Washington, D.C. — As the movement to shrink the scope of policing gains momentum, more and more cities are exploring how to shift toward community-driven safety strategies. The Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) offers lessons for jurisdictions on prioritizing meaningful investments in communities, according to a new issue brief released today by the Center for American Progress.
JRI is a bipartisan, multistate initiative to divest from prisons that has attracted significant bipartisan support since 2010. While JRI has not always succeeded at redirecting funds toward community-building resources, cities can learn from its experiences. Specifically, city policymakers should reshape their government infrastructure to support long-term investments in community-driven safety priorities.
The issue brief highlights three steps for cities to build the infrastructure for sustainable investments in community safety needs:
- Establish civilian offices of neighborhood safety within the jurisdiction’s government. City governments can help ensure that community-driven safety agendas receive the long-term political and financial support necessary to succeed by embedding nonpunitive safety solutions into the fabric of local government.
- Create an in-depth process for community participation and accountability. Elected officials should empower residents to reshape the city’s approach to public safety. This includes looking beyond traditional community engagement approaches and aiming for a long-term strategy for partnering with residents.
- Give communities control over redirected investments. Ensuring that residents have an active role in guiding the city’s budget priorities is another key element for creating for creating a community-driven safety agenda. As such, the city budget would match the needs of its residents and will not only reflect the values and priorities of elected officials and well-organized interest groups.
“Shrinking the scope of the justice system isn’t a new or radical idea. For the past decade, governors across the ideological spectrum have supported reducing prison budgets and reinvesting in other public safety solutions,” said Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress and co-author of the issue brief. “Now, cities have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of JRI. Cities need to reshape government infrastructure to implement and sustain the community’s vision for public safety.”
Read the issue brief: “How To Reinvest in Communities When Reducing the Scope of Policing” by Ed Chung and Betsy Pearl
“Beyond the Status Quo: Police Reform Must Bring About Meaningful Accountability” by Ed Chung
“Why Prison Reform Is Not Enough to Fix the U.S. Criminal Justice System” by Ed Chung
“The 1994 Crime Bill Continues to Undercut Justice Reform—Here’s How to Stop It” by Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter
“The Trump Administration is Putting DOJ Police Reforms at Risk” by Ed Chung
“The Intersection of Policing and Race” by Danyelle Solomon
“Expanding the Authority of State Attorneys General to Combat Police Misconduct” by Danyelle Solomon and Connor Maxwell
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