Probation provides a bridge between court and clients


“We love what we do and we’re trying to help people make better choices,”
said Tulalip Chief Judge Theresa Pouley
Photo/ Niki Cleary


By  Brandi N. Montreuil and Niki Cleary, Tulalip News 

The Tulalip Tribes Probation Department is an integral component to Tulalip Tribal Court. A kind of cross between a counselor, cheerleader, champion and hall monitor, the probation staff are a bridge between the court and the client.

“I like to think that orders of the court are geared towards helping people make better choices and probation is the arm that helps them understand what they’re required to do,” explained Tulalip Chief Judge Theresa Pouley. “When you are found guilty of a crime the court is going to give you a list of requirements. We can trust that you’re going to do it, or someone can help monitor whether you comply and help you problem solve ways to be in compliance.

“The Probation Officer receives a copy of the judgment and sentence, which lists all of the things the client has to do. Probation also informs the court when they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do.”

Tulalip Associate Judge Ron Whitener followed up, “They also advocate for their clients with us [the judges] because they know the true circumstances of their lives. Even though someone might be out of compliance, probation might say we want to come up with a plan to stay in compliance.”

Probation is a complex concept and the reasons that a client receives probation are as varied as the reasons that bring clients into the court. Probation can be a way to give clients a chance to make good without jail time or other sanctions. It can be a way to transition clients back to the community more successfully. Or it can be a way to keep in touch with those at high risk of re-offending, so they don’t simply do their time and slip quietly back into the community to carry on with their former criminal activities.

Judge Pouley gave an example of a non-violent offense that might receive probation, “For a class E offense, possession of a controlled substance there is a maximum penalty of 365 days of jail and a $5,000 fine. It doesn’t do anyone any good to put a first time offender in jail for 365 days and charge them $5,000. If they’re a first time offender, you really want to figure out how to get them treatment. For someone with substance abuse issues, it’s not always easy to make good on your promises [to get treatment], probation helps them do that.”

Judge Whitener described how the relationship between a client and the probation officer can provide positive peer pressure that encourages clients to succeed.

“People, especially with substance abuse, need that structure. The knowledge that they have a person who is going to check on them, knowing that tomorrow I have to go talk to [my probation officer] and he’s going to know, from my chemical dependency counselor, whether I’m going to my sessions. He’ll know if I paid my fine. That makes it easier for the short term.”

Judge Whitener continued, describing probation as a tool to do what is best for the community and the client.

“It’s a system of harm reduction and rehabilitation,” he said. “You want to rehabilitate [the client] and you want to reduce harm to the community. You could put them in jail, but it would be a huge cost. You really want to find out what is going to work for the individual and that’s what probation does. They get to know their clients. They do an assessment of individuals and come forward with a tailored plan for what is going to have the best likelihood of success.”

He described probation as a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, “You rewire the brain towards the positive way of living, rather than the negative. You’re reinforcing a positive lifestyle, you are also being consistent and you have sanctions [when a client doesn’t follow through].

“There’s no magic pill that can solve the problem. It takes lots of hands and some time,” he continued. “It takes a lot of work, sometimes it takes multiple criminal charges and a few times on probation. And sometimes it never happens. We always want there to be a solution. We have to accept that for a lot of people, their lives get better, for some people it doesn’t.”

For violent offenders or those at high risk of reoffending, Judge Pouley explained that sometimes the ratio of sentencing and probation is a balance between holding the offender accountable for their actions, and having an avenue to regulate their actions once they’ve served their time and/or paid their restitution.

“For the vast majority of our clients, we view our role as encouraging people to make good choices and discouraging bad choices. However, there are a small percentage of the clients that are a danger of the community,” she said.

“Most people in that category do up-front jail time as a sanction,” Judge Pouley explained. “But putting someone in jail for 365 days and then on day 366 having no supervision whatsoever isn’t always the best. You want to the sanction to show that you’re serious about not hurting people, selling drugs or being a sex offender, but at the same time you want some supervision afterwards to monitor them for the safety of the community. You want to make sure they’re taking the classes they’re supposed to be taking, but also staying away from the areas they’re supposed to stay away from.”

“We love what we do and we’re trying to help people make better choices,” Judge Pouley recapped. “When it works, it’s such a fabulous thing. And when it doesn’t, it’s pretty heartbreaking.”


Tulalip Tribes probation officer Andy James plans to incorporate culture and tradition as a way to empower clients to become productive members of their community. Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil
Tulalip Tribes probation officer Andy James plans to incorporate culture and tradition as a way to empower clients to become productive members of their community.
Photo/Brandi N. Montreuil


Both judges expect that changes in the probation officer may make probation an even more effective tool for clients. For the first time ever, a Tulalip citizen is serving as the probation officer. Tulalip tribal member Andy James is replacing longstanding Probation Officer Jim Furchert. Andy brings with him not only his skills as a United States Marine, but also fourteen years of experience as a Tulalip police officer and he’s already a staple in the courtroom where he’s served as the Transport Officer and Court Bailiff. Known for his fatherly advice and strong cultural teachings, Andy is a natural fit.

“Of the great things about Andy is that he used to do this as Transport Officer,” Judge Pouley described. “He’d give words of wisdom like any elder in your family might give. We’re pretty excited to have Andy and his experience change the dynamic in Probation. He has a really vested interest in the community. He knows the clients and families and brings that depth of knowledge and law enforcement experience to the probation officer job.”

Judge Whitener agreed, pointing out that Andy’s standing in the community will help make the Probation Office more relevant.

“The one thing Probation hasn’t had is the voice of an elder that’s familiar with the community,” he said. “For our clients, someone like that telling them what they need to do resonates more than someone who doesn’t have the same status in the community. It’s a great thing to have his perspective.”

Andy already plans to incorporate culture and tradition as a way to empower clients. He hopes the integration of traditional culture will help break down the institutionalized feeling that many clients have about probation.

“Before, I only had parts of the puzzle,” explained Andy, describing his former role as court bailiff. “Now I have to go through all the client files and make recommendations. I have the whole puzzle to work with now.”

Andy has always used his time with clients to encourage them to comply with court orders and become involved with their culture as a way to heal.

“In some ways it’s identical,” said Andy, comparing previous work with Tulalip Police to his new position as probation officer. “I am dealing with someone’s life.”

As probation officer, Andy is responsible for monitoring over 180 clients, with the assistance of two additional staff members. He has to provide sentencing recommendations, not only in Tulalip Tribal Court, but also state, federal and other tribal courts. The Probation Department coordinates with a variety of tribal entities including the Tulalip Central Drug and Alcohol Testing Department, Behavioral Health Services, and various State and Federal probation and correction departments.

Andy will spend the next few months orientating himself with each client file and new probation software.

“This is a hard job,” said Andy. “I am not perfect and I stress that to clients. I will treat them with respect and let them know we all make a difference, and we all have a purpose.”




Gov. Inslee signs ban on tanning beds for those under 18

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)


By Associated Press

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Teens under the age of 18 will be banned from using tanning beds in Washington state under a measure signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Inslee signed Senate Bill 6065 Thursday, and it goes into effect in mid-June.

Users of tanning equipment would have to show a driver’s license or other form of government-issued identification with a birth date and photograph. Tanning facilities that allow people under age 18 to use a tanning device could be fined up to $250 per violation. The measure allows teenagers to use a tanning bed or related device if they have a doctor’s prescription.

California, Illinois, Nevada, Texas, Vermont and Oregon ban the use of tanning beds for all minors under 18, and at least 33 states and the District of Columbia regulate the use of tanning facilities by minors, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New law offers protection to abused Native American women

Lisa Brunner in Mahnomen County, Minn., home of the White Earth Indian Reservation. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)
Lisa Brunner in Mahnomen County, Minn., home of the White Earth Indian Reservation. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)

By Sari Horwitz, Washington Post

In WHITE EARTH NATION, Minn. — Lisa Brunner remembers the first time she saw her stepfather beat her mother. She was 4 years old, cowering under the table here on the Ojibwe reservation, when her stepfather grabbed his shotgun from the rack. She heard her mother scream, “No, David! No!”

“He starts beating my mother over the head and I could hear the sickening thud of the butt of the shotgun over her head,” Brunner said. “Then he put the gun back on the rack and called her a bitch. He slammed the bedroom door and sat down on the squeaky bed. And then I heard the thud-thud of his cowboy boots as he laid down, squeaking again, and he went to sleep.”

There were many more beatings over the years, Brunner said. Twenty years later, she said, she was brutally assaulted by her own husband on this same Indian reservation, an enormous swath of Minnesota prairie that has seen its share of sorrow for generations.

An estimated one in three Native American women are assaulted or raped in their lifetimes, and three out of five experience domestic violence. But in the cases of Brunner and her mother, the assailants were white, not Native American, and that would turn out to make all the difference.

President Obama, joined by Vice President Biden, members of women’s organizations, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, survivors, advocates and members of Congress, signs the Violence Against Women Act in March. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)
President Obama, joined by Vice President Biden, members of women’s organizations, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, survivors, advocates and members of Congress, signs the Violence Against Women Act in March. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

For decades, when a Native American woman has been assaulted or raped by a man who is non-Indian, she has had little or no recourse. Under long-standing law in Indian country, reservations are sovereign nations with their own police departments and courts in charge of prosecuting crimes on tribal land. But Indian police have lacked the legal authority to arrest non-Indian men who commit acts of domestic violence against native women on reservations, and tribal courts have lacked the authority to prosecute the men.

Last year, Congress approved a law — promoted by the Obama administration — that for the first time will allow Indian tribes to prosecute certain crimes of domestic violence committed by non-Indians in Indian country. The Justice Department on Thursday announced it had chosen three tribes for a pilot project to assert the new authority.

While the law has been praised by tribal leaders, native women and the administration as a significant first step, it still falls short of protecting all Indian women from the epidemic of violence they face on tribal lands.

The new authority, which will not go into effect for most of the country’s 566 federally recognized Indian tribes until March 2015, covers domestic violence committed by non-Indian husbands and boyfriends, but it does not cover sexual assault or rape committed by non-Indians who are “strangers” to their victims. It also does not extend to native women in Alaska.

Proponents of the law acknowledge that it was drawn narrowly to win support in Congress, particularly from Republican lawmakers who argued that non-native suspects would not receive a fair trial in the tribal justice system.

For their part, native women say they have long been ill-served by state and federal law. U.S. attorneys, who already have large caseloads, are often hundreds of miles away from rural reservations. It can take hours or days for them to respond to allegations, if they respond at all, tribal leaders say. Native women also have to navigate a complex maze of legal jurisdictions.

“There are tribal communities where state police have no jurisdiction and federal law enforcement has jurisdiction but is distant and often unable to respond,” said Thomas J. Perrelli, a former associate attorney general who was one of the administration’s chief proponents of the amendment. “There are tribal communities where the federal government has no jurisdiction but state law enforcement, which has jurisdiction, does not intervene. And there are still other tribal lands where there is a dispute about who, if anyone, has jurisdiction. All of this has led to an inadequate response to the plight of many Native American women.”

More than 75 percent of residents on Indian reservations in the United States are non-Indians. In at least 86 percent of the reported cases of rape or sexual assault of American Indian and Alaska native women, both on and off reservations, the victims say their attackers were non-native men, according to the Justice Department.


Main Street in Mahnomen, Minn.

Main Street in Mahnomen, Minn. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)


Heavy snow slides off grain and seed storage units on the White Earth Nation reservation.

Heavy snow slides off grain and seed storage units on the White Earth Nation reservation. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)


‘Not enrolled’

The loophole in the American Indian justice system that effectively provides immunity to non-
Indians is the story of a patchwork of laws, treaties and Supreme Court decisions over generations.

At the root of the confusion about Indian jurisdiction is the historical tension over Indian land. As American settlers pushed Native Americans off their tribal lands and then renegotiated treaties to guarantee tribes a homeland, large areas of the reservations were opened for white families to homestead.

That migration led to the modern-day reservation, where Indians and non-
Indians often live side by side, one farm or ranch home belonging to a white family, the next one belonging to an Indian family. It is a recipe for conflict over who is in charge and who has legal jurisdiction over certain crimes.

“The public safety issues in Indian country are so complicated,” said Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch, one of the Justice Department officials who focus on tribal justice issues. “No one would have ever designed a system from scratch to look like the system that has come down to us through the generations.”

Over the past 200 years, there have been dramatic swings in Indian-country jurisdiction and the extent of tribal powers.

In 1978, in a case widely known in Indian country as “Oliphant,” the Supreme Court held that Indian tribes had no legal jurisdiction to prosecute non-
Indians who committed crimes on reservations. Even a violent crime committed by a non-Indian husband against his Indian wife in their home on the reservation — as Brunner said happened to her on the White Earth Nation reservation — could not be prosecuted by the tribe.

The court said it was up to Congress to decide who had that authority.

“We are not unaware of the prevalence of non-Indian crime on today’s reservations, which the tribes forcefully argue requires the ability to try non-Indians,” the court said. “But these are considerations for Congress to weigh in deciding whether Indian tribes should finally be authorized to try non-Indians.”

Congress took no action for 35 years.

As a result, native women who were assaulted were often told there was nothing tribal police could do for them. If the perpetrator was white and — in the lingo of the tribes — “not enrolled” in the tribal nation, there would be no recourse.

“Over the years, what happened is that white men, non-native men, would go onto a Native American reservation and go hunting — rape, abuse and even murder a native woman, and there’s absolutely nothing anyone could do to them,” said Kimberly Norris Guerrero, an actress, tribal advocate and native Oklahoman who is Cherokee and Colville Indian. “They got off scot-free.”

In 2009, shortly after taking office, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. was briefed by two FBI agents on the issue of violence on Indian reservations.

They told him about the soaring rates of assault and rape and the fact that on some reservations, the murder rate for native women is 10 times the national average.

“The way they phrased it was, if you are a young girl born on an Indian reservation, there’s a 1-in-3 chance or higher that you’re going to be abused during the course of your life,” Holder said in an interview. “I actually did not think the statistics were accurate. I remember asking, ‘check on those numbers.’ ”

Officials came back to Holder and told him the statistics were right: Native women experience the highest rates of assault of any group in the United States.

“The numbers are just staggering,” Holder said. “It’s deplorable. And it was at that point I said, this is an issue that we have to deal with. I am simply not going to accept the fact it is acceptable for women to be abused at the rates they are being abused on native lands.”

Measuring tape

Diane Millich, left, joins Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, at the bill-signing ceremony in March.

Diane Millich, left, joins Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Deborah Parker, vice chairwoman of the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state, at the bill-signing ceremony in March. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)


Diane Millich grew up on the Southern Ute Indian reservation, nestled in the mountain meadows of southwestern Colorado. When she was 26, she fell in love and married a non-Indian man who lived in a town just beyond the reservation.

Not long after they were married, Millich’s husband moved in with her and began to push and slap her, she said. The violence escalated, and the abuse, she said, became routine. She called the tribal police and La Plata County authorities many times but was told they had no jurisdiction in the case.

One time after her husband beat her, Millich said, he picked up the phone and called the sheriff to report the incident himself to show that he couldn’t be arrested, she said. He knew, she said, there was nothing the sheriff could do.

“After a year of abuse and more than 100 incidents of being slapped, kicked, punched and living in terror, I left for good,” Millich said.

The brutality, she said, increased after she filed for a divorce.

“Typically, when you look backwards at crimes of domestic violence, if less serious violence is not dealt with by the law enforcement system, it leads to more serious violence, which eventually can lead to homicide,” said Hirsch, the deputy associate attorney general.

One day when Millich was at work, she saw her ex-husband pull up in a red truck. He was carrying a 9mm gun.

“My ex-husband walked inside our office and told me, ‘You promised until death do us part, so death it shall be,’ ” Millich recalled. A co-worker saved Millich’s life by pushing her out of the way and taking a bullet in his shoulder.

It took hours to decide who had jurisdiction over the shooting.

Investigators at the scene had to use a measuring tape to determine where the gun was fired and where Millich’s colleague had been struck, and a map to figure out whether the state, federal government or tribe had jurisdiction.

The case ended up going to the closest district attorney. Because Millich’s husband had never been arrested or charged for domestic abuse on tribal land, he was treated as a first-time offender, Millich said, and after trying to flee across state lines was offered a plea of aggravated driving under revocation.

“It was like his attempt to shoot me and the shooting of my co-worker did not happen,” Millich said. “The tribe wanted to help me, but couldn’t because of the law. In the end, he was right. The law couldn’t touch him.”

Section 904

Last year, Millich and other American Indian women came to Washington to tell their stories to congressional leaders. They joined tribal leaders in lobbying for the passage of the 288-page reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which included language proposed by the Justice Department that for the first time would allow tribal courts to prosecute non-
Indians who assaulted native women on tribal lands. It would also allow the courts to issue and enforce protective orders, whether the perpetrator is Indian or non-Indian.

Opponents of the provision, known as Section 904, argued that non-native defendants would not be afforded a fair trial by American Indian tribes. In the case of Alaska, the Senate excluded Native Alaskan women because of especially complicated issues involving jurisdiction.

At a town hall meeting, Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) said that “under the laws of our land, you’ve got to have a jury that is a reflection of society as a whole.”

“On an Indian reservation, it’s going to be made up of Indians, right?” Grassley said. “So the non-Indian doesn’t get a fair trial.”

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.), another opponent, said the Violence Against Women Act was “being held hostage by a single provision that would take away fundamental constitutional rights for certain American citizens.”

The bill passed the Senate last February but was held up by House Republicans over Section 904. They argued that tribal courts were not equipped to take on the new responsibilities and non-Indian constituents would be deprived of their constitutional rights without being able to appeal to federal courts.

“When we talk about the constitutional rights, don’t women on tribal lands deserve their constitutional right of equal protection and not to be raped and battered and beaten and dragged back onto native lands because they know they can be raped with impunity?” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) argued on the floor.

Underlying the opposition, some congressmen said, was a fear of retribution by the tribes for the long history of mistreatment by white Americans.

With the support of Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), a member of the Chickasaw Nation, the House accepted the bill containing Section 904 on a vote of 229 to 196. On March 7, President Obama signed the bill with Millich, Holder and Native American advocates at his side.

The Justice Department has chosen three Indian tribes — the Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona, the Tulalip Tribes of Washington state and the Umatilla tribes of Oregon — to be the first in the nation to exercise their new criminal jurisdiction over certain crimes of domestic and dating violence.

“What we have done, I think, has been game-changing,” Holder said. “But there are still attitudes that have to be changed. There are still resources that have to be directed at the problem. There’s training that still needs to go on. We’re really only at the beginning stages of reversing what is a horrible situation.”

Lisa Brunner and her daughter, Faith Roy, fold clothes at home on the White Earth Indian reservation in Minnesota.

Lisa Brunner and her daughter, Faith Roy, fold clothes at home on the White Earth Indian reservation in Minnesota. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)


‘Sliver of a Full Moon’

Last summer, several Native American survivors of domestic violence from around the country put on a play, “Sliver of a Full Moon,” in Albuquerque. The play documented the story of the abuse and rape of Native American women by non-Indians and the prolonged campaign to bring them justice.

Using the technique of traditional Indian storytelling, Mary Kathryn Nagle, a lawyer and member of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma, wove together their emotional tales of abuse with the story of their fight to get Washington to pay attention.

Millich and Brunner played themselves, and actors played the roles of members of Congress, federal employees and tribal police officers who kept answering desperate phone calls from abused native women by saying over and over again, “We can’t do nothin’, ” “We don’t have jurisdiction,” and “He’s white and he ain’t enrolled.”


Lisa Brunner, seated, with her daughters Samantha, left, and Faith Roy.

Lisa Brunner, seated, with her daughters Samantha, left, and Faith Roy. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)


Brunner portrayed herself in a play that told the story of the abuse and rape of Native American women by non-Indians and the campaign to bring them justice.

Brunner portrayed herself in a play that told the story of the abuse and rape of Native American women by non-Indians and the campaign to bring them justice. (Linda Davidson/The Washington Post)


By that time, Brunner’s intergenerational story of violence and abuse had taken a painful turn. Her youngest daughter, 17, had been abducted by four white men who drove onto the reservation one summer night. One of them raped her, Brunner said.

It was the real-life version of author Louise Erdrich’s acclaimed fictional account of the rape of an Ojibwe woman by a non-Indian in her 2012 book, “The Round House.” In both the real and the unrelated fictional case, the new congressional authority would not give the tribe jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute the suspects, because they were not previously known to the victim.

Last week, inside her home on the frigid White Earth Nation, which was dotted by vast snowy cornfields and hundreds of frozen lakes, Brunner brought out a colorful watercolor she had painted of three native women standing in the woods under a glowing full moon. The painting was the inspiration for the title of Nagle’s play, she said, but it’s also a metaphor for the new law.

“We have always known that non-
Indians can come onto our lands and they can beat, rape and murder us and there is nothing we can do about it,” Brunner said. “Now, our tribal officers have jurisdiction for the first time to do something about certain crimes.”

“But,” she added, “it is just the first sliver of the full moon that we need to protect us.”

Tougher Washington law against drunken boating

Source: Associated Press

OLYMPIA — Washington’s boating under the influence law becomes tougher under a law signed Thursday by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee.

The biggest change makes BUI a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.

KNDO also reports boat operators who are suspected of being intoxicated could be fined $1,000 if they refuse a breath or blood test.

Changes in the BUI law take effect July 28.