Place Category: Specialized Court Projects
- CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF THE CHEHALIS RESERVATION
OFFENDER REENTRY PROGRAM
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
- PROGRAM OUTCOMES
Summary: This grant-funded program ensures the continuation of the Offender Reentry Program at the Chehalis Tribal Jail. The reentry program offers a range of holistic services and classes, such as behavioral health, education and cultural traditions to interested Native American inmates in the Chehalis tribal jail, regardless of tribal affiliation. Additionally, the program offers after-care services, to help the inmate gain stability and successfully renter their community upon release. The impact of this program has been indisputably positive and has been heralded by the community, the court, law enforcement, probation services and the jail as a crucial component to successfully reducing recidivism in this and other Native communities served by the Chehalis Tribal Jail.
Confederate Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Program Running Length:
2013 – Current
Leah Niccolocci, Director
420 Howanut Rd
Oakville, WA 98568
The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, Oakville, Washington, located in Grays Harbor county. The county services area is: Grays, Lewis, and Thurston.
The Chehalis Reservation occupies 4,849 acres. It is a rural community surrounded by farms and forested areas. The closest urban center for shopping and other services is the town of Centralia and is 20 miles away.
For many centuries, two large groups of Salish-speaking people lived along the Chehalis River. They lived in cedar longhouses with one end open to the water from which they received a bounty of salmon and other river-based sustenance.
These two groups were the Upper and Lower Chehalis, and they thrived for a long time, until the encroachment of white settlers forced them to give up their ancestral lands. Rejecting the unacceptable terms of the treaties offered by the US Government, the Chehalis were regarded as a “non-treaty” tribe. This meant financial aid from the government would be limited and unpredictable. Despite these challenges, the Chehalis people have endured through self-reliance and determination. As of 2015, there are 914 enrolled members of the Chehalis Tribe, 661 people both native and non-native live on the reservation, 41 percent of the reservation population is under the age of 18, and over 3,000 Native Americans living within 60 miles of the reservation travel to the reservation for services.
Previously, only Chehalis tribal member inmates were able to receive support services, and those services offered were sparse. We realized that inmates needed more services and a positive way to address the issues leading to incarceration.The Chehalis Tribal Jail contracts with tribes (9), city (3), and state (1) agencies and housed 365 inmates in 2015, 202 of whom were Native American and from several different tribes. Through the Offender Reentry Program, all inmates, regardless of tribal affiliation, now have the option to participate in the many services that are now a part of the system at the Chehalis Tribal jail.A FY 2013 Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation(CTAS) Purpose Area 3 (PA 3) award funded the developmentof the Offender Reentry Program, currently a vital part of the correctional system at the Chehalis Tribal Jail, has been exceptionally effective in reducing recidivism.Our Mission is to empower the community toward a healthy lifestyle; aid in the opportunity for growth and self-discovery in a safe, supportive and therapeutic environment– free from the destruction of alcohol, drugs, or violence.The Offender Re-entry program is housed within the Chehalis Tribal Behavioral Health Department. Services are brought into the Chehalis Tribal Jail on a daily basis. Such as: chemical dependency counseling, mental health counseling, life skills classes, domestic violence perpetrator treatment, financial literacy classes, parenting classes, culture and heritage classes, vocational counseling, and educational support for general equivalency obtainment; after care for up to one year is also offered and connection to community agencies and supports upon release. The program staffs a full-time Offender Re-entry Program Coordinator and Aftercare Specialist, in addition to three contractors to carry out program deliverables. The program partners with tribal departments who offer financial literacy and culture and heritage classes.The Offender Reentry Program is housed in the Tsapowum Chehalis Tribal Behavioral Health Department. The program is overseen by the Behavioral Health Director. The Program Coordinator is responsible for the day to day tasks of the program.Eligibility Criteria-All inmates, regardless of tribal affiliation
Referral Process – The program coordinator is given the jail roster weekly, and informed by jail staff when there is a new arrival; the jail roster identifies those enrolled in a federally recognized tribe. The program coordinator meets with the potential participant for program introductions, intake paperwork etc. The participant may choose all, one or two, or no services. The coordinator enrolls and schedules/assigns participants and notifies program staff of new enrollees for classes/groups. Inmates may also self-refer through an electronic kite process.
Termination Criteria –Participants may opt out at any time; although some are court ordered through the courts. The program received funding The Department of Justice/BJA’s CTAS purpose area 3 award.Chehalis Tribal Jail, Chehalis Probation department, Chehalis Behavioral Health, Chehalis Cultural Heritage Department, Chehalis Tribal Loan Funds, NW Indian College, InnerVoice Counseling, Vocational, and other tribal courts contracted with the Chehalis Tribal Jail for their inmates.Great communication with staff and jail, monthly meetings with jail, and program staff has helped to track and maintain all the different programs offered. Additionally the Jail safety training that staff are required to receive upon working in the jail system has been an important part of maintaining trust between all involved parties. Finally,maintaining a three-month schedule in advance; helps ensure that everything is predictable and all deliverables are carried out.While the short-term success of the program has been exceedingly successful, long-term success remains at stake when former offenders are unable to find long-term stability and support after release. Assistance in finding necessary elements after incarceration to facilitate positive lifestyle changes, such as employment, healthy housing options, chemical dependency programs, court advocacy or family services, remains challenging in the current program. Further due to space limitations in the jail we recognized the importance of maintaining a structured entry schedule three months in advance.We learned to be a cohesive team with transparent communication, support from one another. We learned the only problems that continue are the ones we don’t talk about. Safety in controlled environment is really important for staff and contractors to comply with. We had to learn each other’s various perspectives. Some inmates did not have basic reading glasses to complete assignments; we were able to later address these issues that enhanced their program participation.The program hasworked with 78 participants in the last year.Inmates in 2015 who did not participate in the Offender Reentry Program while incarcerated in the Chehalis Tribal Jail have a 45% recidivism rate when going through Chehalis Tribal Probation Services alone. Of the inmates participating in the Offender Reentry Program, only one was recidivate to the Chehalis Tribal Jail, and none from the Chehalis Tribal community itself.In the course of research for the Tribal Justice System 10-Year Strategic Plan, the community and the services staff of the Chehalis tribe expressed concern for long term public safety due to recurrent criminal activity. The tribe’s Strategic Plan addressed all departments of Tribal government and services to see how concerns in every area of the reservation affected the safety of the community and the Tribe’s criminal justice system. The Offender Reentry Program is a part of the Behavioral Health Department. Two of the primary recommendations for that department that came from research and interviews conducted for the Strategic Plan were, 1) maintaining the Offender Reentry Program at its current capacity, making sure the services that had not been implemented were, and 2) expanding the Offender Reentry Program to include aftercare services. These priorities were identified by the community, the court, the jail, law enforcement and confirmed by the Business Committee.
- CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF THE CHEHALIS RESERVATION
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