Safe Streets/Strong Communities is a community-based organization that campaigns for a new criminal justice system in New Orleans, one that creates safe streets and strong communities for everyone, regardless of race or economic status.
The public safety system in New Orleans was in crisis long before Hurricane Katrina devastated our city. The system cost tax payers millions of dollars every year while it failed to keep our citizens safe, leaving us vulnerable to crime and violence and with one of the highest murder rates in the nation.
Abuse and corruption within the New Orleans Police Department, inside the Orleans Parish Prison Complex and within our court system has been the source of litigation, protests, and national scandal.
These broken systems have brought shame to our city and limited our ability to attract both old and new residents into our great city. They have stifled the economic growth and opportunity our city so desperately needs. In addition, over a quarter of New Orleans’ residents are funneled through this broken system every year, which often devastates families and destroys the fabric of our communities.
As tragic as Hurricane Katrina’s impact on our city, it has also given us a unique opportunity for meaningful change. As we work to rebuild our city we must build a public safety system that focuses on real reforms, not “ law and order” rhetoric. To that end, Safe Streets envisions a system that :
- Keeps people safe from all forms of violence and crime including street violence, domestic violence, and law enforcement violence;
- Is transparent, democratic, fair and accountable to the community it serves; and
- Supports community-driven responses to crime that are based in best practices.
In a relatively short period of time, Safe Streets has made significant progress generating community support, building a strong reform coalition, re-framing the media debate and effecting policy change. Some of our accomplishments include:
- Building a strong membership base through direct contact with over 900 individuals from impacted communities. From this outreach we have developed an active membership base and engaged in five actions to demand accountability and reform.
- Facilitating four peer advocacy trainings and providing direct advocacy support to family members facing the inhumane and unconstitutional treatment of their incarcerated loved ones.
- Building a strong coalition of likely and unlikely allies to work towards reform.
- Leading the call to replace the Orleans Parish Indigent Defender Board, long wrought with political patronage, and successfully winning the appointment of a new board comprised of strong advocates who will ensure that the constitutional rights of poor defendants are protected. To date this board has instituted a series of reforms
- Securing a city council resolution and funding to launch an Office of the Independent Monitor, an independent agency that will oversee police policies and practices and will report quarterly to the general public.
- Exposing the botched evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) by sharing members’ stories with the public, resulting in a commitment from Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman to never again incarcerate children in OPP.