FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The Hopi will be one of the earliest tribes to increase criminal sentences under a landmark federal law meant to improve public safety on American Indian reservations.
The Hopi has updated its criminal code for the first time since 1972 with changes complying with the Tribal Law and Order Act. Regardless of whether a crime was murder or something far less severe on the northern Arizona reservation, all were misdemeanors with a maximum punishment of a year in jail under the tribe's longstanding system.
Changes go into effect later this month, creating a class of felonies that could send convicted offenders to jail for up to three years for a single crime or nine years with stacked sentences. Sentences won't preclude longer federal sentences for severe crimes on tribal lands.
A U.S. Justice Department official says the changes on the Hopi Reservation put the tribe in a position of leadership.