Many federally recognized Indian tribes exercise their sovereign ability to govern their tribal lands by enacting criminal
laws. Tribal police, or federal police from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services (BIA OJS) Division
of Law Enforcement, usually enforce these tribal laws. Prosecution of misdemeanor offenses (punishable by no more than
one year imprisonment) are usually handled in the local tribal court. If a tribal court meets certain standards, it
can also prosecute felony offenses.
If a criminal defendant is sentenced by the tribal court to a term of imprisonment, the sentence is served in the local
tribal jail or detention facility. Correctional facilities in Indian country are usually operated by the tribe.
If a tribe does not operate a correctional facility on its reservation, prisoners can be held by the BIA OJS Division of Corrections.
Pursuant to the Tribal Law & Order Act of 2010, the US Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is starting a Tribal Prisoner Pilot
Program. Under certain circumstances (including tribal request), the BOP will accept up to 100 tribally sentenced prisioners
and hold them in federal custody.