Best Practices of Successful CJCCs
Based on discussions with criminal council chairs, directors, and researchers there are seven key components of effective and sustainable CJCCs. These include:
- Establishing a clear mission and role to increase the CJCC’s legitimacy and enable the CJCC to address criminal justice system data collection, analysis, and planning.
- Developing a viable council structure, particularly as it relates to the CJCC’s membership, general governmental relationship, and policies and procedures for council operations and organization. This includes a holistic, systemic approach to membership (elected/appointed officials, community members, and other criminal justice agency representatives and leaders), with a close, yet independent, link to county or city government.
- Developing and using staff capabilities to support CJCC planning and policy development. This includes quality staff who are trained, experienced, and have appropriate political, managerial, and administrative skills to support planning and policy development. More information on how to staff a CJCC found here.
- Acquiring and using information about system options (i.e., data sharing, collection, and analysis on system operations) to help fully assess system-wide performance.
- Fostering use of evidence-based practices into ongoing system-wide operations, including quality assurance measures for implementation and sustainability. Most challenging for CJCCs is identifying evidence-based practices and current programs that may need to be revised, taking steps to make these revisions or seeking alternatives, and starting systematic action planning.
- Catalyzing plans for system operations in case of an emergency such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, riots, pandemics, and bomb threats.
- Developing the capacity to share budgeting and resource allocation decisions in a neutral and credible manner to obtain system improvement goals.
(Gleicher, Reichert, and Head 2018)
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CJCC Levels of Functioning
While lower resourced CJCCs can accomplish a lot with limited funding and the right stakeholders at the table, a “highly functioning” CJCC will typically have an established budget, formalized structure, full time staff, a data-driven strategic plan and will involve criminal justice policy makers as well as a broad range of non-justice stakeholders. The table below depicts variations of how CJCCs across the country are staffed, e.g. by volunteers or paid full time employees, the number and type of stakeholders involved, the level of focus and complexity of planning, and the formality of the structure.
The columns flow from top to bottom with increasing levels of functionality. CJCCs that are just starting out may fall on the low resourced or lower “functioning” side of the spectrum. CJCCs may also vary in terms of functionality within each column. For example, a CJCC with volunteer staff may have established a data driven strategic plan and be working toward establishing bylaws and a budget. CJCC members can use this chart to identify where they are in terms of levels of operating capacity and areas for growth to move toward increased levels of functionality.
CJCC Levels of Functioning Table
The table above shows a hierarchy of levels going from lower functioning to higher functioning CJCCs based on four main areas: Staffing, Stakeholders, Focus and Structure.
Staffing: Staffing a CJCC can vary from no staff or all volunteer staff, to a full staff with a director and supporting positions. Higher functioning CJCC’s tend to have dedicated staff. Given the busy schedules that CJCC members hold, staffing a CJCC allows the behind the scenes work to be done by staff while members drive the direction of the work. See more in the staffing a CJCC section.
Stakeholders: Most of the time the base level participants of a CJCC are similar. It includes the traditional criminal justice agencies. High functioning CJCCs, however, will have all system actors including, non-criminal justice agencies such as housing, community partners, and returning citizens. See Stakeholder Section for more information.
Focus: The focus of a CJCC often changes and grows over time. It may start with a singular focus and evolve into a system-wide focus. Highly functioning CJCCs have formal strategic plans with multiple focus areas and committees. These CJCCs also use data-driven decision making. See the Determining the work of the CJCC Section for more information.
Structure: The formality and structure of a CJCC often indicates its level of functionality. Usually, the more formal and established a CJCC is, the greater level of engagement that occurs. More structured CJCCs that include formal adoption processes tend to be higher functioning then those that meet more informally.