Criminal Justice Interest Group

Vision

Our vision is a society in which the criminal justice system recognizes all individuals as human beings—in which all people are equal before the law; are entitled without discrimination to equal protection by the law; and are worthy of being treated with dignity and respect. We envision a world in which the criminal justice system, with the support of civil society, provides a viable path towards justice and well-being for all, and acts as a restorative rather than oppressive force.

Mission

To bring this vision into reality, our strategies and solutions must be practical, context-specific, and informed by research. Thus, the mission of the SCRA Criminal Justice Interest Group is to support its members in their ongoing work by providing a forum for discussion, collaboration, consultation, resource development, and knowledge-sharing. The SCRA Criminal Justice Interest Group fosters a sense of community among its members due in part to a shared commitment to attend to the broader social and historical context of the criminal justice system, including its legacy of oppression.

Values

Equity: So long as the criminal justice system yields different outcomes for different people, it is inequitable. Equity means establishing conditions in all communities for all individuals that create open opportunities for engagement; ensure access to the same privileges of health, well-being, justice, self-determination, and quality of life; and honor the inherent dignity of every human being.

Collaboration: Individuals who interact directly in a system or community know the most about it. Collaboration between researchers, practitioners, policymakers, community members, and decision-makers will enable the development of the most relevant research questions, answers, and change initiatives. Critical to successful collaboration is a recognition that one-size-fits-all solutions are rare; local problems call for local solutions and deliberate attention to difference across people and context.

Creative Maladjustment: Maladjustment refers to an individual’s inability to meet social or cultural expectations, or adapt to the stresses of one’s life, and is considered something to be remedied. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. argues that there are some things in life to which we must remain maladjusted: segregation, discrimination, violence, and oppression. To value creative maladjustment is to persevere in our intolerance of oppression and be creative in developing solutions and innovations to overcome.

Science in the Service of Social Justice: Social change is more effective if it is based on rigorous science, and rigorous science should be used in the service of social justice.

Social Justice: Social justice refers to the equal distribution of resources and opportunities, regardless of individuals’ group memberships (e.g., race, age, gender, religion). The criminal justice system’s legacy of oppression necessarily means that what has been accepted as criminal justice frequently amounts to social injustice. To value social justice is to consider its many component parts (e.g., environmental justice, political justice, health justice, racial justice, educational justice, economic justice) and to center it in program, policy, practice, and institutional development.

Getting Involved

Join our listserv: The Criminal Justice Interest Group listserv allows you to stay up-to-date on all communications among members of the Criminal Justice Interest Group. To join, please email jeanhill@scra27.org and ask to be added.

Call in to our quarterly meetings: The Criminal Justice Interest Group meets four times a year—in March, June, September, and December. Most all of these meetings are by phone, except when we are able to gather in person at the Biennial every other year. On each quarterly call, we discuss ongoing and future activities and projects for the group. Specific dates and times of each quarterly call vary, so as to not routinely exclude the same individuals (e.g., if folks teach on Monday afternoons, and meetings are routinely held on Monday afternoons, they would always miss the meeting). Dates and times for upcoming meetings are announced on the Criminal Justice Interest Group listerv, as well as the SCRA listserv. All are welcome, and encouraged, to join.

Participate in our Learning Community Series: Biennial 2017 was the Criminal Justice Interest Group’s inaugural meeting. At that meeting, folks described interest in having this group act as a learning community, in which we learn about one another’s work. The Learning Community Series is a series of presentations made by and for Criminal Justice Interest Group members. Members present work that is now complete, still in progress, or in early stages of development. Presenters use their time to share what they have learned with others, as an opportunity to solicit feedback from colleagues, or both. We may have a single presenter each time we gather, or a series of presentations/discussion. While the precise nature of each gathering may look different, the overall purpose and value-added remains the same: to build a learning community and facilitate collaboration. Learning Community Series presentations will be given in months in which we do not have our quarterly meetings. All are welcome to join, and to present. Dates and times for upcoming Learning Community Series presentations are announced on the Criminal Justice Interest Group listserv.

Contact the chair: Want to learn more about the group, get involved, get an answer to a question, or provide feedback and suggestions? Please contact the Criminal Justice Interest Group Chair, Jessica Shaw at shawfg@bc.edu.

Learning Community Series