Criminal justice committees offer broad perspective to solving correctional challenges

Criminal justice committees, boards and councils can play a critical role in assessing local needs and planning for the future. As criminal justice agencies seek to promote change, address public safety concerns or plan for resource allocation, they often look to established planning groups, such as commissions, boards and councils. These planning bodies can be very helpful for promoting strategic planning, coordinating efforts and addressing issues that affect multiple systems or agencies.

In fact, in many locations, such as in California where AB 109 forced radical change on counties for managing state parolees, these planning groups were instrumental in exploring options for handling a dynamic situation. And because these groups involve individuals who have a hand in many components of the overall system, the approach is comprehensive and often more broad reaching.

Individuals who typically participate in local planning councils for correctional matters include state DOC representatives, probation and parole agencies, prosecuting and defense attorneys, elected officials, educators, local courts, juvenile justice agencies, nonprofit providers and mental health providers among others.

GEO Reentry Services and BI have supported these groups with presentations on programs that address criminogenic needs, such as day reporting centers delivering evidence-based programs, and others that hold offenders accountable in the community, such as electronic monitoring programs. By exploring all options available, these groups are able to guide policy that can help communities respond to criminal justice needs effectively and efficiently.

Despite the potential for comprehensive and inclusive system planning to decrease crime, strengthen neighborhoods, and achieve cost savings,  not all system partners that work with offenders on the front and back ends of our justice system have been consistently included in state and local system planning efforts. A recent National Criminal Justice Association presentation, delivered by Tracey Trautman, Deputy Director Bureau of Justice Assistance (DOJ), Melanca Clark, Senior Council Access to Justice Initiative (DOJ), Dr. Lee Ayers, a commissioner of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission and council member of Jackson County Public Safety Coordinating Council, and Jeanne Smith, Director Colorado Division of Criminal Justice, highlights the incredible value of involving correctional and non-traditional partners with overlapping client populations, interests and missions.