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Justice Reinvestment Initiative at the Local Level: Getting To Know Mecklenburg County, NC

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2016
6 pages

This report presents the features and impact of Phases I and II of Mecklenburg County's (North Carolina) Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI).


In Phase I, the Criminal Justice Advisory Group was formed, and from mid-2011 though 2013, it examined data and explored alternatives to an overuse of the county's jail. Factors driving the jail population growth were identified, along with community-based alternatives to jail. Factors determined to contribute to the large jail population were incarceration for low-level offenses, for behaviors related to mental illness, and for behaviors related to homelessness. Another factor was recidivism after stays in the local jail or state prison. Based on the work performed in Phase I, Mecklenburg County was accepted into Phase II of the JRI project. Phase II funds were used primarily to support five strategies intended to address the key findings of Phase I. One strategy was to develop a Targeted Neighborhood Reentry Pilot Program for neighborhoods with a high percentage of formerly incarcerated individuals. A second strategy was to fund an independent evaluation of the citizen-initiated warrant process. A third strategy was the development of the Driver's License Restoration Clinic Pilot Program for the purpose of reducing arrests, jail stays, and court processing for those found to be driving with a revoked license. A fourth strategy was building the capacity of the Crisis Intervention Team through various training opportunities and resources. The fifth strategy was to increase the statistical reporting capacity of the county's criminal justice system. When the JRI project began in 2011, the jail population was 2,154. Currently, the jail population is 1,400. Insights for other jurisdictions are provided.