WASHINGTON — In a Jan. 17 letter to colleagues, outgoing National Institute of Corrections (NIC) Director James Cosby highlighted the NIC’s significant progress in improving corrections across the country. Cosby left his position with the NIC and the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) on January 19. Former Attorney General Eric Holder originally appointed Cosby to the position in February 2015.
Cosby began his corrections career in 1978 as a probation and parole officer for the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole and was appointed NIC Division Chief for the Community Services Division in 2011. Speaking to the thousands of correctional and criminal justice practitioners across the country, he noted that NIC has contributed to driving down unnecessary incarceration while maintaining public safety.
“NIC efforts to enhance correctional and criminal justice practice are effective and are making a difference in the lives of correctional and criminal justice staff as well as justice involved individuals every day,” he said.
Cosby also noted that efforts to improve staff wellness have highlighted the everyday stressors of corrections work, and have provided guidance for improving overall health of correctional staff. In terms of providing better service and environments to offenders, Cosby noted efforts to improve workforce development and employment retention, cognitive restructuring, evidence-based decision-making and the transition process from jail or prison to the community.
“Other efforts at NIC have focused on particular problems within the correctional arena such as restrictive housing (solitary confinement),” Cosby continued.
NIC continues to provide training to state and local practitioners that enhances staff safety and lessens the likelihood that individuals will be released directly from restrictive confinement into their communities. The institute further provides a veterans program, which has shined a spotlight on how corrections officials can better manage and support veterans who have served their country, but later found themselves involved in the justice system.
Cosby further touted efforts to improve LGBTI and gender responsive programs, which have guided correctional agencies on how to respectfully work with and protect these populations. “Further, our guidance and training on pretrial and criminal diversion practices have proven successful in controlling and often reducing jail populations, which is also a very sound fiscal practice,” he added.
The outgoing director credited true collaboration at the local and state levels, however, for the NIC’s most successful programs. “When criminal justice stakeholders effectively work with one another, the results are positive and successful in meeting mutual goals. We are stronger and more effective at enhancing public safety working together than when we stand alone.”