Charlottesville-Albemarle County, Virginia

Charlottesville is an independent city located at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, adjacent to Albemarle County, in the Commonwealth of Virginia. As of 2009, the city proper had a population of 41,750. It is the county seat of Albemarle County, although the two jurisdictions are separate legal entities. Together, Charlottesville and Albemarle County are home to 98,970 citizens as well as students attending the University of Virginia.

An EBDM Mission

The agencies in the Charlottesville-Albemarle criminal justice system seek to achieve justice and make communities safer by working closely together, applying the best-known research to policies and practices, listening to those affected by crime, and recognizing that every interaction can lead to improved outcomes.

The tagline for the effort in Charlottesville-Albemarle County is “Working together for a safer community, one person at a time.”

This site is unique in that the work of the EBDM policy team encompasses two jurisdictions that routinely share resources and have a long history of collaboration in order to meet the needs of its citizens. The local and state probation offices have collaborated for the past seven years in the field of evidence-based practices, as both were selected original pilot sites for EBP within the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC). The EBDM policy team is the latest collaborative effort between the two localities.

EBDM Stakeholders

Due to the policy team’s large nature (i.e., having representatives from two localities for each discipline group), a steering committee was formed to guide the team’s activities. The steering committee, with representation from both the city and county but smaller in membership, is responsible for managing the many details of the work and for bringing work products to the full policy team for consensus building and final approval. The policy team includes:

  1. a district court judge
  2. a county public defender
  3. city and county police chiefs
  4. the probation and parole chief
  5. the director of pretrial services
  6. city and county Commonwealth attorneys
  7. city and county sheriffs
  8. city and county victim witness coordinators
  9. the regional jail superintendent
  10. the community services board director
  11. the chief magistrate
  12. the Thomas Jefferson area criminal justice planner
  • The level of dedication and collaboration has been truly inspiring, and I am amazed how even those who were perhaps skeptical and somewhat reluctant to participate in this effort have embraced the idea of using evidence-based decision making when developing or changing policies. – District Court Judge Robert H. Downer

    Both data and experience strongly suggest that every interaction that takes place within the criminal justice system—be it an interaction with a victim or offender—creates an opportunity to contribute to harm reduction. As criminal justice providers and members of a broader community, we cannot miss this opportunity to learn and improve upon our work based on the collection, analysis, and use of data and information. – Tim Longo, Charlottesville Police Chief

    There is reason to believe that we can improve outcomes in criminal cases by utilizing evidence-based decision making at each stage of the process where discretion is exercised…This is true at the system level, when choosing among alternative polices, practices, and programs. It is also true at the individual level in the context of sentencing decisions or the consideration of appropriate alternatives to traditional prosecution. – Dave Chapman, Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney

Harm Reduction Goals

Charlottesville-Albemarle County’s harm reduction goals include the following:

  1. Reduce future criminal justice costs by improving effectiveness and reinvesting savings in further crime reduction activities.
  2. Reduce rearrest rates as defined by “rearrest for a jailable offense” (offenders released from criminal justice supervision three years after discharge).
  3. Increase the local community’s trust and confidence in the justice system by changing policies and practices that undermine the credibility of the justice system from the perspective of victims, offenders, and the public.

For more information on the effort in Charlottesville-Albemarle, contact Pat Smith at psmith@oar-jacc.org.