FLAGSTAFF, AZ - The Hopi Tribe 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 that comply with provisions of the Tribal Law and Order Act. Regardless of whether the 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.
The changes go into effect later this month. They create 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.
A U.S. Department of Justice official says that puts the Hopi in a position of leadership.