PHOENIX—The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has received the Maricopa Association of Governments 2016 Desert Peaks Public Partnership Award for its collaboration with multiple county agencies, the courts and Mercy Integrated Care on Smart Justice, a program aimed at preventing crime and reducing recidivism through strategies targeted at the individual needs of offenders.
“Currently, about 40 percent of inmates released will reoffend, creating additional burdens on the justice system and increasing costs to the public; costs which come not only through the judicial process, but also through crime itself from property loss, injury or death,” said County Attorney Bill Montgomery. “By addressing an individual’s specific challenges there is greater hope of giving them the tools they need to make good decisions and reintegrate into the community. For those unwilling to make the necessary changes and take advantage of opportunities offered, further incarceration is the result.”
Smart Justice provides targeted treatment through diversion programs, specialty courts and education to prevent future offenses. For those at highest risk of reoffending, key areas include dealing with drug and alcohol abuse, mental health issues, education and employability and interpersonal skills. Lower-risk individuals are offered treatment focusing on employment, school and family.
In August 2011, the Smart Justice program was launched when several agencies joined together in a concerted effort to improve long-term public safety while controlling costs. Partnering agencies include the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department, Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, Maricopa County Human Services Department, Maricopa County Judicial Branch of Arizona, Maricopa County Justice Courts, Maricopa County Office of Assistant County Manager and JSPI (Justice System Planning and Information), Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and Mercy Maricopa Integrated Care.
The Maricopa Association of Governments Desert Peaks Public Partnership Award is given to the group or project that has demonstrated a commitment to regionalism through public sector or public/nonprofit partnership.