TTA Today Blog

Welcome to BJA NTTAC's TTA Today blog! TTA Today posts tell the story of training and technical assistance (TTA) engagements through individual perspectives, including those of DOJ and BJA leaders, staff, technical assistance providers, subject matter experts, community members, and other relevant stakeholders. These posts serve as an informal venue to share relevant updates or best practices from the criminal justice community, as well as to feature first-hand accounts of how TTA impacts state, local, and tribal communities across the nation.

In January 2016, I began to explore where the Chesterfield County, Virginia, and Colonial Heights, Virginia, supervised offender population was living to determine if there were common areas where this group resided.

Background

Across the United States, criminal justice practitioners, policymakers, and researchers have recognized a growing need to improve statewide corrections systems and implement more judicious parole policies. The national trend in corrections and parole systems signals that different parole populations can experience varying rates of recidivism, affecting how risk information and guidelines are used to predict recidivism and inform parole release decisionmaking in violent and non-violent crime cases and in high, moderate, and low risk recidivism cases.

In 2014, Detroit, Michigan, joined a consortium of cities in the Violence Reduction Network (VRN), a nationwide, locally focused Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) training and technical assistance (TTA) initiative to reduce high rates of violent crime in communities through strategic and innovative measures. Similar to other communities in the VRN program, Detroit has one of the highest violent crime rates in the United States and has endured deep public sector resource constraints and challenges with police-community relations.

In September 2016, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) convened the BJA Smart Suite Summit: Transforming Criminal Justice through Research and Innovation, gathering BJA Smart Suite grantees, researchers, national experts, federal representatives, and thought leaders from the justice community to discuss and promote data-informed criminal justice projects and programs.

In 2014, the Tampa, Florida Police Department (TPD) sought to improve and expand the Quality Assurance (QA) program the department had recently put in place. In the years prior, the department had identified areas in need of improvement internally, and then developed and implemented the QA program to address those issues.

“What do you mean grant writing is the easiest part?” I was recently asked by one of my clients, who had just spent months moving bureaucratic mountains trying to get his city to approve the hiring of a grant writer. I repeated my initial statement, but this time added, “it’s figuring out what you want to buy that is difficult.”

The intimidation of victims and witnesses may hinder investigation and prosecution of criminal cases by denying police and prosecutors access to critical evidence and therefore, undermining the function of the justice system. To address this challenge requires the involvement of professionals from across the justice system who may come into contact with victims or witnesses who may be vulnerable to intimidation. The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is supporting multiple efforts to foster a collaborative approach to examining the issue of victim and witness intimidation, and providing a range of resources and strategies for both criminal justice practitioners and community members.

Background

The right to a speedy trial is one of the most basic guarantees of the U.S. Constitution, yet a host of variables can interfere with efficient courtroom proceedings. The practice of caseflow management helps to mitigate these variables – coordinating court processes and resources so that cases progress in a timely fashion from filing to disposition (i.e., sentencing or final settlement). Caseflow management best practices require an active effort by both judges and court managers to establish appropriate expectations, use tools to monitor actual performance against expectations, and ensure accountability for addressing issues.

When I started at the San Diego (CA) Police Department in crime analysis, the only technical assistance that was provided was by the people I was fortunate enough to work with – other analysts and police officers, as well as the researchers with whom we partnered. Here we are, 24 years later and crime analysis as a field has evolved enormously, as has the amount and types of training and technical assistance (TTA) available. Crime analysis helps law enforcement agencies enhance their capabilities to analyze and use data to make informed decisions and prevent crime.

Background

Across the United States, many prison populations are at all-time high levels, leading to significant overcrowding. In 2014, approximately 2.2 million people were incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons and jails – a rate of 1 out of every 111 adults. At the same time, 40 percent of people leaving prison return within three years.* This comes at a huge cost for states. Over the last 25 years, state corrections expenditures have increased exponentially – from $12 billion in 1988 to more than $55 billion estimated for 2014. In the face of skyrocketing corrections costs, states are searching for practical, evidence-based solutions to help reduce incarceration and recidivism rates and, ultimately, save money.

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