Here are some of the commonly asked questions aha! Process receives regarding Bridges for Criminal Justice. If you don’t see your question/answer here or still need more information, please call us at (800) 424-9484, or contact us here.
What is Bridges for Criminal Justice?
- Bridges for Criminal Justice is the process of applying Bridges Out of Poverty ideas and constructs to the criminal justice system in order to improve outcomes when dealing with under-resourced offenders and citizens—reducing bench warrants, arrests, and recidivism; increasing probation compliance; and improving the safety and efficiency of law enforcement calls.
What are the goals of Bridges for Criminal Justice?
- The goals of Bridges for Criminal Justice are threefold:
- To improve treatment outcomes and reduce recidivism, saving taxpayer dollars and reducing the negative impact of crime on offenders, their families, and the community.
- To provide equal access to the court system for people in poverty.
- To contribute to larger community efforts to end poverty.
Doesn’t our system of justice already provide equal access for people in poverty?
- Like many institutions and systems, the courts are based on middle-class rules and resources. People in poverty often do not understand the middle-class rules, nor do they have the resources to play by those rules. Consequently, they are set up for repeated failure. For example, the Marion, Ohio, Municipal Court discovered that a large percentage of traffic offenses were suspended-license cases and that many of those cases were people struggling financially who had no idea how to get a valid driver’s license. The court devised a program to educate offenders and remove barriers to the process of reinstatement, reducing the number of repeat offenders and saving court costs.
How does our criminal justice organization get started with Bridges for Criminal Justice?
- Train both policymakers and staff in Bridges Out of Poverty concepts. Bridges Out of Poverty workshops must be provided by a certified Bridges trainer or a national consultant.
- Individuals in policymaking positions, together with staff, identify obstacles in the organization that impede people from generational poverty in interfacing with the organization.
- Develop policy changes to address these obstacles within the organization.
- Implement policy changes.
- After a period of time under the new policies, evaluate the effectiveness of the policy changes.
- As appropriate, modify the policy changes. Engage Bridges consultants for strategic consulting as necessary to advance the initiative.
What are examples of the impact Bridges can have on the criminal justice system?
- Criminal justice organizations use Bridges in a variety of ways to improve outcomes and reduce costs. Here are some examples:
- Columbiana County, Ohio, Municipal Court saved $65,000 in jail fees and an undetermined amount in medical expenses for indigent defendants—without compromising the integrity of the court system—when it used knowledge gained from Bridges Out of Poverty to remove obstacles for under-resourced individuals. The court realized that many defendants were opting for jail time rather than electronically monitored house arrest. Using the mental models of economic class and understanding the impact that poverty has on individuals and families, the court recognized the financial barrier that kept people in poverty from using these electronic monitoring devices and developed a policy to overcome that barrier.
- Marion County, Ohio, Municipal Court posted a 75% success rate for offenders getting a valid driver’s license after the court guides them through reinstatement procedures using printed checklists and a computer projection of their driving record.
- Marion County, Ohio, Municipal Court implemented an open court every Tuesday during which defendants can turn themselves in to the court on a bench warrant. Rather than sending them to jail, the court works to resolve their issues. Approximately five individuals turn themselves in each Tuesday to resolve their cases rather than hide from the warrant. This warrant forgiveness program saves costs because it eliminates using jail space, transportation to and from jail, and law enforcement time. It also enables defendants to maintain employment and continue to care for their families.
- See our Criminal Justice System Results and Best Practices page for more information.
How is Getting Ahead used in the criminal justice system to help offenders stay out of the court system?
- Getting Ahead helps offenders explore the impact of poverty on themselves and their communities. Participants develop mental models of poverty, middle class, and wealth and learn about the hidden rules of each class. They evaluate their individual resources, create a future story, and develop a plan to build the resources they need to achieve their goals. Here are two examples of how Getting Ahead has been used in the criminal justice system:
- Marion, Ohio, Municipal Court has sponsored Getting Ahead classes for offenders in cooperation with Marion General Hospital and other community sponsors. In the first program, conducted Spring 2010, seven of 10 investigators graduated, and at the end of 2010, all seven were employed and/or pursuing higher education.
- Both Getting Ahead and a related financial management class have been used with offenders in the Dixon Correctional Institute in Louisiana who are preparing for re-entry. The classes provide a substantive approach for offenders and their families to discover paths out of poverty for themselves. As one graduate said, “Not only did I learn money management skills, I also realized that I could be successful in managing my life once I returned home. After being locked up since I was 18 (and now I’m 32), it was pretty scary to think how I was going to be able to make it. I now am home with my family, I have a job, a checking account, and a check card. These classes made that possible.”
- See our Criminal Justice System Results and Best Practices for more information.
What is the role of the community in improving outcomes in the criminal justice system?
- Many offenders face a range of barriers to pursuing an alternate course in life. Often they have no money, no home, no job, and no skills with which to get a job. Furthermore, they lack the connections, or “bridging capital,” to make the transition to self-sufficiency. A community that understands and embraces the Bridges Out of Poverty constructs will work collectively to identify and remove the organizational and systemic obstacles that keep people in poverty, as well as support individuals emerging from poverty through education, job training, and mentoring.
How does Bridges for Criminal Justice help law enforcement professionals?
- Bridges offers both a book, Tactical Communication: First Responder Edition, and a workshop, Understanding Class for Law Enforcement, that are specific to law enforcement professionals. By presenting an understanding of economic class differences and the impact of those differences on law enforcement situations, these resources help law enforcement engage with the public more efficiently, effectively, and safely, and with fewer complaints. These resources help law enforcement professionals:
- Identify strategies to win in situations in poverty, middle-class, and wealthy communities
- Maintain control on scenes, no matter the economic status of the community
- Decrease the frustration they experience when entering situaitons in poverty, as well as in middle class and wealth
- Be even more successful in the communities they police
Scheduling a Workshop FAQs
How can I schedule an aha! Process consultant to present a workshop at my organization or in my community?
- Please call one of our professional development account representatives at (800) 424-9484. Choose menu option 4.
- Complete this online request, and one of our account representatives will contact you within one business day.
Do your consultants do only full-day workshops?
- No, we can adapt our trainings to meet your specific needs, including timeframes. Our standard workshop day is 8:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. with an hour and a half for lunch and two 15-minute breaks. We can also provide shorter sessions (e.g., keynote, breakout, 1–2 hour overview, half-day workshop, etc.).
Do you have any consultants in my area?
- Please check out our consultant biographies, or call our professional development account representatives at (800) 424-9484 and choose menu option 4.
Are we required to purchase books for our workshop?
- Most of our workshops do not require a book purchase, but some do require participants to have a specific book or workbook to receive the full benefit of the training. Some workshops do not require materials to be purchased, but do have optional books and/or workbooks that are recommended to increase the understanding of workshop participants.
How many participants can we have in our workshop?
- For most of our workshops, you can have as many participants as you can seat comfortably in the meeting room. We have a few trainings that have a maximum number of participants due to the hands-on nature of the training. Please check with your account representative about the specific workshop you are interested in.
Which workshop should I start with?
- We recommend that law enforcement professionals start with the workshop Understanding Class for Law Enforcement and other criminal justice organizations begin with the workshop Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities. These workshops include the foundational constructs upon which all of our workshops are based. Bridges Out of Poverty is a prerequisite for some of our other trainings.
Are there prerequisites for the workshops?
- A few of our workshops have prerequisites. Please check out our workshop page for the workshop you are interested in to determine if there is a prerequisite.
I am tax exempt, but the online store is charging me tax.
- Please fax your tax-exemption form to (281) 426-8705, or email it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and your tax will be refunded the next business day. If you prefer to place the order on the phone, please call our office at (800) 424-9484 and choose menu option 3.
I need to return a book I ordered from you. What do I need to do?
- Please call our office at (800) 424-9484 and choose menu option 6.