Port Gamble S’Klallam Reentry Program
Awarded $1 Million from Department of Justice
Money to be used to expand Tribe’s “Human Dignity Model”
of reentry into Kitsap County Jail system
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s Reentry Program has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Adult Comprehensive Community-based Adult Reentry Grant to expand their proven model into the Kitsap County Jail system. PGST is the only Tribe in the nation to be awarded money from this DOJ program during the current cycle.
This money will be used over a three-year period in a government-to-government partnership in creating the infrastructure to implement a robust Reentry program within the Kitsap County Jail using the Tribe’s successful “Human Dignity Model.” This includes the use of Risk & Needs Assessments, a critical tool that help Success Coaches create comprehensive and collaborative strategies as well as tailored support services with the goal of reducing recidivism, creating a Universal healing re-entry model, and creating a cultural shift with corrections.
Since 2013, PGST’s Reentry program has been helping Tribal members who have struggled with addiction and criminal justice issues reintegrate back to health and productivity. Unlike many reentry programs which tend to be punitive, focusing solely on avoiding re-arrest, PGST’s model helps the client attain the basic life skills, training, and well-being necessary for community involvement.
Program Manager Janel McFeat coined the term “Human Dignity Model” in describing PGST’s program; that is having Success Coaches who work closely and develop a connection with clients as partners while addressing a broad array of risk and protective factors facing formerly incarcerated individuals, including addiction, trauma, and behavioral health. While this methodology is unique throughout much of the United States, PGST’s Reentry’s program is guided by global best practices established by the United Nations for the treatment of the incarcerated.
This approach has offered impressive results: since the program’s inception, PGST has reduced recidivism by 81 percent with their target population.
“Reentry has helped illuminate an alternative way of thinking about how to support tribal members struggling with addiction and criminal justice issues in the community. Participants’ success is a testament to the ways in which the Port Gamble S’Klallam community fosters personal resiliency and, in turn, advances the well-being of the community as a whole,” said Christine Barone, Director, PGST Court Services, which oversees the Reentry program.
The success of PGST’s Reentry program began catching the attention of other tribes as well as governments and law enforcement entities who are struggling with similar problems. Lt Penny Sapp, with the Kitsap County Sherriff’s Department, recognized that PGST’s model could help solve the “revolving door” of inmates coming through the county’s jail system.
“(In the Kitsap County jail), we want to see people get the help they need,” said Lt. Sapp. “We see them come in and out of the jail, and we want them to understand why they keep coming back. We know it’s because they commit crimes, but we want to get to the root of the problem.”
PGST Reentry actually began working in the Kitsap County Jail in 2015 with funding from the DOC’s Second Chance Adult Reentry Demonstration Grant. This small trial was such a success that the county encouraged PGST to find additional funds for an expansion that would include core elements like Risk & Needs Assessment, Trauma Informed Care, Resilience Training, Cognitive Science and other evidence-based techniques designed to get to the root of the issues causing people to reoffend.
“It’s a breath of fresh air to see people so dedicated to the mission of helping others reintegrate back into the community. They make connections and bring people together,” said Lt. Sapp.
While Lt. Sapp expressed excitement for the forthcoming program expansion, she acknowledged challenges; namely, changing the mindset of staff to focus on positive outcomes versus punishment as well as the short-term nature of the jail system where the average length of stay is just 18 days. Unfortunately, in the current system, this isn’t nearly enough time to identify corrective resources. These issues are currently being addressed and assessed during a planning phase before the full program is rolled out.
Also a part of the partnership between PGST and Kitsap County is The Pacific Institute® (TPI). Based out of Seattle, TPI is global consultancy has been working in the field of cognitive and social science with an emphasis on mindset development for over 50 years.
All agree that this approach to re-entry is a radical, requiring a cognitive shift in how jail staff and leadership think about those in their charge. To this end, the program includes a number of tools—including restorative circles, peer mentoring, conflict resolution, and job training—to help foster relationships and get those in the program to begin to make real, substantive changes.
Barone is impressed with the County’s willingness to seek out new solutions to old problems. “(The launch of Reentry in the Kitsap jail system) is a big, collective endeavor with the ultimate goal to successfully reintegrate into the community,” said Barone.
For Lt. Sapp, this introspection is worth the lives it could change: “While there will be some we can’t help, many of the people we see come through the system are really good people who just need some help. They think no one cares about them. With this program, we can show them someone does care and that we’re invested in their success.”
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s Reentry Program has been recognized on the local, state, and national levels for its innovative approach in helping those struggling to break the cycle of addiction and criminal behavior become sober and reintegrate into society.
Initially launched on the PGST reservation, the program is now being used on some level by other tribes and in the Kitsap County jail system. The team behind the effort regularly present at national conferences, helping to engage others to think outside-the-box and introducing them to concepts such as trauma-informed care, connection-based services, and evidence-based practices. Their success in reducing recidivism within the PGST community points to how their “People First” approach can change lives and make communities safer.
PGST Reentry staff have presented on the challenges and successes of the program to a number of thought leaders who have sought them out to learn more about their unique approach. This includes officials from the Department of Corrections and politicians, including, recently, Senator (D-WA) Patty Murray.
About THE PORT GAMBLE S’KLALLAM TRIBE
The Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, originally known as the Nux Sklai Yem or Strong People, are descendants of the Salish people who have been well-established in the Puget Sound basin and surrounding areas since 2400 B.C. In the late 1930s, the Port Gamble S’Klallam reservation, located on the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State, was established. Many of the Tribe’s members, who total about twelve hundred, still live there today.
For more information about the S’Klallam Tribe, please visit www.pgst.nsn.us.
About THE PACIFIC INSTITUTE®
The Pacific Institute® (TPI) is a global consultancy with over four decades of expertise in delivering customized solutions that empower organizations and individuals to improve performance and reach their full potential. Founded in 1971 in Seattle, Washington, TPI has served clients in over 60 countries and 23 languages. They’ve worked with over half of the current Fortune 1000 companies, as well as governments, educational institutions, professional athletes and sports teams, and other organizations. To date, more than 6.5 million people around the world have participated in their programs.
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