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Herseth Sandlin named to Indian law enforcement panel

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin's post-congressional career began to take shape Tuesday, as she was appointed to an American Indian law enforcement panel.

Herseth Sandlin, D-S.D., was named to the Indian Law and Order Commission. The commission was created by the Tribal Law and Order Act, a bill she introduced in the U.S. House that was signed into law by President Obama earlier this year.

The act gave the speaker of the House two appointments to the commission.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed Herseth Sandlin and Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., to the panel. The commission will have nine members; not all have been named yet.

Pomeroy, like Herseth Sandlin, was defeated for re-election.

Commission members will not be paid. They will receive a per diem and reimbursement for travel expenses. Members of the commission will travel to Indian Country to consult directly with experts.

"I look forward to serving on this important commission as we seek to study ways to better address law enforcement on tribal lands," Herseth Sandlin said in a statement.

"Nowhere is this need more stark and more immediate than in some areas of South Dakota's tribal communities. Native American families, like all families, deserve to raise their children in a safe and secure environment. I am hopeful this commission, along with the Tribal Law and Order Act becoming law, will continue to help move us in the right direction."

The commission's work will be funded by unused money from the Departments of Interior and Justice, according to a Herseth Sandlin staff member. There will be no new appropriation to fund its efforts.

Comprised of members appointed by the president and congressional leadership from both parties, the commission will study tribal criminal justice systems, including the changes made by the Tribal Law and Order Act, and report back to Congress. Areas to study include:

* Jurisdiction over crimes committed in Indian Country.

* Tribal jails and federal prisons and their effects on reducing crime and rehabilitating adult and juvenile offenders.

* Tribal and federal juvenile justice systems.

* The Indian Civil Rights Act and its impact on tribal authority and the rights of defendants in Indian Country.

The commission will also create a Tribal Advisory Committee to be made up of two representatives from each region of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Tribal Advisory Committee will help the commission gather information and testimony examining the areas to be studied.

The information will be compiled into a report that will be submitted to the president and Congress within two years.