at Supporting Public Safety on Tribal Lands
View Press Release
8/17/21 Press Release
AG Bonta, Asm. Ramos Highlight $5 Million State Investment Aimed at Supporting Public Safety on Tribal Lands
What has been the Federal Response to Missing Murdered Indigenous People (MMIP)?
In April of 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice launched the Missing or Murdered Indigenous Persons (MMIP) webpage as part of the Department’s Tribal Justice and Safety website, which houses other Tribal initiatives at U.S. DOJ such as the Tribal Access Program, grant opportunities, consultations, and several other resources for tribes. The new MMIP page details U.S. DOJ’s efforts to address the disproportionately high rates of violence experienced by Native Americans, and relatedly, the high rates of indigenous persons reported missing. To learn more, please visit https://www.justice.gov/tribal/mmip.
There have been several initiatives that have been undertaken by the federal government related to MMIP, including but not limited to the following:
- U.S. Attorney General’s Initiative on Missing and Murdered Indigenous People. On November 22, 2019, then-Attorney General William P. Barr launched the Attorney General’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Initiative (AG’s MMIP Initiative). The collaborative effort is steered by the U.S. Attorneys on the Native American Issue Subcommittee, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Office of Tribal Justice (OTJ), with support from the Office of Justice Programs (OJP), and the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). The AG’s MMIP Initiative contains three parts:
- Establishing MMIP coordinators in each U.S. Attorney’s Office in 11 states with significant tribal populations: Alaska, Arizona, Montana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Utah, Nevada, Minnesota, Oregon, New Mexico and Washington. Recognizing that local circumstances vary, each MMIP coordinator is tasked to work closely with federal, tribal, state and local agencies to develop common protocols and procedures for responding to reports of missing and murdered Indigenous people in their respective states;
- Rapid deployment of specialized FBI teams that will provide expert assistance, upon request by a federal, tribal, state or local law enforcement agency, in any appropriate missing native persons case; and
- Performing comprehensive data analysis to identify opportunities to improve missing persons data.
- President’s Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. On November 26, 2019, the President signed Executive Order 13898, forming the Task Force on Missing and Murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives (Operation Lady Justice, OLJ). OLJ was tasked to do the following:
- Conduct appropriate consultations with tribal governments on the scope and nature of the issues regarding missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives;
- Develop model protocols and procedures to apply to new and unsolved cases of missing or murdered persons in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, including best practices for:
- improving the way law enforcement investigators and prosecutors respond to the high volume of such cases, and to the investigative challenges that might be presented in cases involving female victims;
- collecting and sharing data among various jurisdictions and law enforcement agencies; and
- better use of existing criminal databases, such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs), the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) including the National DNA Index System (NDIS);
- Establish a multi-disciplinary, multi-jurisdictional team including representatives from tribal law enforcement and the Departments of Justice and the Interior to review cold cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives;
- Address the need for greater clarity concerning roles, authorities, and jurisdiction throughout the lifecycle of cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives by:
- developing and publishing best practices guidance for use by federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement in cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives, to include best practices related to communication with affected families from initiation of an investigation through case resolution or closure;
- facilitating formal agreements or arrangements among Federal, State, local, and tribal law enforcement to promote maximally cooperative, trauma-informed responses to cases involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives;
- developing and executing an education and outreach campaign for communities that are most affected by crime against American Indians and Alaska Natives to identify and reduce such crime; and
- developing, in partnership with NamUs, a public-awareness campaign to educate both rural and urban communities about the needs of affected families and resources that are both needed and available.
- Department of Interior's Missing and Murdered Unit. On April 1, 2021, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced the formation of a new Missing & Murdered Unit (MMU) within the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA-OJS) to provide leadership and direction for cross-departmental and interagency work involving missing and murdered American Indians and Alaska Natives. The MMU will help put the full weight of the federal government into investigating these cases and marshal law enforcement resources across federal agencies and throughout Indian Country.
Source: US DOJ Operation Lady Justice - https://operationladyjustice.usdoj.gov/frequently-asked-questions#faq-what-is-the-difference-between-operation-lady