2016 OCJP Award Winners

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

2016 OJCP Award Recipients

Below are the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program award winners for 2016. Click below to view more information about:


Northeast Region

Re-Entry Assisted Community Housing

The REACH program provides transitional housing and case management services to help individuals coming out of the correctional system transition into the community. They help these individuals with budgeting, employment, and housing, and also with lowering their criminogenic risk scores. Clients must be referred into REACH, and the Intake Specialist also assesses referrals’ eligibility. The target is a high-risk population. The client works with a Case Manager to craft a treatment plan and is placed in a furnished apartment upon acceptance. They are also given other amenities, such as bus passes and vouchers to food pantries. Staff members work with relevant parole and probation officers to conduct random spot and curfew checks. Clients are discharged after 4-6 months. The REACH program has also launched REACH-M, a pilot program that engage a random sample of clients with peer support services. REACH-M is a collaboration with Yale University.

The program was started in 2005 to provide those exiting the correctional system with the ability to tackle the challenges they will inevitably encounter when going back to the community. This would, in turn, also reduce criminogenic risk and recidivism rates. A grant from Connecticut’s Department of Correction, Parole and Community Services originally funded the program, and it is now also funded with a federal grant from the Department of Justice, BJA. State appropriations are another part of the program’s funding.

The program has seen about 60% of its clients successfully complete it, and 95% of them enter into stable housing afterwards. The clients’ criminogenic risk scores have also lowered by 13% on average. Moreover, clients are less likely to recidivate, especially those who received high risk scores.


Southern Region

Kentucky Department of Pretrial Services

Kentucky’s Department of Pretrial Services aims to effectively weigh defendants’ legal rights against potential court attendance and the risk to public they may pose. To do so, it uses evidence-based practices and innovative strategies. Jailed defendants are interviewed, their criminal histories are analyzed, release recommendations are made to the court, and defendants considered higher risk are supervised. The department’s Pretrial Officers are able to maintain “jail coverage” at all times despite the rural nature of much of the state. It has also covered about 179,000 defendant interviews each year for the past six years and manages to achieve operational efficiency on a large-scale. Moreover, the department continues to be an innovator in the field, being one of the first to use evidence-based practices and the creator of PRIM (Pretrial Release Information Management) – a pretrial-data management system that other jurisdictions have recreated. Other innovations include the PSA tool and the Administrative Release Pilot Program, which gives Pretrial Services designated release authority.

The department is funded through dedicated, state appropriations. Sometimes the department initiates focused research or a specialized project, and these projects will occasionally draw upon government and/or private grants. Established in 1976 as part of the Administrative Office of the Courts, it hopes to make a defendant’s initial contact with the criminal justice system fair and just, and to ensure that defendants in jail have opportunities for release.

State officials and national experts have both praised Kentucky’s pretrial services measures. It’s PSA tool has been able to reduce crimes committed by defendants during pretrial release by 15% as it continues to release a higher percentage of pretrial defendants. It has also seen higher release, appearance, and safety rates.


Midwestern Region

Achieving Change through Value-Based Behavior

Iowa’s Achieving Change through Value-Based Behavior seeks to reduce offender recidivism and domestic violence re-offenses. Specifically, ACTV’s goals are to reduce or end men’s use of psychological, emotional and physically abusive or controlling behaviors. Also, their goal is to increase men’s use of respectful, adaptive and healthy behaviors in their relationships. ACTV is a 24-week program for men who have been court mandated to compete a Batterers Education Program following a domestic violence conviction.

This program is adapted from an evidence-based behavior therapy called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. The program guides members to make different choices than they have in the past, by first defining their values and second, focusing on factors that influence their behavior. Once these two aspects are realized, the participant can practice new adaptive behaviors. The facilitators work with the members in a collaborative and compassionate manner instead of arguing or lecturing. This provides long term benefits instead of only providing short- term relief. The facilitators help group members come to realizations on their own and help them develop intrinsic motivations to change.

The first year of this program was funded by a Violence against Women Act grant through the Iowa Judicial Branch. Years following were funded through the work of professors at The University of Iowa and Iowa State University. Now, ACTV is funded through state appropriations and other grant sources are being sought through Iowa State Professor and co-author, Dr. Amie Zarling for quality improvement and further evaluation.

Before ACTV was implemented, Iowa used the Duluth Model and cognitive behavior therapy. Between 2011-2013, Dr. Amie Zarling examined a sample of 3,696 men arrested for domestic assault and/or men court-mandated to treatment. The results demonstrated that participants in ACTV had half the rates of domestic assault recidivism than when they using the Duluth Model.


Western Region

Crossroads Girls Mental Health Court

The Crossroads Girls Mental Health Court (Crossroads) works with adolescent females in the juvenile justice system to lower recidivism and divert those with mental health issues. Girls voluntarily join this program with an adult who has agreed to support them and to actively participate alongside the girls. The parameters applied to each girl is determined by the Judge, who also works with the other agencies involved with the case. Drug testing is a mandatory part of the parameters, and other methods used include home-based treatment, and regular court appearances. Crossroads also provides the girls with services like anger management counseling, pregnancy prevention, and life skill classes. These services are both short-term and long-term. A Case Manager supports these girls through defining the services the girls need and progress made, and through explaining the impact and importance of attending each meeting. As the girls move through the program, they move from the most intensive level of supervision to less restrictive levels, and are awarded along the way through verbal commendations, public recognition, and prizes from area attractions and retail outlets. Girls also have a “Graduation Ceremony” upon completing the program.

Crossroads first began in 2008 to help girls with mental health issues or negative experiences who may be acting out or in the system because of these issues. As a specialty court, it hopes to address the needs of these girls to prevent the commission of future crimes. To achieve these goals, it was initially funded through a Justice and Mental Health Collaboration grant, and is now funded through local appropriations, reflecting Bexar County’s dedication to helping system-involved youth. It has been self-sustaining since 2011.

Between 2009 and 2015, the program served 108 youth between 11 and 17 years old, and 63% of the youth successfully completed the program. Of those who successfully completed the program, 82% have not recidivated, and 97% have not been placed in a secure facilitated. Moreover, the program connects all participants and their families with needed mental health care, and supportive services.


Tribal Region

Chehalis Mental Health Program

Chehalis Mental Health Program was established to bring on an Offender Reentry Provider Manager who is a mental health professional with Chemical Dependency certification. This mental health professional along with their certification must meet all requirements for working within the Chehalis Tribe’s adult detention facility. The person in this position conducts both chemical dependency assessments and outpatient treatment classes weekly on inmates. This position coordinates and facilitates group classes to help inmates better themselves through resources present with the Tribe as well as outside. This program provides vital self-improvement classes that promote better life choices and help reduce recidivism.

The Offender Reentry Program Manager within this program coordinates life skill classes necessary for successful reentry. Dependency classes are also organized using Hazelden’s A New Direction, which is a treatment program specifically for criminal justice professionals. The program includes arts and crafts instruction, which provides inmates with recreational and creative outlets that strengthen community ties and create possible feelings of accountability to the members of the tribal community. Career counseling services, career assessments and job reentry assistance are all offered from tribal and state resource providers. The program coordinates with the Chehalis Tribal Loan Department to set up financial literacy classes, which helps inmate learn money management to reduce binge substance abuse and criminal activity.

Originally, this program was funded through Justice Systems, and an Alcohol and Substance Abuse BJA grant, which is still active. Since 2013, data has been gathered for the Chehalis Tribal members who went to residential treatment and none have returned to jail on their original charges. They have seen a 25 percent recidivism drop overall between 2014 and 2015.