Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Happy anniversary

Last night, I gave a short speech at the 10-year anniversary report of Lincoln’s Community Justice Center, held in Lincoln’s most impressive room: the Grand Hall at Grand Manse, formerly the 1906 Federal District Courtroom.  The CJC is a private nonprofit organization that serves both criminal justice agencies, offenders, and crime victims.  It was launched a decade ago by James Jones, a man I first met 16 years ago. 

The CJC provides support services to offenders who are recently released, on probation, and on parole—both adults and juveniles.  It serves our courts and corrections agencies by providing day reporting, victim impact training, and other alternatives to incarceration, or enhancements to unsupervised release.

The data is impressive.  Whereas nationally about 50% of released prison inmates  are back in the slammer within three years, Nebraska fares better, with a three-year recidivism rate of around 26%.  Offenders who are served by the Community Justice Center, however, have a return rate of slightly less than 8%.  Yes, there may be some self-selection in those results, but nonetheless, that’s a huge difference, and I think it can be attributed to good programming offered by an agency that is headed by a talented man who not only talks the talk, but has walked the walk.

Jim has earned my trust.   I was somewhat cynical and just a little suspicious when this ex-offender came to my office in 1994, introduced himself and pitched his concept for restorative justice.  I was wrong.  He did exactly what he said he would do, and  the organization he has built in the ensuing years is definitely an asset to our criminal justice system.  I had the opportunity, last night, to point that out to a roomful of movers and shakers, and to his wife and son—not that they needed to hear it from me. 


Steve said...

I met James at the Workforce Development (unemployment) office a few weeks ago. He was the contact for veterans seeking assistance in finding work (his day job). He seemed a real nice guy, and I was surprised when he revealed his past mistakes to me. I can't deny that I was a bit skeptical myself when I learned of his history. He also told me about the Community Justice Center he runs. He appears to be an exception to the rule (once a criminal, always a criminal), and I wish him well in helping others to make the same kind of change that he accomplished.

Anonymous said...


I'd have been skeptical too. If you just restrict the inmates tracked to those convicted of robbery, not all inmates, what is Nebraska's recidivism rate for those convicted robbers?

Anonymous said...

I've never bought into the "once a criminal always a criminal". You make that choice yourself. You either decide to be a criminal or not. Some learn the hard way but I have always believed you can turn your life around if you really want to.

Anonymous said...

Yes I meet Mr. James Jones through my college internship at CJC. Real outstanding man to single handedly turn his life around and have helped so many countless people. CJC and Mr. Jones are a huge positive to the community. I think our criminal justice system needs more positive restorative justice systems in America like CJC.

Anonymous said...

The Community Justice Center (CJC) is the essence of Restorative Justice. CJC is a result of a man that saw the harm he did to his victims, i.e. direct, family and community and had the realization that he could do something to make a difference for others. First it was working with youth through a prgrom called Youth Violence Alternative Project through LAP. The bulk of those youth are now productive citizens that serve in our military and have gone on to college. Ideally some individuals just need a light bulb to go off and look at the whole picture. Keep on, keeping on CJC. I have belief in the next 10 years this program will be at the national level for others to follow.

Suzi said...

I met James Jones and his family about three years ago. J.J. is a man of integrity and morals, and should be proud of his accomplishments. I worked for the Dept of Corrections for ten years, and learned that "once a criminal, always a criminal" does not always apply!

Congratulations, J.J. on a job well done.

Dave said...

Chief, how are things working in the department with the rebanding?

I know this happened Monday, and in just casual listening, communications seem to be full of static.

Is this being noticed by Officers and Dispatchers or is it just unique to us scanner listeners?

Anonymous said...

I spent ten years working as a CO at the Pen. One of my coworkers made the observation once that most of the inmates were there because of their play habits not their work habits. I think he nailed it. One other thing that became obvious to me over the years is that you should pick your friends very carefully. That is one of the hardest lessons a young person has to learn.

Gun Nut

Tom Casady said...


It went fine, and I don't think most of our personnel even realized that at 1000 hours on Monday, everything jumped to a new set of channels. We have had a handful of stragglers whose portalbe radios were not reprogrammed, despite repeated advisements, but that was quickly remedied.

I have Scanner Radio Pro on my Android Phone, and 5-0 Radio HD on my iPad. The feed for both is, and there are all sorts of artifacts right now, including lots of static and data bursts. I'm guessing that whoever's providing that feed will be trying to improve it as time goes on. Rest assured, it's not on our side.

Dave said...

Good to hear that the rebanding went off as smooth as it did. I know many other communities didn't have as much luck with it.

You mentioned Radio Reference and the live feed. Is there much opinion within the department about having that feed online? I was approached about carrying it, but I declined to carry it, as I didn't want to paint a target on my back, more than I already have anyway.