The System’s Design: How Do the Original Americans Navigate? Racial Equity and the Criminal Justice System


Monday, February 6, 2023
11:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Session Type: Workshop

The criminal justice system was designed for the experience BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) are having today. This system is not broken. It was not designed to protect Native people. Racial equity in criminal justice is a necessity for reform and a necessity to protect the contemporary consciousness of criminal justice advocates and employees. Introduce shared language and concepts of change while working within the criminal system. As a result of the workshop participants will gain an understanding of system navigation, government to government politics, and reconciliatory and emerging practices in Native American reentry.


Osceola Fortner
Case Manager, Native American Reentry Services

Osceola Fortner is an enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. He currently provides case management for Native American Reentry Service's HEAL for Reentry program. His role at NARS as a case manager is to ensure cultural as well as social/community services are made available to the HEAL for Reentry program participants. Osceola finds fulfillment in his current position supporting his community with reentry support, case management and healing. He is passionate about gaining as much knowledge and wisdom as he can, and to this end he is working towards obtaining an Associates of Arts and Science, leading to a Bachelor's degree with which he'll continue to support Indigenous communities. In addition to case management, Osceola incorporates Wellbriety into his reentry support as a certified Warrior Down Recovery Coach. Having experienced the Iron House first hand, Osceola’s journey towards Wellbriety began when he was chosen to lead Medicine Wheel & 12 Step classes for his fellow hoop members. He facilitates activities such as sweat lodge, Medicine Wheel & 12 Step, distributes traditional medicines, and other resources that support spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical healing and growth.

Winona Stevens
Executive Director, Native American Reentry Services

Winona Stevens is a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin. Her commitment to serving Native Americans affected by incarceration led her to launch Native American Reentry Services. Her organization has two programs: Iron House Medicine and HEAL for Reentry. To further support our brothers and sisters involved in the criminal justice system, Winona’s work includes being a trainer for White Bison’s Wellbriety Training Institute, a consultant for the American Probation & Parole Association’s Washington State Tribal Intergovernmental Reentry Workshop, consulting with WA State’s Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration on the implementation of their religious program policy, and has contracted with the WA State Department of Corrections, administering their Native American Religious Programs. Additionally, Ms. Stevens serves on the following boards: Huy, the Washington Statewide Reentry Council (Governor appointed Tribal Affairs Representative), and the University of Washington’s Native American Advisory Board. Winona received her Master’s Degree in Social Work at the University of Washington. She has held many positions which include Adjunct Professor at Northwest Indian College, White Bison Recovery Coach and New Directions Anger Management Group Facilitator.

Leandru Willie
Program Manager, Native American Reentry Services

Leandru Willie is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and has recently transitioned from managing the Iron House Medicine program to managing the HEAL for Reentry program manager. In 2015, Leandru decided to further his education by attending Pierce College to obtain an Associates of Arts degree before transferring to the University of Washington Tacoma. Leandru is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree, majoring in Law & Policy with a minor in Human Rights. In addition to Leandru’s academic accomplishments, he became the first formerly incarcerated person to manage Washington DOC’s Native American religious program. The unique life experiences Leandru and others provide is a critical contribution to the work we do. After battling with drugs and alcohol for much of his life, Leandru now aims to inspire others to not let their criminal history dictate the rest of their lives. While incarcerated, he was reintroduced to the sweat lodge and developed a system of support that has strengthened his transition back to the community. Now he is in a position to help others as they come home and believes in helping those that are willing to help themselves.