2011 OCJP Award Winners

The NCJA represents state, tribal and local governments on crime control and crime prevention issues.

2011 OJCP Award Recipients

Below are the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program award winners for 2011. Click below to view more information about:

Northeast Region

PA Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee and the PA Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence

The Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee (MHJAC) and the Pennsylvania Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence (CoE) were created to assist in reducing justice involvement for people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders by providing technical assistance, guidance, information, and structure.

Since its establishment in November 2009, the CoE serves to promote evidence-based strategies that support the sustainability and best practices for the criminal justice and mental health populations. They have also provided vital resources, information, technical assistance, and conducted systems-level mappings to counties seeking to change their policies regarding the diversion of individuals with mental illness and substance abuse from standard criminal prosecution. The CoE has developed and maintained a comprehensive website with vital information to the criminal justice/mental health communities. The CoE is guided by the Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee which provides structure to ensure that Pennsylvania’s criminal justice/mental health activities are coordinated across the state and to ensure counties receive the guidance and support necessary to implement effective responses.

The collaboration between the CoE and the MHJAC has benefited not only mental health clients but has also promoted public safety by identifying appropriate intervention. They have provided technical training and information that have ensured the success of integrating and intercepting justice involved persons with mental health issues in the justice system.

Southern Region

KY Department of Public Advocacy Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program

The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy Alternative Sentencing Social Worker Program provides social worker services to indigent criminal defendants who are represented by Kentucky’s public defenders. These social workers develop plans that provide personalized rehabilitative support s that address pivotal aspects of their life such as addiction, physical health, mental health, housing, education, employment, family and other issues to improve the client’s successful function in the community and reduce recidivism.

These social workers are dedicated to developing alternative sentencing plans that assist the client in avoiding re-incarceration and help with a successful, complete, and safe re-integration into their communities upon sentencing by the trail judge. One social worker will carry a caseload involving 20-30 cases at any given time with a desired goal of serving 70 defendants per year. Their caseloads include a mix of juvenile court, family court, misdemeanor court, and felony cases involving mental health and substance abuse issues.

With the assistance of the Kentucky General Assembly and various grants the 12 current social workers have saved the state of Kentucky $100,000 each in incarceration costs and successfully decreased the recidivism rate. The DPA alternative sentencing social worker program is widely supported by prosecutors and judges and has been praised for its accomplishments by notable state court judges such as Judge William E. Lane, 21st Judicial Circuit, Judge Lisa Paynes Jones, Daviess District Court, Division 1, and Judge John P. Chappell, 27th Judicial District, Division 2.

Midwestern Region

The Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Twin Cities Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program

The Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization of the Greater Twin Cities’ Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program provides mentors to children who face the difficult challenges of having a parent or influential family member incarcerated.

Established in 2003, the program primarily concentrates on building child-mentor relationships that help exemplify a positive role model to influence and enhance the child’s future. The program utilizes best practices techniques which are designed to develop life skills that decrease the child’s probability of their own engagement and incarceration with the justice system. Following the standards listed by the BBBS’ proven mentoring model, there are strict procedures for screening mentors and providing match support involving the child-mentor pairs to ensure child safety and growth.

There are approximately 15,000 children in Minnesota who have an incarcerated parent. Through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, private resources, and state support through the Byrne JAG program, The Mentoring Children of Prisoners Program now has 3,250 of these children enrolled in their program. Over a 12 month period, the children of this organization have shown improvements in self-confidence, academic performance, relationships with their peers, and most importantly shown improvements in their ability to avoid delinquency.

This program has successfully transformed the lives of countless children who struggle with having incarcerated parents through positive life experiences.

Western Region

El Paso County (CO) Reintegration and Recovery Program and the Community Detoxification Program

The El Paso County Reintegration and Recovery Program and Community Detoxification Program are designed to address the issues of criminal recidivism and substance abuse through proactive and reactive comprehensive programs.

Due an increased capacity in jail population and rising percentage of repeat offenders, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office (EPSO) developed the EPSO Reintegration/ Recovery program in 2007 and the El Paso County Community Detoxification Facility in 2009. The Reintegration/Recovery program’s primary goal is to reduce recidivism by providing a multi-systemic program offering education, life skills, and therapy through interactive classes and counseling. The El Paso County Community Detoxification Facility is the only detoxification program in Colorado managed under the jurisdiction of a County Sheriff’s Office. The top priority of the Detoxification Center is to proactively work to keep those with substance abuse issues out of the criminal justice system and local hospitals. The center also focuses on the reduction of substance abuse in El Paso County through rehabilitation programs, effective care, and treatment. Clients are provided with safe housing and care for withdrawal, appropriate medical care, and assessments.

The EPSO Reintegration/Recovery Program has effectively operated for three years and has reduced the recidivism rate to 25 percent among its population of 1,888 participants. Overall the recidivism rate in El Paso County has experienced a significant reduction from 71.33 percent to 67.75 percent in 2008. It has reached the lowest rate yet of 59 percent in 2009 and early indications shows a distinct correlation between the program and the reduction in the recidivism rate. The Detoxification facility has treated 6,166 clients.

Tribal Region

Alaska Traditional Justice Systems

Alaska Native villages and Indian Country have the highest rates of domestic violence, criminal victimization and suicide in the nation. Yet adults today in most remote Eskimo villages can remember a time when there was no crime in their village. Most of these communities still do not have state court systems or police. The Alaska Traditional Justice System is a 2-part seminar that reinstates traditional justice systems which do not require the support of western police or courts. An initial training session explains how pre-contact justice systems utilize values instead of written laws as a legitimate system of governance. A follow-up session provides technical assistance to address specific community crimes, threats or problems with traditional solutions from the community’s own elders.

This training is based on two assumptions: (a) the high crime rates and suicide rates in Indian Country are symptoms of cultural destruction; and (b) cultural trauma is exacerbated by the application of western legal system values to Native communities holding traditional values. The trainer bases his work on 20 years of legal and personal experiences in over 50 Alaska Native villages.

Since establishment in the fall of 2010, with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, onsite trainings have occurred in the remote Alaska villages of Kongiganak, Kipnuk, Gambell, Savoonga, Newtok, and Hooper Bay. General training sessions have occurred in Bethel, Alaska, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.