Reclaiming Safety: Participatory Research, Community Perspectives, and Possibilities for Transformation

34 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2021 Last revised: 8 Aug 2022

See all articles by Lauren Johnson

Lauren Johnson

University of Cincinnati College of Law

Cinnamon Pelly

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

Ebony Ruhland

University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice

Simone Bess

Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs of Ohio

Jacinda K. Dariotis

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Human Development and Family Studies

Janet Moore

University of Cincinnati College of Law

Date Written: June 30, 2021

Abstract

This paper offers the first known interdisciplinary, community-based participatory research study to focus directly on two questions that have drawn increased attention in the wake of global protests over racialized police violence: 1) what is the definition of safety?; and 2) how can safety be made accessible to all? The study is part of a larger project that was co-designed by community members and academic researchers. The project aimed to strengthen local justice reform efforts by adding new data literacy skills to existing community organizing capacity among Black residents of the Cincinnati, Ohio metropolitan area. Community-led roundtable discussions offered community members (n=12) an opportunity to answer the two research questions. Exploratory qualitative analysis resulted in four emergent themes through which participants (1) defined safety primarily as freedom from harm and enjoyment of close, supportive relationships; (2) identified poverty and racism as key barriers to creating safety; (3) described complex, overlapping, and sometimes conflicting roles and responsibilities for creating safety; and (4) expressed strong ambivalence over whether and how police contribute to safety. Applying Bell’s legal estrangement theory, the team examined those themes for evidence of four modalities through which marginalized communities engage with criminal legal systems (subordination, consumption, resistance, and transformation). The data reflected minimal subordination and resistance, relatively high levels of consumption, and mixed perspectives on system transformation. Further implications for theory, policy, and future research are discussed.

Keywords: community-based participatory research, public safety, race, poverty, policing, legal estrangement theory

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Lauren and Pelly, Cinnamon and Ruhland, Ebony and Bess, Simone and Dariotis, Jacinda K. and Moore, Janet, Reclaiming Safety: Participatory Research, Community Perspectives, and Possibilities for Transformation (June 30, 2021). Lauren Johnson, Cinnamon Pelly, Ebony Ruhland, Simone Bess, Jacinda K. Dariotis, & Janet Moore, Reclaiming Safety: Participatory Research, Community Perspectives, and Possibilities for Transformation, 18(2) Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties 191 (2022)., Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3877542 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3877542

Lauren Johnson

University of Cincinnati College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States

Cinnamon Pelly

Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio

OH
United States

Ebony Ruhland

University of Cincinnati School of Criminal Justice ( email )

600 Dyer Hall
P.O. Box 210389
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0389
United States

Simone Bess

Urban Minority Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Outreach Programs of Ohio

OH
United States

Jacinda K. Dariotis

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign - Department of Human Development and Family Studies

United States

Janet Moore (Contact Author)

University of Cincinnati College of Law ( email )

Post Office Box 210040
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0040
United States
513-556-0126 (Phone)
513-556-1236 (Fax)

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