The U.S. Justice Department launched the Jails and Justice Support Center (JJSC), meant to assist jail administrators in improving safety and standards, NBC News reports. Its mission consists of assisting jails "in creating and sustaining safe, humane, and effective environments" by working directly with jails to provide training and technical assistance, as well as providing referrals to other federal programs. Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta told NBC News in an interview that the department felt it was important to partner with law enforcement figures in the field and that the initiative is a reflection of what sheriffs and jail administrators said they need. Jails are "at the front lines" of some of society's most difficult issues, Gupta said, adding that the smallest jails often need the most assistance.
The Jails and Justice Support Center is akin to preventative medicine, aimed at trying to proactively help jail administrators deal with issues on the front end, rather than investigating them on the back end. The project is modeled after the Collaborative Reform Initiative, as well as the Law Enforcement Knowledge Lab, which the DOJ launched last year. Gupta announced the launch of the hub at an event at the Arlington County Sheriff's Office in Virginia on Wednesday. Ahead of the launch, Gupta told NBC News that a comprehensive approach in collaboration with jail administrators would be most effective and help deal with a variety of issues faced by law enforcement, including the recruitment and retention crisis that particularly affects some of the lower-paying law enforcement jobs at jails.