Money challenge to tribes' sentencing authority

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) -- American Indian tribes authorized to triple the amount of time tribal members can spend in jail say they're challenged by a lack of funding.

The increase in sentencing authority from one year to three years for a single crime came two years ago under the federal Tribal Law and Order Act.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday shows that none of the 109 tribes who responded to a survey about increased sentencing were taking advantage of it. Nearly all of those tribes say they need money and technical help from the federal government to provide public defenders, establish or update criminal codes, and have sufficiently trained judges as the law requires.

The report shows 36 of the tribes surveyed are working toward the new authority.