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


2015 Health, Justice & Public Safety Forum

Optimizing Health, Justice and Public Safety in Your County will take place January 21-23, 2015 in Charleston County, SC.

Click here for more information.​

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
(NACo Podcasts) The Importance of Quality Indigent Defense Services


Counties spend more than $70.2 billion every year on justice and public safety, and in many jurisdictions a major part of this is the provision of public defense services – providing attorneys to defendants who cannot afford to hire one on their own. The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees an individual the right to have the assistance of counsel for his defense, and the Supreme Court case of Gideon v. Wainwright held that states bear the responsibility for providing such counsel. In many states, however, this function has been passed to the counties, leading to overburdened systems and ...

(read more)

7 weeks ago

New Pay for Success Technical Assistance Opportunities: Learn More on Oct. 24

Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Program Manager.
Are you interested in Pay for Success contracting (also called Social Innovation Finance or Social Impact Bonds)?  These financing models direct funding to programs that demonstrate success through measureable outcomes, and can be an effective mechanism for counties to implement new programming in justice, health and human services areas.

Local governments interested in developing Pay for Success  can enter a new competition to receive services to identify and develop opportunities to use Pay for Success contracts to fund impactful social interventions.  Third Sector Capital Partners, Inc., a non-profit advisory firm specializing in Pay for Success, has received a $1.9 million grant from the federal Corporation for National ...

(read more)

2 months ago

October is Youth Justice Awareness Month

Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Justice Associate.
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October is Youth Justice Awareness Month (YJAM), and the theme this year is "The Consequences Aren't Minor." During the month of October, the Campaign for Youth Justice will highlight various issues under this umbrella theme, including racial and ethnic disparities, collateral consequences, and the voices of youth and community advocates and organizations that work to end the practice of trying youth as adults. 

YJAM is an opportunity for communities, families, youth and allies to host community-led actions and events that expose the consequences of children being processed in adult court and placed in adult jails and prisons.  Events are happening around the country, such as 5k run/walks, film scre...

(read more)

3 months ago

New NACo Fact Sheet: Recommended Pipeline Safety Practices for Local Governments

Written by Jen Horton, NACo Program Manager.
As communities develop and expand, new businesses and housing developments are affecting the nation’s existing pipeline infrastructure.  These changes have implications for the more than 183,000 miles of hazardous liquid pipelines and more than 299,000 miles of natural gas transmission pipelines that move energy throughout the U.S. every day.  Since county governments maintain a number of public facilities and make local land use and development decisions, it is important for county leaders be aware of how these responsibilities impact existing pipeline infrastructure.

There are a number of reasons why county leaders should prioritize pipeline safety.  First of all, an enormous amount of pipeline infrastructure crosses through a large number of counties.  Seco...

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3 months ago

New Funding Opportunities for Juvenile Justice Reform

Written by Kathy Rowings, NACo Justice Associate.

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The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced today that they are providing $2 million in funding to advance juvenile justice reform in jurisdictions across the country.

Through this partnership, OJJDP and MacArthur will support training and technical assistance for local governments to meet the mental health needs of system-involved youth, reduce racial and ethnic disparities and promote coordination and integration for youth involved in both the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.  The funding will support projects in the following areas: 

  • Disproportionate Minority Contact Reduction: Employing a collaborative, data-driven approach to improve equity and enhance outcomes for youth of color who come into contact with the juvenile justice system. The Cen...

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3 months ago