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With Des Moines—the state capitol—as its county seat, Polk County is the largest county in Iowa. Yet, despite continued population growth over the last 20 years, mental health funding for the county has remained stagnant. Like many jurisdictions across the United States, we are consistently seeking ways to work within these constraints to improve resources […]

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On any given day, there are more than 730,000 people incarcerated in more than 3,000 local jails across the United States. While many people assume that high incarceration rates are only concentrated in major cities, a recent report by the Vera Institute of Justice reveals that, in fact, small and rural counties are the main […]

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As Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” It’s hard to imagine a better example of the need for new ways of thinking than in the difficult challenge of criminal-justice reform at the local level of government. Whether you’re driven by a […]

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Relationship-building and data-information-sharing have proven to be invaluable assets for our agency, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD). In recent years, our agency—like many others—began to struggle with funding, jail overcrowding, slowed case processing, and increased average-lengths-of-stay (ALOS). To better identify the root cause of the problems, we created a Population Analysis Unit in […]

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As the project director of Charleston County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), I know firsthand the challenges counties face in improving their criminal justice systems and changing jail use. I also know the opportunities CJCCs present in building coalitions of government and community leaders to tackle these problems head-on. Thanks to our involvement in the […]

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Earlier this month, members of the Safety and Justice Challenge Network met in Denver to discuss progress on our shared goals of reducing jail incarceration while creating fairer, more effective justice systems. Stakeholders from 39 jurisdictions gathered to share their experiences and expertise in developing and implementing reform strategies, while also securing buy-in from their […]

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Dealing with the court system can be stressful and difficult for anyone. For people in St. Louis County, keeping track of court dates, fine amounts and payments is a labyrinthine process at best, deliberately opaque at worst. However, the experience in St. Louis County is not unique. It echoes the national conversation on citizens’ interactions […]

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Earlier this month, the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform released A More Just New York City, a report detailing its recommendations for reforming New York City’s criminal justice system. Based on a full year of inquiry, the Commission unanimously recommended closing Rikers Island jail, reducing the city’s jail population […]

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Criminal justice reform is happening all across the country—reducing jail and prison populations through alternative sentencing that may include substance abuse, mental health, or batterer intervention treatment. However, most professionals engaged in reform are focused solely on the perpetrators of crime, not the victims. During National Crime Victims Week, we must understand that crime can […]

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This blog post is the first in a series from the National Association of Counties—a Safety and Justice Challenge partner—highlighting SJC sites across the country working to create fairer, more effective justice systems.   Located on Florida’s Atlantic coast, Palm Beach County is the state’s third most populous county. The Palm Beach County Criminal Justice […]

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