Western’s own Raquel Montoya-Lewis, a Fairhaven College associate professor, has recently been named a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice, a 14-member committee that advises the president and Congress on juvenile-justice matters.
The committee was established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and is supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, according to the committee’s website.
“I am very excited and looking forward to helping the field of juvenile justice move forward,” Montoya-Lewis said.
“I’m interested in making sure that whatever the priorities are, that part of what we do on the panel, as a committee, is to help the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention understand what the best practices are nationwide and have an alignment of priorities.”
Montoya-Lewis currently serves as chief judge for the Upper Skagit Indian Tribe and as an appellate judge for the Northwest Intertribal Court System and the Nisqually Indian Tribe. Until September 2011, she was also acting chief judge for the Lummi Nation.
As part of the committee, she will represent the interest of tribal communities, Montoya-Lewis said. She wants to ensure that juveniles in tribes are not forgotten in the system.
“Part of my goal will be to ensure that however we move forward, whether it’s figuring out what grant funding is going to look like, is to make sure tribal communities are a part of that process,” Montoya-Lewis said. “Most of the juveniles who are native and are in tribal communities are not well served by the current juvenile-justice policies.”
There are 527 federally recognized Native American tribes, which led the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention to add a member who would represent the voice of those communities, Montoya-Lewis said.
Montoya-Lewis, along with the rest of the committee, will not be paid for their service, as being a panel member is a volunteer position.
Before being named to the committee, Montoya-Lewis’ work in tribal law emphasized using diversion programs and services to help children and teenagers facing legal trouble get their lives back on track.
In addition to her work in tribal legal systems, Montoya-Lewis teaches in the law, diversity and justice program at Fairhaven. She has been a professor on campus for eight years and will to continue to both teach and work with tribes during her four-year term as a committee member, she said.