Reimagining Public Safety: Community Listening Sessions with Black Communities and Defenders


Cities across the U.S. have embarked on efforts to reimagine public safety with the overarching goal of rethinking the justice system's response to gun violence. The gun violence and harm caused by the criminal justice system are not experienced equally. People of color are often the ones who endure the harm of both. It further alienates communities of color and leads to distrust in the legitimacy of the system, which extends to public defense. They feel disconnected from public defenders even though their role is to bring about more just outcomes for poor defendants. The fractured relationship compounds existing mistrust and leaves communities in a perpetual cycle of crime, violence, and incarceration.

During the webinar, panelists discussed the new report Reimagining Public Safety: Community Listening Sessions with Black Communities and Defenders. In this report, The Black Public Defenders Association, BlackRoots Alliance, Cook County Public Defender, and Northwestern University interviewed 100 Black Chicagoans about what they need to feel safe and thrive in the context of ever-present gun violence and examined their relationship with public defenders. The findings of this project aim to help policymakers, funders, activists, and community groups build sustainable public safety reforms built on responsiveness to community needs in Chicago and across the nation.

Thank you to the panelists Mary Pattillo, Gabby Green, Takenya Nixon, and Alaina Bloodworth.

Click here to view the slideshow presentation.

About The Joyce Foundation

Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.

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