Douglas County has hired Katy Fitzgerald as Criminal Justice Coordinator. Fitzgerald will primarily work on justice issues, including facilitation and coordination of the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Katy’s first day with Douglas County will be July 29.
“I am incredibly excited to have Katy join our team in Douglas County. She has a wealth of experience in criminal justice and behavioral health and will help us continue to lead in these areas,” County Administrator Sarah Plinsky said. “Katy firmly believes that everyone deserves an advocate in their corner. It is this belief that drives her passion for her work with those involved in, impacted by, and partners of, the criminal justice system.”
Fitzgerald comes to Douglas County from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, where she has been a management analyst in the Criminal Justice Services Department since January 2014. Prior to joining Criminal Justice Services, Katy’s career began as a community mental health clinician, providing mental health and substance abuse treatment to adults and juveniles across the spectrum of criminal justice involvement, including several years as a clinician in a North Carolina Youth Development Center and as a care coordinator for the local managed care organization.
In her role with the Criminal Justice Services Department, Fitzgerald has served as a grant writer and recipient, a project manager for several cross-system reform initiatives, a data analyst for the Department and external justice system partners, and as staff to the local criminal justice coordinating council.
Fitzgerald is most proud of her work on developing an online training series for criminal justice stakeholders, leading the implementation of the Reclaiming Futures model within the local juvenile justice office, piloting a driver license restoration clinic, and leading the revision and implementation of the local bail policy.
As part of the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety + Justice Challenge grant, Fitzgerald led the development of a three-module series on implicit bias and a 10-module series on pretrial justice. Implementation of the Reclaiming Futures model, a data-driven process improvement approach at the intersection of behavioral health and juvenile justice, resulted in an almost three-fold increase in the number of juvenile justice involved youth who received behavioral health screenings, mental health assessments and engaged in treatment services.
As part of Mecklenburg County’s Justice Reinvestment Act grant, the Driver License Restoration Clinic provided indigent residents with legal assistance to reinstate their driving privileges. The clinic was a partnership between the county, the local public defender, a local driving law attorney, and the Charlotte School of Law. An evaluation of the pilot showed that clients who worked with the clinic were twice as likely to have their driving privileges reinstated than those who did not. Upon a successful pilot demonstration, Fitzgerald oversaw the transition of the clinic operations to the Charlotte School of Law, where it was provided as a formal law clinic.
During the past four years, Fitzgerald has mainly worked in pretrial release or detain decisions and bail policy. Beginning in 2018, she facilitated a work group of criminal justice executives to revise and monitor the implementation of the local bail policy, focusing on the elimination of bail schedules, an expansion of pretrial supervision eligibility, a reduced use of financial release conditions, and improved access to defense counsel prior to first appearances.
“It is important to me to be part of a team that has the collaboration, the momentum, and the heart for reform and I saw that in Douglas County,” Fitzgerald said. “Once I visited Lawrence and met with some of the staff, I knew this was where I wanted to be. As a college basketball fan and fellow Big 12 alum, coming to the home of the national champions is a plus, too. I’m very excited to start working for Douglas County and to join this community.”