Office of Justice Programs Solutions for Safer Communities - BJA - FY 2013 - Annual Report to Congress

Chapter 2

Justice Systems Reforms, Recidivism Reduction, Prevention of Unnecessary Confinement, and Managing Offenders

BJA is committed to providing resources, training, and support to improve every stage of the criminal justice system, from corrections and probation/parole supervision to prosecutors, judges, and courts. Through BJA-funded programs, jurisdictions across the country are learning evidence-based, data-driven best practices and receiving assistance in applying these tools to test new ideas in their communities.

The job of supervising offenders in the community and preparing them to return to their neighborhoods is critical to protecting public safety. An effective approach is the use of reentry programs, which provide a broad range of services for offenders while ensuring their accountability. BJA supports numerous reentry initiatives that focus on partnering with correctional, law enforcement, and social service agencies as well as faith-based and community organizations. In addition, BJA supports evidence-based programs that work to reduce recidivism, promote coordinated efforts among reentry stakeholders, lower corrections and related criminal justice spending, promote information sharing, and reimburse jurisdictions for expenses incurred when they incarcerate undocumented criminal aliens.

Prosecutors, judges, and court personnel are also looking for evidence-based approaches to adjudicating offenders that will reduce recidivism rates, clear cases, lower costs, and decrease court dockets. Crimes involving violent and nonviolent offenders require special efforts to ensure that these offenders are held accountable and that they are returned to the community with the help and supervision they need to avoid reoffending.

Justice Reinvestment Initiative

BJA launched the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) to help states and counties develop and implement cost-effective, evidence-based policies projected to generate meaningful savings in corrections spending and then reinvest some portion of these savings into proven criminal justice programs that contribute to increased public safety. JRI also promotes enhanced accountability, systemwide collaboration, and justice system reform. JRI, which is a public/private partnership between BJA and the Pew Charitable Trusts, currently provides financial support and in-kind technical assistance to 19 states and 17 localities.

Although each jurisdiction is unique, many JRI sites have learned that common issues affect their prison populations: parole and probation revocations, sentencing policies and practices, insufficient or inefficient community supervision and support, and parole system process delays and denials. Many of these sites respond to these issues with strategies that integrate evidence-based practices and data-driven decision making into state justice system operations. Strategies include risk and needs assessments, accountability measures, earned-time credits, community-based treatment, intermediate and graduated sanctions, sentencing changes and departure mechanisms, mandatory supervision requirements, problem-solving courts, streamlined parole processes, and expanded parole eligibility.

The Urban Institute released a BJA-funded report, Justice Reinvestment Initiative State Assessment Report, in January 2014 assessing progress from the launch of JRI in 2010 through July 31, 2013. While the report recognizes that it is too soon to assess the full impact of justice reinvestment reforms, it notes that early results are promising. It found that states expect prison populations either to decrease (by 0.6 to 19 percentage points) or to grow more slowly (by 6 to 21 percentage points). Projected savings vary across states and time periods, ranging from a low of $7.7 million (over 5 years) to a high of $875 million (over 11 years).

South Carolina is one example of early success through JRI. In 25 years, the state's prison population had tripled, and spending on corrections had increased 500 percent. In 2010, South Carolina enacted commonsense sentencing reform and strengthened probation. By reducing probation revocations alone, the state saved more than $12.5 million between 2011 and 2013 and reduced prison usage by over 2,000 beds, all while the violent crime rate dropped by 17 percent between 2010 and 2013.

Similarly, a rising prison population in Kentucky caused corrections spending to grow to $440 million in FY 2010, an increase of 214 percent over the past two decades. Kentucky passed legislation that directs resources toward serious offenders, strengthens community supervision, and makes systemwide improvements across Kentucky's corrections system. As a result of JRI reforms, Kentucky has realized a total savings of $34.3 million: $25 million in averted jail costs and $9.3 million from its mandatory reentry supervision program. Kentucky has invested $13.9 million in evidence-based programs, including educational, substance abuse treatment, and sex offender treatment programs. The prison population declined 7.5 percent between January and September 2013.

Georgia's prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2011. Without reform, the prison population would likely have grown 8 percent by 2018 at a cost of $264 million. In response, Georgia passed a law in 2011 that focused prison beds on serious offenders, expanded alternative sentencing options, and strengthened probation. Using anticipated savings from the reforms, Georgia has invested more than $17 million into accountability courts and residential substance abuse treatment programs. Overall, prison commitments have decreased, indicating that Georgia's prison population could soon decline as projected. And while prison commitments of white males dropped 1.5 percent, commitments of African-American males dropped 19 percent from 2009 to 2013.

State and national leaders support JRI because they are seeing impacts—states are saving money and improving outcomes for people, families, and communities. A few quotes from state leaders who have seen JRI in action illustrate this support:

  • "These reforms will reduce recidivism, cut corrections costs, and increase public safety." Governor Sam Brownback (R-KS)
  • "By reducing the number of prisoners in the justice system, we have been able to cut costs for the state and improve the safety of our communities." Senator John Cornyn (R-TX)
  • "[Justice reinvestment is] transformational, profound change." David Lust (R), majority leader of the South Dakota House of Representatives
  • "I hope other states will consider the justice reinvestment model to take a ‘smart on crime' approach to prison overcrowding and public safety." Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D-WV)
  • "I look forward to seeing these [justice reinvestment] reforms have greater impact as the years go by." Governor Tom Corbett (R-PA)

To learn more about JRI, visit


Second Chance Act Programs and Recidivism Reduction Activities

The Second Chance Act of 2007 (SCA) provides a comprehensive response to the increasing number of incarcerated adults and juveniles who are released from prison, jail, and juvenile residential facilities. Administered by the Office of Justice Programs (OJP) through BJA, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and NIJ, SCA programs ( provide funding to eligible states, units of local government, federally recognized tribes, and nonprofit organizations. These funding resources help to ensure that the transition of adult and juvenile individuals from prison, jail, or juvenile residential facilities to their communities is successful and promotes public safety.

Between FY 2009 and FY 2013, DOJ has supported reentry efforts in 49 states, awarding more than 600 SCA grants that total more than $312 million. These awards support various evidence-based activities that include programs for adult offenders with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders; family-based substance abuse treatment; adult and juvenile demonstration (planning and implementation) projects; state, local, and tribal reentry courts; adult mentoring programs; technology careers training projects for incarcerated adults and juveniles; and the evaluation of adult and juvenile reentry demonstration projects.

In FY 2013, BJA made 92 awards totaling more than $52 million that included the following:

  • New competitive site-based reentry program grants, including technology career training.
  • Supplemental continuation awards for special projects and for sites participating in NIJ evaluations of SCA.
  • Continued support for the Council of State Governments Justice Center's National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) (
  • Two programs—the Comprehensive Statewide Adult Recidivism Reduction Planning Program and the Smart Probation: Reducing Prison Populations, Saving Money, and Creating Safer Communities Program—that were funded for the first time in 2012.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • BJA, NRRC, and the Association of State Correctional Administrators released three Recidivism Reduction Checklists ( to assist state corrections leaders with evaluating their reentry efforts and developing recidivism reduction plans. Each checklist is tailored to a specific audience: executive and legislative policymakers, state corrections administrators, and state reentry coordinators.
  • The What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse ( was expanded to include three new sections: substance abuse programs, family-based programs, and educational programs.
  • NRRC hosted a webinar for current and past Second Chance Act and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees on strategies for assisting justice-involved persons in accessing health care benefits to ensure access to treatment and services.
  • BJA, NRRC, and the U.S. Department of Labor, with support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, hosted a national forum on reentry and employment and released Integrated Reentry and Employment Strategies: Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Job Readiness.

To learn more about BJA's SCA activities, visit

Community Corrections

BJA's Smart Probation Program entered its second year. Funded through SCA, the program provides resources to states, units of local government, and federally recognized Indian tribes to develop evidence-based probation practices that effectively address offenders' needs and reduce recidivism. As part of the program, probation departments partner with researchers to develop strategies that address the needs of supervised populations, assess the effectiveness of the interventions, and ensure fidelity to evidence-based practices.

The Smart Probation Program is a component of BJA's Smart Suite of programs, which includes prosecution, policing, indigent defense, and pretrial initiatives. (See Smart Suite Programs for more information about BJA's Smart Suite.)

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • BJA made seven awards totaling more than $3.8 million.
  • NRRC continues to provide technical assistance focused on planning and implementation for the six FY 2012 grantees.
  • BJA's National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC) supports community corrections through targeted technical assistance engagements. For example, in FY 2013, NTTAC worked with the New York City Department of Probation as part of its comprehensive plan to implement evidence-based practices systemwide.
  • BJA supported the development and implementation of two practical tools—Skills for Offender Assessment and Responsivity in New Goals (SOARING2) and the Risk-Needs-Responsivity (RNR) Simulation Tool—that have been embraced by the community corrections field. (See chapter 3 for more information about SOARING2 and RNR.)

Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program

The Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (HRPDMP) combats nonmedical use of controlled substances by helping states to plan, establish, or enhance prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP), which collect and analyze dispensed pharmaceutical controlled substance data, particularly at the retail level where no other automated information collection exists. PDMPs enhance the capacity of regulatory and law enforcement agencies and public health officials to prevent and detect the diversion and abuse of pharmaceutical controlled substances, while allowing for legitimate medical use.

HRPDMP includes three funding categories: (1) PDMP implementation and enhancement; (2) tribal efforts to develop and implement the infrastructure to report data to state PDMPs; and (3) a new opportunity for counties and states to pilot tools that track prescription drug abuse and diversion data and to develop prevention, treatment, and enforcement responses. A portion of HRPDMP funds was also awarded to Brandeis University, which operates the PDMP Training and Technical Assistance Center (TTAC) and PDMP Center of Excellence (COE). TTAC provides direct TTA assistance to state PDMPs, compiles data on PDMP capabilities and services, conducts surveys, and facilitates regional and national meetings. COE operates as an information clearinghouse of PDMP best practices and related research and analysis. It also operates the Prescription Behavior Surveillance System, which conducts indepth analysis of de-identified PDMP dispensing data across state lines to identify trends, patterns, and links among various factors that contribute to drug abuse and diversion.

In FY 2013, BJA created a new funding category for multidisciplinary responses to prescription drug abuse and diversion. BJA awarded funding to six sites: Fairfield County, Ohio; Florida Department of Health; Jackson County, Oregon; Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; New York County (New York) District Attorney's Office; and the Norfolk County (Massachusetts) District Attorney. These innovative partnerships span a range of purpose areas, from enforcement/investigations to prescriber education and outreach to overdose prevention and treatment support. The projects, which begin in FY 2014, complement and reinforce the mission of PDMPs by leveraging PDMP data with state and county data sources to better understand local prescription drug abuse and to formulate comprehensive strategies to minimize the impacts from both a public health and criminal justice perspective.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • Convened a series of well-attended meetings, including the annual Harold Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring National Meeting in September 2013 and regional meetings in the South and West for PDMPs to develop strategies for tackling regional challenges.
  • Convened an interstate data-sharing summit with interested state PDMPs and stakeholders to create the Prescription Monitoring Information Exchange (PMIX) Architecture, a standards-based approach to sharing PDMP data across state lines.
  • Published guidelines for law enforcement use of PDMPs and a milestone document assessing the state-of-the-art best practices from across the country.

For a full listing of TTAC and COE publications and resources, visit and

To learn more about HRPDMP and related BJA resources, visit

Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program

BJA's Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) promotes public safety by fostering cross-system collaborations between criminal justice and mental health professionals that respond to the treatment needs of justice-involved individuals with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Through JMHCP, BJA funds collaborative planning projects as well as planning/implementation and enhancement projects. In FY 2013, BJA awarded 34 JMHCP grants to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to plan, implement, and expand initiatives between criminal justice and mental health agencies. Additionally, funds were awarded for the State-Based Capacity Building Program to deliver TTA resources and services to unfunded, eligible JMHCP applicants.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • BJA's TTA provider, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, responded to more than 250 technical assistance requests from state, local, and tribal governments.
  • A report, Improving Outcomes for People With Mental Illnesses Involved With New York City's Criminal Court and Correction Systems, was released that presents the results of an unprecedented analysis of the mental health needs, criminogenic risk, and risk of failure to appear in court for individuals admitted to the New York City Department of Correction. New York City is responding to the report's findings by creating court-based intervention and resource teams to serve more than 3,000 clients with mental health needs annually.
  • A report, Adults With Behavioral Health Needs Under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery, was widely disseminated and implemented over the course of FY 2013. This report reassesses the way that behavioral health care, services, and treatment are provided in correctional settings.
  • BJA funded a new project with The Arc, a national advocate for people with disabilities. This project, the National Center on Justice and Disability, will create a national resource center to address challenges the justice system faces when law enforcement, courts, and corrections encounter people with disabilities. The center will provide information, evaluation, technical assistance, and training to justice professionals to build their capacity to meet the needs of victims, suspects, and offenders with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

To learn more about JMHCP, visit

Corrections Information Sharing

BJA's Correctional Agency Information Sharing (CIS) initiative seeks to improve reentry outcomes by leveraging technology to bridge information sharing gaps among stakeholders-corrections, law enforcement, and community-based service providers-who manage the successful return of offenders to communities across the nation. Sharing critical information such as offender status and reentry attributes across agencies in a timely, secure, and accurate manner improves recidivism rates and reduces crime and victimization.

BJA's CIS initiative has provided funding to implement reentry information exchanges in three pilot sites-two at the state level (Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and Rhode Island Department of Corrections) and one at the county level (Hampden County, Massachusetts, Sheriff's Department). To facilitate this initiative, BJA identified four partners on this project: Association of State Correctional Administrators, IJIS Institute, American Probation and Parole Association (APPA), and SEARCH (The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics).

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • BJA coordinated with the IJIS Institute to develop standardized correction reentry service specifications, which will be implemented at three state departments of corrections to demonstrate the effectiveness of electronic exchanges of information that comply with national standards.
  • A Global Strategic Solutions Working Group task team identified 10 high-priority exchanges for correctional agencies and identified partners in the health and human services area where coordination is necessary to provide continuity of care for incarcerated individuals and to promote effective reentry strategies. This effort will maximize the national impact of this work and will ensure that it meets the needs of local practitioners who deal with both criminal justice and health care services for incarcerated individuals.
  • Technical standard and reusable policy templates were developed to simplify the process of establishing information sharing between justice and health organizations, while also promoting consistency and reuse of grant-funded projects.
  • Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services implemented a two-way reentry information exchange in the state's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration's "SMART system," which connects more than 360 community-based substance abuse treatment providers. This included implementation of a consent-management capability to address consent-to-share and confidentiality requirements under 42 CFR Part 2.
  • The CIS Project Advisory Board was created to guide projects and ensure successful adoption of the offender information sharing exchange standards.

Problem-Solving Courts

Problem-solving courts take a holistic approach to justice reform by addressing offenders with specific issues (drug abuse, mental illness, domestic violence) that are not adequately addressed in traditional courts. In general, problem-solving courts tend to be less adversarial than typical criminal justice processing and focus on positive case outcomes—for not only the offender, but also the victim and society.

Community Courts

The overall goal of BJA's Problem-Solving Justice TTA Program is to help judges, court administrators, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other innovators around the country to plan, implement, sustain, and evaluate problem-solving initiatives. BJA's partner in this program, the Center for Court Innovation, provides hands-on consulting services to jurisdictions seeking to implement community-based problem-solving justice reforms that aim to reduce recidivism, cut the use of jail, and effectively link offenders to services. The center currently works with more than 20 jurisdictions across the United States.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • Contributed to the planning and implementation of the North Las Vegas Justice Court after Nevada enacted legislation authorizing community court pilot projects throughout the state.
  • Assisted the Seattle Municipal Court and its partners in strategic planning to revise practices at the Seattle Community Court. As a followup to this activity, the court modified its eligibility criteria and sentencing options to focus primarily on defendants at higher risk for recidivating.
  • Helped Detroit's 36th District Court launch an initiative based on community court principles that seeks to reduce the use of fines and shorten jail sentences for lower level risk cases by instituting community service mandates and addressing defendants' social service needs.
  • Worked with stakeholders in promoting countywide coordination of problem-solving courts in El Paso County, Colorado, and created an advisory board that now meets regularly.
  • Added content to, including interviews, articles, podcasts, and publications such as Testing the Cost Savings of Judicial Diversion, The Public Wants To Be Involved: A Roundtable Conversation about Community and Restorative Justice, and Prostitution Diversion Programs. Traffic to the center's web site increased by nearly 40 percent compared to the previous year.

Drug Courts

Drug courts help reduce recidivism and substance abuse and increase the likelihood of successful rehabilitation by integrating the coercive power of the criminal justice system with substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, community supervision, and other habilitation services. BJA's Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program provides financial and technical assistance to communities seeking to implement and enhance drug courts. In FY 2013, BJA awarded 51 grants to state, local, and tribal jurisdictions, in addition to TTA awards, totaling just under $34 million.

Significant FY 2013 results from BJA TTA providers include the following:

  • The Center for Court Innovation's Statewide Drug Court TTA Program began training drug court practitioners to serve as peer facilitators of local drug court assessment and training. Known as peer-assisted learning, this approach helps to effectively translate national drug court standards into local practice by combining the cost-effectiveness of web-based learning with hands-on assistance from local peers. The center has also created a peer-assisted learning toolkit to guide peer facilitators in this work.
  • The National Drug Court Institute launched The Beat: A Law Enforcement Officer's Guide to Drug Courts curriculum. This self-paced course educates law enforcement officers on drug court programs and the role law enforcement plays on a drug court team. The institute also published a special edition of the Drug Court Review that focused on best practices.
  • American University convened more than 30 drug court judges and other practitioners for the Drug Court Judicial Leadership initiative. The initiative supports the critical leadership role of drug court judges in promoting and sustaining drug courts.

To learn more about BJA's Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program, visit

Veterans Treatment Courts

The first Veterans Treatment Court (VTC) was founded in Buffalo, New York, in January 2008 in response to an increasing number of veterans appearing on the drug and mental health court dockets. As this increase was felt nationally, BJA's TTA provider, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, established the Justice for Vets (JFV) professional services division in 2010 to support the increasing demand and growth of VTCs.

To assist new VTC program development, BJA funded JFV to launch the Veterans Treatment Court Planning Initiative (VTCPI), which offers TTA for local jurisdictions to prevent and control substance abuse and crime. Since 2010, BJA funding has provided VTCPI training for drug court practitioners at 87 jurisdictions and has assisted 5 local VTCs with federal grant funding. Each of the 87 jurisdictions receiving training was required to complete pre-training worksheets, participate in pre-training webinars, attend a 3-day training program, maintain routine correspondence with program staff, and submit a VTC implementation plan and draft policy and procedure manual. As of December 2013, 188 VTCs and more than 20 jurisdictions receive federal assistance to support VTCs operating in 35 states.

Tribal Healing to Wellness

BJA supports problem-solving courts in Indian Country, particularly Healing to Wellness Courts (HTWC). HTWCs are adaptations of the drug court model that reflect tribal culture and values. Tribes can apply for funding to establish HTWCs through the Drug Court Discretionary Grant Program. BJA funds the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) to provide TTA for tribes to develop, implement, and enhance their HTWCs.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • TLPI updated the popular Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Key Components, which provides information to tribes seeking to implement an HTWC, HTWCs seeking to enhance their services, and any HTWCs applying for or managing a federal grant. This updated second edition, available in 2014, will also highlight current drug court research and how it may or may not apply to tribes.
  • TLPI hosted the Second Annual Tribal Healing to Wellness Court Enhancement Training at the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. With more than 90 attendees, this training event offered comprehensive and multidisciplined workshops for operational HTWCs, including adult, juvenile, family, and driving-under-the-influence wellness courts. Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts: The Key Components was also successfully pilot tested at the training.
  • The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, a FY 2013 Adult Drug Court Enhancement grantee, identified a need to address enablement issues through education and counseling for families and community members. The community also implemented the Positive Peer Culture process (a form of peer group support adapted to cultural norms) and the Enabling Program (a family support service).

To learn more about BJA's Tribal Healing to Wellness Court TTA, visit

Prison Rape Elimination Act

The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003 required the U.S. Attorney General to promulgate regulations that adopt national standards for the detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape. On June 20, 2012, DOJ published the Notice of Final Rule, which created the National Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Prison Rape (standards) as required by PREA. The standards apply to adult prisons and jails, juvenile facilities, police lockups, and community confinement facilities. Under the standards, one-third of each facility type operated by an agency, or by a private organization on behalf of the agency, must be audited within each year of a 3-year audit cycle. The first audit cycle began on August 20, 2013.

In general, the implementation of the standards and the creation, implementation, and ongoing management of the auditing process are assigned to BJA. Through congressional appropriations and DOJ authorization, BJA has been actively engaged in providing various PREA resources to the field, including state, local, and tribal confinement facilities across the nation. Resources provided to the field include:

  • Numerous 40-hour PREA auditor trainings, which are a key component of the process established by the PREA Management Office (PMO) for DOJ to certify PREA auditors.
  • Comprehensive audit tools—for use by agencies, facilities, and auditors—that cover the four confinement facility types defined in the standards.
  • Targeted TTA for state, local, and tribal jurisdictions on issues related to establishing "zero tolerance" cultures regarding sexual abuse in confinement facilities, and to achieving compliance with the standards.
  • An array of training curricula, webinars, and other materials designed to support the PREA-related efforts of agencies and confinement facilities nationwide.
  • Interpretative guidance—issued in the form of FAQs on the National PREA Resource Center (PRC) web site—related to the standards that is developed by the DOJ PREA Working Group, an entity convened by the PMO and composed of representatives from numerous DOJ components.

These resources have been provided through three main mechanisms: PRC, BJA's PREA competitive grant program, and the PMO.

Funded through an FY 2010 competitive award to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, PRC provides TTA and other resources to help the field better identify and disseminate best and promising practices, assist correctional agencies in the implementation of the standards, and advance the overall PREA goal of establishing zero-tolerance confinement cultures with respect to sexual assault and misconduct. Since FY 2010, PRC has collectively received award totals of approximately $24 million.

Originally released in FY 2011, BJA's PREA competitive solicitation—Demonstration Projects to Establish "Zero Tolerance" Cultures for Sexual Assault in Correctional Facilities—provides funding to eligible applicants (states, units of local government, and federally recognized tribes) for demonstration projects within confinement settings. From FY 2011 through FY 2013, BJA has awarded 49 grants totaling more than $17.7 million. In addition, in April 2013, PRC made 43 subawards from its existing BJA funding that totaled nearly $5 million.

In August 2013, the Deputy Attorney General approved the formation of the PMO, which is administered by BJA. Key examples of PREA activities tasked to the PMO include overseeing PRC's strategic direction and activities; conducting outreach to correctional authorities and other key stakeholder groups affected by PREA and the standards; certifying and recertifying PREA auditors; developing and enhancing PREA auditor training materials; convening and facilitating DOJ's PREA Working Group; and managing the process associated with the submission of certifications of full compliance with the standards and assurances related to the standards by the nation's state and territorial governors.

For more information on PREA, go to

Wrongful Conviction (Best Practices for Conviction Integrity)

BJA's Wrongful Conviction Review Program funds public and nonprofit entities that work to exonerate people who have been wrongfully convicted. In addition, BJA funds the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) to provide TTA to grantees and other innocence projects/defender offices. Activities include direct TTA on issues related to post-conviction claims of innocence; hosting a national training event; and conducting an indepth assessment of FY 2010 grantees to examine the impact of program funds on improving representation and increasing efficiency in post-conviction innocence claims.

In FY 2013, NACDL made significant contributions toward correcting errors in microscopic hair comparison analysis evidence. In addition to providing direct support and training to defense lawyers, NACDL collaborated with the FBI and the Innocence Project in a comprehensive review of capital cases potentially affected by this issue. This collaborative project is examining every case set for execution since late 2012 where hair comparison may have been used. To date, the grant-funded project attorney has reviewed approximately 600 capital cases to determine whether microscopic hair comparison evidence was used, giving urgent priority to cases with a scheduled execution. This review resulted in the stay of an execution to obtain DNA testing in a case where erroneous hair microscopy testimony was given by an FBI examiner at trial.

NACDL also trained 561 people at 3 events, with an additional 175 lawyers trained under NACDL's first grant award; distributed 500 DVD/CD sets from the 3 trainings; and provided 60 travel scholarships, with an additional 11 under the first award.

To learn more about NACDL, visit

BJA Prosecution Fellowship

BJA has sponsored a Prosecution Fellowship devoted to developing statewide best practices committees for prosecutors. These committees have proven to be an effective mechanism for prosecutors to take the lead in responding to emerging issues and identifying ways to enhance the procedures. The BJA Fellow, Kristine Hamann, meets with prosecutors to encourage the development of best practices committees, works collaboratively with national prosecutor associations to address emerging issues, and provides technical assistance to prosecutors on policy issues and committee development.

Accomplishments to date include the following:

  • Thirty states are exploring or developing a prosecutors' best practices committee, and 15 of these states have formed a committee and started meeting.
  • Best practices committees in six states have received BJA funding: California, Colorado, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
  • Four regional best practices meetings will be held in 2014 for senior prosecutors from 27 states. These meetings will be held in Denver, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

Pretrial Reform

BJA's Pretrial Justice TTA Initiative coordinates and provides mentor opportunities for jurisdictions that are currently engaged in pretrial reform. BJA's TTA provider, the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI), provides regional training and peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities for criminal justice professionals (including law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecution, victims' rights, defense, jail administrators, and state and local government officials) throughout the country.

Significant FY 2013 results from PJI include the following:

  • Continued to work with the Pretrial Justice Working Group (PJWG) and its subcommittees to address the recommendations of the 2011 National Symposium on Pretrial Justice ( The 2012 PJWG progress report was published in early 2013 (
  • Promoted the evidence-based Colorado Pretrial Assessment Tool (CPAT). Activities included creating a guide for administering CPAT throughout the state and training local program directors and other stakeholders about implementing and using CPAT. PJI also published Pretrial Performance Measurement: A Colorado Example of Going From the Ideal to Everyday Practice.
  • In partnership with the National Judicial College, developed a model curriculum for judges on pretrial release decisionmaking. The curriculum was piloted in Delaware to the entire bench of bail-setting magistrate judges.
  • PJI's Pretrial Justice TTA Initiative also supports an online help desk ( that organizes materials related to learning the what, why, and how of pretrial justice challenges and improvements and includes a bibliography on pretrial research. In September 2013, PJI launched a completely revamped version of this web site. PJI also shares information through social media and a biweekly newsletter ( with a readership of about 300 that is regularly featured in publications of organizational partners.

Right to Counsel/Holistic Defense

BJA funded the Center for Holistic Defense, a project of The Bronx Defenders. The center is a national TTA resource center for public defender offices, individual advocates, policymakers, and others who seek to adopt a more holistic approach to the defense of indigent clients who have been arrested and criminally charged. Holistic defense broadens the scope of public defense beyond criminal representation to also address the circumstances driving clients into the criminal justice system and the devastating consequences of criminal justice involvement.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • Provided 12 months of indepth technical assistance to the Alameda County Public Defender in Oakland, California; the Shelby County Public Defender in Memphis, Tennessee; the Public Defender for the City of Atlanta, Georgia; the Santa Clara County Public Defender in San Jose, California; the Arch City Defenders in St. Louis, Missouri; and the Jefferson County Public Defender in Birmingham, Alabama.
  • Provided shorter term TTA to defender offices and at conferences and symposia across the county.

For more information about the center and to view a detailed report on the 2014 Holistic Defense Symposium, visit

Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance Program

The Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance (TCCLA) Program provides grants, policy leadership, and TTA to support federally recognized tribes in improving their justice systems and access to those systems. The grants are targeted to nonprofit organizations with a 501(c)(3) tax status and serve to strengthen the representation of indigent defendants in criminal cases and indigent respondents in civil causes of action under the jurisdiction of Indian tribes. These services also target tribes that meet the federal poverty guidelines. A third category funds TTA that supports the development and enhancement of tribal justice systems.

In FY 2013, the TCCLA Program received 18 applications, and 5 awards were made totaling almost $2 million: 2 awards for Category 1, Civil Legal Assistance, and 3 awards for Category 2, Criminal Legal Assistance.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • In the Civil category, the Native American Disability Law Center partnered with the Navajo Nation Council to develop the Tribal Guardianship Code Development Project, a tribal guardianship code project that preserves tribal sovereignty while protecting the due process rights of indigent American Indians with disabilities facing tribal court systems. The project expanded the role and involvement of the family inherent in many tribal communities. Navajo families provided input to development of a draft code, which was circulated to the Navajo judicial community and DOJ for comment and review.
  • In the Criminal category, New Mexico Legal Aid's Native American Program (NAP) participated in the development of the Zuni Pueblo Healing to Wellness Court. NAP advocated to agencies participating in development that a public defender should be included as part of program services. The Zuni Tribal Constitution Revision Committee requested NAP's input into the revision of its constitution. NAP developed a pro se packet for criminal defense in the Zuni Tribal Court outlining rights under the current Zuni constitution and tips for defending oneself.

To learn more about the TCCLA Program, visit

Tribal Law and Order Act

The Tribal Law and Order Act (TLOA) provides legislative authorities and resources to tribes to expand felony sentencing for certain crimes, establishes new minimum standards for protecting defendants' rights in the tribal court system, and encourages federally recognized Indian tribes to consider using alternatives to incarceration or correctional options as a justice system response to crime in their communities. BJA has implemented a number of these authorities. This year, BJA expanded allowable activities in CTAS to include TLOA activities such as the implementation of the enhanced sentencing authority. (See Chapter 1 for more information on CTAS.) In addition, BJA continues to offer a range of TTA to support TLOA initiatives, including regional meetings of criminal justice policymakers, joint law enforcement training, technical assistance for tribal-state court forums, and pilot initiatives such as joint jurisdictional courts and national web sites to share information. BJA also implemented new TTA support through its TCCLA Program to Indian tribes and tribal justice systems in their work toward enhanced sentencing and indigent defense activities.

Significant FY 2013 TTA results include the following:

  • The first four installments of a six-part webinar series on TLOA implementation was released by BJA, APPA, the Tribal Justice Institute, and National Judicial College's National Tribal Judicial Center. The webinars provide information to tribes moving forward with TLOA planning and implementation, including assistance with identifying impacts on tribal resources and dispelling myths. The webinars can be found on APPA's web site.
  • The Western Community Policing Institute offers joint jurisdictional law enforcement awareness training for line officers and their supervisors who are responsible for building, implementing, and sustaining tribal-state-local collaborative partnerships on public safety.
  • The Walking on Common Ground web site ( provides news, updates, and resources for promoting and facilitating tribal-state-federal collaborations.

Tribal Justice Exchange

BJA funds the Center for Court Innovations' Tribal Justice Exchange, which provides TTA for tribal communities to address community-based practices; encourage formal collaborations between traditional tribal justice systems and state and local court systems; and identify and disseminate best practices developed in Indian Country that could be applied to public safety initiatives elsewhere in the United States.

Significant FY 2013 results include the following:

  • The Pascua Yaqui Tribe launched the Attendance Achievement Program to combat truancy among tribal youth. During the first year, the program enrolled 58 tribal members in grades 1–8 who had been cited for chronic absenteeism. By providing coordinated services to students and families, the program reduced the average number of missed school days by 39.7 percent.
  • The Colorado River Indian Tribes initiated changes to its court system to develop a community court model. Changes include using evidence-based tools to identify offenders' risks and needs, expanding community-based alternatives to incarceration, and promoting accountability through improved case management technology and ongoing judicial monitoring.
  • The Navajo Nation continued to implement and enhance the Aneth Community Court, the first community court in Indian Country. The tribe hired a resource coordinator who is responsible for assessing the needs of defendants, linking defendants to individualized services, leading court-supervised community service projects, and monitoring defendants' compliance with court orders.

To learn more about TTA through the Tribal Justice Exchange project, visit