Erika Preuitt, Department of Community Justice Director
The holiday season is a sentimental time that focuses our attention on gifts on so many levels. When I contemplate this season my thoughts surround hope as we look forward to the coming year and the gifts of the year that is past. 2020 was not what any of us expected, and in the years that I have worked for DCJ, we are walking through our greatest challenge. We have a strong foundation to face these challenges,  because of the combination of talents, skills and gifts each of you bring in our determination to achieve our vision “Community Safety through Positive Change”. When faced with the threat of COVID-19 we pivoted together as one DCJ to work differently to meet the needs of our community.

In the midst of doing the good work you do every day, I understand the pressures and stressors of living though a pandemic can be isolating and taking its toll. Some may have even been impacted by the virus and/or lost loved ones. I pray for you and your families everyday and send my condolences to those who have suffered loss.  

It is vital that we continue to support each other as we navigate the devastation COVID-19 is having on our society. If you are feeling alone I want to encourage you to be intentional about connecting with a coworker, a family member, a friend. Recently our Peer Trauma Support Team (PTST) hosted a hangout to bring staff together in community with one another. I am thankful for our PTST members who have given of themselves to support their co-workers. My hope for the future rests in our efforts to continue to come together in unity to make DCJ the best it has ever been! I am confident in our ability to accomplish this because:

  • Together we keep our communities safe!

  • Together we support the most vulnerable in our communities

  • Together we have stayed committed to principles of evidence based practices, the talents and skills of all our staff cementing us as national leaders in this area.

  • Together we have developed and implemented creative, innovative and culturally responsive programs to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in our community.

In the midst of the threats of COVID-19, I have been inspired by all of you who have pivoted to work differently during this historic time to meet the needs of the youth and adults to achieve our vision of Community Safety through Positive Change. I am so proud of our essential employees who are working together and supporting each other as they show up daily, in dedication to our vision, community and clients. Many times at risk themselves as protests that have turned into riots have targeted them personally and the buildings they work in.

Together, we have been focused on our shared vision in the midst of a polarized society experiencing deep and jagged divides along political, religious, ideological and racial lines. Together we are cultivating an environment in DCJ which encourages belonging. When we prioritize respect and safety with each other, we are more successful in pouring all of our energy into our vision. 

Our future is bright. As DCJ together we will continue to strive to do the right things for the right reason in the interest of public safety, our community and each other.   

Together…

  • We will face down racial injustice and analyze our own patterns of disparities and reduce them.
  • We will hold ourselves accountable to create a safe and respectful workplace where bigotry, division and hatred are not tolerated. 
  • We will find opportunities to promote trauma responsive and equity informed resources to our staff and the justice involved individuals we serve.
  • We will transform to be more hopeful, less punitive, ensuring we are supervising the appropriate populations.
  • We will walk hand and hand through this surreal yet historic time continuing to make DCJ stronger together.
  • Let us choose to learn from each other despite our differences.

It is only together will we emerge transformed and more united, leaving our indelible imprint as we focus on helping  justice involved individuals change their behavior, restore their families, and build stronger and safer communities! Our contributions to our communities are significant and life changing.