Building Safe and Just Communities in the Great Lakes Region

Program Mission

Building safe and just communities in the Great Lakes region.

For more than 25 years, the Joyce Foundation has been committed to supporting research, education, and policy solutions to reduce gun violence and help make communities safer. Our three-part strategy focuses on gun violence prevention, justice system reform and a new focus area of violence intervention.

Strategy

Gun Violence Prevention

Research confirms that easy access to guns is a risk factor for violence, and more specifically, that easy access to guns increases the risk of homicide, suicide and accidental shootings. The availability of guns increases the risk to women who are abused by their partners, leads to more deadly encounters between police and community members, and contributes to the threat of violent extremism. Nationally, young people experience the highest gun death rate of all age groups, and Black and brown communities suffer a disproportionate impact from gun homicides and non-fatal shootings. Compared to other developed nations, this rate of lethal gun violence is significantly higher in the United States. Reducing all forms of gun violence requires reducing the easy availability of guns.

Goal: Reduce gun deaths and injuries in the Great Lakes region.

  1. Advance and implement federal, state, and local policies and practices that reduce easy accessibility of guns to those at risk of violence
  2. Support policies to reduce easy accessibility of guns to those at risk of violence
  3. Reduce the next generation’s exposure to gun violence through education on the risks of gun ownership
  4. Litigate to defend evidence-based gun policies and challenge extreme gun rights policies and practices

Justice System Reform

The Joyce Foundation’s approach to criminal justice system reform seeks to redefine the standard responses to gun crime of aggressive policing, arrests, and incarceration of young adults who commit non-violent gun offenses. These responses have contributed to serious harms in the same communities that struggle with high rates of gun violence, including police shootings, the absence of trust in and legitimacy of the criminal legal system, and mass incarceration of young men of color. Police have an important role to play in investigating and preventing violent crime, especially gun violence, but in many places that role is compromised by lack of trust, leading to low clearance rates for homicides and shootings, and neighborhoods where carrying a gun is seen as necessary for protection – all of which contribute to a vicious cycle of violence. The Foundation works to reform policing and the broader justice system by building police-community trust and legitimacy, reducing the use of force by police officers, and increasing police accountability; and by developing alternatives to arrest and incarceration for young people who commit nonviolent gun offenses. We also work to develop alternatives to arrest and incarceration for young people who commit non-violent gun offenses, and to reimagine public safety.

Goal: Reduce the harms and racial disparities in the criminal justice system’s response to gun violence.

  1. Reform policing to build police-community trust and legitimacy, reduce the use of force by police officers, and increase police accountability
  2. Develop alternatives to arrest and incarceration for young people who commit non- violent gun offenses
  3. Reimagine the future of public safety

Violence Intervention

When an individual is victimized by gun violence, it increases the likelihood that they will be victimized again and/or become a perpetrator of gun violence themselves, starting a cycle of violence and justice system involvement. In recent years, some states and cities have deployed evidence-informed and targeted community-based violence intervention strategies in an attempt to break this cycle of violence. These strategies include focused deterrence, cognitive behavioral therapy, hospital-based intervention, and street outreach - all designed to minimize justice system involvement for young people and reduce gun violence in struggling neighborhoods.

The Violence Intervention focus area is new to the program, sitting at the intersection of gun violence prevention and justice reform and complementing the strategies and priorities of these focus areas.

Goal: Advance the policy and practice of violence intervention.

Objectives:

  1. Build the research base supporting violence intervention, including identification of best practices for design, delivery and funding of programs
  2. Elevate the practice of violence intervention through the professional development of a new community of practitioners, and support expert technical assistance in our region
  3. Support policies to secure public sector support for violence intervention

Recently in gun violence prevention & Justice reform

Program Staff