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Keeping communities at the centre of Justice Reinvestment

Justice reinvestment Prison sentences Crime reduction Criminal justice

Justice Reinvestment (JR) programmes take many forms, but most share a simple aim: to redirect spending on criminal justice into social justice initiatives that strengthen communities and reduce social harms, including offending behaviours. This report explores the potential of justice reinvestment as an alternative to the ongoing expansion of a punitive criminal justice system. It specifically looks at international examples of justice reinvestment projects, notably the Maranguka Justice Reinvestment project in Bourke, New South Wales, and suggests three key factors that successful projects share - they are community-led, place-based and data-driven.

Key points:

  • Every JR initiative has to be approached as a unique venture.
  • JR projects must be embedded in Indigenous cultural frames, and be guided by decolonizing responses to ‘crime’ and ‘justice’.
  • Thinking and practice of JR should be continually reflected upon in relation to broader racialised, gendered, classed and aged structures, among other realities.
  • JR must be conceptualised and practised at the level of place. It is important to continually direct attention, data-collection and project implementation to that geographic space, within which sits ‘the community’.
  • Implementation has to be slowly paced to ensure strong foundations. At the same time, momentum is important. Those involved need to continually revisit the purpose of the project, and be prepared to shift the way things are done to ensure that progress does not get stuck. 


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