July | August 2017

CSG Justice Center Promotes Effective, Practical Strategies

The Council of State Governments Justice Center serves all 50 states to promote effective, data-driven practices and practical, consensus-based strategies—particularly in areas in which the criminal justice system intersects with other disciplines, such as public health—to increase public safety and strengthen communities. The CSG Justice Center’s work with states and local jurisdictions focuses on program areas including re-entry, mental health, law enforcement, courts, justice reinvestment and youth.


The CSG Justice Center’s Mental Health Program promotes the implementation of practical, flexible strategies that support effective criminal justice system responses for the growing number of people with mental health and substance abuse needs who are involved with the system. The CSG Justice Center provides onsite technical assistance; information about programs, research and policy developments in the mental health field; and data-driven policy recommendations for legislators, judges, and corrections, supervision and law enforcement agencies.
Recent Work
Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program—A federal grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance for which the CSG Justice Center provides training and technical assistance to grantees working to provide access to effective treatment for people with mental illnesses who are involved with the criminal justice system. Grants are used for a range of activities, including mental health courts, specialized community supervision teams and law enforcement training to improve outcomes in encounters with people with mental illnesses.
"Adults with Behavioral Health Needs Under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery"—A 2012 publication that introduces an evidence-based framework for prioritizing resources based on assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their behavioral health and treatment needs. The report also proposes a structure for state and local agencies to engage in collaborative responses with the substance abuse, mental health and corrections systems.


Justice reinvestment is a data-driven approach adopted by states to reduce corrections costs and reinvest savings in strategies to improve public safety. The CSG Justice Center provides states with a comprehensive analysis of state-specific criminal justice data and the latest research about what works to reduce recidivism. The center helps develop policy recommendations by engaging a broad range of policymakers, experts and stakeholders—which may include prosecutors, public defenders, judges, corrections and law enforcement officials, community leaders, victims and their advocates, formerly incarcerated individuals, and health and housing professionals. The CSG Justice Center then helps states to translate the new policies into practice and track data to ensure that their investments achieve their projected outcomes.
Recent Work
Idaho, where the CSG Justice Center is working with state leaders to develop policies that will avert prison growth and reduce recidivism by strengthening supervision practices and community-based treatment programs; tailoring sanctions for parole violations; and improving the collection and assessment of data to ensure the impact of recidivism reduction strategies.
North Carolina, where the CSG Justice Center began work in 2010 to help slow the growth of the prison population, address the high rate of probation revocations and increase the number of people released from prison receiving post-release community supervision. Two years after the state implemented its justice reinvestment initiative, the prison population has been reduced by nearly 10 percent, averting the need to build new correction facilities. The supervision system also has been overhauled and probation revocations have decreased by 55 percent.


The CSG Justice Center operates the National Reentry Resource Center in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The center provides training and technical assistance to state and local governments, tribal nations, territories and nonprofit organizations that have received federal grants through the Second Chance Act to improve prisoner re-entry.
Recent Work
Reentry Matters—A publication released in October 2013, that highlights the work of several Second Chance Act grantees that are having a positive impact through efforts focused on areas including employment, education, and substance abuse and mental health treatment.
The Reentry and Employment Project—An initiative designed to help the corrections, re-entry and workforce development fields address the barriers that people with criminal records face when seeking to enter the U.S. workforce. In September 2013, the CSG Justice Center released “Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness” and convened representatives from the U.S. departments of Justice, Labor and Education, as well as leaders in the criminal justice and workforce development field, to discuss the white paper.


The CSG Justice Center partners with law enforcement experts to work with individual communities across the country to improve the outcomes of law enforcement’s encounters with people with mental illnesses. The CSG Justice Center also works with a diverse group of public safety professionals, social service providers and policymakers to develop collaborative strategies that support re-entry while maintaining public safety.
Recent Work
Law Enforcement/Mental Health Learning Sites—Six police departments (Houston, Texas; Los Angeles, Calif.; Madison, Wis.; Portland, Maine; Salt Lake City, Utah; and the University of Florida Police Department) were selected to share best practices and help other jurisdictions improve their responses to people with mental illnesses. The six sites host site visits and provide off-site technical assistance to requesting agencies.
"The Impact of Probation and Parole Populations on Arrests in Four California Cities"—A publication considering the extent to which people on probation and parole contribute to crime, as measured by arrests in the cities of Los Angeles, Redlands, Sacramento and San Francisco. The study was conducted by the CSG Justice Center with the cooperation of the chiefs of police of those cities, as well as county law enforcement and supervision agencies, two sheriffs’ offices and the California Department of Corrections.


The CSG Justice Center works with judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court administrators and others who are a part of the judiciary to promote the use of data to inform policy development and implementation efforts that incorporate the best social science research with principles of justice and equity.
Recent Work
County Justice and Behavioral Health Systems—In-depth analysis conducted by the CSG Justice Center to help local jurisdictions reduce recidivism by people with behavioral health disorders who are involved in the criminal justice system. The CSG Justice Center has worked with Johnson County, Kans., Hillsborough, N.H., and, most recently, New York City. A project is currently underway in Bexar County, Texas.
Judicial Work at the Interface of Mental Health and Criminal Justice—Training provided to judges in Illinois, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin, and planned for Missouri and Texas in 2014. Developed in partnership with the American Psychiatric Foundation, the training provides judges with tools to improve responses and outcomes for individuals with mental health disorders.


The CSG Justice Center’s Youth Program helps local, state and national policymakers identify and implement evidence-based, consensus-driven strategies to improve school discipline practices as well as outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system.
Recent Work
The School Discipline Consensus Project—A national project that has convened experts from the education, juvenile justice and other fields, as well as youth, parents and community partners, to produce a comprehensive report. The report provides guidance on how to minimize the use of suspension and expulsion to manage student behaviors, improve academic outcomes, reduce juvenile justice system involvement, and promote safe and productive learning environments.
The Juvenile Justice Project—An initiative focused on identifying and promoting the policies and practices demonstrated by research to reduce recidivism and facilitate positive outcomes for youth in the juvenile justice system. The project will produce a comprehensive report and set of tools to help guide policymakers and practitioners in developing and implementing reform strategies.