In 1999, Congress passed the District of Columbia Appropriations Act, 2000, which mandated that the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) assess and report on the District of Columbia criminal justice system. The extensive report released by the GAO, entitled DC Criminal Justice System, Better Coordination Needed Among Participating Agencies, noted that the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council was the best forum for the District’s criminal justice agencies to identify and address public safety issues that involved multiple criminal justice agencies. In 2001, the U.S. Government Accountability Office recommended that CJCC be formally established as an independent agency. The District of Columbia faced the reality that the administration of justice, in order to improve, must be a collaborative endeavor. The leaders knew that cooperation, information-sharing, and a dedication to reducing and preventing crime would be the values needed to ensure local and federal agencies’ efforts in the District worked in concert. The DC Council established CJCC as an independent agency with the Mayor as the chair and certain government agencies as its members. The following year, Congress passed legislation that funded CJCC with federal dollars and installed the heads of the participating federal agencies as CJCC members. In 2004, CJCC members voted to establish a co-chair, a federal or judicial CJCC member, to serve along with the Mayor in furtherance of the agency’s mission.
At inception, the purpose of the CJCC was to provide a pathway to collaborative dialogue, including an interwoven framework of federal and local agencies. The District could only benefit from the opportunity to have the heads of juvenile and criminal justice agencies discussing key issues at the same table. Having a central agency to serve as the fulcrum allowed those discussions to both rise to a higher level, encompassing the overarching goals of the District’s justice system as a whole, and simultaneously to address the granular issues at hand.
Today, CJCC is supported by a four-pronged approach to its mission:
- Ensuring interagency cooperation through information-sharing.
- Aiding member agencies with actionable research and analysis.
- Convening and facilitating interagency and cross-system policy committees and workgroups.
- Providing necessary training and technical assistance through workshops, summits, webinars, and more.