By JSP Team

Justice System Partners (JSP) is proud to launch a blog feature on our new website that we hope will tell you more about us and allow us to connect with you through regular posts and updates in the field of criminal and juvenile justice. We hope by sharing our work and the work of others in the field, we will encourage you to become engaged in contributing and sharing your ideas, lessons learned and suggestions. We have received great interest and a number of questions from friends and colleagues on our reasons for starting JSP and we thought answering some of those might be a good start for this blog.

Question: Each of the founders has had successful careers both in public sector administration and in private and/or non-profit consulting firms. Why start Justice System Partners this late in your careers?

Zach: The decision to create Justice System Partners was one of the easiest decisions I’ve made in my 34-year career in criminal justice. Experiencing 30 years working at every level of a large, successful community corrections agency, followed by excellent learning and understanding of consulting services in a non-profit agency provided me the knowledge and confidence needed to successfully manage an agency like JSP. The opportunity to create and direct an agency to assist jurisdictions in reforming and improving their systems to be more effective, fair and humane is what drove our decision. We want to spend our time working efficiently and effectively using the resources we need to assist jurisdictions to accomplish their goals. We believe at JSP we can better control and use the resources needed to service our clients.

Elyse: I have been an agency director most of my career and was ready to have more time to pursue other interests. Developing JSP with a group of very talented colleagues has allowed me to continue to work part time on issues in the criminal and juvenile justice system that I feel strongly about and have a keen interest in. I hope to contribute to the work and also have the time to pursue my long held interest and passion to train and work with my German Shepherds. I also wanted to have more time to enjoy my granddaughter.

Nancy: I have been privileged to work with many state, local and non-profit criminal justice agencies in the course of my public and private career. I left public service because the country had gone on a prison and jail building binge that I strongly opposed. I have loved my consulting role but often found it discouraging to see what the political context forced those delivering services to do.

Today there is a willingness to revisit criminal justice practices that I believe are not in the best interest of individuals and communities. I am excited about the opportunity to work with people I respect to try and contribute to the reshaping of the country’s understanding of the role and purpose of the criminal justice system. The idea that the last years of my career could be spent doing what I believe to be the “right thing” in criminal justice is very exciting.

Question: How does JSP differ from other agencies providing similar services in the field?

Zach: As Principals, we agreed that our mission and values would drive our decision-making at Justice System Partners. This includes making justice systems more effective, fair and humane to improve the safety and quality of life for both offenders and communities. We also believe values such as not selling our clients any services that we do not truly believe are needed and are a wise use of public dollars makes us different and in the long run, more satisfying to our clients and ourselves.

Elyse: The structure of JSP has facilitated our ability to attract very knowledgeable and experienced people. We do not want to have a large agency with significant overhead rather we value attracting talented people from anywhere in the country who want to do this work and share our values. Our structure has also allowed us to bring in people with specialized expertise that is often needed in a jurisdiction. Our principals and associates have a wide variety of experience that they bring to the table. They are a group of people who have had leadership roles in agencies and significant experience as consultants with specific agencies as well as state and local systems. They understand what it takes to do true system and organizational change. We value supporting and assisting the organizations and systems where we work to build the capacity they need to improve their organizations and local and state systems so that the positive work that they do is sustainable. As a group we are very committed to using evidence to help guide our work and assisting systems to use that evidence and their own data to make policy and practice decisions. While we have some protocols that we follow, we also do our best to understand local needs, where they are as a system and help them build upon that framework. We are committed to reducing mass incarceration and recognize that can be done in ways that continue to hold people accountable for their actions, protect the public and use resources wisely.

Nancy: We are all free to do what we believe in. At this point we don’t have to take a job, work with a client or follow a policy that does not align with our core values. That is how I have run my consulting business and to be able to do that on a larger scale with talented colleagues is unusual. Most companies have to make tough choices at times about the work so they can make payroll. This is why we want to keep JSP small so that we don’t have to face those tough choices and only do work we truly believe in.

Question: What do you hope to accomplish in the first few years of operation?

Zach: I think initially establishing a strong base of funding and quality work was important in creating a sense of stability to our agency. Fortunately, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and staff have been tremendous in their support and have allowed us to become partners in the criminal justice work they do. The principals at JSP have the experience and reputation in the field of producing quality work and having a thorough knowledge and understanding of criminal justice systems and evidence-based practices. Establishing that same reputation as an agency is equally important early in our history.

Elyse: I hope that we can make a contribution to improving criminal and juvenile justice systems in this country. There is a tremendous amount of taxpayer money that is spent in criminal justice and those systems should make wise choices about how to spend that money to achieve the best possible outcomes for communities. There is a national conversation going on today about the use of incarceration and how best to use resources to achieve the best outcomes for all involved. I hope that we will continue to be a part of that conversation in a way that contributes to long-term improvement in the criminal and juvenile justice system in this country.

Nancy: To in some small way help the people who do the hard work every day in the criminal justice system do an even better job of delivering fair, humane and equitable services.

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