Jail Reform: Are You Ready?
Over the past three decades, we’ve seen a lot of change in correctional practice, and we’ve also seen a lot stay the same. As we work with practitioners around the country in jurisdictions and jails of all sizes, one thing is clear: More change is coming.
As the public focus on police reform slowly begins to include jail reform, here are some questions for your team to consider to ensure you’re ready for whatever comes next:
- What might jail reform look like in your area? What are some of the key issues that are already surfacing, and what issues do you anticipate coming up in the next 1-3 years?
- What needs are you seeing at your jail? Are you adequately serving all populations in your community, or are there gaps, like mental illness, that need to be addressed? What would addressing those needs look like?
- What other types of justice reforms are happening near you? Police reform? Pretrial reform? How will these related reforms impact your jail? How can your team be prepared?
- Who are your key decision-makers, and are they on the same page as your team? Will you be able to make improvements on your own terms and timelines, or are you likely to be subject to outside intervention? What can you do to start aligning your stakeholders to help you make reforms in a systematic and thoughtful way?
- What is your jail’s history with local media? What is your current relationship with the press? How likely are your improvements to be overshadowed by past negative publicity? What can you do to help the press and the public better understand what you’re doing?
Jail reform is coming, and it will take a variety of forms. The best thing your team can do to start preparing is to think through your jail’s and your community’s needs and start proactively working to meet them. Starting conversations like this with your team and keeping those lines of communication open will help you not only stay ahead of issues in your community, but also give your team an opportunity to creatively approach your current needs.
Need a thought partner as you bounce ideas around? Give us a call. We’ve been doing this a long time, and we’re in the fortunate position to have a team of former practitioners that’s in close contact with jails all over the country. How can we help? Contact us today.