By Carrie Sullivan
So well aligned to RJP Maine’s mission, the overarching goal of CBCR grant is to reduce crime, increase mutual trust, and improve community safety as part of a comprehensive strategy to build strong, thriving neighborhoods and communities. The grant allows 18 months for a planning phase which results in the submission of an Action Plan to the Bureau of Justice Assistance, that once approved guides the remaining years of the grant. The Action Plan is informed by data, grows partnerships, and engages community members in the planning process, which is exactly what RJP Maine has been working to do since early spring of 2020.
The plan asks us to define “hotspots” or places where problems of crime or wrongdoing are concentrated. We are learning that crime problems look different in rural communities than they do in urban settings. Rural “hotspots” cluster more around root causes that underlie wrongdoing rather than the actual incidents of violence and crime. Based on the information we’ve collected to date (from law enforcement and elected officials, numerous citizens and community-based organizations, and local citizens and volunteers) a key hotspot for Midcoast Maine is the need for more community-based support for individuals who cycle through the justice system, whether that be incarceration or frequent jail time.
Defining Our Hotspot – a snapshot of what’s been collected during planning
While there was a broad range of needs and desires expressed by Knox County citizens for a Community Justice Center, the overwhelming sentiment revolved around reentry—both helping people re-establish themselves afterward or prevent them from becoming incarcerated—both can be achieved through a set of community supports and services. Source: Knox County Community Interviews
Knox County Leading The Way
Another requirement of the planning phase is to demonstrate that our solution is viable through an Early Action Project. To that end, Knox County has been serving as our demonstration project. Despite the challenges COVID has presented in this planning period, Knox County continues to make strides in the growth of local community justice efforts:
RJP Maine looks to complete the CBCR planning phase in early 2021. We are excited to bring the CBCR grant resources to bear in a moment that compels us to reimagine public safety and justice, and to work alongside so many partners to grow restorative practices throughout the communities we serve.