Prisoner rehabilitation, mental health of criminal suspects, and mentoring inmate children were among challenges handled by award-winning programs of the National Criminal Justice Association this year. The awards were given this week at the annual public safety forum sponsored jointly by the association, the IJIS Institute justice information sharing group, and the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. Pennsylvania’s Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee and Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence won for reducing justice system involvement for the mentally ill. The Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy won for providing social worker services for indigent criminal defendants. The Big Brothers Big Sisters Organization of the Greater Twin Cities won for providing mentors to children of prisoners.
El Paso County, Co., won for providing education, life skills, and therapy to jail inmates and a detoxification unit that is the only one in Colorado run by a sheriff’s office. Alaska Traditional Justice Systems won for providing training in “traditional” justice processes for tribes that don’t require the support of police and courts. The IJIS Institute gave a Robert Shumate award (named for its first president) to Alan Harbitter for work on security and privacy concerns of justice information sharing, and other issues. IJIS also gave an innovation award to the FBI and Raytheon Co. for developing N-Dex, “a first-of-its-kind secure platform for national criminal justice information sharing.”