Criminal Justice Programs

NACo's Criminal Justice Programs provide technical assistance to counties through educational programming on a range of issues addressing local corrections systems from pre-trial services to local re-entry initiatives. These programs are dedicated to assisting counties with exploring opportunities for efficient and effective use of public dollars. 

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Maeghan Gilmore, MPH
Program Director

Also of Interest

Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee

Health Steering Committee 

CSI Blog


Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce Mental Illness In Jails

NACo and the Council of State Governments Justice Center​ are partnering with the American Psychiatric Foundation on a national initiative​ to lower the population of jail inmates with mental disorders. .​

Reforming County Public Defender Delivery Systems  - NACo 2014 WIR Conference
Presentations: The 6th Amendment Right to Counsel and the Idaho Experience -- The Montana Public Defender System
Dan Chadwick, Executive Director of the Idaho Association of Counties and Sheryl Wood, Associate Director of the Montana Association of Counties  presented their respective states’ experiences with reforming public defender delivery systems.

NACo's 2013 County Solutions and Idea Marketplace: The Annual Conference of the National Association of Counties
Presentations: Courts Subcommittee -- Juvenile Justice Subcommitee -- Creating an Efficient Justice System through Your County's Courts -- To Build or Not to Build...a New Jail
Our 78th Annual Conference and Exposition provided an opportunity for county leaders and staff to learn, network and guide the direction of the association.

The Better Futures Model: Improving Employment Opportunities and Outcomes for Justice-Involved Individuals
Recording and Presentations
Each year seven million individuals are released from local jails and returned to local communities. Assisting with their employment needs can reduce recidivism and ease in the re-entry process. Better Futures Minnesota, a social enterprise in Hennepin County (Minneapolis), MN, is helping to create jobs, achieve better results and reduce public spending for individuals returning to communities from jail or prison.

Front-End Justice Reform: The Role of Risk Assessments in Cost-Saving Justice Reform
Recording and Presentations
How can counties safely reduce jail populations and save county taxpayer dollars? Find out how your county can create and validate a risk-assessment instrument tailored to your jurisdiction's needs and discover best practices counties have used to overcome common implementation barriers.

Supportive Housing: What You Need to Know About Getting Started
Recording and Presentations
Find out how counties are using the Frequent Users Systems Engagement (FUSE) supportive housing model to reduce costs and break the cycle of incarceration and homelessness among individuals with behavioral health needs.

Smart Justice Practices for Counties: Effective Behavioral Health Interventions
County correctional systems are increasingly challenged in their efforts to meet the needs of justice-involved individuals with mental health and substance use issues. Learn more about promising and successful models for diverting mentally ill individuals into comprehensive crisis care services and supporting the behavioral health needs ot ex-offenders reentering the community.

Creating Supportive Housing Initiatives in Your County
NACo held a 1.5 day forum June 7-8, 2012 which explored how counties can advance supportive housing initiatives for individuals involved in the criminal justice system.

Diagnosing Your Criminal Justice System: Identifying Approaches, Issues and Priorities
Recording and Presentations
Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils (CJCCs) enable justice system stakeholders to convene and create system improvements. Learn how to diagnose your system, make use of your data and overcome challenges.

Kentucky Justice Reform: Enhancing Public Safety and Improving Performance
Find out how Kentucky's data-driven reforms to the state and local justice systems strengthened probation and parole, and reinvested in community intervention resources.

Linking Justice-Involved Individuals with Supportive Housing
Recording and Presentations
Learn how the Frequent Users Systems Engagement (FUSE) supportive housing model can help break the cycle of incarceration and homelessness among individuals with behavioral health needs.

Our ability to carry out these program activities is supported by grants from the following organizations:











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Questions & Answers: The Affordable Care Act and County Jails​

October 2014

Expungement Summit Guide

Created by Dorothy Brown, Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County

June 2014


RSS_Sketch.png County Solutions and Innovation Blog Spotlight:
Justice and Public Safety
16 Counties Awarded Safety and Justice Challenge GrantsNew

Written by: Kathy Rowings, Justice Program Manager


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced it is awarding 20 jurisdictions $150,000 grants and expert counsel to create plans that will lead to fairer, more effective local justice systems. The grants are a part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, the Foundation’s $75 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. 

The Challenge Networkis made up of 16 counties, three cities and one state-wide system.  The sites are geographically distributed throughout the country and have a diverse jail capacity size, ranging from 239 beds in Mesa County, Co...

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25 hours ago

Four Counties Selected as Awardees in National Pay for Success Competition

​Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Program Manager.


Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc. (Third Sector), a grantee of the Social Innovation Fund’s Pay for Success program, announced today the selection of seven awardees—four of which are counties—to receive federally funded technical assistance to assess the feasibility of implementing Pay for Success (PFS). Awardees (referred to as “Sub-Recipients”) have demonstrated commitment to funding high-quality, effective social interventions that produce measurable outcomes in the areas of early childhood education and health, child welfare, teen pregnancy and workforce development. The four county Sub-Recipients are:

Travis County/Austin, Texas, with leadership from the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department, will focus on determining the feasibility of PFS f...

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3 months ago

(NACo Podcasts) Optimizing Health, Justice & Public Safety in Your County


This past January, NACo held a joint Healthy Counties Initiative and Justice and Public Safety forum in Charleston S.C. This video podcast takes a look at two of the issues discussed during the forum: addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, and the intersection of behavioral health and justice systems.

During the podcast, we hear from Commissioner Joan Garner and Commissioner Katie “Kay” Cashion, respective chairs of the NACo Healthy Counties Initiative Advisory Board and NACo Justice and Public Safety Steering Committee, as well as James Bell, founder and executive director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, and Judge Steve Leifman of the Mia...

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4 months ago

Forum Recap: Systems of Care in Juvenile Justice and Mental Health

(Left to right) Mary Jo Meyers, Deputy Director, Wraparound Milwaukee; Dr. Altha Stewart, Director, Just Care Family Network; and Denise Sulzbach, Director, Policy and Strategic Development, Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland, School of Social Work.

This morning, NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety opened with a session that focused on Systems of Care in Juvenile Justice and Mental Health.  The session was moderated by Ms. Denise Sulzbach who is the Director of Policy and Strategic Development at The Institute for Innovation and Implementation, University of Maryland School of Social Work. Mary Jo Meyers, Deputy Director of Wraparound Milwaukee, spoke about Wraparound Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, Wis. and Dr. Altha...

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4 months ago

​Forum Recap: Mobile Workshop—Charleston County Judicial Center

Carson Fox, Chief Operating Office / Chief Counsel, National Association of Drug Court Professionals addresses workshop participants.

NACo’s Forum on Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety included a mobile workshop where participants had the opportunity to visit the Charleston County Judicial Center.  At this workshop, participants learned about diversion programs that addressed unique needs of defendants in Charleston County.  Specifically, participants were educated on Mental Health Court, Juvenile Drug Court and Adult Drug Court.


There were two diversion programs that participants learned greatly about in today’s mobile workshop: Drug Court and Mental Health Court.  In 1989, a severe drug problem began that highly affected the j...

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4 months ago