By CSG Justice Center Staff
In recent weeks, Michigan, Oregon, and Wyoming became the latest states to host forums on public safety as a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety held in November 2017 in Washington, DC. All three forums were facilitated by staff from The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center.
Approximately 90 representatives from law enforcement, the judiciary, corrections, community supervision, county governments, the state legislature, behavioral health services, and advocacy groups convened at Michigan’s forum on April 19. Panel discussions focused on the availability of behavioral health resources outside of the criminal justice system; state resources, laws, and practices that affect county jail populations; probation statutes and responses to violations; and efforts to increase the employability of people who have criminal records.
Oregon’s forum, held on May 24, brought together more than 250 people from 32 counties and 3 tribal governments, including sheriffs, jail commanders, community mental health program directors, probation and parole officers, judges, representatives from local police departments, and members of local public safety coordinating councils.
Oregon state leaders are interested in a statewide project to focus on using a data-driven process to identify and better serve people who have complex care needs and repeated contact with both the criminal justice and behavioral health systems.
On June 11, Wyoming held its state forum on public safety and simultaneously launched a Justice Reinvestment approach to address various criminal justice system challenges in the state. Wyoming’s prisons are nearly full, and the prison population is projected to grow in the next five years, in part because of revocations from community supervision. This growth will result in dramatic increases to an already ballooning corrections budget. At the same time, recent declines in state revenue have hindered Wyoming’s ability to invest in strategies to lower recidivism and reduce crime.
At the forum, approximately 100 attendees from state corrections agencies, behavioral health services, nonprofits, the state legislature, and other entities convened to discuss ways of using data to understand crime trends and effective policing methods, ensuring the effectiveness of recidivism-reduction programs, increasing access to community-based substance addiction treatment, and lowering costs and reinvesting savings in strategies to reduce crime and recidivism.
Following the 50-State Summit on Public Safety, the U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance selected multiple states to host individual state forums on public safety. Vermont and Ohio were the first to host theirs in April.