In January 2022, the National Association of Counties, Rulo Strategies, and Praxis Consulting launched a new initiative to support justice-oriented strategic planning co-led by judges and elected county leaders. This timely project leveraged the renewed interest many courts have, coming out of the pandemic, in partnering with local stakeholders to expand the resources available to the courts.
Ten diverse local and regional sites served as pilots. Some sites aligned their work under an existing planning group, while others formed new planning bodies to support their planning. Each site engaged diverse stakeholders representing the court, elected county leadership, law enforcement, corrections, behavioral health, and other stakeholders.
Informed by the work with the ten sites, the project team launched a national toolkit highlighting the key components of the planning initiative. The County, Court, and Justice Leaders Framework is a resource for court leaders and their partners to explore a variety of effective models that span pre-arrest diversion strategies to reentry models that reduce recidivism. The toolkit is also a one-stop shop for the most up-to-date information and research published by leading national experts. Various topics are addressed in the toolkit, including strategies to reduce community violence, build a behavioral health continuum, reduce overdose deaths, establish diversion and alternative to incarceration opportunities, strengthen family justice systems, and reintegrate individuals back into the community upon reentry. Court, county and justice leaders can also access federal funding resources that align with different strategies and information about no cost technical assistance opportunities.
“This project reminds me of the stone soup parable. You have the one person who brings the magical stone to the town, and people say they have nothing to contribute. But this person helps people understand that they have something to contribute. They get one person to bring the carrots and one to bring the potatoes, and all of a sudden, and they have this amazing soup. This is what this project is about – the consultant team bringing ideas to our communities but empowering us to take action as a collective.”-Judge Tamara R. Bernstein, Cambria County