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Improving Criminal Justice System Planning and Operations: Challenges for Local Governments and Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils

NCJ Number
Aimee Wickman; Barry Mahoney; M. Elaine Borakove
Date Published
17 pages

This report examines challenges faced by local governments to improve the planning and operations of their criminal justice systems.


This paper outlines key challenges faced by local governments and their criminal justice coordinating councils (CJCCs) on ways to improve the planning and operations of their criminal justice systems in these fiscally difficult times. The report identifies the substantive challenges, fiscal challenges, and internal structural and operational issues that complicate the ability of local governments to effectively fund and operate their criminal justice systems. The substantive challenges discussed in the report include specific types of crime, stagnant or decreased funding, crowding in jails and juvenile facilities, ineffective bail and pretrial release policies, and a lack of preparedness for man-made or natural emergencies. The fiscal challenges discussed in this report include shrinking local budgets compounded by State-level policies that push requirements for delivery down to the local and city level, fragmented funding coming from multiple sources, and the development of agency and court budgets with insufficient information on the ways in which the different components of the system interact. This report also examines the internal structural and operational issues faced by local governments and CJCCs. These issues include establishing a clear mission and role, developing a viable council structure, developing and using staff capabilities to support CJCC planning and policy development, acquiring and using information about system operations, fostering use of evidence-based practices in on-going operations, catalyzing plans for system operations in the event of emergency, and developing the capacity to shape budgeting and resource allocation decisions in a neutral and credible fashion.