More Equitable: Improving Reentry Services for Native Americans

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Executives Transforming Probation & Parole Newsletter

Across the United States, Native Americans are overrepresented in the criminal legal system and are often prone to unique challenges and significant barriers that affect their reentry and reintegration. Interactions between federal, state and Native governments also complicate community efforts to address the distinct issues and gaps faced by Native American communities. As such, inequities continue to persist. For example, in Minnesota, Native Americans constitute about 1.1% of the state’s population yet Native American women account for about 20% of the state’s incarcerated population.

One example of a promising initiative emerging to address these disparities is the Bemidji Healing House in Minnesota. The Bemidji Healing House is a community-led and participatory initiative that has been proposed as one potential avenue to support Native Americans who are navigating reentry. Envisioned and developed from needs identified by formerly incarcerated Native American women, and designed by a Native architect, it will be a residence for Native American women who are reentering the community to receive culturally sensitive support, programming and services. To further solidify the community’s ownership of this initiative, community members will operate the Healing House instead of the Department of Corrections.

Initiatives like the Bemidji Healing House are promising examples of the intersection among EXiT’s policy aims to eradicate racial disparities, improve community supports for people on supervision, and recognize community members, families, and directly impacted people as equal partners in system reform.