Investing Justice Resources to Address Community Needs highlights Colorado’s Work and Gain Education and Employment Skills (WAGEES) program, which represents one of the first partnerships between a state department of corrections and local community organizations to invest in expansive, community-driven public safety goals. The report describes the WAGEES program and shares lessons learned for other states interested in exploring a community-based public safety investment strategy. Qualitative interviews with stakeholders suggest that directing resources to community-based organizations can strengthen efforts to support people returning home from prison.
Key takeaways include:
- Each community has unique needs and, as such, programs should give community partners the opportunity to address those needs in a way best suited to the community.
- Community partners should reflect the populations they serve.
- Local community advocacy organizations can be catalysts and create momentum for change.
- Building relationships across agencies, communities, and people most impacted by the criminal justice system is key to success.
- Sharing information across partners and within the community fosters shared goals and a culture of building knowledge.
An overview of the policy brief can be found in this one-page executive summary.