2019 Quarter 3 | The Council of State Governments | MLC Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

MLC Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Newsletter
In This Issue
Committee Happenings
CSG Justice Center Update
Criminal Justice News
Important Dates
September 13-14: 

September 15-18:

September 17:

September 24-25:

October 9-11:

October 10:

October 16-18:

October 21-23:

October 26-29:

October 30:

November 4-8:

November 10-13:

November 13-15:

November 14-17:

December 3-5:

December 4-7: 
CSG National Conference - San Juan, PR 

December 4:
CSG Policy Academy: Tech States and the Race to 5G - San Juan, PR

December 4:
CSG Policy Academy: Growing Green - Marijuana Policy in the States - San Juan, PR

December 4:
CSG Policy Academy: The Energy Landscape - San Juan, PR

December 4:
CSG Policy Academy: Privacy and Cybersecurity - San Juan, PR

July 19-22, 2020:
75th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) - Detroit, MI

August 7-11, 2020:
26th Annual Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD) - Minneapolis, MN

August 21-25, 2020: 
CSG Henry Toll Fellowship Program - Lexington, KY

July 11-14, 2021:
76th Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) - Rapid City, SD
Quick Links
Committee Meeting Wrap-Up
Jac Charlier presents to the MLC Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Sunday, July 21 (photo courtesy of JFKphoto)
The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee met on Sunday, July 21, and sponsored three breakout sessions on Monday, July 22, during the Midwestern Legislative Conference (MLC) Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois. Committee co-chairs Rep. Shannon Roers Jones of North Dakota, Sen. Mattie Hunter of Illinois, and vice chair Sen. Michael Crider of Indiana presided. 

The Sunday meeting featured a discussion with crime reduction expert - Jac Charlier of the Center for Health and Justice at Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) in Chicago - about the front and back ends of the criminal justice system. Jac especially focused on deflection and pre-arrest diversion strategies.
A relatively new idea in criminal justice, deflection is a "third way" for police to interact with offenders they encounter.

Police officers often only have a binary choice, arrest or release. Deflection seeks to use alternative remedies such as drug and alcohol treatment, hospitalization, and other diversionary programs, when appropriate, instead of introducing nonviolent, low-level offenders into the criminal justice system or releasing them back into the community without assistance.

The need for, and first usages of, deflection began in rural areas in response to substance use disorder and the opioid crisis. With 68 percent of local jail populations suffering from substance use disorders, the benefits of deflecting many of these people to treatment are clear: It saves state and local jurisdictions prosecutorial time and money, doesn't burden citizens with the long-term consequences of misdemeanors, and places offenders in treatment instead of jails or prisons, which often worsen mental health and substance use disorders.

In the TASC model, there are five identified deflection pathways to treatment: "self-referral," when someone seeks treatment by contacting law enforcement; "active outreach," when law enforcement intentionally seeks individuals for treatment; "Naloxone plus," when treatment is part of law enforcement's response to an overdose; "officer prevention referral," when law enforcement initiates treatment with no charges after a 911 call; and "officer intervention referral," which is like "officer prevention referral" except charges are held in suspension pending the completion of treatment.

Since 2014, eight deflection-related laws have been passed in six states, including last year's  SB 3023 in Illinois. That measure authorizes and encourages law enforcement to create partnerships with treatment providers and others to deflect individuals away from the criminal justice system. 

To measure the impact of a local deflection program, the law includes a minimum data collection requirement (municipalities do not have to create a deflection program). Illinois lawmakers also provided civil liability immunity to law enforcement for program-related activities.

Mr. Charlier's PowerPoint presentation and complimentary materials are posted on our annual meeting website.

One of the Monday morning sessions, Mental Health and the Justice System focused on the challenges states and local corrections systems face as a result of the incarceration of individuals with mental illness and promising strategies to reduce these burdens while providing more effective treatment. Shannon Scully, Manager of Criminal Justice and Advocacy at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), and Dustin McKee, Director of Policy at NAMI of Ohio, were the guest speakers.

Ms. Scully and Mr. McKee's presentation is posted on our annual meeting website.

Another of the Monday morning sessions, Justice for All: State Responses to Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Prisons, focused on the extent of racial and ethnic disparities in prison populations through a data-informed description of the problem and a discussion of potential solutions to reduce such disparities. Ashley Nellis, Senior Research Analyst at The Sentencing Project, was the guest speaker.

The final Monday morning breakout session, Better Outcomes for Youth: Juvenile Justice Reform, focused on states' efforts to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes for young people in juvenile justice systems. Kristi Bunkers, Director of Juvenile Services at the South Dakota Department of Corrections, and Nina Salomon, Deputy Program Director of Corrections and Reentry at the CSG Justice Center, were the guest speakers.

We hope to continue the committee's discussions about these and related topics through these quarterly newsletters, next year's meeting, and any other forms of communication you as members would like to see implemented. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds Tours the Anamosa State Penitentiary (screenshot of CSG Justice Center video)
Megan Quattlebaum, Director of The Council of State Governments Justice Center, recently wrote about the staffing shortage in U.S. jails and prisons that Jeffrey Epstein's suicide highlighted. Her op-ed can be found on The Hill

The national movement to reduce mental illness in jails has reached 500 counties across 43 states. Learn more about the Stepping Up Initiative, this important milestone, and which counties in your state have passed a resolution in support of Stepping Up. So far, seven Illinois counties, three Indiana counties, 62 Iowa counties, seven Kansas counties, 19 Michigan counties, 19 Minnesota counties, 10 Nebraska counties, one North Dakota county, 47 Ohio counties, four South Dakota counties, and 11 Wisconsin counties have passed resolutions. 

The Face to Face Initiative calls on policymakers from across the political spectrum to publicly engage with people who have firsthand experience with the criminal justice system. This collection of stories from the National Reentry Resource Center highlights participation in Face to Face by a number of governors, including Iowa's Kim Reynolds, Nebraska's Pete Ricketts, and North Dakota's Doug Burgum. 

Last week, The Washington Post highlighted the National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction in an article about the barriers people returning to the community from incarceration face when looking for a job. 

Minnesota Experiments with Warrant Resolution Program
St. Louis County, part of northern Minnesota's Iron Range, had 5,100 open warrants as of August. Most of these warrants are the result of failures to appear for hearings or probation check-ins. Not wanting to arrest so many low-level offenders and add to the county jail's overcrowding, the Sixth Judicial District has been hosting warrant resolution events for about one and a half years. These were initially held at a courthouse in the county's seat and largest city, Duluth. Residents with warrants were hesitant to show up, not believing they would leave the courthouse without handcuffs. 

So, officials moved the program out into the community and into smaller towns like Hibbing and Virginia. These events are low-key, often held in schools and health centers, and take about 20 minutes per case. The Minnesota Supreme Court authorized the program's judges to have statewide jurisdiction, allowing them to hear cases for warrants issued throughout the state, and to assess fines and probation on location. While the program's expansion to places like Hibbing and Virginia is new, 250 warrants have already been cleared in Duluth and the surrounding area. 

The Hibbing Daily Tribune has further coverage. 

Wisconsin Police Prepare for Illinois' Recreational Marijuana Legalization
The Wisconsin-Illinois border in Beloit, Wisconsin (photo courtesy of The Capital Times)
January 1, 2020, is an important day for Beloit, South Beloit, and other towns on both sides of the Wisconsin-Illinois border. South of the border, Illinoisans are acquiring licenses and breaking ground on recreational marijuana dispensaries, hoping to cash in on what they see as a new economic boon. North of the border, chiefs of police like Beloit's David Zibolski and Madison's Mike Koval are preparing for what they see will be the negative consequences of Illinois' legalization. 

Their main concern is the possible increase of impaired drivers on the roads and interstates that connect the two states. Zibolski points to the increase in traffic accidents and fatalities in states like Colorado after they legalized. The data, however, does not definitively show an increase. Some studies show no correlation between legal marijuana and traffic accidents while others show an increase shortly after legalization with drops in the following years. Ziobolski also worries about increased marijuana in Wisconsin's black market come January 1. This worry has more data from Colorado and California's neighboring states to support it than the earlier stated traffic concerns. 

Madison's The Capital Times takes a deeper dive. 

Governors Urge Action on Gun Control
Earlier this week, 12 Democratic governors sent a letter to President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asking them to pass and sign an array of "sensible" gun control laws. The letter follows mass shootings in California, Texas, Ohio, and Pennsylvania this summer that killed 34 people in total. 

The letter calls for action on four specific laws that aim to outlaw assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, create universal background checks, create national red flag laws, and enact stricter reporting requirements to keep guns from the mentally disturbed. 

The group of 12 governors include J.B. Pritzker of Illinois and Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. In the past, Sen. McConnell has said he would bring the legislation to the Senate floor if President Trump publicly supported the bills. 

Read national coverage from The Hill and Illinois coverage from The State Journal-Register
Thank you for reading. Watch for the next edition to come out in  
December 2019
Missed a newsletter? Past issues are  archived  on the committee's webpage.
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