Federal Government Works to Expand Background Checks in Tribal Areas

Although the average American might not think about it often or even at all, there are two distinct systems of justice in the nation. Tribal sovereignty means that recognized Native American groups handle a wide range of law enforcement tasks internally. This includes operating their courts. However, the separate nature of Indian and federal resources has often meant that criminal background check procedures were more complicated than necessary. At times, key information could be inaccessible to tribal authorities.

A new initiative by the Department of Justice aims to help break down these barriers by expanding TAP, or the Tribal Access Program. What is this program, and how could it have a positive impact on tribes going forward? Here's what the new memo from Justice describes.

Improving the Flow of Information Through TAP

TAP facilitates access to the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems, Criminal Justice Information Services, and the National Crime Information Center. Between the FBI's national criminal database, records of protective orders and other information, this step will play a key role in providing a framework for safe, effective background checking in many situations. At the same time, TAP lets tribes contribute information back into these systems as well.

With the opening of a new application period, more tribes will have the opportunity to participate in TAP. The government will make extensive training and resources available to the tribes to facilitate implementation of TAP systems. The goal: de-silo this criminal information and create a more uniform approach to criminal reporting across these two distinct justice systems. There will be many opportunities to make an impact with this change.

Use Cases: How Better TAP Access Will Make a Difference

TAP could reshape how criminal background checks are done on reservations nationwide. More than that, it could open the door to improvements in a number of processes. These changes could include:

  • More accurate and up-to-date sex offender registries and more reliable results both on and off reservations.
  • Registration of felons with the government to prevent such individuals from obtaining guns.
  • Faster background checks for important positions of tribal authority or employment.
  • Integration of tribal court records into federal databases, so that wrongdoing on reservations can't fly under the radar.
  • Improved safety and regulatory compliance in the foster care system, ensuring that foster parents are trustworthy.

In short, TAP integration provides Indian law enforcement and justice systems with a suite of tools for uncovering records vital to preserving safety. Without TAP, it is much harder for some tribes to adequately protect their members from potential bad actors trying to break the law.

Improving Safety for the Future of Federally-Recognized Tribes

With a better way to carry out a criminal background check quickly on tribal lands, many groups may be able to improve safety in their communities. At the same time, collaboration with the federal government can help stop would-be criminals in places away from tribal reservations. The application period typically runs for two months each year.

Get instant updates on Criminal Background Checks

Michael Klazema

About Michael Klazema The author

Michael Klazema is the lead author and editor for Dallas-based backgroundchecks.com with a focus on human resource and employment screening developments

Michael's recent publications

More Like This Post

State Criminal Search

Virginia Criminal Search

A Virginia state background check can uncover more criminal records. Learn about these tools and the legal restrictions involved.

Order a Search for Virginia