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District Task Force on Jails & Justice

When it comes to the District of Columbia’s current jail and approach to incarceration, there has to be change. That much is clear. And there is agreement from all corners of the city – including residents, advocates, and government leaders alike – that the status quo isn’t succeeding in keeping everyone safe and healthy or stopping the cycles of crime and incarceration. But understanding exactly what that change could and should be is a big job: that is why the District Task Force on Jails & Justice was established in 2019. 

What?

The District Task Force on Jails & Justice is an independent advisory body dedicated to redefining and reinventing our local criminal justice approach, ensuring t hat our jail is one part of a just and equitable overall system. More specifically, the District asked the Council for Court Excellence and its partners, the Vera Institute of Justice and the National Reentry Network of Returning Citizens, to convene this Task Force to evaluate the important elements of a new correctional plan for the city, make recommendations about who should and should not be held in our local facilities, and articulate our community’s priorities for a jail’s population, location, design, and services.

Why?

As District leaders are actively considering how they should be allocating governmental resources for the justice system, the time is now to discuss whether or how to build a new jail in D.C., what services can be provided most effectively in the community, and what investments best serve the diverse priorities of our residents. We know that the burden of justice involvement has a devastating impact on thousands of District residents, at a tremendous cost to taxpayers, and too often these voices are not heard in policy debates. Thus, the Task Force’s vision for the future will be, first and foremost, grounded in the lived experiences of individuals, families and communities directly impacted by incarceration, as well as in lessons learned from those who study and administer criminal justice and correctional systems. The Task Force will combine community engagement across the District with expertise to shape a shared vision for the city’s justice system – one that will serve as a model for the rest of the nation.

Who?

The Task Force is a distinguished and interdisciplinary group that includes community leaders who are directly impacted by jails, organizations that work to serve currently or formerly incarcerated people, government leaders, judges, research and policy experts, and other civic leaders. In addition to its official members, the Task Force will offer ample opportunities for other residents of the District, advocates, and experts to share their views and be engaged in the data-gathering and recommendation-making processes.

Click HERE for the Task Force members and biographies.

When?

The Task Force has a two-phase plan. In 2019, Phase I will include several community engagement events where people directly impacted by corrections – including incarcerated people, returning citizens, their families and friends, jail staff, neighbors of the jail, and other concerned residents – will have the opportunity to share their experiences and make recommendations for the future. Additionally, the Task Force will hold meetings where members and advisors can share expertise, deliberate, and set priorities. At the end of Phase I, the Task Force will analyze the feedback from the community, data on D.C.’s current jails and justice system, and evidence of best practices from other jurisdictions to produce its initial “Blueprint,” which will lay out their priorities and the vital elements of a comprehensive new correctional plan.

In Phase II, during late 2019 and into 2020, the Task Force expects to dive into the issues identified as priorities in the Blueprint, continuing to engage District residents and relevant experts, seek consensus, and ultimately develop a detailed plan for the District to use as it begins to fund and build any new facility or make changes to its justice system.

Click HERE for information about the Task Force's upcoming meetings and community events. 

Contact

Please contact Tracy Nutall, CCE Policy Counsel, tracy.nutall@courtexcellence, or Emily Tatro, CCE Deputy Director, emily.tatro@courtexcellence.org, with any questions about the Task Force.

You can also learn more about our partners, the Vera Institute of Justice and the National Reentry Network for Returning Citizens.

You will be able to follow updates about the Task Force on Twitter at @DCjails_justice

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This webpage was produced by the Council for Court Excellence under 2019-CFSE-01, awarded by the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, Executive Office of the Mayor, District of Columbia. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this webpage are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the Executive Office of the Mayor.

 
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