Criminal Justice Programs Get National Awards

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Anticrime efforts in the nation’s four regions won awards this week from the National Criminal Justice Association, which met in Fort Worth, Tx., for its annual forum. The awards went to projects that addressed an important issue, involved collaboration among agencies, provided evidence of effectiveness and can be replicated easily elsewhere. In the Northeast, the award went to the Hope House Father-to-Child effort, which aims to improve relationships between children and their incarcerated fathers. One part of the program involves fathers recording videos of themselves reading stories that are sent to their children. Honored in the Midwest was the Heroin Partnership Project in Ross County, Ohio, which works to deal with opioid overdoses. Elements include the use of Narcan by first responders and treatment services provided in jails. Overdose deaths dropped 25 percent in the county last year while they rose elsewhere in the state.

The award for the Southern region went to the Tennessee-based Jean Crowe Advocacy Center, which helps ensure that domestic violence victims are safe while they go through the court process. The center helps 8,000 victims annually, with the collaboration of the police department, the district attorney’s office, the legal aid society and private organizations. Success of the program has prompted Nashville to build a Family Justice Center that will open next year. Winning the Western award was the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program in Seattle’s King County. Its goal is to provide law enforcement “a credible alternative to booking people into jail” in low-level drug cases. An evaluation found that people who enter LEAD are 58 percent less likely than non-participants to be re-arrested, and the cost averaged $532 monthly, compared with up to $5,000 for incarceration. LEAD-type programs are operating in 17 places in the U.S., with eight other sites in the process of launching.

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