Through the best practices of strategic management, coordinated planning and inter-agency cooperation, the Delaware County Criminal Justice Advisory Board is committed to improving the effectiveness, efficiency, evenhandedness, accountability, and promoting the public and professional appreciation of Criminal Justice in Delaware County.
Under the leadership of the current chair, the Honorable John P. Capuzzi, Sr., the Delaware County CJAB is a joint partnership between leaders of the criminal justice system and related county government agencies and private entities. Through its subcommittees, bi-monthly meetings and its ongoing related activities, DCCJAB essentially functions as a strategic management and planning group in all matters relating to criminal justice. DCJAB’s primary role is to identify, examine and address problems, as well as to seek out and explore opportunities for changes and advancements in the criminal justice system in order to improve the effectiveness, efficiency, equality, and quality of law enforcement, the courts and correctional services in Delaware County.
Delaware County proudly boasts the first criminal justice advisory committee in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our journey began in 1993 when a handful of Court and County officials were invited to attend and participate in in a Criminal Justice Advisory Board conference in Tampa, Florida. This group saw the enormous potential for addressing the various challenges facing the criminal justice system and, upon return, laid the foundation for the DCCJAB. The first official meeting was held in October, 1994. At the initial meeting, the Board adopted By-Laws which set forth such criteria as mission, members, agenda, committees, communication, schedule, meeting documentation, etc.
We are quickly approaching the 25th anniversary of the Criminal Justice Advisory Committee. The Committee is always vigilant to identify new issues that greatly affect our criminal justice system and reevaluate current practices. In 2016, under the direction of then Chairman the Honorable James F. Nilon. Jr., an updated five (5) year Strategic Plan was developed, which lists this board’s priorities, goals and objectives. CJAB Strategic Plan 2020-2024.
Directly evolving from the above self-analysis, the DCCJAB determined that our mental health population and the heroin epidemic were the most significant problems facing our criminal justice system. As part of tackling these issues head-on, the DCCJAB held a Summit at Widener University on October 21, 2016. There were 400 attendees who represented various disciplines throughout the several systems. The post-Summit evaluations confirmed the importance of the issues addressed and the topics that were covered. This Summit laid the groundwork for our continuing efforts to serve these two dependent, and frequently overlapping, populations.
As an outgrowth of the Court’s continued concern regarding the scourge of the heroin epidemic and the related offenses arising from it, the Criminal Justice Advisory Boar sought and secured a two (2) year grant from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to develop a Pre-trial Heroin Recovery Program. This program, titled Second Chance Court, is aimed at diverting suitable offenders into treatment programs shortly after the arrest. The program commenced on March 9, 2017 and is in full operation. To-date, the program is exceeding expectations. (For a full description of the program, go to the Second Chance Court under Court Departments.)
On October 5, 2018, DCCJAB held its second conference to address the opioid plague and the mental health crisis which continue to confront and tax the criminal justice system. The Summit was held at and co-sponsored by Neumann University. Again we were at capacity with more than 400 attendees. Our keynote speaker on opioids was retired DEA Special Agent, David Schiller, one of the whistleblowers on big pharma’s role in perpetuating the crisis. Dr. Edna McCutcheon, the administrator at Norristown State Hospital addressed the numerous mental health issues facing our community and the various programs available for immediate and long-range treatment. Both Mr. Schiller’s and Ms. McCutcheon ‘s messages were thought provoking and inspiring.
Delaware County is also very fortunate that long time Board member, Michael W. Raith, Esquire, the Director of Adult Probation and Parole, was appointed to the statewide Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s Criminal Justice Advisory Committee. Most counties are not represented on this prestigious committee, so it a testament to the Delaware County Criminal Justice Advisory Board’s hard work and reputation to have one of its members chosen in this capacity.
Over its nearly twenty-five year history, the Delaware County Criminal Justice Advisory Board has been recognized and credited with assisting/ collaborating with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) for improvements across Pennsylvania. Below are some of these initiatives:
Recognized as a state and national leader in innovative criminal justice programming;
The first county to have the Judicial, Legislative and Executive Branches of government actively meet at the Criminal Justice Advisory Board;
Assisted the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency in mentoring other counties in helping to implement CJAB programs;
The PCCD recommended that Philadelphia meet with the Delaware Count CJAB with help in establishing its criminal justice advisory board;
Delaware County was the first county on JNET;
Delaware County assisted the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency develop and implement state-wide standards to apply to all criminal justice advisory boards in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; and
Recognized by the PCCD and Pennsylvania Drug and Alcohol Programs for our aggressive campaign to reverse the growing trend of opioid use and in training first responders to administer Naloxone to reverse heroin overdoses.
2016 and 2018 bi-annual opioid and mental health Summits;
2015 – 2019 Strategic Plan;
Advanced technology to improve efficiency;
Use of video conferencing to expedite judicial hearings;
Live scan digital fingerprinting and photo imaging available to all police departments in Delaware County;
Court Smart Technology in court of common pleas and magisterial district judge courts;
Heroin Task Force;
Expansion of RIP and IP programs;
Delaware County Cares Committee on Mental Health;
Natale North developed as an alternative to mental health defendants awaiting a bed date at Norristown State Hospital;
Prison Restoration of Competency Program (ROC);
Community Restoration of Competency (CROC);
Development of re-entry counselors and forensic liaisons
Continued expansion of specialty courts: drug treatment, mental health and veterans;
Multiple grant funding through the PCCD, most recently the Second Chance Court; and
Second Chance Court and Second Chance Employment initiatives
Drug Treatment Court
Mental Health Court
Delaware County Cares
Juvenile Justice Advisory Committee
Family Law Advisory Committee
Mental Health Evaluation Committee