By CSG Justice Center Staff
New Mexico, Iowa, and Connecticut are the latest in a series of states to hold state forums on public safety as a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety that took place in November 2017 in Washington, DC.
Approximately 50 people attended the New Mexico forum on June 19, including state policymakers from all three branches of government; representatives from the judiciary; defense attorneys; prosecutors; community and victim advocates; and behavioral health treatment providers. Panel discussions focused on improving responses to people in the criminal justice system who have behavioral health needs; advancing strategies to reduce crime and recidivism; and addressing collateral consequences of criminal convictions.
At Iowa’s forum, also held on June 19, nearly 150 people from all branches of state government and an array of criminal justice and behavioral health system stakeholders convened at the state women’s prison in Mitchellville to discuss criminal justice system challenges in rural parts of the state, victims issues, challenges related to community supervision, and behavioral health needs. Governor Kim Reynolds kicked off the forum, and Iowa Department of Corrections Director Jerry Bartruff announced that the state would continue to hold public safety forums on an annual basis.
Attendees also viewed a video of Governor Reynolds’s recent visit to a maximum security state penitentiary as a part of the Face to Face initiative. While there, she met with incarcerated people who are participating in Iowa’s largest apprenticeship program.
On June 25, more than 100 people attended Connecticut’s forum on public safety, including state policymakers from the executive and judicial branches as well as prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement, corrections representatives, community supervision personnel, and community-based treatment and program providers. Panels focused on public safety outcomes in the state, using research-based practices to reduce recidivism cost-effectively, and public safety priorities for Connecticut’s future state leaders. The need for transparency, inclusive discussions, and ongoing communication were emphasized to ensure that criminal justice system improvements are sustainable.
Prior to the forum, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration welcomed state legislators, judges, prosecutors, and others into Cheshire Correctional Institution on May 30 for the first ever full-scale, criminal justice conference inside a prison. The conference was held as a part of the Face to Face initiative and featured a visit with participants in T.R.U.E., a pilot program in which adults serving lengthy sentences mentor people ages 18–25 who are incarcerated there.
The New Mexico, Iowa, and Connecticut state forums on public safety were facilitated by staff from The Council of State Governments Justice Center. Following the 50-State Summit on Public Safety in November, 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, followed by Michigan, Oregon, and Wyoming.