Solution Overview & Team Lead Details

Our Organization

Carma Corcoran Consulting

What is the name of your solution?

Coming Home from Incarceration: Finding Connection

Provide a one-line summary of your solution.

Native Americans coming home from incarceration need cultural support and community connection to overcome the barriers they face.

What specific problem are you solving?

The problem I am solving is the barriers experienced by Native people exiting incarceration and coming home. Native Americans, as an ethnic minority are over-represented in the criminal justice system of the United States. Using number provided by the Montana Department of Corrections provides the following information: Native Americans comprise 8% of the total population of the state. Native American prisoners who are male comprise 20% of the total prison population of Montana.  Native American prisoners who are female comprise 34% of the total prison population of Montana.  Native Americans in re-entry in Montana and on probation are 21% female and 15% male. 

Upon release from prison they face many barriers including; housing, transportation, employment, addiction, and mental health. Depending on the conditions and location of their probation they may be far from home. One of their greatest needs is connection. Connection to cultural ceremonies, culturally specific support groups, Elders and community. Without support and cultural connection, the odds of recidivism are high. Of 313 participants in Flathead Reservation Reentry Program 76% were considered at medium to high risk for reoffending. 

What is your solution?

My solution is to connect Native Americans who are exiting prison to both Native American Elders/Mentors who can offer them support and mentoring and to others who have newly exited prison and those who have successfully overcome the barriers of reentry. One of the barriers to finding support is one of distance. Many times, people are paroled out far from their homeland and people. My solution to connection is to form Zoom type support groups, issue based training, and one-on-one time with an Elder/Mentor. Utilizing technology such as smart phones, laptops, desktops, ipads etc.would provide each person with a reliable means to connect. My first task is to hold workshops employing the methods of Gentle Action Theory in concert with Traditional Ways of knowing and being to address the problem from within our communities. By holding workshops that model Gentle Action Theory while discussing traditional ways of conflict resolution, healing, and restoration we can create solutions to the issues of incarceration. The workshop brings together Elders, tribal leaders, program staff, families, community members and people who have been incarcerated. It creates an agreed upon model of solutions. It creates hope and healing. It transmits culture and traditions. It is best done in person. It can be done over a platform such as zoom. Support Programing can be designed and implemented by the tribal community in a way that is meaningful and culturally specific to their community. 

Strong preference will be given to Native-led solutions that directly benefit and are located within the Indigenous communities. Which community(s) does your solution benefit? In what ways will your solution benefit this community?

The target population whose lives I am working to directly and meaningfully improve are Native American women and men who are exiting prison. They are members of Tribes from all over the United States. I have been fortunate to be working both with individuals and on the issues of incarceration of Native American people for the last 20 years. I engage them in a number of ways. First in one-to-one relationships as I have been a mentor for many years. Secondly, am involved in the community. Thirdly, I work in a systematic manner by serving on advisory boards addressing the issue of incarceration of Native people and criminal justice. Most importantly, I have been putting on workshops in Indian Country on the Barriers to Coming Home engaging those who have been incarcerated, family members of current and previously incarcerated relatives, and the Native American leaders and community members. 

How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?

I am a team of 1. I am positioned well to design and deliver my solution. I am active across Indian Country addressing the issues of incarceration and reentry. In doing the workshops which are done both virtually and in-person depending on the need of the community I am presenting to, I am able to receive feedback, their creative suggestions, and ensuring that I meet the needs of their people. I employ a Gentle Action Theory in collaboration with Traditional Ways of Knowing and Being to co-create a solution. 

Where our solution team is headquartered or located:

Portland, Oregon, USA

Our solution's stage of development:


How many people does your solution currently serve?


Why are you applying to Solve?

The barriers I face are primarily technical and financial. I do not have the technological expertise to set-up and facilitate zoom type meetings across the country all at the same time with users like myself who do not have the experience of setting up break-out rooms, as well as knowing and handling video and audio, and collaboration facilities. I do not have the financial capability to assist with the purchase of phones, laptops, etc. for group members to participate in the support services. In addition, the cost of buying a license, be it zoom or another platform to be able to host for an extended time past an hour on an annual basis is beyond my personal reach. I am always grateful for mentoring and strategic advice! Lastly, while I have been able to hold a couple of workshops, I lack the funds to travel and put on workshops in areas where they are most needed.

In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?

  • Financial (e.g. improving accounting practices, pitching to investors)
  • Technology (e.g. software or hardware, web development/design, data analysis, etc.)

Who is the Team Lead for your solution?

Carma Corcoran

Please indicate the tribal affiliation of your Team Lead.


Is the Team Lead a resident of the United States?


Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?

Promote holistic and culturally informed mental or physical health programming for Native youth, elders, or families including but not limited to foster youth, veterans, and families with members who are disabled.

More About Your Solution

What makes your solution innovative?

My solution provides a new solution to an on-going problem that has never been addressed. It can be catalytic in that it can help reduce recidivism. It can have a broader positive impact on others in this space by broadening their understanding on an issue that affects all of us in Indian Country. Additionally, others can apply their knowledge and technical expertise to improve on and enhance the model created by me.

What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?

My goals for the next five years are to:

  • Increase the amount of outreach that I am currently doing
  • Increase the number of workshops I hold each year
  • Advance the understanding of the barriers Native Americans coming home experience both in Indian Country and the larger society
  • Build the pilot project so that it is serving a substantial number of people and communities
  • Reduce Recidivism of Native American people

How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?

Measurable Indicators which I am now using include:

  • How many workshops am I doing a year?
  • How many attendees do I have at each workshop?
  • What are the follow-up requests for workshops?
  • What other opportunities are presented as a result of the workshops?
  • *Future measurables will include the number of program participants who have not reoffended

What is your theory of change?

My theory of change is grounded in Gentle Action Theory and Traditional Ways of Knowing and Being. In the words of its creator, F. David Peat, “I suggest that this is a form of "gentle action(c)", something very different from the actions and solutions that have been posed in the past. Past actions tend to be fragmentary, strong, reactive, imposed within limited domains and can lead to unpredictable results. When applied to sensitive systems they may overwhelm the system's inherent dynamics, when applied to rigid systems they may have little effect.

By contrast "gentle action(c)" is the intelligent, coordinated application of very small effects that apply to the system as a whole. Gentle action is non-mechanical and non-local. It arises out of the very essence of the system itself. It the action that arises out of a watchful suspension, rather than an attempt at domination and control. Since this idea is still in the stage of unfolding it is easiest to deal in terms of metaphors and examples.

Clearly the idea of "gentle action(c)" is appropriate to systems that are highly sensitive to their boundary conditions. Such systems have complex dynamics and any attempt to impose control via some local application of force will result in unpredictable effects. However, such systems can be tuned and adjusted by means of vanishingly small changes in their boundary conditions. The whole key to such gentle change, however, lies in the intelligent and global co-ordination of effects."

In my work applying Gentle Action Theory and Traditional Ways of Knowing and Being, I have found a way to address societal issues while forming a solution that works and is co-created by the society in which I am working.

Describe the core technology that powers your solution.

The core technology that powers my solution is a technological system, that of the Internet. Second is the use of Mobile technology such as computers, laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc. as well as mobile technology still being developed. Platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, and Whova can all be used as part of my solution.

Which of the following categories best describes your solution?

A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful

Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:

  • Ancestral Technology & Practices
  • Audiovisual Media
  • Internet of Things

Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?

  • 3. Good Health and Well-being
  • 10. Reduced Inequalities
  • 16. Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
  • 17. Partnerships for the Goals

In which countries do you currently operate?

  • United States

In which countries will you be operating within the next year?

  • United States

In which states will you be operating within the next year?

  • Alaska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Mexico
  • Oregon
  • Washington

Solution Team

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