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Stories of Change Among Justice-Involved American Indian Youth: From the Cross-Site Evaluation of OJJDP's Tribal Green Reentry Program

“Understanding what helps justice-involved American Indian (AI) youth to make positive changes in their lives and end or reduce their involvement in the tribal juvenile justice system is important for developing effective supports. This report presents perspectives on personal change among justice-involved AI youth who participated in the Tribal Juvenile Detention and Reentry Green Demonstration (“Green Reentry”) programs in three tribes.” Sections of this publication address: risk and protective factors affecting justice-involved AI youth; proposed culture-based protective factors-cultural identity, spirituality, and family and social connections; the Tribal Green Reentry programs-the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (RST), the Hualapai Indian Tribe, and the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI); perspectives on youth change in the Green Reentry program-character (sense of responsibility, personal pride and self-worth, focus on long-term life goals) emotional health and well-being (emotional openness and trust, anger management, experience of more positive emotions, decreased substance use, better understanding of traditional teachings and practices, stronger cultural identity, and improved connections with elders), school engagement (better school attendance, reduced tardiness, improved progress toward a diploma or GED, felt safer and able to focus, and appreciation for practical skills), community engagement (enthusiasm for giving back to their communities, sense of belonging, feeling of accomplishment, and feeling more noticed and respected by elders), and interpersonal relationships (able to express themselves openly, show respect, receive more approval from their families, and create and maintain healthy boundaries); and the conclusion that the Green Reentry supports positive change among American Indian youth.