Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2007, $545,238)
The Edward Byrne Memorial Discretionary Grants Program, administered by the Office of Justice Programs' (OJP's) Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), furthers the Department's mission by assisting state and local jurisdictions in improving the criminal justice system and assisting communities in preventing drug abuse and crime. In fiscal year 2007, the Edward Byrne Memorial Discretionary Grants Program will focus on funding local, regional, and national efforts within six major categories: 1) targeting violent crime; 2) preventing crime and drug abuse; 3) enhancing local law enforcement; 4) enhancing local courts; 5) enhancing local corrections and offender reentry; and 6) facilitating justice information sharing. All categories combat, address, or otherwise respond to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, or in a type or types of crime.
To respond to precipitous or extraordinary increases in crime, the National Judicial College (NJC) is addressing two areas in the criminal justice system where judicial officers need training and assistance: sentencing of sex offenders and case management.
Sentencing of Sex Offenders
While handing criminal cases, judges are often assigned cases which involve sex offenders. These cases are often some of the most challenging cases. Judges are expected to sentence these defendants in a way that punishes the defendant for his or her conduct as well as, hopefully provide some rehabilitation and protect the public from this offender. Sentencing in a sex offender case is particularly challenging as there are variations in assessment tools, limited availability of institutional and community treatment and programming and different tools in post-sentence monitoring such as the polygraph. Further, judges are also cognizant of the high stakes of sentencing that may not proper reach all of the criminal justice system's objectives and may lead to additional crimes by the offender. Adding to this need of critical information of sentencing is the recent enactment by Congress of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 which provides information about levels of sex offenses that affect registry of the sex offender.
Caseflow management began in earnest in the 1970's and over the last thirty-five years has been tested and developed. As a part of the development were standards of performance and tools to implement case management. However, the courts are increasingly facing new challenges in the 21st century. Some of those changes include the creating of problem solving courts, increasing use of technology in the courts and in cases, ever increasing diversity and complexity of cases, and the diversity of populations accessing court services. Further, many experts in case management have felt that the developments in this area may have leveled off and that the ability to apply them are sometimes quite challenging. It is believed that this is due to a turnover of judges and a lack of succession planning to provide the new leadership with the proper information and tools to continue the development of case management in this new court age. Although there has been some work with court administrators, there needs to be some development of resources for the judges.
NJC in collaboration with the Center for Effective Public Policy is developing a model curriculum on sentencing of sex offenders; presenting the train-the-trainer course on the model curriculum; and piloting the curriculum in two states. In area of case management, NJC is conducting a needs assessment and convening a summit inviting judges and experts to evaluate best practices.