The Office of Justice Assistance (OJA) advises the Governor and legislature on criminal justice and juvenile justice policy and legislation. OJA also provides technical assistance related to the criminal and juvenile justice system to state agencies, local government, and public or private agencies.
Unlike other state and local agencies with day to day operational responsibilities for a narrow piece of the judicial process, OJA has a statewide strategic perspective that spans across the entire justice system (from point of contact with law enforcement to re-entry from prison).
As a neutral state agency serving the public safety and justice community, OJA is uniquely able to provide a forum for all criminal justice partners and serve as state’s nexus to coordinate justice system improvements.
Strategic planning at a justice system-wide level is necessary to implement improvements that will result in greater justice system efficiency and public safety. Recognizing OJA’s unique value as a neutral public policy development entity, the legislature has assigned OJA statutory responsibility to develop solutions for large-scale multi-partner justice issues such as statewide interoperable communications, improving automated justice information sharing, and serving as the state’s clearinghouse for justice data.
Strategic planning is also an integral part of deciding what investments of federal criminal justice and homeland security funds should be made. Through coordination and consultation with the Governor, state criminal justice agencies, and local criminal justice professionals—including law enforcement, prosecutors, direct service providers, first response and emergency management agencies—OJA has developed statewide strategic plans, and prioritized investments and projects. OJA grant recipients also provide a direct feedback loop for perceived local criminal justice priorities and successful projects that result in greater efficiency at lower cost.
OJA has used federal funds to pilot new innovative criminal justice programs and evaluate their applicability for statewide implementation. Similarly, the state legislature has invested state funds to test new criminal justice approaches, and OJA is and had been a delivery vehicle for legislatively identified needs and priorities. OJA’s programs are an application of the agency’s public safety policy work.