Ward joins national criminal justice policy talks

Published 3:48 pm Wednesday, October 7, 2015

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, recently took part in a national criminal justice policy meeting. (File)

State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, recently took part in a national criminal justice policy meeting. (File)


NEW YORKThe Council of State Governments Justice Center gathered state and local leaders from across the nation discuss complex criminal justice policies at its annual board of directors meeting in early October.

Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, participated in discussions among the bipartisan group of board members who gathered to determine the best ways to advance the latest evidence-based strategies on issues such as lowering recidivism rates among people who were formerly incarcerated, improving law enforcement’s response to people with mental illness, and reducing schools’ dependence on suspension and expulsion in response to student misconduct.

“The CSG Justice Center remains at the forefront of advancing data-driven, consensus-based approaches to increasing public safety,” Ward said. “As a board member of the CSG Justice Center, I find it is very helpful to get together every year and discuss the innovative ideas that leading policymakers are advancing in states across the U.S. and how they could be best applied here in Alabama.”

The past year has been one of the CSG Justice Center’s most productive, working with state and local leaders on a variety of projects, including the release of the “Closer to Home” report, an analysis of Texas’s juvenile justice system post-reform; collaborating with the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Foundation to launch “Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails”; working to pass justice reinvestment legislation in Alabama and Nebraska while also launching a new justice reinvestment project in Rhode Island and others in Massachusetts, Montana and Arkansas to follow.

In addition to reviewing the status of these respective projects, board members provided input to help shape the Justice Center’s future priorities. In planning for the upcoming year, the group examined options for helping state and local leaders undertake issues related to employment challenges for people with criminal records; reducing the prevalence of mental and substance use disorders in jails; and improving data collection in states’ juvenile justice systems.

“I greatly appreciate the unique perspective provided by Sen. Ward,” said Michael D. Thompson, director of the CSG Justice Center. “We are fortunate to have the senator as a part of the dedicated group of talented experts represented on our board.”