Building community safety

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Ejeris Dixon has outlined the potential role of 'transformative justice' in addressing violence and harm experienced by black people in the US. Writing for the website, Truthout, Ejeris describes the thinking behind such approaches;

Transformative justice and community accountability are terms that describe ways to address violence without relying upon police or prisons. These approaches often work to prevent violence, to intervene when harm is occurring, to hold people accountable, and to transform individuals and society to build safer communities. These strategies are some of the only options that marginalized communities have to address harm.

To build community safety, she poses four key questions:

  1. What is the world that we want?
  2. How will we begin to define safety?
  3. How do we build the skills to address harm and violence?
  4. How do we create the trust needed for communities to rely on each other for mutual support

Ejeris then goes on to highlight the principles and practices that can begin to address some of these questions. These include relationship building; developing bold and small experiments; and building skills. She concludes by connecting up these strategies with efforts for large scale social change;

In order to be successful, we must connect these strategies with larger liberatory movements. We must bring these ideas and conversations into our meetings, organizations and movements. We need to take time to include within our demands and campaigns strategies to build community safety and reduce harm. Even as we act urgently to resist the state violence that is killing our communities, we must also do slow work to develop community safety and resilience.

Ejeris Dixon's article can be read in full on the Truthout website.

As part of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies' Justice Matters project in which we are attempting to identify radical alternatives to criminal justice approaches. You can view Justice Matters related articles and resources here.