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Application of the Collaborative Model to the Criminal Justice System

The Federal Government has long encouraged and supported a collaborative approach to planning and decisionmaking in the criminal justice system. In the 1970s, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, a grantmaking agency, worked with state and local coordinating and planning councils to establish common goals and funding priorities to meet them. Other projects, such as the National Jail and Prison Overcrowding Project (NJPOP), made similar programming efforts. Jointly funded by the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), a federal agency, and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, a private organization, NJPOP recognized that unless all parts of the system that contribute to the growth of jail and prison populations participate in decisionmaking about the best use of existing resources, jails and prisons will continue to fill. Such collaboration required tremendous effort by all parts of the system. Each part had to be willing to try to understand the roles and responsibilities of the others, to compromise on issues, and to acknowledge and respect others’ political realities.

In recent years, numerous federal initiatives have continued to work for empowerment of communities by encouraging the use of collaboration by criminal justice policymaking entities, including Comprehensive Communities, Weed and Seed, Community Oriented Policing Services, Violence Against Women Office (VAWO), Safe Kids/Safe Streets, the Office of Justice Program’s Drug Courts Program Office, NIC, and the Office of Justice Programs. Many of these programs represent federal interagency or interbureau collaboration. To ensure that the goals of collaborations are successfully met, philosophical hurdles and entrenched organizational structures must be overcome through training and commitment of resources.

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December 2002
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