Community Justice Initiative (CJI)
The Community Justice Initiative (CJI) was established in 2017 to work with justice and incarceration consultants toward solutions for incarceration capacity and facility upgrades at the Blount County Adult Detention Center (Jail). Individuals were selected for their experience and expertise relative to issues at hand and organized into Task Groups to focus on existing issues and potential solutions. As they began to develop a Mission Statement and Objectives, participants determined that the CJI should not be a temporary entity. Though over time Task Groups would evolve and participants and leadership would change, the Community Justice Initiative should continually address present issues, always looking and working toward the future.
The current Blount County Jail, located at 938 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, has been in service for more than 20 years. County and regional population growth contribute to increase inmate population and make needed facility updates and modifications increasingly difficult to accomplish. The opioid epidemic, other addictions and mental health issues compound the difficulties for law enforcement, the entire justice system, local recovery programs and the community as a whole. The Community Justice Initiative (CJI) is working toward the right solutions for Blount County.
The Task Groups of the CJI are working with justice & incarceration consultants to:
Study past and ongoing incarceration data;
Identify needed improvements at the jail;
Identify and evaluate options for facilities, operations and programs;
Explore alternatives to incarceration; and
Develop recommendations to be presented to the County Commission.
A key element with great potential to reduce jail overcrowding is a transitional facility for qualifying offenders that will divert them from traditional incarceration and provide opportunity for their re-entry into the community as productive and contributing citizens.