You are here: Justice Programs Office Home

Justice Programs Office

The Justice Programs Office supports SPA's mission of applying the tools of scholarship and professionalism to the design and management of public programs in law and criminal justice.

Message from the Director

Happy New Year from all of us at the Justice Programs Office (JPO). As I look back on 2017, I cannot help but be proud of all that JPO, with its partners and the School of Public Affairs (SPA) at American University, accomplished. I am confident that we will continue to build on these achievements in 2018.

As many of you know, I recently transitioned from a 15-year career at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to American University. As my first year at JPO wound down this fall, I reflected fondly on the path that lead me to JPO, starting with being a prosecutor in Arkansas to working on civil rights issues at the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, and, most recently, on the policy work I led at DOJ that has provided the basis for many of the current reforms we see now. Each job I have held has impacted my vision of justice and the frameworks I apply to implementing sustainable criminal justice policies that promote the values of fairness, human dignity, and collaboration.

Today I am the director of a center which specializes in turning criminal justice policy and research into practice. I lead JPO with Senior Associate Director Preeti Menon, a former DOJ policy advisor and criminal justice researcher, who shares my belief in the importance of communication and working with unlikely allies. We connected immediately when we met 15 years ago through our shared values and vision, have worked collaboratively together since, and are now reunited at JPO. Together we expanded JPO's in-house capacity in 2017 by hiring six new staff members and created a communications unit, and this year we will enhance and expand our research arm.

JPO's accomplishments in 2017 were many and varied. Some of the highlights of the year were: releasing the first-ever public opinion survey report on Americans' Views on Public Defenders and the Right to Counsel; hosting our first Maintaining Momentum event with the theme of Redefining the Purpose of Incarceration in the Ongoing Conversations about Criminal Justice Reform; hosting the Right to Counsel (R2C) National Consortium's Third Annual Meeting; launching the National Drug Court Resource, Policy, and Evidence-Based Practice Center; releasing a series of Research and Practice Briefs to provide state administering agencies and state and local policymakers key information about critical criminal justice issues with which they are grappling; providing training all across the country to juvenile drug treatment court practitioners through the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Training and Technical Assistance Initiative; and providing training and technical assistance to state and local policymakers on violent crime reduction strategy development to state administering agencies through our participation in the National Public Safety Partnership. I am so proud of my team and am honored to work with such a dedicated, hardworking, and smart group of individuals.

As I look ahead to 2018, I am very pleased that American University has just named Dr. Vicky Wilkins the new dean of its School of Public Affairs (SPA). Vicky has been a tremendous partner to and administrator for this center. I can think of no one better suited to be SPA's dean. Vicky says that "American University and SPA are uniquely positioned to address the most challenging questions in public affairs through innovation, high-impact research, partnerships, and inclusion." I could not agree more. We share the same vision of building up JPO's in-house expertise while continuing to work closely with faculty and collaborating with partners to further strengthen an already strong office.

JPO could not have achieved all that it did last year without the support of our partners. I thank you for your continued friendship. I look forward to new partnerships in the year ahead. And most of all, I look forward to what we collectively will accomplish together to further improve and ensure the fair administration of justice.

Director Kim Ball, Esq.
Justice Programs Office
American University

On the Docket with the National Drug Court Resource Center Podcast

Have you been listening to our podcast, On the Docket with the National Drug Court Resource Center? It explores problem-solving courts that address substance use, mental health, and co-occurring disorders within the criminal justice system. These voluntary programs serve as a form of deferred adjudication that focuses on rehabilitation and treatment, rather than incarceration.

Past episodes include an interview with Evan Elkin, the executive director of Reclaiming Futures, exploring the basics of and research behind family treatment courts and an interview with Jill Murphy, the program supervisor of the King County Family Treatment Court about how family treatment courts function, innovative strategies for working with participants of family treatment courts, and how to keep a family-centered approach with involvement from large systems.

The host and producer of this podcast is Anna Koozmin, Program Associate at the Justice Programs Office at American University.

To listen and download episodes of this podcast, follow this link to the Apple Podcast Store or click here to visit the NDCRC website.To listen and download episodes of this podcast, follow this link to the Apple Podcast Store or click here to visit the NDCRC website.

JPO in the News

Director Kim Ball and Associate Director Tracy Velázquez sat down with Social Work Today to discuss veterans treatment courts (VTCs) and the results of a JPO report on the range of policies, practices, and services in VTC programs across the country. Read more in Veterans Treatment Courts - Helping Vets Seek Justice.

The Atlantic interviewed Senior Policy Counsel Zoë Root about the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and how in many jurisdictions, defendants aren't getting legal representation the first time they go to court. When Does the Right to an Attorney Kick In?

How the System Has Become Public Defenders' Worst Nightmare

In a conversation inspired by 60 Minutes' "Defenseless" episode, Senior Policy Counsel Zoë Root discusses the lack of resources allocated for public defenders to adequately represent their clients and how the Right to Counsel National Campaign is trying to change this. Read here >>

Americans' Views on Public Defenders and The Right to Counsel

On behalf of the Right to Counsel National Campaign (R2C), JPO conducted research with Belden Russonello Strategists, a consulting group that conducts a survey and focus group research to find out how well Americans understand public defense and their right to counsel.

Read the findings of this year-long opinion study in Americans' Views on Public Defenders and The Right to Counsel, outlines the results of a year-long opinion study focused on how well Americans understand public defense and their right to counsel. Download the full report here.

Veterans Treatment Courts: 2015 Survey Results

To provide a framework for developing the parameters of the services that would be most useful to the veterans treatment court (VTC) field, as well as to develop a snapshot of the range of policies, practices, and services in VTCs currently operating, JPO launched a special initiative for the Bureau of Justice Assistance's Adult Drug Court Technical Assistance Project. To read the findings of our Veterans Treatment Courts: 2015 Survey and for additional resources for Veterans Treatment Courts, visit the Veterans Treatment Courts: 2015 Survey Results webpage.

Neither the U.S. Department of Justice nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse, this web site (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).