NLC's March Conference Will Educate City Leaders on Criminal Justice Reform

President Barack Obama speaks about the need for criminal justice reform during his visit to the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution outside Oklahoma City July 16, 2015. (photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

From Congress to City Hall, criminal justice reform has transcended politics and become a bipartisan issue in 2016.


The high costs of incarceration, the toll it takes on both families and communities, and the nationwide breakdown in trust between police and the communities they serve are among the many factors that have driven increased interest in criminal justice reform on both sides of the political spectrum recently.

City leaders play key roles in criminal justice reform, especially regarding efforts to reduce reliance on unproductive incarceration and restore balanced relationships between police and communities. With the support of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change initiative, NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (IYEF) continues to compile tools and guidance to support city contributions to juvenile justice reform on topics such as diversion, alternatives to incarceration, and mental health training for School Resource Officers.

During next week’s Congressional Cities Conference in Washington, D.C., IYEF will also feature three workshops on criminal justice reform that offer additional resources for city leaders.

Breaking the Cycle: Criminal Justice Reform and the Reintegration of Offenders Into City Life will provide a briefing on proposed federal legislative changes and discuss programs that cities can develop to reintegrate non-violent offenders back into their communities.

Families in Crisis: The Heroin and Opioid Epidemic in Our Neighborhoods will look at the skyrocketing heroin and opioid misuse around the country. This session will offer tools and resources for combating the unique challenges of this trend.

Restoring Trust in Community Policing will focus on using data to increase police transparency and improve community relations.

To learn more about the workshops or register for the conferences, please visit the conference website.

About the Author: Heidi Cooper is the Justice Reform Associate in NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families. Contact Heidi at

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