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Bridging the Divide Partnership for Safety and Justice 2014

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Bridging the Divide
Bridging the Divide
A new paradigm for addressing safety, crime, and victimization

A new paradigm for addressing safety, crime, and victimization

1 Bridging the Divide

This report documents some of the key insights
from four national convenings funded by the Ford
Foundation, Fund for Nonviolence, and the Rosenberg

Planning Team

Elizabeth Calvin, Senior Advocate, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
Pat Clark, Board Member and former Program Officer, Fund for Nonviolence
Kirsten Levingston, Program Officer, Justice Sector Reform, Ford Foundation
Kerry Naughton, Crime Survivors Program Director, Partnership for Safety and Justice
David Rogers, former Executive Director, Partnership for Safety and Justice
Shari Silberstein, Executive Director, Equal Justice USA
Holly Pruett, Facilitator

Produced By

Pat Clark, Betsy Fairbanks, Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Kirsten Levingston, Kerry Naughton,
Holly Pruett, David Rogers, Shari Silberstein, Tracy Velazquez

Report Design and Layout By
Thomas Curtis

© November 2014

1 Bridging the Divide

Throughout the country there is a growing cadre of criminal justice reformers and crime
victim advocates committed to developing, testing, and promoting a new, holistic paradigm
to address safety, crime and victimization. Some of us came together at four small national
convenings held between June 2012 and May 2014. Those convenings were designed
to build new relationships, share information and strategies, and begin to develop a new
paradigm for our work.
Informed by the convening dialogues, Bridging the Divide provides
snapshots of work being done on the ground and proposes arenas for
further action. Victim advocates and criminal justice reformers are
engaged in the lengthy, difficult work of creating safe and healthy
communities. We believe this work holds great promise to the
communities most impacted by crime and the criminal justice system.
Over the last few decades, criminal justice policies have more
often than not been developed and enacted based on the politics
of fear trumping the abundant research on the policies that
are most likely to prevent crime and reduce recidivism and
victimization. The result is a status quo that benefits very few
people. For the most part, the people and communities harmed
by crime are not getting the support they need, while our prisons and jails hold
and then release millions of people providing very limited tools or opportunities to
positively transform their lives and make amends.
Although we see progress being made around the country in re-thinking problematic aspects
of our approach to public safety and criminal justice, we are concerned that some reform
efforts are both shortsighted and don’t address the complex needs of the communities
most impacted by crime and the criminal justice system. Yes, social change is usually slow
and incremental, but we want it to be informed by a vision capable of creating significant
transformation and sustainable culture shifts. Much of the work described in this report has
shown incredible results in benefiting real people and communities while also changing the
political and policy landscape around issues of crime, safety, and justice.
2 Bridging the Divide

Convening participants coalesced around a common vision for a new public
safety paradigm. While there were some differences expressed in language and
emphasis, the majority agreed:

We seek to:

We believe we can build a system that is decidedly more effective at
creating safe communities, reducing crime, helping people harmed by
crime rebuild their lives, and helping people who have been convicted
of crime take responsibility and rebuild their lives as well. In order to
do this, it will take a new paradigm that moves beyond the traditional
boundaries and perspectives of policy advocates and activists.

Embrace the values of safety, accountability, prevention, justice, and healing simultaneously 
Properly invest in crime prevention 
Address discrimination and racial disparity in both the criminal justice system and victim services 
Include diverse crime victim voices and perspectives in public safety policy debates and decisions  
Hold people accountable for harm they have committed to their victims, their own families, their
communities and themselves
Recognize that people are more than the very worst thing they’ve had done to them or have done
Base public safety policies and criminal sentencing laws on research and evidence that they
will reduce crime and victimization
Strengthen community responses to violence
Invest in services that help crime survivors and those who have committed crimes rebuild their lives,
particularly in under-served communities
By clearly articulating this new paradigm, we can move beyond the
boundaries that have split advocates into “us” and “them” and realize our shared
interest in safety, fairness, and justice.
The full vision statement – an organizing and education tool that continues to
evolve – appears in the full report’s appendix.
3 Bridging the Divide

Criminal justice reformers concerned with an over-reliance on incarceration
and crime victim advocates have a shared stake in creating new approaches to
public safety and criminal justice. Unfortunately, the current dynamics around
public safety often keep these stakeholders isolated in silos that are perceived
to be adversarial, blocking opportunities for meaningful collaboration that will
lead to positive, sustainable outcomes.
The communities most impacted by crime—women, low-income communities,
and communities of color—show strong support for prevention-oriented
strategies to public safety, the very approaches that have been
de-prioritized as the U.S. has built a burgeoning prison system. But although
these views represent a significant number of people harmed by crime and
violence, they are rarely heard by policymakers. Even though positive policy
reforms have been happening around the country in recent years, our criminal
justice system still largely focuses on a singular solution to crime – harsher
and longer prison sentences for a wider and wider array of crimes – and
crime victims who advocate for that singular focus have often been given
disproportionate influence in the debates by politicians who are looking to
posture as tough. Because the majority of crime is not reported and most
victims do not go through the system for support, there is still so much we don’t
know about what crime survivors need to cope and heal.
Meanwhile, organizations focused primarily on addressing the problems of
mass incarceration have done little to understand and genuinely incorporate
victims’ needs into their policy agendas. These groups have remained largely
silent on the need to strengthen victim services or better address offender
accountability. This has only strengthened the problematic notion that
accountability is somehow synonymous with long mandatory minimum
We need to confront the false choice between meeting the needs of crime
victims and reforming failed criminal justice and corrections policies. We
can keep our communities safe, reduce our over-reliance on incarceration and
improve outcomes for people harmed by crime. In the process, states can save
billions of dollars in incarceration costs that can be re-invested into preventing
crime and helping impacted people rebuild their lives.

4 Bridging the Divide

Five major take-aways emerged as participants
discussed this common vision and their shared
values, beliefs, and analysis.
1.	 Victims’ voices heard in public safety policy debates must reflect
the diversity of crime victims’ experiences and views.
2.	 The criminal justice system doesn’t identify or address the
complex reality of the communities seriously impacted by crime
and violence.
3.	 Deep racial disparities are at the core of the old paradigm and are
a primary barrier to realizing change.
4.	 A new paradigm requires new ways of thinking about
5.	 Building relationships, trust, and common language across fields
is essential for the advancement of a new paradigm.
This report discusses each of these key insights and offers case studies and
other illustrations of the strategies that represent a new paradigm in action. A
new framework for public safety policy can cut through the rhetoric and move
us beyond sides towards a more effective system.

5 Bridging the Divide

In California, a diverse statewide network of nearly 6,000 crime victims are
advocating for policies that best serve individuals, families, and communities
impacted by crime. In Oregon, domestic and sexual violence survivors and victim
advocates are challenging the growth of the state’s prison system. And across
the country, family members of murder victims, who are typically presumed to
support the death penalty, are coming together to advocate for its end.
This organizing is shifting policy makers’ understanding of who victims
are and what they need. In Oregon, the unexpected coalition of advocates
won two legislative campaigns, saving hundreds of millions of dollars from a
reduced need for prison beds, some of which was reinvested in communitybased domestic and sexual violence services and crime prevention-oriented
programs. California’s Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice network advanced
legislation that better meets victims’ needs by expanding trauma recovery
services throughout the state. Successful campaigns to repeal the death penalty
in Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, New Mexico, and New Jersey all featured the
leadership of those harmed by violent crime and in some cases led to increased
state investment in services and support for victims’ families.
These groundbreaking efforts seek to reverse a long-standing assumption that
the primary need of all crime victims is to see maximum suffering of the person
who harmed them. In reality each crime is unique; victims have a wide array of
needs and a wide array of perspectives on how we should respond to crime and
Contrary to prevailing perception, there is no shortage of crime victims in the US
who have been harmed by our nation’s massive prison build up, many of whom
would like opportunities to engage in policy advocacy. But not everyone gets
equal attention from policymakers. Some of the most compelling organizing
and successful public safety reform campaigns in recent years have elevated
the voices of crime victims calling for smarter and more effective policies
that prioritize a prevention-oriented and restorative framework instead of an
over-reliance on incarceration. These successes have been possible because the
collaboration between victims and criminal justice reformers has been a genuine
reflection of common ground, not a tactical effort by one field to use the other.

to fill prisons
isn’t making us
safer. We need to
change the public
safety conversation.
Focusing on prevention
will lead to less violence
and less victims.
Dionne Wilson
Dionne’s husband, Dan, was
a police officer who was
killed while on duty.

6 Bridging the Divide

Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, totaling nearly 6,000 members, was founded by
Californians for Safety and Justice, a nonprofit formed in 2012 that uses policy advocacy,
public education, and alliance-building to promote effective criminal justice strategies that stop
the cycle of crime and build healthy communities. In order to better understand who California’s
crime victims are, what they need to recover, and their opinions about the state’s justice
priorities, Californians for Safety and Justice conducted the first-ever statewide survey of crime
victims, finding that victims’ needs weren’t being met by the current justice system and that the
overwhelming majority of victims prefer investing in probation and rehabilitation, prevention, health
and education over spending more on incarceration. The organization used the survey and its crime
survivor members to educate the media and legislators about how the current system is failing
victims. In 2013, Californians for Safety and Justice sponsored legislation (which became law)
that has expanded the number of trauma recovery centers for crime victims throughout the
state – and secured permanent funding for those services in 2014.
Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) pioneered a holistic model to advocate for reforms
in Oregon that make the state’s approach to public safety more effective and more just. The
relationships PSJ has built with survivors, victim advocates, and service providers proved essential
to winning a key Justice Reinvestment victory in 2009, which saved the state $50 million in reduced
need for prison beds while strengthening victim services and prevention-based programs. In
2013, another successful Justice Reinvestment campaign enabled domestic and sexual violence
survivors and victim advocates to challenge the growth of the state’s prison system and even
challenge the utility of mandatory minimum sentences which create barriers to victims
accessing the justice system. An important shift happened when legislators understood
that a number of victims wanted “smart on crime” solutions. One lawmaker, a former
law enforcement officer, noted on the House floor that a remarkable number
of victim advocates were supporting prevention-oriented approaches to
public safety instead of a heavy focus on incarceration and
encouraged other lawmakers to take notice.
The final reform package that passed will reduce
Oregon’s prison population over the next five years
and save an estimated $300 million. Some of the
savings are being reinvested in victim services,
including a doubling of state funds that
address domestic and sexual violence.
7 Bridging the Divide

Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) was a pioneer in building common ground among
disparate constituencies. After the death penalty was reinstated in the U.S. in 1976, MVFR was formed
by people who had loved ones taken by murder and were tired of being told the death penalty was the
appropriate answer to their pain. MVFR members not only raised the voices of victims’ families in opposition
to the death penalty, but also trained other activists within the movement to avoid tokenizing these families
by better understanding their experiences and needs. MVFR has engaged a variety of
strategic reform efforts including helping to pass the Racial Justice Act in North
Carolina designed to address race discrimination in death penalty sentencing.
Other groups, such as Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights (MVFHR),
have emerged to engage victims’ families in public education and advocacy
efforts. Importantly, all of these organizations represent both family members
of murder victims and families of the executed, finding that the experience of
traumatic grief is common to both communities.
Additionally, Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) and the National Coalition to Abolish the
Death Penalty (NCADP) are supporting groups on the ground to move
repeal campaigns. Successful efforts to repeal the death penalty in
Connecticut, New Mexico, and New Jersey all prominently featured
the voices of victims sharing both the ways that the death
penalty has failed them and the wide array of unmet
needs they had in rebuilding their lives after homicide.
Campaigns in Illinois and Maryland both repealed
the death penalty while also redirecting savings
to better support family members of homicide
Justice reinvestment campaigns provide an
excellent opportunity to lift up victims’ voices
for fair and effective public safety reform. Justice
reinvestment is intended to reduce corrections and related
criminal justice spending and reinvest savings into strategies
that decrease crime and strengthen communities, such as
mental health services, addiction treatment, reentry services,
and victim services. If done right, the Justice reinvestment
process allows for victim advocates to be key stakeholders in
public safety reform. Pew, the Council of State Governments,
and the Vera Institute of Justice have made this a point of
emphasis, engaging victims and victim advocates in justice
reinvestment efforts and highlighting victim services as
an appropriate crime prevention and response measure.
8 Bridging the Divide


has a profound
effect on our
communities. There
is so much pain and
people are often not
seeking help. We need
a more deliberate
approach to helping
our people and
communities heal.
Dorothy Johnson-Speight
Dorothy’s son, Khaaliq,
was murdered.

9 Bridging the Divide

The current, dominant criminal justice paradigm put forth in both policy debates
and the media is usually oversimplified. It creates a false and racially biased
view of who is harmed by crime, who commits crime, and what is needed in
its aftermath. This narrative defines “good” victims as people who fit certain
preconceived notions of “innocence,” such as being harmed by a stranger in
a “safe” part of town and willingly cooperating with law enforcement. “Good”
victims are offered the opportunity to punish the offender through a court
process. This court process and punishment is assumed to be the primary thing
that crime victims need to heal. According to the narrative, “bad” victims are
people who are harmed by someone they know, were harmed while in an “unsafe”
part of town, didn’t report the crime or cooperate with law enforcement, or come
from a certain race, class, sexuality, or gender presentation. These “bad” victims
may have their victimization denied by the justice system, either in name or in
practice. These constructs are deeply troubling.
One component of the new paradigm is to recognize that a large number of
people responsible for committing crimes may also be crime victims—many of
these people were more likely to offend because their own victimization was
not addressed. In many communities, “sides” are often blurry at best– people
harmed by crime and people committing crime may come from the same
families, the same neighborhoods, or even be the same people.
Policy debates and campaign frames about crime and violence generally lack
a complex or holistic analysis. But when it comes to the lived experiences of
millions of people like those represented by Mothers in Charge, Urban Grief, and
the Healing Circle for the Soul [case studies in the full report], a “new paradigm” is
a reality that people have dealt with their entire lives, often spanning generations
of family and community experiences. By serving the needs of survivors who are
often unable to access traditional victims’ services, these groups help build safer
communities, intervene in ways that can prevent future violence, and shift to a
focus on prevention, services, and new supports for everyone impacted by crime
and violence.

The new paradigm places a strong emphasis on meeting the needs of crime
victims. Many of these needs, such as trauma intervention and counseling,
medical assistance, financial compensation, relocation to a safe place, days
off from work, mental health services for an affected child, grief support,
etc. have nothing to do with what happens to the offender.
The people most affected by crime and violence often face barriers to accessing
services. The majority of crime isn’t reported, preventing the majority of victims
from accessing law-enforcement-based services. Victims’ services tied to
prosecutors’ offices may not serve victims whose cases weren’t solved, or
may end when the trial is complete. People of color may be wary of victims’
services that are housed in law enforcement agencies because of the tenuous
relationship between the police and communities of color. In some states, legal
restrictions on services for “innocent” victims may mean that a mother whose
son was murdered can’t receive reimbursement for grief counseling or funeral
expense coverage if there was a presumption of “gang-related” activity. Many
community-based victim services, such as domestic violence shelters and
rape crisis centers, primarily designed to serve women, may not be accessible
to many women of color or LGBTQ women. A similar structure to assist the
demographic most likely to be victimized by crime—young men of color—does
not exist at all. And many crime victims don’t even know that services exist,
much less how to access them.
The model for the new paradigm exists at the grassroots community level.
Hundreds of grassroots groups around the country have sprung up to meet
the needs of communities which are not served through traditional victims’
services or the criminal justice system. They recognize the false dichotomy
that defines the old paradigm because they live it: many of their constituents
have been on both sides of the justice system. As a result, the vision of
these groups is often more expansive than many direct service agencies,
encompassing both support, services, violence prevention, and advocacy
strategies while helping both people harmed by crime as well as formerly
incarcerated people rebuild their lives. These groups not only need more
support; they should inform public safety policy approaches.
10 Bridging the Divide

Dorothy Johnson-Speight, whose son Khaaliq was murdered over a parking
space dispute, founded Mothers in Charge (MIC) in Philadelphia in 2002.
Mothers in Charge provides grief support to mothers and other family members
who have lost children to violence. Many of their clients say they had nowhere
else to turn to deal with their pain and address their trauma. Mothers in Charge
also runs evidence-based reentry programs in Philadelphia prisons. One of their
programs was created when an incarcerated woman found out that her son had
been murdered. She wrote to Mothers in Charge looking for help to manage her
grief while she was still in prison. MIC began to provide support to a larger group
of women in prison and came to see that many of them had been victimized
themselves, and needed help to make different choices and stay out of prison
upon release. Today, Mothers in Charge provides services to crime survivors,
people who are incarcerated, and young people at risk of entering the criminal
justice system through youth and school education programs, demonstrating
that safe streets can only come about when we address the needs of not only
those who have been harmed, but also those who have committed harm in the
past or may do so in the future.
When Lisa Wilson-Good lost a family member to murder, she began to investigate
what resources were readily available to people in urban communities, many
of whom were living below the poverty line and were predominately people of
color. She discovered that the experience of crime victims in urban
neighborhoods is largely ignored. She founded Urban Grief in
Albany, NY in 2001 to provide a community-based bereavement
and crisis response team that offers support to people impacted
by crisis, homicide, and death. Urban Grief has credibility on
the streets of Albany because it is a grassroots,
person-to-person effort offering immediate
response and a patient willingness to hear
and absorb the cultural violence at the
heart of human tragedy. In recent years it
has gained the attention of local actors,
including the local police department,
which now recognize that a crisis response
model to address trauma in urban
11 Bridging the Divide

communities is a key part of violence prevention. Urban Grief also
conducts workshops to increase awareness about the intersection of
trauma, grief and violence and its adverse mental health impact on community
Healing 4 Our Families & Our Nation (H4FON) is a San Francisco-based
victims’ support group founded by Mattie Scott after her son was killed. The
group provides counseling, help with funeral costs, and other services to parents
who have lost children to homicide. But like so many similar grassroots groups
in communities of color, the Healing Circle is not solely a victims’ services
agency. They conduct anti-violence education and advocacy as well. In 2013,
they participated with Californians for Safety and Justice in a crime victims’
rights week event at the Capitol calling for prioritizing better trauma services for
crime victims over building more prisons.
Additionally, H4FON engages people behind the walls of San Quentin Prison and
San Bruno County Jail. H4FON supports a holistic health and healing program
called “A New Way of Life” where people in prison acknowledge, accept and
begin to unlearn their violent behavior. H4FON also supports “No More Tears”,
a program organized by prisoners at San Quentin who are lifers. Together the
program provides a safe space where victims and prisoners meet face to face to
begin a healing process and journey to recovery.

Addressing urban
trauma in communities
afflicted by violence
is a critical prevention
strategy that is largely
ignored by the criminal
justice system.
Lisa Good
Lisa lost a family member
to violence.

12 Bridging the Divide

The criminal justice reform movement has long recognized that the justice
system treats offenders differently based on race. But acknowledgment that
victims are treated differently on the basis of race is far less wide-spread.

Expecting cultural
competence might
be asking for too
much when entire
communities aren’t
even getting basic
Mattie Scott
Lost her son,
George C. Scott,
to violence.

13 Bridging the Divide

Instead of recognizing that victims and offenders usually come from the same
communities, the current paradigm portrays victims as white and middle class,
and offenders (generally) as people of color and poor. This serves to further
entrench the sides into not only legal silos, but racialized ones. It becomes
yet another tool to position people of color as out of control, dangerous, and
needing to be locked up. Racism has manufactured an image so strong it has
almost become a collective memory, where scary black men prey on innocent
white women until heroic mobs of white men come to the rescue. Even as
lynching is now considered taboo, the rest of the image – black offender and
white victim – continues to have a strong resonance in popular culture, the
news, the assumptions that fuel policymaking, and the outcomes of those
But this image is, in fact, false. People of color are more likely to be
victims of crime than white people. Yet their crimes are more likely to
go unsolved, their status as “victims” in the eyes of the law or the media
go ignored (or legislated away), and their suffering is minimized. Black
mothers whose sons were murdered, for example, often face silent
judgments – was your son selling drugs? In a gang? Doing something
to deserve it? (The killing of Trayvon Martin brought this common
experience to a national stage.) This is not unlike the old stereotype of
rape victims “asking for it” by wearing short skirts. In some states, the laws
still prohibit access to victims’ financial compensation in situations that
could taint the “innocence” of the crime victim. There are real institutional
barriers for communities of color in accessing the very services that could help
people heal and reduce violence.

There was a clear call in the convenings for illuminating and naming those
practices that perpetuate discrimination in the system while providing
alternative practices that restore balance. For example:
Challenge the Ways the System Doesn’t Serve Victims of Color
Black and brown men are over-represented among victims of violence – and
yet the criminal justice system is fundamentally designed to imprison them
rather than help them. This underscores the question: why should so many
of the resources designed to address crime and dedicated to help crime
survivors do so little for communities of color? There are numerous examples
of public systems that are not accessible to the people who need help the most.
Highlighting these contradictions and advocating to change these policies
would help create more support for communities most impacted by crime, while
also bringing attention to the need for system accountability.
Shift Resources to Groups Working on the Ground in Communities Most Affected by Crime
The convening included groups addressing crime in communities of color
by helping people harmed by violence heal while pursuing public safety
solutions that do not feed our over-reliance on incarceration. The convening
acknowledged that these anti-violence groups representing people harmed by
crime are, for the most part, not part of the policy discourse in state capitals
across the country even though they represent the communities most affected
by crime. Their voices could have a powerful impact. Yet these groups often do
not have the capacity, resources, or access to engage at that level. Supporting
and strengthening these groups would create opportunities for those most
affected to be more deeply involved at the state and national levels.
Develop More Inclusive and Culturally Competent Language for those Harmed by Crime
The convenings included conversation about how men of color and perhaps
people of color generally are not quick to identify themselves as crime victims.
This dynamic requires innovative use of language in ways that connect
culturally with large populations that need help.

14 Bridging the Divide

The word “accountability” has largely been ignored and avoided by traditional
criminal justice reform organizations. Those groups tend to focus on the
injustice of the system rather than the need for accountability of individuals
who cause harm. Crime victims, victim advocates, and the general public, on the
other hand, believe that offender accountability is incredibly important.
In the convenings, victim advocates and criminal justice reformers
acknowledged that our system currently conflates accountability and
punishment and largely separates the process of holding accountable the
people who commit offenses from the repair needed for those whom they’ve
harmed. In these ways, our adversarial system doesn’t foster real accountability.

justice is about
building bridges
between people.
system responses
to crime are too
often about silos and
Javier Stauring
Restorative Justice

15 Bridging the Divide

Problems with the Current Framework of
The focus of the current process is on securing punishment by the prosecution
and reducing or avoiding it by the defense. Each side is carrying out their
ethical duty under the law to represent either the state or the defendant. But
this singular focus on whether or not to impose a harsh and often ineffective
punishment does not create any space or process for an offender to participate
in accountability in a meaningful way, to accept responsibility or demonstrate
remorse for the harm they caused. And it certainly does not open up channels
for any healing interaction between the person harmed and the person
responsible, should such interaction be appropriate. The current paradigm’s
notion of accountability is backward looking – punishment for past harm –
rather than forward looking – repairing and rebuilding for the future.
Furthermore, accountability defined by punishment by the state for breaking
the state’s laws is not really accountability to the victim at all. The victim
may be able to provide input on how the crime affected him/her, but is largely
kept on the sidelines of the legal process. No one – not the offender, not law
enforcement, and not the legal system – is accountable to the victim.

A New View of Accountability for Harm Done           
Part of our work must be to investigate all the models of accountability that
exist and develop a more comprehensive understanding of how to build
institutions of accountability that reflect the principles of the new paradigm,
offering meaningful participation by the affected parties when appropriate. Our
conversations recognized that if we don’t help redefine accountability in the
public eye, our current system will continue to dominate as the presumed and
only true solution to crime.

Our convening conversations suggest that our collective ability to create
truly transformative and sustainable change to both policy and society’s
perceptions of justice will rest, in part, on our ability to claim and redefine the
concept of accountability.

16 Bridging the Divide

There are a wide range of restorative justice programs around the country that offer an
alternative to the traditional court processes for people charged mostly with non-violent
offenses. These programs can meet the needs of victims, reduce recidivism, and improve
satisfaction with the justice system.
The goal is to create accountability tailored to individual needs and circumstances. Restorative
justice approaches bring together people immediately affected by a crime to acknowledge
the harm done, address the needs of the harmed party, and agree on sanctions other than
incarceration to hold the responsible party accountable. This gives responsible parties an
opportunity to recognize the harm committed while giving the harmed parties the ability to have
an influential voice in the process. Sanctions resulting from the process could include financial
restitution, community service, or something much more tailored to the individual needs and
situation. If the sanction agreement is fulfilled, responsible parties are not sent to jail.
The traditional court process is often poorly equipped to address the material, emotional,
and social needs associated with crime. It relies heavily on incarceration, which is costly and
often perpetuates a cycle of re-offending, and fails to meet the needs of people who have been
harmed by crime. In many ways, restorative justice holds the greatest potential for creating
functional alternatives to the old paradigm.

Crime survivors are
often not getting
what they need
from the system.
Restorative justice
programs provide
more options for
accountability and
Sonya Shah
Survivor of violence

17 Bridging the Divide

Yet there are many critiques of existing manifestations of restorative justice. Some approaches
are seen as too heavily controlled by District Attorneys and/or are not sufficiently victim-centric.
Some are seen as culturally inauthentic. Most restorative justice programs are fairly limited,
applying to only certain types of crimes, and may focus exclusively on individual justice and not
systemic change. Definitions and best practices in this emerging field vary widely.
Despite the challenges of how restorative justice is currently understood and practiced,
convening participants identified it as a promising avenue for embodying the values of the new
paradigm and redefining accountability. “Cracking the code” on taking models like restorative
justice to scale would allow us to truly step out of the box and build a system invested in
rebuilding and healing lives.
One approach emerged in New Hampshire. Renny Cushing, a state legislator and strong victim
advocate, led a legislative effort to institutionalize access to a component of restorative justice
in New Hampshire in 2013. With the recognition that crime survivors often do not get what
they need from the current justice system, he sponsored a bill that made access to restorative
justice a victim’s right in the state of New Hampshire. This concept presents compelling
possibilities about replicable campaigns that flip the traditional politics of justice and
accountability on their head. Imagine a campaign run on the notion that the current system
does not effectively benefit crime survivors and that victims deserve access to restorative
justice. Could this be a path to creating greater institutional and state support for restorative
forms of justice and with a powerful survivor-centric purpose and frame? The possibilities are

Crime is complex, as are the relationships between those harmed and those
who cause harm. The development and advancement of a new paradigm
requires careful attention to the impact of these dynamics on relationships.
Building trust among movement actors and affected communities, and forging
common meaning despite language and communications challenges, are at the
heart of the work.
Convening participants recognized that many of the problems with the current
paradigm are reflected in language. Significant time was devoted to unpacking
the meaning of concepts like victim, innocent victim, offender, racism, public
safety, accountability, justice, tough on crime, smart on crime, and paradigm
shift. Exploration of the values, assumptions, and perspectives connected
to these terms both highlighted the problems with our current system and
informed the development of a shared vision for something new.
The convenings reinforced the central premise that as we increase our ability
to work with everyone impacted by crime and the criminal justice system
(including survivors of crime, people convicted of crime, and the families
of both), we increase our capacity to identify and support the system
changes that address complicated realities and can effectively transform our
communities’ experiences.
The convenings were a start to a new way of working beyond silos. Although
many organizations that participated already manifest a merging or blurring
of these silos, other participating groups and advocates can squarely place
themselves in either the victim advocacy field or the criminal justice reform
field. The diversity of perspectives made the conversations rich and allowed
us to see the value and possibility of breaking down the boundaries that have
circumscribed our work.

Victim advocates have
significantly increased
state funding for survivor
services by advocating
alongside criminal
justice reform groups for
a justice reinvestment
agenda. In Oregon, those
relationships were years
in the making.
Kerry Naughton
Victim Advocate.

18 Bridging the Divide

The National Juvenile Justice Network (NJJN), a membership group of statebased juvenile justice advocacy organizations, recognizes that youth in trouble
with the law and people who have been victims of crime are seen, erroneously,
to be at odds. In fact, these populations often overlap, and share an interest
in creating a justice system that is responsive to their needs and reduces the
number of offenders and victims. Effective reform of the juvenile justice system
cannot happen unless we ensure the fair and humane treatment of both youth
who have committed offenses and those who have been harmed by the acts of
In the past two years, NJJN has built this analysis through a thoughtful, multifaceted approach, gathering feedback from people outside the organization,
not rushing the process, nor seeking public accolades. They understand that
the development of a more holistic analysis requires an internal evolution that
demands real work and care. In addition to attending these convenings, NJJN
has organized workshops designed to help their state-based members better
understand crime survivor needs and perspectives around juvenile justice. NJJN
has also created a Victims Working Group devoted to developing a policy brief
that will help guide the network toward a more holistic analysis.
Following in the footsteps of NJJN, Annie E. Casey Foundation and the
National Center for Victims of Crime have collaborated to identify and create
entry points for victim advocates to engage and influence an emerging juvenile
justice agenda. The goal is to create more holistic system responses that
reduce juvenile crime, help young people transition to adulthood, and hold youth
accountable in ways that are developmentally appropriate. This work is still in the
nascent stages and has involved a one-day convening as well as cross-training
within organizational conferences.
In addition to organizations, individuals directly impacted by crime are also
coming together across fields and identities. The Restorative Justice Program
of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, along with Human Rights Watch and
others, developed a project called Healing Dialogue and Action. The project
brings together people who lost children to murder and people who have a child
serving life in prison. The early stages of the conversations were focused on
19 Bridging the Divide

listening without judgment to each other’s stories and experiences. Participants
recounted what it was like visiting their children in cemeteries or visiting them in
prison. These diverse experiences revealed very real commonalities of intense
pain and a quest for healing.
That process has been personally transformative for participants. It also
created a cadre of people that were able to influence policy after having been
directly impacted by violence and the criminal justice system’s response to it.
Legislators began to hear from family members of murder victims who wanted
to heal from their tragedy and found that the current approach to sentencing
youth isn’t helpful. Paired with voices of parents of youth serving life sentences,
legislators heard a holistic, very human, and emotionally powerful set of
Those legislative conversations certainly played a supportive role in the
passage of SB 9 and SB 260 in the past two years. These new laws allow
youth sentences of juvenile life without parole and other long sentences to be
reviewed after a substantive amount of time. The Healing Dialogue in Action
group is now beginning conversations to identify advocacy goals for victim
The cornerstone of the processes described above is the ability for participants
to come together across differences. Instead of assuming that they want
and believe in fundamentally different things, they have been thoughtfully
building trust, relationships, and common language, leading to both personal
transformation and positive system change.

20 Bridging the Divide

As demonstrated in the full report, there are already many
organizations and changemakers who are engaged in building a new
paradigm. The convenings confirmed the importance of connecting
these individuals and groups to share best practices, build a
common language and analysis, and generate momentum for the
changes that are urgently needed.
The framework below is offered as a starting place for further
strategic discussion among committed organizations and the
funders seeking to invest in solutions that better serve individuals,
families, and communities harmed by crime and our criminal justice

Producing a Paradigm Shift: A 3-Phase Model
Phase 1: Foundation (now to 3 years)

Develop a critical mass of people across fields committed to a common vision.
Develop shared language and understanding of high-impact strategies to advance the new paradigm.
Develop infrastructure to promote and coordinate this work.

Phase 2: Proof of Concept (now to 6 years)

Test and promote strategies, focusing on work likely to make the biggest impact quickly.
Debrief and assess lessons learned, and develop a feedback loop to expand learning across the fields.
Communicate the power and potential of new paradigm approaches.
Recruit additional organizations and networks to support the paradigm shift.

Phase 3: Movement-Building (5 to 10 years)

Assess progress and re-tool with a focus on significant strengths and achieving scale.
Build capacity to move strategies that will take longer to produce high impact.
Provide incentives for collaborative reform work that increases the rate of change.

21 Bridging the Divide

We have already begun to lay a Foundation (Phase 1). We have a network of
highly interested individuals from a diverse range of organizations who have
started the work of developing a common vision and shared language. Some of
these organizations are already offering Proof of Concept (Phase 2) by testing
and promoting strategies that illustrate the power of and potential of new
paradigm approaches. Cross-fertilization across silos is also taking place.
Several elements are needed to solidify and build upon this promising start with
the eventual goal of Building a Movement (Phase 3).
The following four areas of strategic focus offer a preliminary framework for
the kind of work that could be undertaken with the necessary commitment,
infrastructure, and investment. (A more robust description can be found in the
full report.)

1. Policy & Programmatic Change

With the overarching goal of creating public policies that simultaneously advance
safety, accountability, justice, healing, and prevention, dialogue participants
identified a range of objectives, including:
Refine and expand justice reinvestment to refocus public safety strategies toward
prevention and trauma reduction rather than an over-reliance on incarceration.
Redefine accountability in ways that move beyond the punishment paradigm; expand
and promote restorative practices and other meaningful opportunities for people who commit
crime to take responsibility for their actions.
Increase support for people harmed by crime – especially people currently under- or
unserved by existing programs. Strengthen understanding of the link between treating
trauma and reducing future violence, so that victims’ services are seen as a critical
component of public safety.
Lift up more diverse crime survivor voices – including young men of color and others representative of
the most impacted communities – to impact policy decisions.
Address the deep racial disparities and discrimination within the current criminal justice system.
22 Bridging the Divide

2. Public Awareness & Education

Dialogue participants placed a strong emphasis on public education,
including the following objectives:
Development and use of messaging that allows the public, the media,
system stakeholders, and policymakers to re-think current assumptions
about “opposing needs and goals,” and that challenges the often false
dichotomy of offenders and victims.
Media engagement to break the pattern of reporting on crime and
victimization that fosters misperceptions about the reality of crime,
impacted people, and effective policy solutions.
Public awareness campaigns that promote the values, messages, and
messengers of the new paradigm and break down barriers and stereotypes;
for example: creating a diverse national speakers bureau of survivors;
addressing the taboos that prevent more people who’ve been harmed from
seeking support; giving voice to victims to share stories of positive change.
Professional education that exposes influential policy-makers, academic
researchers, and service providers at the federal, state, and local levels to
the vision, values, and best practices of a new paradigm.

3. New Relationships

Recognizing the value of the relationships being built across fields,
convening participants expressed interest in figuring out a new model for
engaging a broad set of stakeholders in the discussion. The goal is not only
to develop stronger connections between victim advocates and criminal
justice reform groups, but to also engage policy advocates focused on public
health, addiction, education, etc. to forge a truly interdisciplinary approach.

23 Bridging the Divide

4. Infrastructure & Capacity-Building

The actions described above require dedicated coordination of this work at
the national, state, and local levels. At the same time, organizations carrying
out new paradigm activities or wishing to do so need capacity to strengthen
those programs and participate in the larger movement to promote them.
Areas of focus include:
Coordination capacity to organize additional convenings, support collective
decision-making and prioritization, foster research and evaluation, and
document and showcase best practices.
Communications capacity to craft and test new language that can be
used to describe and promote a new framework both internally within the
criminal justice reform and victims’ assistance fields, and externally within
policy and educational campaigns.
Technical assistance to individual organizations wishing to engage in new
paradigm work, including training, sharing of best practices, and fostering
Development and piloting long-term, coordinated campaigns that include
grassroots organizing, building new alliances, communications, and policy
advocacy to implement the new paradigm on a broader scale.
Internal work by individual organizations to examine policies and practices
and change language to ensure readiness for new paradigm work,
such as ensuring internal and external communications materials
include a holistic perspective informed by all impacted people:
survivors of crime, people convicted of crime, and the
families of both.

24 Bridging the Divide

There is a growing movement to confront the false choice between
meeting the needs of crime victims and reforming failed criminal
justice and corrections policies. Around the country, victim advocates and
criminal justice reform groups are beginning to come together to demonstrate
that we can keep our communities safe, significantly reduce our reliance on
incarceration, improve public safety outcomes, and help both crime survivors
and people convicted of crime rebuild their lives.
Increasingly, legislators across the country are hearing from victim advocates
that our public safety system is out of balance when so many resources are
devoted to prisons. New organizing is responsible for not only passing needed
sentencing and corrections reforms but also increasing funding for life-saving
victim services and re-orienting our public safety system to be more effective.
Given the emotional power of the punishment paradigm that helps sustain the
deep-rooted problems within our criminal justice system, it’s difficult to envision
a real sea-change in America’s attitudes on how to address crime and
violence without implementing different strategies and forging powerful
new alliances.
The holistic paradigm that is bringing together victim advocates and
criminal justice reformers has the power and potential to create long
term shifts in public attitudes toward accountability and crime that both
strengthens services for the people and communities harmed by crime and
replaces our over-reliance on incarceration with a focus on prevention.
Various groups are attempting to put this holistic paradigm into
practice, and many more groups are showing interest in doing
so. So far the results have been impressive in passing policy
changes, shifting the political landscape, and improving the
lives of real people and the communities most impacted by
crime and the criminal justice system. We hope you will join
us in further exploring, experimenting, and evolving this work
and thinking.

25 Bridging the Divide


A criminal justice system promoting safe and healthy communities is a widely shared goal. Yet the
current dynamics around criminal justice and public safety policy often keep stakeholders in
adversarial silos and block opportunities for meaningful collaboration that can lead to positive,
sustainable outcomes.  We must meet the needs of crime victims and reform failed criminal justice
and corrections policies. Many communities continue to be seriously harmed both by crime and the
way society responds to crime and victimization.
We need a new, holistic paradigm for thinking about public safety policy. We believe we can build
a system that is decidedly more effective at creating safe communities, reducing crime, helping
people harmed by crime rebuild their lives, and helping people who have been convicted of crime
take responsibility and rebuild their lives as well. In order to do this, it will take a new paradigm that
moves beyond the traditional boundaries and perspectives of policy advocates and activists.
A small group from the victim advocacy movement and the criminal justice reform movement
met in June 2012 to begin to discuss what a new, holistic paradigm for addressing crime and
victimization could look like. The following begins to encapsulate our evolving vision.

We seek:

A system that embraces the values of safety, accountability, prevention, justice, and
healing. We should not choose between these values, but seek a system and policies that embrace all
of them simultaneously.
A system that properly invests in crime prevention.  Investing in the infrastructure that builds safe
and healthy communities should be seen as an essential part of our public safety strategy. That means
shifting some resources to programs and services that have a major impact on public safety but
are not commonly seen as part of the public safety sector (such as addiction treatment, mental health
services and victim assistance). As trauma research has shown, too often “hurt-people hurt people,”
so we must ensure that all those who have been harmed by violence get needed services to heal.
To address discrimination and racial disparity in the criminal justice system and victim
services. Communities of color are doubly burdened by experiencing the majority of crime and violence
while also being devastated by a criminal justice system responsible for severely disproportionate
arrests, incarceration, and disenfranchisement of people of color. Communities should receive
culturally competent services necessary for prevention and safety without regard to race or
class.  Economic and racial inequality adversely impact community safety and wellbeing and must be

26 Bridging the Divide

To include diverse crime victim voices and perspectives in public safety policy debates and
decisions.  Currently many perspectives are missing from the public arena. We believe that public
safety policy debates and decisions should reflect and represent those most likely to be victimized by
crime and violence, especially people of color, low-income people and women.  We also believe that
people responsible for committing crimes may also be crime victims, and that the system and those
seeking to reform it must recognize this complexity.  
A system that holds people accountable for harm they have committed to their victims, their
own families, their communities and themselves. We recognize that accountability can come in
many forms, and that our current criminal justice system often makes it harder for people to take
responsibility for their harmful actions and to address the damage they have done. Also, children and
youth are different from adults and deserve youth appropriate accountability, rehabilitation, guidance
and protection when they commit crimes.
A recognition that people are more than the very worst thing they’ve had done to them or have
done. We believe people possess the ability to transform and to heal.  We need a criminal justice
system that does not rely on dehumanizing people to justify its treatment of them. We also need
a system that supports maintaining family and community ties and does not create unnecessary
barriers for people reintegrating into society.
Public safety policies and criminal sentencing laws driven by research and evidence that they
will reduce crime and victimization.  Crime and violence are intense and painful dynamics and it is all
too easy to allow emotions, fear, and prejudice to drive policies that ultimately fail to address trauma
and harm, or end criminal behavior.
Strengthened Community Responses to Violence. Communities across the country exhibit incredible
resilience and the ability to generate important solutions to address crime that can not be implemented
by government institutions. We must assure that resources are focused on supporting community
driven initiatives that prevent and interrupt violence, promote safety, and facilitate healing.
Greater investment in services that help crime survivors and those who have committed
crimes rebuild their lives, particularly in under-served communities. Crime victims should not
struggle to find support from the system, whether that means shelter space, counseling, enforceable
protection orders, compensation, or other vital avenues to support.  With this support, it is possible for
“healed people to heal people.”   Similarly, health and social services and second chances for people
who are responsible for harming others provide them with opportunities to make different choices,
contribute to the community as valued members, and reduce future victimization.  The system must
aim to rebuild the lives of the people it touches.
By clearly articulating this new paradigm, we can move beyond the boundaries that have
split advocates into “us” and “them” and realize our shared interest in safety, fairness, and justice.

27 Bridging the Divide


These additional resources help bring this work and
thinking alive:
The following 5 minute video provides a strong campaign narrative that
helps bridge the divide and build a diverse coalition for justice reinvestment.
Oregon Out of Balance looks at how real people are negatively impacted by the
status quo and presents a compelling argument for a strategy that emphasizes
increasing access to victim services, addiction treatment, mental health services,
and re-entry programs rather than continuing to build and fill prisons. The film
provides special emphasis on the ways Oregon could better meet the needs of
survivors of crime and violence.

The following 4 minute video was produced by Crime Survivors for Safety and
Justice, a network of crime victims within Californians for Safety and Justice.
The video helps raise a diverse and important voice of crime victims working
for system change so survivors and communities can recover, heal and
prevent crime.

The following links to a substantial and insightful poll that focuses specifically on
crime victims in California. The survey address compelling questions like: Who
are crime victims in California? How does crime impact them and their thinking?
What are their unmet needs – and experience with victim services?

The following link is to a concept paper released in 2011 designed to foster
dialogue and collaboration between crime survivor advocates and criminal
justice reform advocates who have a shared stake in creating a system focused
on the policies best equipped to create safe and healthy communities.

28 Bridging the Divide


Dialogue on Transforming the Public Safety Paradigm: A national convening of
crime victim advocates, criminal justice reform advocates, and funders
1st Convening: June 25 – 26, 2012, Los Angeles

Build a foundation of relationships, trust, and common language among
advocates and funders interested in transforming the current public safety
paradigm in the U.S.
Share lessons from the field that demonstrate the success and potential of
embracing a new, holistic paradigm.
Identify areas of common ground along with opportunities and challenges
to moving forward.
Determine if there’s commitment to reconvene to further develop the
collective vision and begin developing a shared plan of action.

2nd Convening: January 30 – 31, 2013, San Francisco

Achieve consensus on a statement of our common vision.
Foster a robust, concrete conversation about action strategies.
Identify action opportunities each participant may take individually,
organizationally, or in collaboration with others.
Determine what, if any, future relationship this group will have.

3rd Convening: September 8-10, 2013, Phoenix

Continue to build relationships in ways that open the possibility of
Share information and strategies that strengthen our work.
Deepen our collective thinking about key concepts and approaches that
define the new paradigm.
Build our skills and capacity to articulate key elements of the new
Further develop agreements on a core vision statement.
Further develop how we will advance this work after the convening, both
individually and collectively.
29 Bridging the Divide


4th Convening: May 12-13, 2014, Philadelphia

30 Bridging the Divide

To test out the new paradigm with new audiences through a panel
discussion incorporating other actors within the criminal justice system.
To connect with a broader community of crime survivors of color
represented at the Mothers in Charge conference, and to hear feedback
from leaders in the field about their communities’ needs.
To brainstorm opportunities for group members to both assist each other
in furthering new paradigm working and to spread the new paradigm
thinking beyond our group.


Lenore Anderson, Director, Campaign for Safety and Justice
Adela Barajas, Life.After.Uncivil.Ruthless.Acts
Scott Bass, Executive Director, Murder Victims’ Families for Reconciliation
Suzanne Brown-McBride, Deputy Director, Council of State Governments Justice Center
Sarah Bryer, Director, National Juvenile Justice Network
Elizabeth Calvin, Senior Advocate, Children’s Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
Pat Clark, Board Member and former Program Officer, Fund for Nonviolence
Renny Cushing, Executive Director, Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights
Betsy Fairbanks, President/CEO, Fund for Nonviolence
Mai Fernandez, Executive Director, National Center for Victims of Crime
Lisa Good, Founder, Urban Grief Team
Jonathan Gradess, Executive Director, New York State Defenders Association
Dorothy Johnson-Speight, Founder, Mothers in Charge
Justice Policy Institute
Jody Kent Lavy, Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
Kirsten Levingston, Program Officer, Ford Foundation
Kerry Naughton, Crime Survivors Program Director, Partnership for Safety and Justice
David Rogers, former Executive Director, Partnership for Safety and Justice
Robert Rooks, Organizing Director, Californians for Safety and Justice
Diann Rust-Tierney, Executive Director, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Mattie Scott, Executive Director, Healing 4 Our Families & Our Nation
Danielle Sered, Director, Common Justice, a project of Vera Institute of Justice
Sonya Shah, Californians for Safety and Justice
Aqeela Sherrills, Strategist for Victim Outreach, Californians for Safety and Justice
Tim Silard, President, Rosenberg Foundation
Shari Silberstein, Executive Director, Equal Justice USA
Lateefah Simon, Director, California’s Future Program, Rosenberg Foundation
Javier Stauring, Co-Director, Office of Restorative Justice of Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Tracy Velázquez, Commonweal Consulting LLC
Ophelia Williams, former Director of Finance and Operations, W. Haywood Burns Institute
Dionne Wilson, Survivor Outreach Coordinator, Californians for Safety and Justice

31 Bridging the Divide


The W. Haywood Burns Institute (BI) eliminates racial and ethnic disparity by building a
community-centered response to youthful misbehavior that is equitable and restorative. BI is
a national “grassroots” to “grasstops” organization that believes innovation comes from the
bottom and influences those at the top. BI therefore works with decision makers collaboratively
at the local level to transform juvenile justice systems near and far through the strategic use of
data. BI also supports the capacity building of families and organizations to redirect resources
to community-based interventions thus reducing system involvement. 
Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ), a project of the Tides Center, is a nonprofit working
with Californians from all walks of life to replace prison and justice system waste with common
sense solutions that create safe neighborhoods and save public dollars. Through policy
advocacy, public education, partnerships and support for local best practices, CSJ promotes
effective criminal justice strategies to stop the cycle of crime and build healthy communities. In
addition to CSJ’s  statewide network of nearly 6,000 crime victims, Californians for Safety and
Justice is bringing together business and community leaders, policymakers, law enforcement,
health professionals, educators and crime-prevention experts to replace costly, old ways of
doing business with new justice priorities that improve public safety without draining resources
from our schools, hospitals and other community needs.
The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth is a national coalition and clearinghouse
seeking to implement just alternatives to the extreme sentencing of America’s youth, with a
focus on abolishing life-without-parole sentences for all youth. 
Common Justice is an innovative victim service and alternative-to-incarceration program based
on restorative justice principles. Located in Brooklyn, New York, the program works with young
people, 16 to 24 years old, who commit violent felonies, and those they harm. Common Justice
aims to reduce violence, facilitate the well-being of those harmed, and transform the criminal
justice system’s response to serious crime. The program provides participants with a respectful
and effective means of accountability, an equitable and dignified avenue to healing, and the tools
to break cycles of violence.
Tracy Velázquez is senior policy analyst at the Council for Court Excellence, which works to
improve justice systems in the District of Columbia. Tracy served as Executive Director of the
Justice Policy Institute from 2009 - 2013, and has worked for many years with social justice and
public health organizations.
Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) is a national, grassroots organization working to make our criminal
justice system fair and effective for everyone impacted by crime. We work to end the death
penalty, strengthen programs that help crime survivors address trauma and rebuild their lives,
promote constructive responses to violence, and enact other common sense criminal justice
reforms. In the last several years, EJUSA has helped state campaigns to successfully end
the death penalty in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, and Maryland; secured new
funding for programs that serve family members of murder victims in Maryland; built diverse

32 Bridging the Divide

national coalitions that engaged conservatives and other disparate constituencies in death
penalty repeal, including Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, and supported local
organizations in Philadelphia and New York to prevent violence in their communities.
The Ford Foundation’s criminal justice initiative supports efforts to unravel mass incarceration,
which has disproportionately burdened communities of color, and to promote rational
sentencing policies and just alternatives to criminalization.
The Fund for Nonviolence is a California based foundation that cultivates and supports efforts
to bring about social change that moves humanity towards a more just and compassionate
Healing 4 Our Families & Our Nation provides support services for individuals, families and
communities suffering from homicide and senseless violence. Over twenty years of experience,
we help families get through the worst nightmare and devastation of homicide and violence.
We assist our clients wherever needed. Including funeral arrangements, individual/group grief
support, clinical counseling and therapy services, attend court proceedings, and other aftercare
needs. Helping our clients to move forward in a healthy, safe and stable environment, moving
them from being victims to becoming victorious survivors.
Human Rights Watch is an international, independent organization dedicated to defending and
protecting human rights. It focuses international attention where human rights are violated, and
uses rigorous, accurate, and objective investigations and strategic advocacy to expose human
rights violations and hold abusers accountable. Working in some 90 countries, Human Rights
Watch works to change abusive policy and practices at the highest levels of government.
Justice Policy Institute is a national nonprofit organization that changes the conversation
around justice reform and advances policies that promote well-being and justice for all people
and communities. Our research and analyses identify effective programs and policies and we
disseminate our findings to the media, policymakers and advocates, and provide training and
technical assistance supports to people working for justice reform.
Life After Uncivil Ruthless Acts (L.A.U.R.A.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to
enhancing the quality of life of the residents of South Central Los Angeles. LAURA empowers
youth, victim-survivors and their families through civic awareness, facilitating community
collaborations, and by bringing a wide-range of resources to the community. 
Mothers In Charge (MIC): Based in Philadelphia, Mothers In Charge engages in violence
prevention, education and intervention for youth, young adults, families and community
organizations. MIC’s work is multi-faceted and ranges from policy advocacy to support safe
neighborhoods and communities, to counseling and grief support services for families when a
loved one has been murdered, to transformational work with incarcerated people to help them
make different choices and turn their lives around. Most of the members of Mothers in Charge
have experienced the horror of having a loved one murdered. Because of the death and the life of
their loved one, each mother and member is committed to saving lives and preventing another
mother from having to experience this terrible tragedy.

33 Bridging the Divide


Murder Victim Families for Human Rights (MVFHR) is an organization of family members of
murder victims and family members of the executed, all of whom oppose the death penalty in
all cases. We view the death penalty as a profound violation of human rights. Having all suffered
a tragic loss, MVFHR members have come in different ways and times to the understanding
that the death penalty does not help us heal and is not the way to pursue justice for victims.
MVFHR works to support victims and works to end the death penalty.
Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation (MVFR) is a community led by family members
of murder victims and the executed that advocates for the repeal of the death penalty.
Understanding that victim families are on a spectrum of recovery, MVFR identifies, engages
and mobilizes its members to build communities of support that educate the public on the
harms of the death penalty, the true needs of the victim’s families and the transformative power
of restorative justice to promote a more compassionate and just society. MVFR works with a
variety of individuals and organizations to build a safer society and heal the damage caused by
The National Center for Victims of Crime is a nonprofit organization that advocates for
victims’ rights, trains professionals who work with victims, and serves as a trusted source of
information on victims’ issues. Our mission is to forge a national commitment to help victims
of crime rebuild their lives. We are dedicated to serving individuals, families, and communities
harmed by crime. After more than 25 years, we remain the most comprehensive national
resource committed to advancing victims’ rights and helping victims of crime rebuild their lives.
The National Center is, at its core, an advocacy organization committed to -- and working on
behalf of -- crime victims and their families. Rather than focus the entire organization’s work on
one type of crime or victim, the National Center addresses all types of crime.
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is the nation’s oldest organization
dedicated exclusively to the abolition of the death penalty. It leads a national movement against
the death penalty fueled by a broad-based national constituency and more than 100 affiliate
organizations. We are families of murder victims, persons from all points on the political and
religious spectrums, past and present law enforcement officials and prominent civil and racial
justice organizations, who are working to repeal the death penalty state by state. As seasoned
professionals we use our collective experience in social and criminal justice issues to provide
strategic political and legal analysis and leadership to the larger anti-death penalty movement
as well as hands-on direct assistance to state affiliates working to end the death penalty.
The National Juvenile Justice Network leads a national movement of state-based juvenile
justice coalitions and organizations to secure state, local and federal laws, policies and
practices that are fair, equitable and developmentally appropriate for all children, youth and
families involved in, or at risk of becoming involved in, the justice system.  NJJN strengthens
and knits together its members so that they are effective, powerful, and diverse enough to
achieve their policy, practice, and political aims, and so they can wield their collective voice on
a national level. In order to implement this core strategic approach, NJJN also: acts in light
of the larger movement by helping to coalesce pieces of a national voice for youth well-being;
develops the tools and information needed to help members mobilize in support of this voice;
builds the capacity, diversity, and authenticity of members (in coordination with national
partners); and supports members to win campaigns for youth well-being.

34 Bridging the Divide

New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to
improving the quality and scope of public legal representation in New York. The Association
operates the nation’s first state-funded Public Defense Backup Center, which serves New York’s
more than 6000 public defense attorneys, providing training, legal research, consultation, and
technical assistance. Under its contract with the State of New York, NYSDA is called upon to “…
review, assess and analyze the public defense system in the State, identify problem areas and
propose solutions in the form of specific recommendations to the Governor, the Legislature, the
Judiciary and other appropriate instrumentalities.” 
The Office of Restorative Justice of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles reaches out to the
incarcerated, victims, and the families of both. Their staff advocates for changes in the criminal
justice system on the County, State and Federal levels, and strives to educate the community
about the system and its effect on those involved in it.
Partnership for Safety and Justice (PSJ) is a multi-faceted, statewide advocacy organization
based in Portland, Oregon. PSJ works to make Oregon’s approach to criminal justice more
effective and more just. It has pioneered a provocative model that works with all those most
impacted by crime and the criminal justice system: survivors of crime, people convicted of
crime, and the families of both. This approach provides a critical and holistic perspective on
needed system change and provides valuable insight for work being done around the country.
The Rosenberg Foundation believes that in order for democracy to thrive in California and the
nation, every person in California must have fair and equitable opportunities to participate fully
in the state’s economic, social, and political life. The Foundation has supported a wide range
of initiatives to promote economic inclusion and human rights, including efforts to improve the
lives of underprivileged children, integrate people of color and immigrants into civic institutions
and the state’s economy, increase the economic health of working families, and reform the
state’s approach to criminal justice and public safety.
Urban Grief works to increase awareness about the emotional and mental health impact
resulting from exposure to violence and death; break down the walls of isolation and fear by
connecting community members with each other as resources and mutual support. Urban
Grief provides: crisis response, victim advocacy, bereavement/trauma support, individual/family
listening support, trauma informed community education, and referrals

35 Bridging the Divide