Roundtable: Investing in Innovative Community-Driven Public Safety Partnerships: Perspectives from Social Science Research, Policy Analysis, and State and Local Experience
(Crime, Justice, and Drugs)

Saturday, November 10, 2018: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
8228 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Moderators:  Samantha Harvell, Urban Institute
Speakers:  Jenny Arwade, Communities United, Richard Paul Morales, Latino Coalition for Community Leadership and Leah Sakala, Urban Institute

More than half of US states have taken steps in the past decade to reduce the number of people under correctional control and curb skyrocketing costs without jeopardizing public safety. Many of these states have supported this goal by investing money up front — or reinvesting the resources saved — into policies intended to reinforce those goals. Typically, this has taken the form of strengthening law enforcement and correctional interventions. But reinvesting only in the criminal justice system may not align with community needs, and research has shown that overusing police and incarceration causes harm, particularly when concentrated in certain neighborhoods.

In contrast, a growing body of evidence supports the premise that neighborhoods experience less crime when residents are engaged and able to work toward shared goals. Local, community-based organizations can strengthen neighborhoods by providing services and facilitating engagement. In addition, these organizations provide services that are critical to public safety but fall outside the traditional purview of law enforcement and corrections agencies, such as health care, employment assistance, and trauma-informed case management. State and local governments are increasingly seeking to leverage and enhance local organizations’ expertise, relationships, and capabilities by engaging them as partners in addressing safety priorities. Some jurisdictions are pursuing innovative community-based reinvestment strategies that channel public resources or savings from policy reforms to community organizations and other non-traditional public safety partners, and designing new oversight, evaluation, and capacity-building mechanisms to strengthen the service sector.

We propose a collaborative researcher/practitioner roundtable with participants offering findings from emerging research, and sharing firsthand experience designing and pursuing community-driven public safety partnerships on the state and local levels. Major themes will include:

  • An exploration of the research base for community-centered public safety strategies.
  • An overview of diverse funding mechanisms and strategies that state and local jurisdictions are using to achieve that goal.
  • Insights from two practitioners who are engaging in innovative community-driven public safety initiatives in the criminal justice and public education policy spheres.

Following a moderated discussion among the members of the roundtable, we will encourage interaction with the audience to discuss future directions for this work.

Participant qualifications:

  • Jenny Arwade (Co-Executive Director, Communities United) is engaging in strategic reform efforts to link school discipline reform with investment in community-based restorative practices in Illinois.
  • Richard Paul Morales (Deputy Director, Latino Coalition for Community Leadership) designed and oversees a collaborative reentry services grant program in Colorado in which the state parole department partners with community service providers with direct justice system experience.
  • Leah Sakala (Policy Associate, Urban Institute) is conducting a broad policy landscape study to identify primary strategies and investment mechanisms to achieve community-driven public safety partnerships.
  • Patrick Sharkey (Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology, New York University) is a sociologist focusing on inequality in urban neighborhoods. His scholarship includes extensive work on the relationships between safety, neighborhood engagement, and service organizations.

Moderator: Ryan King (Senior Fellow, Urban Institute) is the Principal investigator of the Urban Institute’s Community Public Safety Investment work.

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