Criminal Justice Resource Department
The mission of the Orange County Criminal Justice Resource Department (CJRD) is to safely reduce unnecessary pretrial incarceration, increase jail alternatives and diversion opportunities, reduce the number of individuals with behavioral health issues facing justice involvement and incarceration, reduce recidivism, reduce racial and economic disparities, and increase public safety by providing treatment and support for individuals involved in Orange County’s criminal legal system.
The Criminal Justice Resource Department administers a number of different programs that seek to further this mission. See a summary below and follow the links or the left hand side bar for details on each program.
The CJRD helps administer two programs to assist justice involved Orange County residents. The transportation fund is supported by the Orange County Bail/Bond Justice Project and will assist in funding transportation to and from court. The Criminal Justice Debt Program, started by the Chapel Hill Town Council and administered at the Chapel Hill Police Department Crisis Unit, assists in paying court fees and costs and DMV fees for eligible residents. Follow this link for more information about each of these funds including eligibility and information on how to apply.
The Pretrial Services Program can minimize unnecessary detention by assessing and supervising individuals who are likely to appear for future court dates and do not pose a risk to the community as they await trial. This results in reduced jail costs for the County and more efficient use of the limited space within its detention facility. In addition, individuals who are released from custody are able to maintain employment, access treatment, maintain stable housing, aid in their own defense, assert their innocence, and mitigate the severity of any active prison term that may be imposed at sentencing.
The CJRD administers two distinct, therapeutic programs for court-involved adults diagnosed with substance use disorders. Recovery Court is a diversionary court for individuals who are facing significant terms of incarceration. Participants are referred to the program by judges, defense attorneys, and probation officers. Successful participants will avoid incarceration and reduce their likelihood of recidivism. Family Treatment Court is a collaborative effort between the court system and the Department of Social Services (DSS). It is for parents who have a case pending with DSS regarding abuse, neglect, or dependency. Successful participants enhance their parenting skills and improve the chances of having their parental rights restored. The core components of both programs are formalized substance use treatment, random drug testing, frequent court appearances, peer support and monitoring by a multidisciplinary team.
The goal of diversion is to increase community safety and well-being by deflecting individuals from the criminal legal system and offering earlier and direct access to necessary interventions. The CRJD administers 3 different diversion programs that work with 3 different groups of people. The Orange County Adult Pre-Arrest Diversion program (OC-PAD) works with adult first offenders ages 18 and up in certain low-level misdemeanors. The Youth Deflection Program (YDP) works with youth ages 17 and under, and the Lantern Project Diversion component works with adults with a behavioral health diagnosis and frequently prior justice involvement.
Successful participants in diversion programs earn the benefit of not having a charge or a criminal conviction, which have collateral consequences for employment, housing, legal residency status, and eligibility for public benefits and licensing.
The CRJD has two mental health and substance use professionals that work directly with individuals in custody or at risk of incarceration, the Clinical Coordinator and the Youth Behavioral Health Liaison.
The Clinical Coordinator works directly with individuals incarcerated in the Orange County Detention Center who have mental health and substance use concerns. A primary goal of this position is to increase opportunities for pretrial release and connection to community resources.
The Youth Behavioral Health Liaison provides clinical services to youth ages 18 and under who are incarcerated, in detention, or at high risk in the criminal and juvenile justice systems with the goal of developing an appropriate treatment plan to support youth in returning to or remaining in the community.
The Lantern Project is a partnership between Orange County CJRD and Freedom House and works to support justice involved people with substance use disorders by connecting them to treatment support as soon as possible, and remaining with them through their journey by providing a recovery navigator, counseling, and peer support. The Lantern Project has two paths – the diversion path works with people who have been arrested or are about to be arrested and the re-entry path works with people who are currently incarcerated and working towards reentry.
The Local Reentry Council works with formerly incarcerated people to reduce barriers to reentry by providing case management, connecting people to services in the community, providing direct funding for needs, and building a network of individuals, agencies, and advocates within the local community that provide support and coordination of innovative responses to the reintegration of the formerly incarcerated.
Restoration Legal Counsel provides pro bono legal assistance to individuals facing barriers due to a criminal record and/or driver's license suspension. The Legal Restoration Counsel works in collaboration with court and community stakeholders to provide restorative legal services to low-income, justice-involved individuals. This pro bono legal assistance to qualified individuals includes driver’s license restoration work, expunctions, criminal justice debt relief and certificates of relief.
The Street Outreach, Harm Reduction and Deflection (SOHRAD) program connects people experiencing homelessness in Orange County with housing and services. Peer support and clinical staff use a relationship-based model to provide ongoing engagement and case management for people living unsheltered.
The Justice Advisory Council is a group of senior county stakeholders that includes participants from the court system, the sheriff and police departments, social services, the school districts, county commissioners, and more. The Justice Advisory Council meets quarterly to address justice issues and priorities.
The Criminal Justice Resource Department collects and provides data and information to the County Manager, justice stakeholders, and the community in order to support, enhance, and recommend changes to jail alternatives programming and court system needs.
The Criminal Justice Resource Department (CJRD) opened in November 2015 as a division of the County Manager's Office. On July 1, 2017, it became a department in Orange County Government. The department oversees and supports jail alternatives programming in Orange County.