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State Leaders Meet to Chart Direction for CSG Justice Center

Justice Center The Council of State Governments Martha Plotkin: 202.577.9344, Danielle Langone: 240.482.8583, September 26, 2007 Immediate Release

New York ― A group of state and local leaders from across the country―including respected legislators, court and law enforcement officials, and cabinet secretaries and other gubernatorial appointees ―recently met to establish the national research and policy agenda for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. This was the first time these leaders came together as the board of directors for the center.

The board members approved measures that would ensure the center’s work focuses on developing nonpartisan, consensus-driven strategies to address complex criminal justice problems. These approaches will be grounded in research and data, and make efficient use of existing state and local resources.

“The center has had a significant impact on criminal justice policies and practices in many states,” said Justice Center board member Ashbel T. Wall, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. “That success has been built on the expertise of a broad range of experts from diverse disciplines who know the Justice Center will translate their knowledge and recommendations into policy and program design that is practical and easily tailored to a jurisdiction’s unique needs.”

Board members discussed the center’s role in providing technical assistance to communities on a range of criminal justice problems, as well as projects on addressing the many issues involved in improving the response to people with mental illnesses in contact with the criminal justice system; supporting the safe and successful return of people released from prisons and jails to the community, including coordinating the Reentry Policy Council; and justice reinvestment, a data-driven strategy for policymakers to reduce spending on corrections, increase public safety, and improve conditions in the neighborhoods to which most people released from prison return. In addition, the group identified issue areas for further exploration and discussion, including juvenile crime and people who cycle through emergency rooms and other criminal justice and health systems.

Wall added, “I am excited to be part of a bipartisan group of leaders setting the course for such extraordinary work. We have a staff of nearly 30 working on some of the toughest criminal justice policy issues facing states. These projects are supported by a wide variety of federal agencies and private foundations whose support allows the Justice Center to make major contributions to policymaking in this country.”

The Council of State Governments Justice Center is a national nonprofit organization that serves policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels from all branches of government. It provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies—informed by available evidence—to increase public safety and strengthen communities.

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