OLYMPIA — Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced the team that will facilitate the Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIW/P) Task Force. Legislative appointments to the task force are expected later this month.
“This exceptional team will be crucial to the work of our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People Task Force,” Ferguson said. “They are ready to get to work. Tribal communities have experienced disproportionate violence for too long. This announcement is an important step forward in addressing systemic inequities and improving our state’s response.”
The task force will assess systemic causes behind the high rate of disappearances and murders of indigenous women and people. The team announced today will support the 21-member task force, and produce two reports to the Governor and Legislature in August 2022 and June 2023 to report the task force’s findings. The task force will include tribes and tribal organizations, as well as state and local policy makers.
The appointment process is underway for the task force members. The task force will begin meeting before the end of the year. The date of the meeting will be announced when it is set.
Task force staff
Annie Forsman-Adams is from the Suquamish Tribe and is a leader in addressing violence and victimization in indigenous communities since 2011. Annie embraces indigenous values and knowledge in her approach to creating systemic and equitable change on all levels. She is dedicated full-time to the task force.
Ellen Austin Hall is a Senior Policy and External Affairs Manager for the Attorney General’s Office. Ellen has focused student loan debt, civil rights and worker protection. Ellen also serves as the AGO’s federal liaison. Prior to joining the AGO, Ellen worked for former Congressman Ed Towns and received her master’s degree in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C.
MMIW/P Task Force
The task force will assess current data collection and reporting practices relating to MMIW/P, review prosecutorial trends, identify resources to support victim services and make recommendations for increasing training for best practices when working with tribes and tribal communities. The task force will report its findings in two reports to the Governor and Legislature in August 2022 and June 2023.
The Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and People (MMIW/P) Task Force is comprised of the following 21 members appointed by the Legislature:
- One member from each of the four legislative caucuses;
- Five appointees from federally recognized tribes appointed by the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs;
- One member representing the Seattle Indian Health Board;
- One member representing the NATIVE Project;
- One member representing the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board;
- One member representing the American Indian Health Commission;
- Two indigenous women or family members of indigenous women that have experienced gender-based violence;
- One member representing the Governor's Office of Indian Affairs;
- The chief of the Washington State Patrol or his or her representative;
- One member representing the Washington Attorney General’s Office;
- One member representing the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs;
- One member representing the Washington State Association of Counties;
- One member representing the Association of Washington Cities;
- One member representing the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys; and
One representative of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
The task force will build on legislation passed in 2018 and 2019 to improve data collection related to MMIW/P and hire two MMIW/P liaisons in the Washington State Patrol.
The following statistics are noted in Gov. Jay Inslee’s proclamation establishing May 5 as Washington State Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Day:
- Indigenous women go missing and are murdered at rates higher than any other ethnic group in the United States;
- Indigenous women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault;
- Nearly half of all indigenous women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner;
- The National Center for Disease Control notes that homicide is a leading cause of death for indigenous women and girls;
- An accurate count of how many indigenous women are affected is difficult, making the scope of the problem uncertain.
Beginning in October 2019, Attorney General Ferguson began convening federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement to discuss how to address the human rights crisis of MMIW/P. The task force will build on these conversations and other state efforts.
Washington state is home to 29 federally recognized tribes.
Washington’s Attorney General serves the people and the state of Washington. As the state’s largest law firm, the Attorney General’s Office provides legal representation to every state agency, board, and commission in Washington. Additionally, the Office serves the people directly by enforcing consumer protection, civil rights, and environmental protection laws. The Office also prosecutes elder abuse, Medicaid fraud, and handles sexually violent predator cases in 38 of Washington’s 39 counties. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.
Brionna Aho, Communications Director, (360) 753-2727; Brionna.email@example.com
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