Founded in 1971, the National Criminal Justice Association is a professional organization made up of tribal, state and municipal representatives who innovate, promote and implement criminal justice policy in communities nationwide. Members include law enforcement officials, juvenile justice workers, corrections officers, legal representatives, victim and witness advocates, institutional educators and government employees. The NCJA works to assess criminal and juvenile justice problems affecting public safety and develop balanced policies and program reforms in response. By so doing, the NCJA strengthens ties and understanding between criminal and juvenile justice systems and the communities they serve.
Scope of the National Criminal Justice Association
At the national level, the NCJA Board of Directors acts to communicate the accomplishments and needs of tribal, state and local criminal and juvenile justice systems to congressional leaders. The Board also oversees an advisory council that governs regional chapters in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Representatives from each region are elected to investigate concerns about societal impacts of crime on citizens and collaborate about reform ideas and legislation to improve crime control and prevention practices in their communities.
Mission of the NCJA
According to the NCJA, justice systems for tribal nations, states and local governments must strive to:
- increase public safety through effective and efficient intervention
- lessen the impacts of criminal behavior on citizens and communities
- prevent and reduce delinquent behavior leading to more serious crimes
- use adjudication practices that are fair and just for defendants
To accomplish these goals, NCJA representatives gather data and use evidence-based research to present concerns to their leaders in government. These concerns then generate ideas for policy development or reform with the help of educators, community groups, social service agencies, legislators, law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners. From this collaboration, existing protocols for managing criminal and juvenile justice systems can be assessed and compared to those in places where enacted measures for recidivism, crime prevention and judicial fairness have demonstrated success.
NCJA Issues at National and Community Levels
At any given time, the NCJA involves itself in multiple legislative endeavors at the federal level. These can range from budget issues that potentially affect justice operations to specific bills that address criminal behaviors or social justice programs. Legislation supported by NCJA has included the
- Prison Rape Elimination Act
- Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act
- National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Amendment Act
- reauthorization of the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant
- reauthorization of the Justice for All Act
At the community level, The NCJA’s comprehensive, collaborative approach empowers local citizens to take ownership over public safety. These can range from revising bail assessment procedures for pretrial defendants and recognizing tribal rights in judicial proceedings to improving advocacy for victims’ rights. The NCJA provides training, leadership, financial resources and technical assistance to assist with these endeavors.
By conducting its programs at national and local levels in these ways, the National Criminal Justice Association hopes to improve advocacy and policy standards that create positive change for all segments of society.