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“I never believe I don’t have the power to do things”

- The Honorable Christi Beaumont said at the CJCC meeting.

I have deemed this the quote of the year!

This meeting was not posted on the county calendar and it was not recorded, but I did a livestream on my Facebook page. With sincere apologies for the poor film quality and all the movement and jerking around of the camera. Watch the video here.

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) was formed in 2020 as a result of the Criminal Justice Assessment Study by the National Center of State Courts. A group of local community activists and justice reform advocates formed a nonprofit known as Arkansas Justice Reform Coalition (AJRC). I was one of the co-founders of AJRC.

Community members convinced the WC Quorum Court to hire the NCSC to conduct an outside, independent evaluation of our entire justice system. That report can be found here.

The CJCC has been meeting since the fall of 2020. The county maintains the group was formed under Ordinance 2017-44 (found here), but that ordinance actually created as part of the process for the establishment of the NWA Crisis Stabilization Unit and it just kind of morphed into the CJCC to oversee justice reform.

A CJCC coordinator was hired about 18 months ago and she was fired by Judge Deakins a few weeks ago. Since that time, the coordinator position has been vacant and Judge Deakins has stated that he does not intend to fill that position. This is unfortunate because all members of the CJCC have full time jobs and do not have the time or energy to devote to gathering information, analyzing data, scheduling meetings, etc. We need a highly trained CJCC coordinator with a background in criminal law and facilitation, research, analysis, instruction, project management, consultation, and information gathering and consolidation. Someone like the ombudsman we had at the jail a few years back (2019). We’ve never had that with the CJCC.

It is unrealistic to think the CJCC can be successful with zero funding - that’s setting it up to fail. We fund the things that matter most to us. Remember, the CJAS said we would “only need to expand our jail if we do nothing.”

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