U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Kenaitze's Continued Enhancement of the Henu Community Wellness Court

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Choose State...
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $750,000)

Kenaitze Indian Tribe (Kenaitze, “the Tribe”) is a federally recognized tribal government reorganized in 1971 under the statutes of the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, as amended for Alaska in 1936. The Tribe’s service area comprises the communities of Kenai, Soldotna, Sterling, Nikiski, Ridgeway, Kalifornsky, Cooper Landing, and Kasilof—a geographical area that spreads across more than 15,000 square miles of rural Alaska. Kenaitze serves 1,809 Tribal Members and approximately 4,410 Alaska Native/American Indian (AN/AI) residents of the central Kenai Peninsula. The total population living within the Tribe’s service area is approximately 35,943 people, most of whom are of European descent. The purpose of Kenaitze’s proposal to the DOJ BJA Adult Drug Court (ADC) Discretionary Grant Program “Category 2: Enhancement” (C-BJA-2022-00018-PROD) is to reduce recidivism and access barriers among Tribal/AN/AI individuals who are living with substance use disorders (SUDs, including alcohol); who have come into contact with the Tribal and/or State justice system as a result of non-violent, substance use-related criminal charges; and who have been accepted for enrollment in the joint-jurisdictional Henu Community Wellness Court (Henu). Specifically, Kenaitze seeks to enhance the Henu Court program by increasing the availability of participation and/or re-entry supports, including clothing, hygiene, housing, and transportation options; and expanding the supplies and services used for chemical testing in order to maintain participant accountability to this diversionary, alternative-to-incarceration program. Taken together, these proposed enhancements address Drug Court Standard 6, “Complementary Treatment and Social Supports”, by enabling Henu to accept new program referrals/approvals so that more eligible participants will benefit from the treatment pathways and reduced sentencing offered by this Tribal healing-to-wellness Court program. Further, these enhancements will enable the Henu Probation Officer (HPO) to connect un’ina with the range of existing support services offered by parallel Kenaitze programs, including child care assistance, social services, education, and career advancement among others; and most directly support clothing, hygiene, transportation, and housing assistance needs for up to fifteen (15) indigent and/or recently incarcerated Henu participants per year. The Henu Court structure is based on the Adult Drug Court standards and 10 Key Components of Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts, deploying a step-by-step process with specific guidelines that define the target population; eligibility requirements and community supervision; referral, screening, and assessment processes; case management and support services; interdisciplinary education; participation fees; judicial supervision and random chemical screens; incentives and sanctions; and aftercare. Like many other tribes under Public Law (PL) 280, Kenaitze has struggled to keep its Tribal Justice System operational amidst the lack of federal formula funding that is available to tribes in non-PL 280 states. Without the federal funding offered by this BJA opportunity, the Henu Court will not have the resources to implement these programmatic enhancements intended to serve an additional sixty (60) participants by the end of Year 4:

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

15 new participants

15 new participants

15 new participants

15 new participants

Although AN/AI persons make up 15 percent of Alaska’s population, they constitute about 36 percent of all prisoners in custody. This disproportionate rate of arrest by law enforcement shows a greater need for alternative justice programs such as Henu to reduce recidivism rates. Participant enrollment, status, achievement, Court, arrest and other data required to measure performance will be collected by the Project Director using the Tribe’s state-of-the-art system designed by Kenaitze’s Information Technology (IT) Division. This system allows users to customize necessary data points in a centralized secure framework through a user-friendly interface, and to tailor reports that the Henu Court team uses to review and analyze trends in the data that confirm whether the program is meeting its goals or may need continued program enhancement. These quantitative data include but are not limited to the number of un’ina referred, screened, admitted, enrolled, removed, and graduated, including the race/ethnicity and gender of participants; goals reached; support resource referrals, including Behavioral Health interventions; passed/failed UAs; in- and post-program arrests, charges, or other justice/law enforcement contacts; incentives/sanctions; probation referrals/reports filed; community service tasks/hours completed; transportation requests received/fulfilled; and employment and housing status among other metrics determined by the Henu Court team. These objective numeric measures complement the more subjective, qualitative data collected by the Behavioral Health Clinician(s) through treatment interactions with Henu un’ina, including continued post-program involvement; by the State and Chief Tribal Court Judges, through regular Courtroom compliance hearings, incentives, and/or sanctions; and by the HPO, through in-program monitoring and referral actions, as well as post-program contacts with the justice system and/or law enforcement. Maintaining productive, collaborative partnerships and communicating meaningful, data-driven successes to community stakeholders provides the strong underpinnings for continued local/regional support for Henu, its activities, and the shared benefits for sustaining the program.

Date Created: September 29, 2022