Justice & Governance Partnerships

The Aspen Institute Criminal Justice Reform Initiative’s Justice and Governance Partnership (JGP) works to transform community safety and promote justice reforms at the local level by joining together data-driven and community-informed policies and practices in a new rigorous, collaborative approach that uncovers the punitive crisis management-based approaches to governing and reveals options for new solutions that bring forth greater community safety and opportunity.

JGP does this by convening collaborations among government and community stakeholders and creation of a Local Justice Collaborative, supported by a Local Justice Intermediary, enhancing analytic capacity of partnerships through recurring Justice Audits, and supporting communities and jurisdictions to improve local justice-related policies through Justice Reinvestment Plans. A major focus of JGP is on engaging those residents most impacted by the justice system, through Community-Based Action Research approaches.

The Justice and Governance Partnership, over time, will comprise of up to 10 jurisdictions and will generate a steady increase of data-driven, community-informed policies and practices that will improve the lives of community members and reduce public costs, producing lessons that ultimately the whole country can learn and benefit from. Initial communities engaged in JGP are:

  • Grand Rapids, MI region | currently in Phase 2: Planning
  • City of Birmingham and Jefferson County, AL  | currently in Phase 1: Stakeholder Engagement
  • Rural South Carolina (17 counties) | currently in Phase 1: Stakeholder Engagement

For more on the JGP phases, see the JGP Program Description.

In JGP jurisdictions, Aspen CJRI provides communities up to $1.5M in local funding over five years, and provides expert technical assistance, beginning with a comprehensive planning period that launches a local justice collaborative. Then, working with Justice Mapping and other national partners, JGP sites will launch a new tool for local jurisdictions, the Justice Audit. The Justice Audit reports and tracks the forms of governance, policies, practices and the real world outcomes in criminal justice and the wider justice ecosystem within a community. The Audit is rooted in community-engaged development, transparency, and accountability in ways that push toward  community-involved justice. Based on Justice Audit findings and extensive community input,  partner jurisdictions then create Justice Reinvestment Plans – actionable strategies for improving local policy and practice across a broad ecosystem of supports that will improve the lives of those most impacted by the justice system.

The impact envisioned by JGP is the transformation of the local justice ecosystem through collective action, as demonstrated by a reduction in governmental crisis management interventions and a concurrent increase in the well-being of neighborhood residents. To accomplish this, diverse stakeholders will come together to form a collective vision of safety and justice that values the experiences and knowledge of community members and the role that chronic insecurity in housing, health, education, transportation and employment play in shaping safety and justice.

The impacts that JGP expects to see are:

  1. Shared Vision: Agreement on a shared definition and vision of justice and safety.
  2. New Governance: A new cross-sector and community engaged governing coalition around local justice policy.
  3. Community Ownership: Broader community leadership, perspectives, and ownership.
  4. Increased Safety & Opportunity: Better lives for neighborhood residents with a focus on equitable outcomes.

For more detailed information on the programmatic approach and impacts of JGP, please see the JGP Program Description.