Kansas City – There were 40 applications, but the National Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Network picked only Johnson County to take part in it's efforts to study local criminal justice issues.
Johnson County Sheriff Frank Denning says the newly created network will combine the efforts of a number of law enforcement jurisdictions.
He says Johnson County already has been working to improve programs in criminal justice. The department will convert the downtown jail in Olathe into an intake and booking center. And County officials hope to work with inmates during the last 90 days of their sentences, preparing them for re-entry. Denning says the re-entry programs will help inmates with issues such as employment, substance abuse treatment, and housing.
As for work on the national level, Denning says officials will look at alternatives to incarceration, ways to reduce recidivism, and programs to reduce substance abuse and mental illness among the incarcerated.
"We're gonna be able to develop some really strong models that will enable a lot of other jurisdictions to engage in these same models, these same programs" he said.
According to the Sheriff, Johnson County has been looking particularly at the problem of mental illness among the incarcerated. He says 17% of those incarcerated in Johnson County have a diagnosis of mental illness of some kind .