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Finding Common Ground: Building Consensus Among Criminal Justice Stakeholders

NCJ Number
Corrections Compendium Volume: 31 Issue: 4 Dated: July/August 2006 Pages: 7-10
James A. Wilson; Gabrielle Chapman
Date Published
July 2006
4 pages
This article describes the process undertaken in Tennessee to create a common vision between a broad cross-section of the criminal justice community in the State.
Utilizing funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial State and Local Law Enforcement Assistance Grant Program, the Tennessee Department of Correction (DOC) initiated a summit to bring together a diverse group of State and local criminal justice professionals, policymakers, and community professionals to confront the lack of continuity in Tennessee’s criminal justice system. During spring 2004, the DOC tasked a working group with developing a list of 10 key items of concern to criminal justice professionals in diverse settings. A questionnaire was then developed that was mailed to 50 professionals connected with criminal justice; questionnaire recipients were asked to rank order the 10 key items by their perceived importance to their organization. The results indicated three main areas for the Tennessee DOC to focus on in its efforts to increase continuity within the criminal justice system: (1) prevention and rehabilitation; (2) alternatives to incarceration; and (3) offender reentry and reintegration. Using these three main points as a starting point, the DOC convened a summit in November 2004 of 50 participants representing a broad spectrum of criminal justice interests. The goal of the summit was to develop concrete recommendations that addressed the three main areas of concern. Recommendations emerging from the summit process included: (1) implementing day reporting centers for certain offenders; (2) establishing transition centers to facilitate reentry; (3) building interagency and community partnerships to provide a continuum of services from prison to community; (4) expanding graduated sanctions for probation and parole technical violators; (5) using best evidence-based practices; and (6) implementing drug courts in every jurisdiction. Following the summit, professionals have formally integrated several of the six original recommendations and a 2006 summit has been planned. Table, endnotes, references