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The Criminal Justice Agency of Hampton, Virginia
The Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services has been developed in order to improve and promote public safety in the state. It is made up of several separate agencies, including law enforcement, juvenile services, victim services, and correctional services. This paper will focus on The Criminal Justice Agency for the city of Hampton, Virginia, whose purpose is to create a safe and stable environment for the citizens of that locality.
The mission statement of The Hampton-Newport News Community Criminal Justice Board is to "facilitate the efforts of the community and criminal justice system to reduce crime and delinquency" The means of accomplishing this is by promoting public safety through the provision of community based pretrial and post conviction programs. These programs include research-based prevention and intervention services with the goals of altering its clients’ lives without consideration to their past or current situations. The agency seeks to become one of the top agencies in the state by enhancing public safety in its provision of modern and competently run programs that will interrupt the cycle of illegal acts and those who are victimized by them.
Annually. The Criminal Justice Agency has contact with thousands of clients living in the area that it serves, and it also provides internships for students, as well as encouraging a staff of volunteers who come from the neighborhoods served, who may become role models for the individuals who have had an interface with the criminal justice system, since the volunteers demonstrate that no matter where a client comes from, he or she has the opportunity to better himself and achieved legitimacy as a citizen.
The formal programs provided by CJA include:
- Community Corrections, which provides a range of sanctions and consequences for the local courts; by offering a variety of treatment modalities and interventions, such as anger management classes, this program is set up to enforce court orders, the terms of supervision, and other behavioral requirements in order to reduce the rate of recidivism
- Pretrial Services, designed to obtain significant defendant background information for the judicial officers so that they are able to make educated decisions about release; for people who meet certain conditions and who are awaiting trial, supervision is offered. This service is aimed at reducing failure-to-appear rates as well as providing defendants with adjunctive services that are needed to guarantee that they will appear at court for trial
- Planning and Evaluation Division, which provides evaluation of clients as well as data management for the agency;
- Crisis Intervention Team, which offers training for staff which consists of 40 hours of educational training, interactive role-play, and discussions that are meant to prepare first responders to spot and de-escalate crises that involve alarming episodes of mental illness; the goal of this service is to cut down on the amount of inappropriate restraint and incarceration of clients who are suffering from mental illnesses, as well as to provide necessary counseling services in the community
The services offered by the Criminal Justice Agency of Hampton-Newport News are many and varied, but it does not appear to include services design specifically aimed to serve juvenile offenders. Since this population has needs that are distinctive from those of adult offenders, it would be in the best interests of the community to provide these services tailored to meet the needs, psychological, physical, and social, of adolescents and children when they come into contact with the system. In addition, it was unclear whether or not the Crisis Intervention Service offers a 24-hour crisis hotline, designed to meet the needs of people who are having emergencies that are occurring during all times of the day and night, and may need to speak with someone urgently who can determine whether or not the situation warrants immediate intervention such as hospitalization.
Instead, the Crisis Intervention Team service is geared towards the training of first responders rather than offering direct service to clients in need. I believe that this would be a worthwhile addition to the Crisis Intervention Team service, because it could help to avoid crises from becoming devastating at an earlier point of intervention, saving time, money, and angst on the part of the client in need.