Contact Us

(202) 885-2875

Fax: (202) 885-2885

justice@american.edu

Justice Programs Office 4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 508 Washington, DC 20016-8159 United States

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Our Work

Civil Legal Aid 

The Justice in Government Project 

We provide strategic guidance to state and local officials seeking to leverage civil legal aid to achieve their policy and programmatic goals and ensure the maximum benefit from dollars spent on low- and moderate-income people and communities. Learn more.

Human Trafficking 

Maximizing OVC’s Survivor Assistance in Court Settings (MOSAICS) 

We assist criminal courts to better identify survivors of human trafficking facing criminal charges and respond with a range of case outcomes and a continuum of social service referrals tailored to their needs. We emphasize implementing survivor-centered and trauma-responsive policies to reduce the infliction of harm resulting from court involvement. Learn more.

Reform 

Right to Counsel National Campaign

We lead a national awareness campaign to inform and engage policymakers, criminal justice stakeholders, and the public on the importance of meaningfully carrying out the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the effective delivery of public defense services. With support from Public Welfare. Visit our websites (1, 2) to learn more.

State Justice Institute 

As part of the ongoing work of the Right to Counsel (R2C) National Campaign and in partnership with the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and the National Association of Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO) and supported by the State Justice Institute (SJI), JPO will convene a multidisciplinary group of court practitioners and national experts to discuss practical strategies to enhance caseflow management with emphasis on effective assistance of counsel. As a result of this convening, the group will produce a management document for court practitioners nationwide with a set of recommendations in the fall of 2019. 


The Fiscal Impacts of Early Appointment of Counsel: A Cost-Benefit Analysis 

While research indicates that defendants who have assigned counsel at first appearance have a higher likelihood of improved case outcomes than those who do not, the financial effects are empirically unknown. To fill this gap, the Justice Programs Office (JPO), a center at the American University School of Public Affairs, in partnership with MW Consulting and the Urban Institute are conducting a cost-benefit analysis of early appointment of counsel. Assessing both the impact to client outcomes and taxpayer dollars, this study is one of the first of its kind and will complement previous client-outcome studies. The study will produce a cost-benefit-analysis tool that other jurisdictions can use to estimate their own cost savings given their own unique environments.  

 
Verizon 

We are excited to announce a new strategic partnership with Verizon pertaining to criminal justice reform. JPO will conduct state legislative research on criminal justice reform efforts in a number of states on the following key topic areas: pretrial, right to counsel and public defense, community supervision, and expungement and record sealing.

Working with Verizon, we will analyze and synthesize legislation and its potential impact within the context of the broader criminal justice reform conversation. Tracking legislation along the continuum of the criminal justice system is key to achieving transformational reform. By recognizing the impact of decisions made at each step along the trajectory of the criminal justice system can we begin to identify opportunities to achieve real, sustainable systems change. JPO is ready to assist and looks forward to working with business community members on these important topics.   

Treatment Courts  

Veterans Treatment Court Enhancement Initiative - Phase II 

The first phase of Veterans Treatment Court Enhancement Initiative (VTCEI) produced three new VTC specific tools: a short screener, a comprehensive risk-need assessment, and a case planning protocol. The Center for Court Innovation (CCI) designed these tools to meet the special needs of VTCs in assessing veterans in contact with the criminal justice system by incorporating the latest research on trauma, substance use disorders, and other issues affecting veterans. Under Phase I, CCI worked with three sites to implement several of these tools.

In this second phase, JPO is redesigning the tools and developing a training and technical assistance (TTA) program on risk-need responsivity and the use of the tools. Through an open solicitation process, four VTC pilot sites have been identified to participate in the Phase II TTA to properly implement the tools in their programs. JPO is also completing a utility assessment in the Phase I and II pilot sites to ascertain the usefulness of these VTC-specific tools in the field. Funded by the National Institute of Corrections (2018-2020). Learn more.

 
Lane County Veterans Treatment Court Enhancement: Evaluation of Mentoring and Strength at Home 

We partnered with the Lane County Veterans Treatment Court to conduct an implementation and outcome evaluation of its mentoring program and an outcome evaluation of its new intimate partner violence (IPV) intervention program. This mixed-method longitudinal evaluation uses both primary and official data from a variety of sources, including participant self-report, to examine processes, implementation, and a variety of outcomes. This project is necessary and timely as VTC mentor programs remain a black box for practitioners and researchers, practitioners express need for IPV interventions, and new IPV interventions have been created but not extensively implemented and tested. Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (2019-2022)  


Colorado SCAO 2018 Statewide Drug Court Project – VTC Mentoring Evaluation 

As part of the Colorado’s Office of the State Court Administrator’s Statewide Drug Court Project, JPO will conduct an initial process and outcome evaluation of the mentor programs in the six veterans treatment courts operating in Colorado. As little is known about mentoring programs other than that they greatly vary between VTCs, this project is an important initial step in understanding how mentor programs operate and whether they may affect VTC participants’ outcomes. Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (2019-2023) 

 

The VTC Issue of the Drug Court Review (Winter 2018) 

The Winter 2018 issue of the Drug Court Review focuses on various aspects of the VTC in effort to further develop our knowledge base and call attention to areas of needed consideration and more attention in the field. This issue is comprised of a set of articles addressing the hot topics most reported by treatment court practitioners, lawyers, and judges, as well as VTC researchers. Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance under the National Drug Court Resource Center. Read the Summer 2019 issue here.

 

The Veterans’ Justice and Mental Health Newsletter   

The Veterans’ Justice and Mental Health monthly newsletter aims to inform policy, practice, and scholarship through the dissemination of current resources, news, and opportunities regarding VTC-related research and practice to better serve those who serve us. The newsletter features research, publications, multi-media resources, policy updates, opportunities, and news related to the behavioral health, mental health, and criminal justice issues faced by veterans and military personnel. The Veterans Justice and Mental Health newsletter is published by the National Drug Court Resource Center for a broad audience, including judges, researchers, clinicians, practitioners, advocates, legislators, military veterans and personnel, and their families. Funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance under the National Drug Court Resource Center. Learn more about the Veterans Treatment Court Enhancement Initiative.