A broad spectrum of criminal justice and public policy leaders have joined forces to launch a national organization dedicated to improving criminal justice and public safety in the United States.
A nonpartisan membership organization and think tank, the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ) will focus on understanding the nation's criminal justice policy challenges and building consensus for solutions based on facts, evidence, and fundamental principles of justice. Adam Gelb, a veteran criminal justice policy expert, will serve as the organization's founding president and CEO, while Laurie Robinson, who twice headed the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, will chair its board of directors and former U.S. deputy attorney general Sally Yates and Koch Industries vice president and general counsel Mark Holden will co-chair an advisory board of directors.
To ensure the independence of its work, CCJ will not solicit government grants or contracts and will not lobby or provide technical assistance. According to the Associated Press, the organization has a $2 million budget and is receiving support from Arnold Ventures, the Ford Foundation, the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the New York Community Trust, the Malcolm Hewitt Wiener Foundation, and HBO, among others. The council is already engaged in two research projects — one focused on incarceration trends by race and gender, the other examining fallout from the 1994 crime bill — and expects to issue final reports later this year.
"I believe CCJ is just the right organization at just the right time for the criminal justice field," said Holden. "This country now has an abundance of talented, dedicated people and organizations pushing for reform, which is great. But we need a uniting force to guide and accelerate progress, and CCJ is perfectly designed and equipped to play that role."
"For the first time, Americans of nearly every political and demographic perspective want changes in the criminal justice system," said Yates. "Thanks to a growing community of talented people and organizations, important reforms have been enacted. But we have only scratched the surface of what needs to be done, and what can be done. CCJ will advance this historic momentum by building consensus around solutions that policy makers and the public can count on to deliver greater safety and justice."