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.


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.

As one of the first cities in the country selected for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) Violence Reduction Network (VRN), Richmond, CA has faced ongoing challenges related to increasing community trust and public safety. One of the cornerstones of the Richmond Police Department’s (RPD) violence reduction strategy is ensuring officers maximize opportunities during every community interaction to build positive rapport, deescalate conflict, and minimize the use of force.


Gary, IN was founded in 1906 as an industrial city focused on steel production. By 1960, the city’s population stood at 178,000 and U.S. Steel – then the city’s largest employer – boasted a 25,000-person workforce.* Gary was also made popular by the 1962 musical, The Music Man. However, Gary’s fortunes changed with new technological advances and the rise of low-cost foreign competition.


As referenced by President Barack Obama in his speech on U.S. incarceration rates, a 2013 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics notes that the United States spent over $80 billion on corrections expenditures in 2010. More than 90 percent of these expenditures occurred at the state and local levels. Because of those large expenditures, many places have begun reducing prison capacity. In 2013, approximately six states closed or considered closing a few of their correctional facilities. But what are they supposed to do with these vacated buildings? How could they repurpose the facilities in an economically sustainable manner?

By Chief Sean Whent, Oakland (CA) Police Department Police Chief

Imagine your agency has experienced an officer-involved shooting and social media is full of damaging misinformation. A line such as “The man was unarmed and surrendering when he was viciously executed by the police,” can be incredibly damaging, even if it is not true.

What would it be worth to you to have the actual incident captured on video?

By Kay Chopard Cohen, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association

Prosecutors are elected by the people to uphold the law and ensure public safety. Advances in technologies – including the implementation of body-worn cameras – are critical achieving this mission.

By C. Edward Banks, Ph.D., Senior Policy Advisor, Bureau of Justice Assistance

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is a national leader in the development and implementation of criminal justice policy and sound grant management. BJA has developed many promising and evidence-based programs to address numerous criminal justice topics in order to achieve safer communities. The agency supports key areas of criminal justice, including adjudication, corrections, counter-terrorism, law enforcement, crime prevention, justice information sharing, justice and mental health, substance abuse, and tribal justice. The Bulletproof Vest Partnership, the Smart Policing Initiative, the Wrongful Conviction Review Program, and Project Safe Neighborhoods are a few examples of the more than 32 policies and programs implemented by BJA in support of local, state, and tribal justice strategies nationwide.


According to the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report, there were more than 1.5 million drug-related arrests in 2013—including 325 in Alabama—and nearly 100,000 people are currently serving time in federal prison for drug offenses. That statistic alone makes up almost half of the federal prison population.


Imperial County, CA, is a far reach from the densely populated cities and beaches that characterize much of the state. With a total population of nearly 175,000 the southern California county is two hours from the nearest major metropolitan area of San Diego, making it paramount that Imperial County probation officers do all they can to minimize injuries in the field, especially when they are charged with potentially dangerous activities like conducting residential entries and searches and seizures.

By Tara Kunkel, BJA Visiting Fellow and Principal Court Management Consultant, National Center for State Courts

When Joseph Coronato became Ocean County’s (NJ) prosecutor in March 2013, he saw eight opioid overdose fatalities in just seven days. All the victims were 28 years old or younger. Coronato began researching ways to abate the problem and found law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts that had implemented naloxone programs. Naloxone, also known as Narcan, is a potentially lifesaving drug that can effectively restore breathing to a victim in the midst of a heroin or other opioid overdose. Because local police officers are often the first to arrive on the scene of these overdoses, they play a critical role in preventing overdose incidents from becoming fatalities by administering naloxone. Coronato resolved to equip Ocean County patrol officers with naloxone, using a policy modeled off those in Massachusetts.