Happy New Year from all of us at the Justice Programs Office (JPO). As I look back on 2017, I cannot help but be proud of all that JPO, with its partners and the School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University, accomplished. I am confident that we will continue to build on these achievements in 2018.
As many of you know, I recently transitioned from a 15-year career at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to American University. As my first year at JPO wound down this fall, I reflected fondly on the path that lead me to JPO, starting with being a prosecutor in Arkansas to working on civil rights issues at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and, most recently, on the policy work I led at DOJ that has provided the basis for many of the current reforms we see now. Each job I have held has impacted my vision of justice and the frameworks I apply to implementing sustainable criminal justice policies that promote the values of fairness, human dignity, and collaboration.
Today I am the director of a center which specializes in turning criminal justice policy and research into practice. I lead JPO with Senior Associate Director Preeti Menon, a former DOJ policy advisor and criminal justice researcher, who shares my belief in the importance of communication and working with unlikely allies. We connected immediately when we met 15 years ago through our shared values and vision, have worked collaboratively together since, and are now reunited at JPO. Together we expanded JPO's in-house capacity in 2017 by hiring six new staff members and created a communications unit, and this year we will enhance and expand our research arm.
JPO's accomplishments in 2017 were many and varied. Some of the highlights of the year were: releasing the first-ever public opinion survey report on Americans' Views on Public Defenders and the Right to Counsel ; hosting our first Maintaining Momentum event with the theme of Redefining the Purpose of Incarceration in the Ongoing Conversations about Criminal Justice Reform; hosting the Right to Counsel (R2C) National Consortium's Third Annual Meeting; launching the National Drug Court Resource, Policy, and Evidence-Based Practice Center; launching a new initiative called The Justice in Government Project to raise awareness about how civil legal aid helps state and local government policymakers achieve a wide array of priorities that help low-income and other underserved populations; releasing a series of Research and Practice Briefs to provide state administering agencies and state and local policymakers key information about critical criminal justice issues with which they are grappling; providing training all across the country to juvenile drug treatment court practitioners through the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Training and Technical Assistance Initiative; and providing training and technical assistance to state and local policymakers on violent crime reduction strategy development to state administering agencies through our participation in the National Public Safety Partnership. I am so proud of my team and am honored to work with such a dedicated, hardworking, and smart group of individuals.
As I look ahead to 2018, I am very pleased that American University has just named Dr. Vicky Wilkins the new dean of its School of Public Affairs (SPA). Vicky has been a tremendous partner to and administrator for this center. I can think of no one better suited to be SPA's dean. Vicky says that "American University and SPA are uniquely positioned to address the most challenging questions in public affairs through innovation, high-impact research, partnerships, and inclusion." I could not agree more. We share the same vision of building up JPO's in-house expertise while continuing to work closely with faculty and collaborating with partners to further strengthen an already strong office.
JPO could not have achieved all that it did last year without the support of our partners. I thank you for your continued friendship. I look forward to new partnerships in the year ahead. And most of all, I look forward to what we collectively will accomplish together to further improve and ensure the fair administration of justice.
Kim Ball, Esq.
Justice Programs Office