Challenges Facing Integrated Justice
There are a number of challenges facing a County or State considering an integrating justice project and the choice of the right consulting partner can make a big difference in the success of the venture.
Funding for initiatives is always a challenge facing the justice community. Adding to the funding problem is the fact that integrated justice programs are very large and complex and often require several years and several grants or other funding sources to fully implement. However, due to the widespread recognition of the importance of integrated justice, several grant sources have been made available in recent years, notably through OJP as well as several state programs. Your consulting partner should be able to assist you in identifying sources of funding and assist with the preparation of the required applications.
Lack of political will is a challenge for some jurisdictions. To move forward with integrated justice requires a champion to develop a consensus across political boundaries. There must be recognition among participants that information sharing benefits each party as well as the common good. The champion can come from any camp and there are successful examples of the police, prosecutors, courts, the state and the county fostering integrated justice initiatives to get them going.
Political will and funding is not enough. Integrated justice is complex and requires careful planning and good project management to be successful. There are many examples of integrated justice projects that have run onto the rocks. The overall objective is so large that it must be broken up into smaller projects. Often these smaller projects proceed autonomously within their jurisdiction. In the end, to be successful, the individual projects must come together in a single solution. Not only must they come together but the timing of their arrival must be coordinated as well. There is not much point in implementing your part of an information-sharing scheme if the other participants in the sharing are not ready and might not be for years. It is essential to have a master plan that identifies the individual initiatives and how they will come together, including the technology architecture under which information will be shared. The right consulting partner will work with you to develop these plans and to develop a consensus among stakeholders of a clear vision for the target or “To Be” environment. Having established this master plan for integrated justice, the various sub-projects must be monitored and coordinated. It is critical to have strong project management to oversee the master plan throughout the implementation period.
Although the problems faced are similar in different Counties and States, the solutions are not always portable. There are differences in laws, procedures and organization that make each situation unique. The challenge is to learn by what has been done elsewhere but to develop a custom solution tailored to the unique requirements of your jurisdiction. Unlike many of the large consulting firms who might want to impose their canned solutions, we believe in working with the client to develop a cost effective solution that meets your real needs.
Although technology is playing a major role in re-engineering justice systems around the world, to be successful it must be implemented in conjunction with procedural change. The new information technology is not just a different way to do the same work; it is changing how the work can be done and what work can be done. The final challenge for integrated justice projects is to leverage the technological capabilities through process improvements to provide the maximum benefit to all parties.
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