Community Justice Initiative (CJI)
As reflected in the CJI Mission Statement, the underlying causes of criminal behavior (substance abuse, mental health issues, and recidivism) were a common thread of discussion in around 600 man-hours of workshops and facility visits by our task groups in a little over 6 months.
Prior to our first workshop, a Community Recovery Education Forum was presented by Dr. Monty Burks, Director of Faith-Based Initiatives & Special Projects and Dr. Stephen Loyd, (at that time) Assistant Commissioner – TN State Department of Substance Abuse.
It’s estimated that 12 million people cycled through U.S. Jails in 2016 (up from 9 million in 2008) and increasing. Over 4,520 were arrested by Blount County, Maryville, and Alcoa in 2016.
Most of those people return to the surrounding community within just a few weeks. Their challenges are formidable: the prevalence of substance abuse & mental illness, unemployment, and homelessness to name a few.
Many are the children of Blount County parents; others are parents of Blount County children. They may be your extended family, neighbors, co-workers, your friends, or friends or family of some of your friends.
Some say we should just reduce the number of people incarcerated by any means without consideration of the underlying causes of the behaviors that got them there.
The CJI seeks to align with individuals and entities who will join us in owning our community’s issues and informing ourselves and everyone who wants to be informed about substance misuse and mental illness and how they impact jail overcrowding and the community as a whole.