Place Category: Specialized Court Projects
- CONFEDERATED SALISH AND KOOTENAI TRIBES FLATHEAD RESERVATION REENTRY PROGRAM (FRRP)
- PROGRAM DESCRIPTION
- PLANNING & IMPLEMENTATION
- PROGRAM OUTCOMES
Summary: The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) have developed an innovative and effective reentry program housed in their Tribal Defenders Office which serves the needs of Native Criminal defendants and their families using a holistic, client-centered approach. The Flathead Reservation and Reentry Program (FRRP) helps incarcerated Tribal members reenter to the Flathead Reservation. The program offers a variety of services including work placement, applications for social security and other benefits, individual case management, access to a clinical psychologist and an attorney to help with the collateral consequences of incarceration, and cultural mentoring that works to reconnect clients with their tribal community. Though any tribal member who would like to reenter to the reservation can take part in the program, focus is placed on helping offenders who are at the highest risk of recidivism due to co-occurring mental illness and/or substance abuse issues.
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT)
(406) 675-2700 Ext. 1125
Tribal Public Defenders
PO Box 278, Pablo, MT 59855
Program Running Length:
Funding for FRRP began in October of 2015. The program began seeing clients in 2016.
FRRP is located on the CSKT’s Flathead Reservation in northwestern Montana.
The Flathead reservation spans over 1.2 million acres between Missoula and Kalispell. It is surrounded by high mountain peaks and fertile valleys.
CSKT is a combination of the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai tribes. Of the approximately 7,753 CSKT enrolled members, around 5,000 live on or near the Flathead Reservation.
FRRP was developed to address the disproportionate number of Flathead members who were being lost to the criminal justice system.Adult CSKT members or members of other federally recognized tribes who are transitioning back to the Flathead Reservation from a correctional facility, and who are most at risk of recidivism due to co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders. Regardless of a client’s diagnosis, FRRP provides legal services and information to any incarcerated Tribal members who are planning for reentry to the Flathead Reservation.The idea for the FRRP stemmed primarily from the obvious need in the community. It was well known that the CSKT Flathead Reservation had a disproportionally high number of community members in Montana’s Justice System, many of whom were being lost and not returning to the reservation. Additionally, community members, inmates, and families of inmates began contacting the office searching for support and requesting reentry services. Through these requests, using the Holistic Defense approach, FRRP was formed.
The program officially began in early 2016 after CSKT received a 2-year grant, and subsequently a 1-year grant extension, from the U.S. Department of Justice in late 2015. The program quickly became well known and served over 300 people by its third year. Recently CSKT was awarded another federal grant to fund its operations through 2021. Over the next three years FRRP plans to focus more on program sustainability, reducing their need for continuous grant funding.FRRP aims to increase the successful reentry of previously incarcerated Tribal members to the reservation and preserve the culture and tradition of the community.FRRP is voluntary and designed using the four-pillar Holistic Defense model (designed by the Bronx Defenders) that CSKT uses in their Tribal Defenders Office: 1. Seamless access to services whether in-house or in collaboration with other service providers in the community; 2. Dynamic, interdisciplinary communication among staff; 3. Advocates with an interdisciplinary skill set so each member of the holistic defense team understands the roles of each discipline; and 4. A robust understanding of, and connection to, the community served.
Through using this approach, FRRP can meet clients where they are, determine their needs, and work with them from beginning to end. Individual case managers work with the clients before the client’s release from incarceration. Using the Reentry Intake and Screening Tool (RIAT), case managers can determine the needs of the clients. Once clients are released, case managers assist clients with applications for transitional and/or long-term housing and assist with obtaining the documents needed to apply for social security and other benefits. Case managers work closely with the CSKT Department of Human Resources and Development (DHRD) to help clients access vocational training, work placement, and transportation.
FRRP clients also have access to a reentry attorney who assists with planning the client’s parole and advocates for the client in the sentencing process at the state level, thus ensuring the Department of Corrections is aware of the rehabilitation needs identified by the RIAT. Additionally, the attorney helps the client work through the collateral consequences that can be caused by criminal convictions such as eviction and registration requirements.
In addition, FRRP clients work with the Tribal Defenders’ clinical psychologist. Offerings include individual and group chemical dependence and mental health treatments and, if necessary, referrals to Tribal Behavioral Health. An advocate with the Defenders’ assists clients to restore their suspended driver’s licenses.
Finally, FRRP offers access to cultural mentoring. Working with volunteer mentors who are approved by the tribal cultural committee, FRRP clients focus on reconnecting with the tribal community and practices. Mentoring may include, but is not limited to, individual counseling, mediation, and meetings with tribal elders.FRRP is administered by the Tribal Public Defenders Office and provides services to federally recognized tribal members involved with the legal system. The Department of Human Resources Development and Tribal Behavioral Health program also contribute to the program.
The Holistic Programming Director who oversees much of FRRP is SusetteBilledeaux and the Tribal Defenders Managing Attorney is Ann Miller. Additionally, FRRP has an AmeriCorps VISTA who assists in processing and presenting program data, a grant funded program evaluator, and in-house case managers and a psychologist who work with the clients.Eligibility: Any adult who is a member of CSKT or other federally recognized tribe who is transitioning back to the Flathead Reservation from a correctional facility is eligible to take part in the program.
Referrals: Referrals to FRRPmay come from tribal, county, or state correctional facilities. Clients and/or clients’ families may also reach out to FRRP independently to request services.
Case Flow: Prior to release, inmates in the Tribal jail, county, or state correctional facilities are screened by FRRP case managers using RIAT. This helps the case managers determine mental health issues as well as any housing, employment, financial, educational, and cultural needs of the client. The FRRP attorney works with the Department of Corrections and the client’s probation officer to create a probation plan and process the necessary paperwork and referral forms.
Termination Criteria:FRRP does not terminate any of its clients. Instead, a pause or stoppage of services may occur because clients lose contact with the program or choose to remove themselves from the program.CSKT funds the base operations of the Tribal Defenders Office. Special programming such as FRRP is funded through federal grants. The first 2-year grant for FRRP was awarded in 2015 (grant period 2016-2017) and was subsequently granted a 1-year extension through 2018. In 2018, CSKT received an additional 3-year grant of $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, and Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Act, funding FRRP for another three years.The FRRP receives technical assistance from the Council of State Governments. It also has help with the collection, analysis, and dissemination of program data. This data illustrates the program’s success, and identifies areas needing improvement. The data is also used to submit thorough grant reports, and to submit more competitive grant applications.
The Tribal Defenders Office, the office that oversees FRRP, was developed with the assistance of the Bronx Defenders who are well respected for their development and implementation of the holistic approach.FRRP’s largest partner is the CSKT Department of Human Resources and Development (DHRD). The DHRD assists in the seamless access to vocational rehabilitation, job placement, and public transportation. Additionally, FRRP works with the tribe’s cultural committees to train and approve mentors who aid in the cultural mentoring of clients.
The program evaluator, VISTA, and psychologists continue to analyze data for an assessment tool to predict recidivism.FRRP has experienced great success since its development in 2016. Much of this, according to Attorney Ann Miller, is the commitment, motivation, and determination of the Tribal Defenders Office staff. The adoption of the Holistic Defense model, the element that has made FRRP such an impressive program, is much more than a work style – it is a complete organizational shift fully embraced by the office staff. This also holds true for the partnerships that FRRP has developed. Although the partners themselves may not institute the same model, they have been cooperatively working with FRRP recognizing the impact the program has had in the community.
The use of Holistic Defense itself has been the primary driver in the program’s success. It eliminates many of the necessary steps that clients, who are often dealing with co-occurring struggles such as mental health issues, anxiety, addiction and/or homelessness, traditionally have to take to receive services. Instead, the program allows the clients to self-identify their issues, and then FRRP works with them, from start to finish, to ensure their needs are met.One of the biggest challenges for FRRP has been convincing stakeholders that the non-restrictive model of the program is successful. Often, reentry programs are supervision based and require strict oversight from probation officers and other program staff. FRRP takes this approach and turns it upside down. This model has been difficult for many people to understand. Another challenge facing FRRP is developing a sustainable funding source allowing the program to be less reliant on grant funds. Finding an alternative funding source will be much of the focus of FRRP over the next few years.FRRP has learned, first and foremost, that successful reentry starts before a client is released from incarceration, and that services should always be the main priority. FRRP has learned that allowing clients to determine their own needs, as opposed to being told what other people think they need and allowing clients to define their own success will make the most impact in a successful and sustainable reentry.
FRRP has also learned the importance of data and how powerful it can be. Through proper collection and analysis of current data, FRRP has been able to demonstrate its success, submit stronger grant applications, track FRRP progress, and set itself up for more sustainable programming down the road. Additionally, FRRP has also been able to identify important statistics such as recidivism rates and other outcomes for clients.
Lastly, FRRP has learned the importance of communication and clearly stating its capacity and abilities. This helps clients, partners, and program staff better understand and manage program expectations.From the program’s development in early 2016 through the end of its first grant period in 2018, FRRP served 319 clients, surpassing its goal of 260. Additionally, FRRP has had 600 referrals from tribal, county, and state correctional facilities. Since 2011, the Tribal Defenders help 200 of their clients restore their drivers’ licenses
For the newest grant period that runs through 2021, FRRP hopes to limit the amount of people they serve to 150 because they would like to place more focus on intensive one-on-one case management and program sustainability.At the completion of the second year of FRRP, the recidivism rate among clients was 34%. This is a significant reduction from the recidivism rate in 2015, prior to FRRP’s inception.Overall, the community members really want FRRP clients to be successful. Although they were aware of and supportive of the Tribal Defenders Office before the development of FRRP, community members and their families have been very supportive of FRRP. The program has also received great support from the State of Montana’s Department of Corrections which has been very important for the solidification of partnerships, client referrals, and available services.Flathead Reservation Reentry Program Fact Sheet (2018)
Tribal Defenders Office Fact Sheet (2019)
Tribal Defenders Office yearly Open House flyer
Flathead Reservation Reentry Informational Pamphlet
- CONFEDERATED SALISH AND KOOTENAI TRIBES FLATHEAD RESERVATION REENTRY PROGRAM (FRRP)
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