The Center for Criminal and Juvenile Justice Priorities (CCJJP) is an interdisciplinary center of scholars and community stakeholders committed to creating and disseminating research, education, and training for practitioners, policy makers, people with lived experience, and people at risk of justice involvement. The justice system consumes tremendous public resources and affects the lives of millions of people around the world. In the U.S., each year about two million youth face arrest. More than two million adults reside in jails and prisons. An additional 6.7 million people are supervised by justice authorities because they are on probation or parole. Many others are not incarcerated but await prosecution on charges. Those affected are disproportionately racial and ethnic minorities. In addition, although crime rates are down, millions of people continue to be impacted by violent crime every year.
These figures are sobering and not new, but the justice system is facing a period of great change. The high costs of maintaining prisons and jails, a declining crime rate, and a broader understanding of drug and mental health treatment’s role in limiting recidivism have combined to drive states to reconsider their approaches to criminal justice. Responses increasingly emphasize community-based efforts, assistance with reentry, and attention to mental health and substance use needs. Social workers, who have always had a presence in criminal and juvenile justice settings, are now more than ever at the center of efforts to improve the country’s justice system.
CCJJP was created to be responsive to this changing environment. The center’s primary focus is on interdisciplinary research projects at MU and in partnership with other universities. A secondary focus is on building education and training resources to address the field’s need for prepared professionals who are literate in mental health and the impacts of substance use, trauma, and child maltreatment. CCJJP aims to serve multiple audiences including students, professional social workers, people working with the criminal and juvenile justice fields, community members, and state agencies.