2018 OJCP Award Recipients

Below are the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program award winners for 2018. Click below to view more information about:

Northeastern Region

Hope House

Hope House in Washington, D.C., offers programming for prisoners and their families to strengthen familial bonds and reduce recidivism. Hope House’s Father-to-Child programs focus on improving relationships between children and their incarcerated fathers to reduce the hardships families experience when a loved one is incarcerated far from home.

Hope House started in 1998 after the closure of DC’s Lorton Correctional Complex caused thousands of DC inmates to be transferred to facilities across the country. The closure placed a financial burden on families who now had to travel long distances to maintain relationships with their loved ones. Hope House offers four Father-to-Child programs to support these important family connections.

The Father-to-Child Reading program connects families through shared reading. Parents record audios and videos of themselves reading stories to their children which are then sent along with copies of brand new books at no cost to the family’s home. Through this program, roughly 3,000 children each year receive messages from their fathers and are encouraged and excited to read.

The Father-to-Child Teleconference program allows incarcerated parents to maintain ongoing, face-to-face conversations with their children through teleconference. Staff members bring children to the Hope House offices weekly to video chat with their parents and catch up.

The Homework Project allows fathers to mentor their children and supports critical thinking skills. Hope House developed a specialized curriculum, approved by the Bureau of Prisons for use nationwide, which allows fathers to design projects based on current events, or important issues, and support their children through completion of the assignment. Dads meet weekly with Hope House’s Homework Project Coordinator who teaches mentoring skills and offers ongoing assistance.

The Father-to-Child Summer Camp gives children the opportunity to spend five days with their fathers inside the prison. To participate, fathers must take parenting classes and maintain a clean behavioral record for one year before camp. Children ages 9 to 14 visit the prison Monday through Friday for 5 hours a day to spend time with their fathers while working on literacy, art and family support projects. At the end of the day, children return to the Hope House campsite for swimming, games and other activities. Through this camp children and their dads transform their relationship and generate a lasting bond.

Research shows that children who regularly visit incarcerated parents exhibit improved emotional and behavioral skills as well as higher academic achievement. Similarly, inmates who participate in family visitation programs have lower rates of parole violation and recidivism. Preliminary results from a four-year evaluation of Hope House by Virginia Commonwealth University and the Bureau of Prisons show the recidivism rate for Hope House participants is 20 percent, compared to 64 percent for the general population.

Hope House was initially funded with private money and a grant from a local family foundation. Currently, Hope House receives a $20,000 grant from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities to run the Summer Camp program. The remainder of their funding comes from foundations, private corporations, individuals and faith-based organizations.

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Southern Region

Jean Crowe Advocacy Center

The Jean Crowe Advocacy Center (JCAC) is a court-based victim advocacy program that ensures domestic violence victims are safe and supported when engaging in the court process. The Center provides victims with a safe private location to meet with their Assistant District Attorney and Order of Protection attorney while providing services that reduce trauma for victims.

Located in 3,000 square feet inside the courthouse, the JCAC opened in 2014. It includes 11 victim advocates and serves over 8,000 people per year. In 2015 the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County created the Office of Family Services to oversee the JCAC and ensure program sustainability. The JCAC provides a home-like space for victims to wait during court proceedings, meet with attorneys, access food and support services, and receive domestic violence education, safety planning, and a lethality assessment. In addition, trained advocates accompany victims in the courtroom and provide support during a trial or hearing.

The JCAC is a collaborative effort involving local government and non-profit partners including the District Attorney’s Office, the Police Department, the YWCA, Morningstar Sanctuary, and the Legal Aid Society. Detectives from the Domestic Violence Division visit daily to meet with victims. The YWCA holds a weekly victim support group at the JCAC and answer after-hours calls. Morningstar staffs the JCAC’s satellite office and offers after-hours order of protection assistance and the Legal Aid Society established a volunteer attorney program, to assist high risk clients. All five partners also serve on the JCAC’s High Risk Intervention Panel. Additionally, the JCAC partners with community service providers to connect victims with resources like: counseling, shelter, childcare, immigrant or refugee services, emergency financial services, food assistance, disability services, health care, transportation and educational opportunities.

In 2017, 83 percent of victims used the JCAC as a safe place to wait for court and 75 percent met with their Assistant District Attorney there. In addition, 90 percent of all protective orders were secured through JCAC or its satellite office. According to 2017 surveys asking victims about their experiences using the JCAC, victims who reported feeling supported increased 61 percent, those feeling knowledgeable increased 48 percent, feelings of being fearful de-creased 32 percent and those who reported feeling nervous decreased 54 percent. Since the JCAC opened, the number of domestic violence victims attending court for the criminal case against their offender increased 62 percent.

In 2017, 83 percent of victims used the JCAC as a safe place to wait for court and 75 percent met with their Assistant District Attorney there. In addition, 90 percent of all protective orders were secured through JCAC or its satellite office. According to 2017 surveys asking victims about their experiences using the JCAC, victims who reported feeling supported increased 61 percent, those feeling knowledgeable increased 48 percent, feelings of being fearful de-creased 32 percent and those who reported feeling nervous decreased 54 percent. Since the JCAC opened, the number of domestic violence victims attending court for the criminal case against their offender increased 62 percent. In 2017, JCAC advocates provided: 3,412 safety plans; 1,325 danger/lethality assessments; 2,225 OP and General Sessions Court follow-up calls; 1,413 needs assessments and resource connections; and 2,622 orders of protection.

Other programming includes multi-disciplinary panels to improve victim safety and offender accountability focusing on the highest risk domestic violence cases, firearm dispossession, and in-depth evaluation of domestic violence homicides. In addition, the JCAC has program specialists in the areas of human trafficking, female inmate domestic violence education, accessibility of sexual assault exams, high risk probation, and strangulation.

Initially, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County used Byrne JAG funding to hire a Domestic Violence Coordinator who created the Victim Advocacy Center. Today, 71 percent of the Office of Family Safety’s funding comes from the county general fund (JCAC is 84 percent of the Office’s budget). Ten percent comes from VOCA and STOP grants and 18 percent comes from a federal ARREST grant. Due to the JCAC’s success, Nashville has invested over $20 million to build a Family Justice Center, serving domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse victims. This Center is scheduled to open in March 2019.

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Midwest Region

Heroin Partnership Project

The Heroin Partnership Project (HPP) in Ross County, Ohio, works to prevent the rising rate of opiate related overdose deaths that are plaguing jurisdictions nationwide. The program views the opioid epidemic through a public health lens and utilizes a comprehensive community-wide strategy to reduce opioid related criminal activity and prevent addiction and overdose deaths.

The program involves federal, state and local agencies working together to battle the opioid epidemic using several intervention strategies. These strategies include: the use of Narcan by law enforcement and first responders, the implementation of common pleas, municipal and family drug courts, guidelines for opiate prescribers and trainings for the medical and pharmaceutical community, and evidence-based substance-abuse prevention programs offered in schools throughout Ross County. One hallmark of the HPP is the Post Overdose Response Team (P.O.R.T), which is made up of law enforcement, public health, and substance abuse treatment providers, who offer a quick response in cases of opioid overdose. Additionally, the HPP provides in-jail substance abuse assessment and treatment services prior to release, including giving individuals access to medications such as Vivitrol and provides linkages to post-release treatment by a community service provider.

Begun in 2015, the HPP represents a collaborative effort among all the organizations in Ross County dedicated to preventing overdose deaths and reducing the impact of the opioid epidemic on the community. The program includes law enforcement officers, court officials, school officials, community leaders and agencies such as The State Medical Board, the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

While opioid overdose deaths have continued to increase throughout Ohio, overdose deaths in Ross County declined by 25 percent between 2016 and 2017. There were 44 overdose deaths in 2016 and 34 overdose deaths in 2017. Due to extensive interagency and community cooperation, the Ross County HPP succeeded in halting the rise of over-dose deaths. In addition, over half of these overdose victims agreed to receive services provided by the P.O.R.T team within a week of their overdose and over half of jail release program participants successfully completed the in-jail treatment program and continued receiving treatment following release.

The HPP was started with a $100,000 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) from the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services. That funding has continued throughout the life of the program to date. Additional in-kind services are provided by the HPP partner organizations. The program is actively developing strategies for sustainability.

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Western Region

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

The Seattle King County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program is a collaborative community policing effort that addresses the social, economic, and health impacts of low-level drug involvement by providing law enforcement a credible alternative to booking people into jail.

Developed and piloted in 2011 in the Belltown neighborhood of Seattle, LEAD has six primary goals: reorient government’s response to safety, disorder, and health-related problems; improve public safety and public health through research based, health oriented and harm reduction interventions; reduce the number of people entering the criminal justice system for low level offenses related to drug use and sex work; undo racial disparities at the front end of the criminal justice system; sustain funding for alternative interventions by capturing and reinvesting justice systems savings; and strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the community.

Through substantial collaboration by political leaders, law enforcement, civil rights advocates, prosecutors, behavioral health service providers, and community leaders, low-level offenders are diverted away from the criminal justice system and instead referred to a trauma-informed intensive case management program where they have access a variety of support services. In this program, police officers exercise discretionary authority at the point of contact and divert individuals to community-based intervention services where they receive help connecting to housing, drug treatment and employment services. Prosecutors and police officers work closely with case managers to ensure that all contact with LEAD participants going forward, including new criminal prosecution for other offenses are coordinated with the participant’s service plan to maximize the opportunity to achieve behavioral change.

To date, four evaluations of Seattle-King County’s LEAD program have examined recidivism rates, costs, and participant outcomes. Findings show that people enrolled in LEAD were 58 percent less likely to be re-arrested than those in the control group. Additionally, individuals enrolled in LEAD cost on average $532 per month, compared to $3,900-$5,000 per month to incarcerate an individual. Finally, the evaluation found that LEAD participants were significantly more likely to obtain housing, employment, and legitimate sources of income than compared to months before entering the LEAD program. Participants reported that their participation in LEAD improved their lives and their relationships and generated positive feelings towards law enforcement. Another evaluation is underway examining the Santa Fe and New York LEAD programs, and evaluations are being coordinated with sites in California and Colorado.

LEAD was initially funded as a pilot program with grants from the Open Society Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the RiverStyx Foundation, the Vital Projects Fund and the Massena Foundation. Currently, 90 percent of the program’s funding comes from the City of Seattle and the King County’s Mental Illness and Drug Dependency tax. The remainder comes from the state of Washington and the Seattle Foundation.

The LEAD model is currently operational in 17 jurisdictions nationwide, with eight additional programs in the process of launching and 36 jurisdictions in the exploration or developmental phase. There is also international interest in replicating LEAD in countries like Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, Estonia and Lithuania.

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