Experts to address alternatives to traditional justice systems

Two experts on criminal justice from across the country will address how to improve the justice system in Tarrant County in a conference today at the Brown-Lupton University Union ballroom.

The two guest speakers will give advice on improving community issues by gathering community leaders to work together.

Julius Lang, director of technical assistance for the nonprofit Center for Court Innovation in New York, will speak on community justice. The nonprofit works with criminal justice agencies to implement problem-solving initiatives.

The other speaker is Bill Stewart, assistant district attorney for Clackamas County, Ore., and a member of the National District Attorney’s Association.

The university is teaming up with Fort Worth’s Safe City Commission and the North Central Texas Council of Governments to sponsor the conference.

Les Smith, adjunct faculty member and criminal justice coordinator for the Tarrant County Criminal Justice Office, said the program would help educate the community on a new option for the justice system that would help rehabilitate criminals rather than punish them and involve community leaders in the process.

“The program stems off of the overreliance on traditional approach to criminal justice,” Smith said.

This overreliance is one of the things that is driving up crime, the number of criminals in custody and the number of criminals that return to the justice system in Tarrant County, Smith said.

A goal of the conference is to determine if people are willing to participate in a Community Justice Advisory Committee, according to the conference agenda. This committee, which is not yet developed, would be modeled after community-based problem-solving initiatives implemented in areas across the country.

The committee would also increase interaction between community representatives and law enforcement, prosecutors and court officials in order to better understand community issues.

After the experts speak, the conference sponsors will ask community leaders will be asked whether they want to form the committee and implement the methods addressed in the conference.

The event is open to the public and admission is free, but seating is limited.


What: Conference addressing ways to improve the criminal justice system in Tarrant County

When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Today

Where: Brown-Lupton University Union Ballroom