Module 2: Section 2: TJC Leadership

In this section, we emphasize how essential effective leadership is when developing a jail transition strategy in your community. It is critical that the leadership at all levels of your agency, but specifically the sheriff, jail administrator, and leaders from key partnering agencies, are enthusiastic transition proponents. Without the absolute commitment of these key stakeholders, practitioners throughout the system will not be able or willing to build the system of transition that is called for by the TJC model.

For a TJC effort to realize its potential for systems change, as opposed to being a discrete program, our experience tells us that leaders in local government, nongovernment, and community-based organizations must be willing and have a vision to reshape their agency missions and foster a change in organizational culture. Indeed, leadership as part of TJC model implementation calls for system partnership among leaders to align their actions to attain “big picture” system goals. It is only through such leadership choices that the TJC model can achieve long-term public safety benefits that have proven to be possible and attainable.

Identifying local leaders to champion systems change, interagency collaboration, and partnership is one of the first things a community needs to do when implementing the TJC model.

Anyone can be the champion of the TJC model:

  • Jail administrators
  • Sheriffs
  • Mayors
  • County commissioners
  • Judges and officers of the court
  • Local funders
  • Local stakeholders

Key characteristics of a TJC leader:

  • Understands that implementing the TJC model contributes to long-term public safety.
  • Is enthused enough to get the community excited about the TJC vision, build support for the vision, and commit to the long-term process.
  • Is an expert on the TJC model and the five key system elements that must be in place for the model's success.
  • Understands the formal and informal dynamics of his or her community.
  • Demonstrates the ability to be part of a larger team; a system player.
  • Trusts his or her vision and is able to take criticism for shifting the organizational culture to a focus on transitioning people from jail to the community.
  • Has an ability to be flexible in adjusting his or her vision to the overall vision of the key stakeholders.
  • Bases his or her decisions on evidence-based practices and supports accountability.
  • Committed to making difficult decisions requiring all organizational/system practices and policies to be evaluated continually and revised as necessary to insure long-term public safety outcomes.
  • Supports an organizational culture which encourages innovation and learning.
  • Trusts his or her colleagues' and partners' abilities, understands that they are capable of solving problems, treats them with respect, provides opportunities for others to practice leadership, and empowers them to go and make change.
  • Recognizes the importance of engaging all organizational and system stakeholders in the process over the short and long term.

The TJC leaders and other key decisionmakers will need to perform the following activities:

  • Encourage active involvement in setting expectations, identifying important issues, articulating a clear vision of success, and engaging staff and other stakeholders in the TJC effort.
  • Lead local efforts to build a common vision for systems reform.
  • Develop infrastructure for interagency and community collaboration, coordination, and information sharing.
  • Align missions and organizational cultures of partner agencies to support overarching TJC goals.
  • Clarify and define roles and responsibilities to facilitate local TJC implementation.
  • Identify champions or “change agents” from all levels at key agencies to move the TJC initiative forward.

TJC Leadership Profile

Click here for a TJC Leadership Profile on Sheriff Daron Hall from Davidson County, TN.

For more information:

1. Jannetta, Jesse, Hannah Dodd and Brian Elderbroom. The Urban Institute's The Elected Official's Toolkit for Jail Reentry. Bureau of Justice Assistance.