Crisis Management Governance

Managing Neighborhoods Through Crisis Response

The Aspen Criminal Justice Reform Initiative’s work focuses on supporting and spreading the word about innovative local practices that can transform how we think of justice in the United States. We do this by looking both within and beyond the justice system itself, at other local government functions (such as housing, health care, employment, education and more) and their intersection with the justice system in ways that often lead – needlessly – to negative outcomes for low income and communities of color.

We call this Crisis Management Governance, an often invisible method for managing local jurisdictions, with a reliance on criminalization and other punitive-based approaches to securing community safety. Crisis Management Governance (CMG) operates across many government systems – not just the justice system – and is most frequently applied to lower income and higher minority neighborhoods within a jurisdiction. Clearly over-policing, over-use of incarceration and criminalization of minor nuisances are examples of CMG. But so is:

  • Overuse of school suspensions and expulsions, and referral to the criminal justice systems for minor school-based infractions
  • Over-reliance on emergency room services for low income persons (including those picked up by police who need mental health or substance abuse services)
  • Evictions and other processes that increase homelessness

And there are many, many more examples that start to come to light when you apply this lens, and start to think of CMG as a political choice for how (certain) communities are ‘governed.’

CJRI’s Justice and Governance Partnership jurisdictions begin their journeys by digging deeply into the data of these many systems, to create a first ever look into a community’s over-use of CMG, and does a neighborhood by neighborhood analysis. From this, jurisdictions build Justice Reinvestment Plans that allow them to consider policy and funding changes that can help to steer themselves away from CMG, and towards prevention services and other approaches to community safety. Find out more about the Justice and Governance Partnerships.