My friend and former colleague Nancy LaVigne, at the Urban Institute's Justice Policy Center, has just launched their website to connect justice reinvestment to the local level of government (JRLL).
The JRLL model includes five obvious but critical elements that any local justice initiative should follow:
- Collect and analyze relevant criminal justice data: aids stakeholders in targeting interventions based on risks to public safety.
- Develop and implement alternative strategies: enables the county to identify interventions that address the key drivers of criminal justice costs.
- Document costs and potential savings: clarifies the financial impact of the criminal justice population on various agencies' budgets.
- Reinvest in the community and the jail: measures the impact of activities to increase savings and improve public safety.
- Assess the impact of reinvestment strategies: reinvestment can be focused on prevention strategies in the jail or specific neighborhoods.
Second, look for strategies to promote larger jurisdictions establishing problem-solving courts by persuading civil judges to transition to this new calling. It is my belief that most or all urban areas in Texas have more judges than they need for the civil caseload, and often too few judges in the criminal or family realms. As I noted back in January, the workload overall is only 20% civil, so if 30% of a locality's judges do civil cases, there is probably a mismatch of judicial resources.