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Governors Take Action to Launch National Initiative Promoting Connections with People Closest to Correctional System

NEW YORK, NY—Aug. 14, 2017—Eight governors, along with other elected officials from across the country and on both sides of the aisle, will take action this week to join the Face to Face initiative, a national call to action encouraging policymakers to personally engage with the people who are closest to the correctional system.

The initiative—sponsored by the National Reentry Resource Center and The Council of State Governments Justice Center in partnership with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), JustLeadershipUSA, and the National Center for Victims of Crime (NCVC)—will launch with a wave of public activities beginning today, featuring both Republican and Democratic governors and elected officials meeting with people impacted by the correctional system in their respective states.

“I have learned through my own experience that criminal justice policy decisions are best made when they prioritize the needs and challenges of the people they ultimately impact,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “I encourage other elected officials to join these efforts and make a personal, face-to-face connection with people involved with the correctional system.”

To date, participating elected officials and their scheduled activities include:

  • Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-CT): Speaking with advocates for victims of crime as well as formerly incarcerated people (Aug. 14)
  • Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC): Visiting with residents at a transitional house for people who have been in the criminal justice system (Aug. 14)
  • Gov. Eric Greitens (R-MO): Working with corrections officers at a correctional facility (Aug. 14)
  • Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT): Meeting with incarcerated people and corrections staff at a women’s correctional facility (Aug. 15)
  • Attorney General Mike DeWine (R-OH): Visiting a mental health facility in a maximum-security prison in London, Ohio (Aug. 14), and meeting with women participating in a pre-release program, as well as program volunteers (Aug. 15)
  • Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO): Meeting with people who are incarcerated at a women’s correctional facility (Aug. 16)
  • Gov. Brian Sandoval (R-NV): Hosting a lunch at the governor’s mansion with formerly incarcerated people and their family members (Aug. 18)
  • Gov. Nathan Deal (R-GA): Making remarks on his interactions with people on parole at the premiere of a film documenting the challenges of being on community supervision (Aug. 23)
  • Gov. Gary Herbert (R-UT): Meeting with currently incarcerated people participating in an employment-focused reentry program (TBD)

“Fifteen years ago, the political landscape rang with calls to be tough on crime and misguidedly pushed policymakers to take a distant and hard line approach with respect to corrections and public safety policies. In essence, the threat of political damage caused elected leaders to overlook the human impact of criminal justice policy. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way,” said Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy. “I hope all policymakers join our efforts in using a more thoughtful approach to criminal justice policy that focuses not only on data and numbers, but also the people behind those numbers.”

In addition to the governors, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch will also participate in their own respective Face to Face activities this week.

The Face to Face initiative offers a list of suggested activities that policymakers—such as governors, state legislators, prosecutors, law enforcement officials and others—can carry out to participate in the initiative. The initiative will also provide potential action items for policymakers to consider following their interactions in order to maintain their connection with the issues and the people behind them.

“The job of a corrections professional is immensely challenging, and often leads to post-traumatic stress disorder, severe depression and other health and wellness issues,” said ASCA Executive Director Kevin Kempf. “Getting policymakers more personally connected to these challenges will not only help the officers, but improve the outcomes of the people they supervise.”

Mai Fernandez, executive director of NCVC, added: “All too often, the wheels of the criminal justice system move forward and leave behind the concerns and repercussions facing victims of crime. We’re hopeful that this initiative will help prioritize victims’ issues, including restitution and recovery, among many elected leaders.”

Face to Face is made possible with funding support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. For more information about the Face to Face initiative, including ways in which interested policymakers can get involved, visit https://csgjusticecenter.org/nrrc/facetoface/ and follow #MeetFacetoFace on social media.