By CSG Justice Center Staff
Illinois and Montana are the latest in a number of states to convene state forums on public safety to continue the conversations begun at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety that took place in November 2017 in Washington, DC. The state forums were facilitated by staff from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.
Although Illinois has seen steep declines in correctional populations in recent years and continues to lower recidivism rates, the state is interested in making further improvements. At the state forum on October 1, a number of topics were addressed: identifying recidivism-reduction strategies for correctional populations, addressing the behavioral health needs of people in the criminal justice system, using data to prioritize resources, and using trauma-informed services to help communities most impacted by violent crime. The forum was attended by approximately 75 corrections staff and leadership, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officials, community behavioral health providers, and victim advocates.
At the Montana forum on October 3–4, panel discussions focused on Risk-Need-Responsivity principles, strengthening behavioral health policy, understanding and addressing crime trends, and improving housing supports for people in the criminal justice system. Approximately 150 people attended the forum, including state legislators, corrections staff and leadership, county attorneys, law enforcement officials, community behavioral health providers, and victim advocates.
In conjunction with the Montana forum, CSG Justice Center staff also presented information to the state’s Criminal Justice Oversight Council on Justice Reinvestment legislation implementation progress. Montana enacted nine Justice Reinvestment bills in 2017, for which CSG Justice Center staff provided implementation assistance. Governor Steve Bullock reiterated his strong support of the Justice Reinvestment process at the forum and stressed the importance of continuing implementation in order to yield greater impacts for Montana’s strained corrections system.
Implementation efforts to date have focused on guiding the use of risk and needs assessment and evidence-based practices across the criminal justice system, including helping the probation and parole division rewrite the Montana Incentives and Interventions Grid to give supervision officers tools to reduce recidivism; guiding the professionalization of the board of pardons and parole and the development of parole decision-making guidelines; and assisting in the creation of an evidence-based program review committee for the Montana Department of Corrections. Additionally, CSG Justice Center staff helped the state set up regular data tracking to monitor the impacts of the legislation.
Prior to the Illinois and Montana forums, Vermont and Ohio hosted theirs in April, followed by Michigan, Oregon, and Wyoming; New Mexico, Iowa, and Connecticut; Hawaii; and North Dakota. The U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance selected multiple states to host individual state forums on public safety following the 50-State Summit on Public Safety in November 2017.