History.The Council on Crime and Justice is an independent, non-profit, 501(C)(3) organization that has been a leader in the field of social and criminal justice in Minnesota since its founding in 1957 as the Prisoners Aid Society, providing transition services to offenders.Since that time, the Council has been at the forefront of developing new concepts and programs in alternative sanctions, offender services, victims’ rights, restorative justice and systems change.The Council pursues and advocates for fair and forward-looking methods to reduce and prevent crime and promote social justice. Our work is about ensuring equal justice and improved public safety at the same time.
Mission.The Council's mission is to build community capacity to address the causes and consequences of crime and violence through research, demonstration and advocacy. We conduct research, in order to better understand not only what is working and what is not within the criminal justice system, but also why.Our demonstration projects, which are direct service models, are rigorously evaluated, using social science research to ensure effectiveness.Our advocacy efforts, necessary to bring about systemic and policy changes, help to advance effective solutions to community problems that have been identified through our research and demonstration findings.
Accomplishments.The Council has launched many innovative projects in response to community and systems concerns.Some are highlighted below:
In the 1970’s the Council advanced the concept of alternatives to incarceration and the enactment of the Minnesota Community Corrections Act is a lasting result.
In the 1980’s the Council played a major role in the development of the restorative justice philosophy that is now practiced throughout the country; the Council’s Victim-Offender Mediation program was one of the first in operation anywhere.
In the 1990’s the Council initiated “Working Together”, a collaborative and asset-based process that has been used widely throughout Minnesota, specifically in rural communities working to plan and implement strategies to reduce violence.
In 2000, the Council launched the Racial Disparity Initiative (RDI), a comprehensive study of the causes and consequences of the significant racial disparities in Minnesota’s criminal justice system, with the intent of advocating for policy and systems change.17 interrelated RDI studies were completed in 2005 and disseminated in 2006. An Action Plan based on the findings has since then informed much of the Council’s work.
In 2010, the Council continues to move forward with the Call to Justice Action Plan, and with work based on additional findings and recommendations, stemming from our work and others’, for social and criminal justice system change which will positively affect the community as a whole.