By Amanda Essex
The National Institute of Corrections highlights three essential characteristics for a high-functioning criminal justice coordinating council (CJCC). The first is an appropriate and engaged membership with effective leadership. This highlights the importance of having the right people at the table for decision-making regarding local criminal justice systems.
The second is a capable criminal justice planning staff. It is necessary for CJCCs to have staff to “provide their committees with high-quality analytical information and operational support.” CJCCs need to have funding to pay for staff.
The third is a structured, data-guided, collaborative policy planning process. This means there is a process in place allowing identification of areas of potential change or improvement within the local justice system and develop policies and practices to address them. Those policies and practices are then evaluated in order to determine whether they are having the desired impact.
Tiana Glenna, criminal justice manager, Office of the County Administrator, Eau Claire, Wis.
What is your background and how did you end up being involved with your CJCC?
I have a master's in vocational rehabilitation, an undergrad in human development and family studies. I was law enforcement certified and jail officer certified (and) I am currently completing my organizational development certification. I was hired at the CJCC in Eau Claire County in 2008.
When and how was your CJCC created? What was the initial intent and/or goal of the council?
The CJCC was established by local ordinance in 2006. The mission of the council as stated in the establishing ordinance was to enhance public safety in the county “through community collaboration by ensuring offender accountability, providing effective rehabilitation programs and supporting the rights and needs of victims.”
What are some of the specific goals and efforts of your CJCC?
Evidence-based decision making (EBDM) has been a focal point since 2010 and that process has driven and guided our work. We are now continuing to work on EBDM but are also working with the Department of Human Services on the Stepping Up initiative and identifying those with mental health needs who have contact with our law enforcement.
We have increased work with our jail transitions—aiding people who have been in custody for 30 days or longer—in providing them with a soft handoff to services needed in the community.
How has your state legislature been involved with your CJCC? How can they support your work?
I have been appointed by our governor to sit on our state CJCC and our state EBDM policy team.
At this time, it is primarily information sharing between the local and state work. However, we are moving the function of the state CJCC to become more involved and active with the locals. We have a number of directives that are working to improve, increase and strengthen the local CJCCs across the state.
What are some of the biggest successes of your CJCC’s work? What about the biggest challenges?
Some of the biggest successes include:
- True sense of collaboration.
- Systems mapping.
- The creation of new programming to serve our population (pre-charge diversion, operating while intoxicated early intervention, bond supervision).
- Our work on national initiatives such as data-driven justice, EBDM and Stepping Up.
- Hiring of a data analyst.
- Use of data to drive program and policy changes.
Some of our challenges include:
- Establishing a communications plan in order to clearly and transparently communicate what you are doing both to your own staff and the community as a whole.
- County board and legislature understanding the scope and ability of a highly functioning CJCC. New laws/legislative changes should be proposed to the state CJCC for review to see what successes or obstacles the new change could pose to a county.
- Unfunded mandates.
In your efforts, who have you found needs to be at the table for the CJCC to accomplish its goals?
First is to have an identified director who has an operating budget funded by county tax levy rather than by grants. The position should be housed in a neutral location and staff is important, especially a data analyst. Overall, all department heads must be at each meeting. We also need an active member from the county board who relays information to the full board. The CJCC must have some authority directed by the resolution/county board.
This is the third in a series of blogs featuring interviews with members of local criminal justice coordinating councils. The first blog is here and the second is here. Interviews may have been condensed and were conducted in late 2018 by Amanda Essex, senior policy specialist, NCSL Criminal Justice Program.