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Rulings could bring crackdown on domestic violence

Court rulings could give prosecutors more power to go after abusers on Indian reservations By The Associated Press

FARGO, N.D. (AP) ' American Indian reservations suffer from a well-known epidemic of domestic violence. But for years, authorities have been stymied in their pursuit of abusive parents and spouses because court systems limit their power to intervene.

Now two recent court rulings could give prosecutors more legal muscle. If upheld, they would grant the federal government the ability to get involved earlier, rather than watching abuse convictions pile up at the tribal level.

And advocates say that could save lives.

Offenders on the reservation are rarely locked up for long. And tribal courts provide for a maximum sentence of a year in jail on domestic violence convictions, or three years in the unlikely event the defendant has a lawyer.

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