Working with the Justice Mapping Center, we’ll soon launch a new tool, The Justice Audit. The need, at the community level, to institutionalize an annual review of criminal justice services is more evident today than ever.
The Audit is designed, working within a specific community, to report and track the forms of governance, training, and oversight in each criminal justice agency across the criminal justice continuum. Most importantly, the Audit is rooted in community-engaged development, transparency, and accountability in ways that push us toward much needed forms of community-involved justice.
Experience has taught us that most jurisdictions which have lowered their use of incarceration have done so through data driven management of local policies. However, today most places lack the analytical capability to systematically conduct, implement, and evaluate data-driven justice policy reform on their own. Where analytical capacity does exist, it is often unevenly resident in some criminal justice agencies but not others.
Most justice reform initiatives become one-time, program-specific efforts; which, without the benefit of annually updated analyses of system-wide data, leave future reforms subject to the winds of political change.
Even the best data-driven criminal justice reform efforts often fail to incorporate community experiences, interests and priorities regarding safety and justice, nor the perspectives of justice system practitioners, nor those who have been justice involved. This is an especially problematic omission in light of the well documented spatial concentration of criminal justice activity found to emerge in low-income neighborhoods and neighborhoods of color, which already suffer multiple layers of inequality.
The Justice Audit process will engage community members and returning citizens in this important annual review.
The initiative’s forthcoming Aspen Justice Network will play a critical role in transforming the criminal justice system. Over time, the network will comprise of up to 10 local jurisdictions around the country to generate a steady and sustainable drumbeat of data-driven and community-informed policymaking. This will be coordinated across the entire criminal justice continuum and repeated each year to provide communities an opportunity to learn from one other.
The Justice Network will:
— Foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and talent development among leaders
— Share knowledge, experience, expertise, and tactics across the entire network
— Support communications within and across the network
— Engage in transformational justice policy, advocacy, and implementation in local and state jurisdictions
— Contribute to ongoing evaluations for the purposes of continuous improvement and aggregating findings across the network
Look for the Aspen Justice Network to launch in late 2020.