Unmet Need: Tribal “Offender” Re-Entry Support

May 9th, 2016

By Gabriel S. Galanda, Huy Chairman

The challenge of re-entry starts early on for Native Americans—it starts with the imprisonment of our youth.

Native youth are the most vulnerable group of children in the U.S.  They enter the prison pipeline at very young ages.

That is because over a quarter of Indian children live in poverty. They graduate from high school at a rate 17% lower than the national average, and are more than twice as likely to die as their non-Native peers. They suffer the highest juvenile suicide rate in the country, at more than double rate for the Caucasian youth suicide. They experience PTSD at a rate of 22%—triple the norm.

Nationally, Native youth are 30 percent more likely than Caucasian youth to be referred to juvenile court than have charges dropped, which results in their early entry into the system—and so it begins.

In turn, Natives endure the highest incarceration rate of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S., at 38% higher than the national rate.

Then, on the back end of the pipeline, when our relatives are finally released and return home, they are increasingly likely to repeat offend.  In Washington State, the recidivism rate for Native offenders has increased from 35% in 2007, to 42% in 2012.

And so it continues.

We must reverse this trend, and otherwise stem the prison pipeline for Native youth.