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watauga community
justice coalition

wcjc is an inclusive group of community stakeholders working to implement restorative justice principles in the high country through a set of collaboratively developed priorities

WCJC formed out of the planning group that developed and implemented Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) in Watauga County. This planning group included representatives from the Watauga County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), the Mediation and Restorative Justice Center (MRJC), AppHealthCare, the Office of the District Attorney, Watauga County Clerk of Court, Social Services, Daymark Recovery Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, and the High Country Council of Governments. The group worked to create agreements, shared understandings, policies and procedural guidelines for the LEAD program, which was established in 2020 by MRJC, with partners WCSO and AppHealthCare.


Once LEAD was implemented, the planning group decided to continue meeting and working together, re-branding themselves as WCJC and adopting priority goals identified through the 2019 Watauga Sequential Intercept Mapping (SIM) process. The SIM event, led by trained external facilitators, was hosted by the LEAD Planning group, MRJC, and AppHealthCare for a diverse group of community stakeholders. The original five priorities were as follows:

  1. Develop and support a trauma-informed criminal justice and crisis response system.

  2. Cross-train law enforcement / 1st Responders & behavioral health providers.

  3.  Develop a local reentry council.

  4.  Coordinate effective release planning with hospitals and area facility-based crisis centers.

  5.  Develop a post-booking jail diversion program.


In 2022 WCJC reviewed community progress in relation to the identified goals and revised these priorities, outlining a new action plan for 2023 with four main goals/priorities. The revised priorities are as follows:

  1.  Develop sober living and transitional housing in Watauga County.

  2.  Repair identified gaps in the community’s behavioral health safety net.

  3.  Develop and support a trauma-informed criminal justice and crisis response system.

  4.  Build an enhanced recovery ecosystem that allows for successful reentry.


This group’s accomplishments since inception include establishing a LEAD program in Watauga County, hosting a Sequential Intercept Mapping process, hosting presentations and guest speakers, supporting the development of the High Country Reentry Collaborative, completing a Results-Based Accountability process, creating collaborative community action plans, and building new partnerships across western North Carolina.

WCJC currently meets virtually on the first Thursday of each month at 10:30am.

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