President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr.

President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr. (Public domain photo by U.S. Department of Justice)

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said he plans to see for himself the hardship crime imposes in rural Alaska.

“I think Alaska Native women, you know, face unacceptably high levels of violence in very remote areas, and I’ve actually scheduled a trip up to Alaska specifically to visit some of these communities,” Barr said in response to questions from Sen. Lisa Murkowski at an appropriations hearing.

Barr called for creative and effective solutions to help a “vulnerable population.”

The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed a bill that takes a new approach by essentially establishing pockets of “Indian country” in Alaska, at least on a trial basis. The renewal of the Violence Against Women Act would empower tribal courts in up to five Alaska villages to take up cases of domestic abuse and other violent crimes, even where the suspect is non-Native. An amendment by Congressman Don Young strengthened the proposed pilot program by saying the jurisdiction should be over an entire village.

The Senate has not voted on the VAWA renewal bill yet. Barr provided no detail about the timing or the itinerary of his upcoming trip.

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