Our Criminal Justice Initiative

Author: Leigh Lynes

Eliott Reyna Ckvb Dztvfy Unsplash

Poverty and injustice go hand-in-hand. Today, both are deeply rooted in our criminal justice system. And although state and federal prisons receive most of the policy attention, most of the people in the criminal justice system are involved at the local level. Over 740,000 people are locked in local, city, and county jails, and an additional 4.5 million are on probation or parole.

What occurs at the level of community corrections has a direct impact on the criminal justice system as a whole. And what works to enable those involved in systems of community corrections to lead fuller, dignified lives will occur at the community level, not within prisons. So we're getting involved.

Last fall, we worked with criminologist Dr. Shawn Bushway to write a literature review of the local criminal justice space. And in February, we convened a group of social service practitioners and experts to build a research agenda that highlights the most important and overlooked questions in local criminal justice.

One of those experts, Dr. Pajarita Charles, says, "Now is the time to support successful reentry initiatives and to reduce recidivism. A central way to reach this goal is by conducting rigorous research that builds the evidence about what works, under which conditions, when, and for whom."

This spring, we announced the launch of our Criminal Justice Initiative. With our research agenda guiding the way, our team has been busy engaging with brave and innovative nonprofit and local government leaders from across the country who are interested in building evidence to serve those in community corrections. And we're proud to announce that we have selected six organizations to partner with us in planning research projects and kicking off our Criminal Justice Cohort this August. These partners will launch impact evaluations in January of 2021.

Fathers & Families Support Center
Johnson County Department of Corrections
King County Department of Public Defense
Lubbock County Detention Center
Public Advocates in Community Re-entry (PACE)

We will have much to share in the coming months as we work with these partners to design and launch their research studies, and as we learn together. Watch this space for updates and a special blog series about criminal justice in America and the work that lies ahead of us.

We invite you to learn with us and our partners as we ignite important conversations and inspire needed change for those under community corrections supervision. The end to injustice—the end to poverty—is local. It starts here!