Tarrant County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee
During the 86th Annual County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas Conference Sept. 15-18, attendees were schooled on the development of Criminal Justice Coordinating Committees using the Tarrant County Committee as a model.
Tarrant County’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) was established through a Commissioners Court Order, and the membership is appointed by the Tarrant County Commissioners Court. Originally this group was structured to review Tarrant County government criminal justice grants. However, in 1998 it was expanded to address systemwide criminal justice planning and coordination. The goal of the committee is to improve the analysis and understanding of crime and criminal justice system issues at the county government level. The commissioners court believes that the county’s criminal justice system goals and objectives will be more clearly understood and more effectively addressed by facilitating the coordination and cooperation among agencies and units of local government. These planning and coordination efforts have linked county justice planning at two primary levels: the local justice system and the community.
At the local justice system level, planning is designed to assist department heads and elected officials such as the county judge, county administrator, county sheriff, district attorney, court administrator, judiciary and corrections. It is important at this level to provide an organizational climate that would be conducive to maintaining cooperation and coordination amongst constitutionally separate government agencies. At the community level, planning is structured by including organizations such as municipal court judges, bail bondsman, defense lawyers and certain community representatives. Additional planning and coordination at the systemwide level is occasionally required in order to coordinate issues that arise with federal, regional or state justice agencies.
Due to issues stemming from jail overcrowding, county administration suggested addressing these issues through the CJCC process. It was recommended to develop a subcommittee to review existing policy and programs directly or indirectly related to jail population or develop new policy or programs, with the requirement to utilize a collaborative systemwide effort with county criminal justice agencies. As a result of this recommendation, the Tarrant County Jail Expediter Committee was called together to address these issues.
The Jail Expediter Committee, originally established in 1995 through the recommendation of County Commissioner J.D. Johnson, includes representatives from county administration, pretrial services, sheriff’s department, district attorney, judiciary, court administration, court appointments office, district clerk, community corrections, parole and information technology. This group is responsible for the review, dissemination and analysis of the Tarrant County jail population and capacity and the various programs and policies that may have an impact on jail population.
For more information on CJCCs, contact Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Les Smith, Criminal Justice Manager, Tarrant County