State and Local Engagement

The Importance of Engaging Local Systems and Partners 

 

NCJA recognizes the importance of active coordination and cooperation between local justice systems and state agencies. A successful two-way engagement strategy helps drive change, encourage innovative approaches and implement state policies and directives. We have created resources to help states understand how and why to engage with local systems in

planning and implementation and to advise local systems in advocating for themselves in accessing state and federal resources. 

 

In fact, local county and city agencies are responsible for most law enforcement activities. In 2017, 86 percent of spending on police was at the local level. Most community supervision, treatment and reentry services also take place at county and city levels. And, while the total state prison population (1,256,000) is more than 1.7 times that of local jails (734,500) on any given day, jails process more than 10 million admissions annually. 

For justice system improvement efforts to take hold there are a variety of ways for states to engage local justice and non-justice partners.  

Listen to Iowa's SAA discuss their partnerships with local coordinating agencies on the NCJA Podcast

Byrne JAG Encourages Partnership and Engagement Between State and Local Partners 

 

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program (Byrne JAG) is the nation’s cornerstone criminal justice program, spurring innovation and supporting evidence-based practices in crime control and prevention nationwide. State, tribal and local communities use Byrne JAG funds to address needs and fill gaps across the entire justice system, including non-justice community programing. In this way, Byrne JAG-funded investments touch nearly every city, county and town in America. 

In the Justice for All Reauthorization Act of 2016, Congress added a statewide strategic planning requirement for Byrne JAG recipients. This requirement acknowledged the importance of local systems and partners engagement by including the following language. 

“…consultation with local governments, and representatives of all segments of the criminal justice system, including judges, prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, corrections personnel, and providers of indigent defense services, victim services, juvenile justice delinquency prevention programs, community corrections, and reentry services.” 

NCJA and Local Justice Engagement 

NCJA can assist and support local and state engagement efforts in criminal justice planning and reform, whether driven by Byrne JAG funding or other sources. 

To create or increase engagement between state-level and local-level partners, NCJA recommends the following: 

  • Engage local partners in strategic planning 

  • Include local partners on state planning boards 

  • Fund local justice initiatives to address public safety priorities (e.g., violent crime, COVID-19, justice reinvestment) 

  • Pilot statewide initiatives with local partners 

  • Provide training and support for local justice agencies on evidence-based practices and implementation fidelity 

  • Use state data and analytic capacity to support local planning (see example from Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority)  

  • Collaborate on information sharing and data systems 

  • Convene local justice agencies for peer-to-peer learning 

  • Facilitate focus groups and listening sessions to learn from local justice agencies on public safety issues and trends 

  • Work collaboratively to address racial equity and fairness, community violence, police reform, etc.– Learn more on NCJA’s police reform page 

  • Support and engage with local planning boards or Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils (CJCCs) 

Listen to NCJA's Director of Government Affairs, Elizabeth Pyke, give an overview of Byrne JAG and its role on the NCJA Podcast

Local Criminal Justice Planning Board Engagement 

Local Criminal Justice Planning Boards, often referred to as Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils (CJCCs), vary widely in their structure and membership, but usually consist of leaders from different levels of government and service who convene to discuss and steer the highest-priority justice issues in their communities. They are responsible for making data-driven and system-wide policy decisions; serve as liaisons between local and state government; receive, administer and monitor justice funding; and ensure involvement from all criminal justice stakeholders. 

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Local Criminal Justice Planning Boards, often referred to as Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils (CJCCs), vary widely in their structure and membership, but usually consist of leaders from different levels of government and service who convene to discuss and steer the highest-priority justice issues in their communities. They are responsible for making data-driven and system-wide policy decisions; serve as liaisons between local and state government; receive, administer and monitor justice funding; and ensure involvement from all criminal justice stakeholders. 

 

Local Criminal Justice Planning Boards are more likely to be created, and to succeed, where state government encourages local criminal justice planning, analysis and coordination. States including Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin have established legal and policy frameworks to support local criminal justice planning boards to incentivize system-wide planning and to further public safety and criminal justice goals.  

NCJA recommends the following guidelines for states to promote better state-local justice coordination partnerships: 

  • Ensure that state officials operating at the local level are expected to participate and provide information for local planning efforts. 

  • Provide technical or financial assistance to enhance local efforts in data collection and analysis for policy purposes. 

  • Provide support and assistance in the development of local coordinating councils and training on policy planning. 

  • Provide incentives through grant awards for jurisdictions with planning boards and for jurisdictions that recognize systemic and fiscal impacts of new projects. 

  • Recognize there are no “cookie-cutter” approaches; avoid attempting to impose homogeneity in an environment marked by variety. 

  • Acknowledge that states and localities must agree to disagree on some issues


NCJA is partnering with the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to produce an updated CJCC guidebook         

Engaging Local Justice and Non-Justice System Partners 

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Non-justice system partners play key roles in helping to steer justice-involved people toward positive outcomes. These often-underfunded agencies and organizations should not be overlooked in planning and policy discussions and activities. 

It is not uncommon for a single person to touch 10 or more institutions and organizations during their journey through the system. Involving non-justice system partners, including employment counselors, behavioral healthcare providers, educators, faith leaders, returning citizens and the business community can help justice system officials better understand and manage each individual’s experience.  

 

Because many of these groups are not part of the governmental justice system, information sharing issues and communication silos may hamper coordination of services. Having the right people at the table is the first step to eliminating these barriers for successful collaboration.

Contact us at strategicplanning@ncja.org to talk to our team. 

Partner Websites & Resources 

 

   National Association of Counties (NACo)  

   National League of Cities (NLC)  

   International Community Corrections Association (ICCA)  

   National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)  

   National Institute of Corrections (NIC): CJCC ResourcesEvidence-Based Decision Making 

   The Justice Management Institute (JMI): National Network of Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils (NNCJCC) Resources 

This webpage was created with the support of Grant No. 2019-YA-BX-K002 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the SMART Office, and the Office for Victims of Crime. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.