Criminal Justice System Improvement Program
The residents of Benton County require an effective, efficient and equitable criminal justice system that maintains public safety and holds people accountable, while providing treatment opportunities that address underlying causes of criminal behavior.
The Criminal Justice System Improvement (CJSI) Program is a three-phase project spanning 10 years as follows:
- Assessment and Recommendation (2017 - 2019)
- Design and Planning (2019 - 2022)
- Implementation (2022 - 2027)
The first phase began in 2017, when the Board of Commissioners (BOC) commissioned a review of the County’s criminal justice (CJ) system, called the Assessment (see Assessment Section). The Assessment, published in January 2019, provided “a comprehensive review of the CJ system, with the primary purpose of providing a vision for a trusted and accessible system that provides a high degree of safety and confidence.” As part of the review, a 15-member Steering Committee, made up of local officials and community representatives, recommended three distinct project approaches to address future CJ system needs. The commissioners aligned on an approach embracing prevention, rehabilitation, and accountability – also referred to as the “best practices” model – which provides for a balance of new facilities and supporting programs.
The second phase of the project, called Predesign, is the current project phase. Predesign considers the long list of facilities and programmatic recommendations from the Assessment and, through a series of iterations and analysis, narrows the list to a manageable and economically viable set of options for public consideration. Predesign culminates with the County advancing a final option for CJ facilities and programs in a bond measure for consideration by Benton County voters, anticipated in May 2022. The County selected DLR Group, a Portland-based architecture and engineering firm specializing in CJ facility programming and design, to assist the County with Predesign.
The final phase of the project is Implementation, which depends on successful passage of the bond measure.
The County's 2019-2021 biennium budget invests in pre-trial services to include an industry-standard intake assessment tool and electronic monitoring, and assigning staff to begin investigating next steps for data collection, systems evaluation tools, advisory mechanisms, and a sobering/crisis resource center.