For Immediate Release
November 14, 2017
Contact: Lauren Diamond, (646) 693-8929
Diverse Survivors of Crime Step Forward as New Political Constituency on Criminal Justice and Public Safety Policy
National Expansion of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice Includes Developing 7 New Chapters in States with High Levels of Corrections Spending
Today, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, a flagship project of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, announced a national expansion of their organizing effort to bring together diverse survivors of crime and amplify survivors’ voices in criminal justice and public safety policy. Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is a community of survivors supporting one another and advocating for criminal justice reforms that replace over-incarceration with new safety solutions like trauma recovery centers for victims of violent crime.
To date, 1,000 crime survivors in 10 states have participated in leadership development, communications, policy, and organizing trainings led by Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice leaders and staff and the network has grown to 10,000 members strong in less than six months. Today, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is announcing new state-based chapters in seven states – Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas – that rank among the states with the largest prison budgets in the country. Survivors with Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice have testified before state legislatures or met with lawmakers in each of these states and will be organizing healing events and ramping up their work as many state legislatures reconvene in 2018.
Through Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, victims of crime and family members – particularly from communities most affected by crime, violence, and incarceration – come together to heal and take action. Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice helps survivors advocate for smarter justice policies that prevent crime, reduce incarceration, and better support survivors, families, and communities.
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice will bring together hundreds of diverse survivors of crime in Tallahassee, FL in February 2018 and in April 2018, during National Crime Victims Week, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice will hold a major convening with hundreds of crime survivors in Sacramento, CA.
“For too long when we talk about ensuring public safety, the conversation has focused on increasing incarceration. We now know that hasn’t worked to help the communities most impacted by crime and violence,” said Robert Rooks, co-founder of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice and Vice President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “The national expansion of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is an important step forward in our work to create a healing community that empowers survivors to advocate for policies that prevent crime and help victims hit hardest by crime recover from trauma.”
“As a crime survivor, I don’t feel that the justice system makes our perspective a priority nor does it do enough to stop the cycle of crime ,” said Jehan Gordon-Booth, a survivor from Peoria, Illinois and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives. “We know that to achieve real safety, states need to develop more balanced strategies for addressing trauma and supporting victim recovery and shift spending from prisons towards treatment and rehabilitation.”
Research shows 4 out of 5 victims experience trauma, which can contribute to a wide range of problems like addiction, housing instability, and mental health issues. As a result, crime survivors are frequently at higher risk becoming a victim again or experiencing long-term instability. Programs that support victims in the healing process have been shown to stop the cycle of crime, but too few victims have access to support needed to recovery from trauma and harm.
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice has been instrumental in expanding a first-of- its-kind trauma recovery model from California to Ohio, Illinois, and Michigan, with more states on the way, leveraging existing federal and state dollars to expand comprehensive trauma recovery services for victims of violent crime. Trauma recovery centers remove barriers to health and stability, heal communities (including often underserved and traditionally hard-to- reach victims of crime), and interrupt cycles of violence. The national expansion of Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice will enable more individuals and communities experiencing crime and violence to come together to in mutual support and influence policy by:
- Creating avenues for crime survivors to share experiences and build community with one another
- Influencing public safety responses and policies at the local, state, and national level
- Conducting research with survivors to identify the priority issues and needs – and to let policymakers know how to help victims
- Partnering with crime survivors, leaders, advocates, and community-based organizations to elevate a new victims’ voice in the public safety debate
- Advocating for smarter policies on the state level, including successfully working to expand trauma recovery services
Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice is a flagship project of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a national organization that aims to win new safety priorities in states across the country. ASJ partners with leaders and advocates to advance state reform through networking, coalition building, research, education and advocacy. Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice’s first organizing efforts were in California, alongside Californians for Safety and Justice, where hundreds of survivors have spoken out in support of new safety solutions across the state.