HOW DO WE BUILD A NEW SAFETY PARADIGM?
Chicago has long been portrayed as treacherous terrain. In recent decades, the annual tally of homicides has risen, fallen, and risen again. As the charts fluctuate, some neighborhoods have grown safer while others have been caught in cycles of harm spanning generations, with young people learning to take cover early. But for large swaths of the general public, violence is just on the news; it is replayed on screens rather than seen through living-room blinds. As often happens in urban centers across the country, huge gaps exist in the ways these parts of the city understand one another.
Without the government as a fully invested partner, we will struggle to create change at the scale required to transform places like Austin. At the same time, if public investments do grow significantly yet organizations lack winning strategies for building the community-level leaders needed to create peace, those efforts, too, will come up short. In order to transform the justice system, we propose the following approaches:
1. Use justice mapping as a mandatory mechanism for reinvesting justice dollars in high-incarceration neighborhoods.
2. Ensure human-capital investments through policies that shift resources away from incarceration spending to education, job creation, and healing.
3. Train and support everyday leaders and organizations within high-incarceration areas to respond to conflict in restorative ways.
4. Build and strengthen local collective impact networks to support these leaders, piloting new communications technologies where appropriate.
5. Coordinate programs, services, and supports to ensure that children and youth stay out of the justice system.
These strategies will help to make cities like Chicago more equitable, so that high-incarceration neighborhoods are prioritized with targeted investments that help create interconnected community, organizational, and economic leadership. This is how we can nurture peace for the long-term: by acknowledging past failures and working to rebuild neighborhoods that have been the sites of concentrated punishment
SAFETY INNOVATIONS DESCRIBED IN THE BOOK:
Diversion Models: Restoring Individuals through Supportive Environments
Youth and Family Supports: Institute for Nonviolence Chicago
Policy: Re-Imagine Justice