Santa Cruz County, CALIF. -- Over the past 3 years the Community Corrections Partnership Community Education and Engagement Workgroup (CCP CEEW) has worked to develop the Santa Cruz Blueprint for Shared Safety: Survivors at the Center. The CCP CEEW, which includes representation from justice, government, community members, service providers, and survivors of crime, came together on a monthly base to grapple with complex issues and topics related to public safety and crime survivors/victims.
From January 2018 to February 2019, the CEEW conducted focus groups, interviews, and convenings with over 175 community members, including survivors of crime, youth, and system stakeholders. Input was gathered with support from Californians for Safety and Justice, the Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office, the Conflict Resolution Center, Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, and Survivors Healing Center. Questions such as: “What does shared safety mean to you?” and “What do survivors need to heal?” were posed.
As a survivor wrote, “Without their voices of real lived experience, how will it be known what is truly needed to help victims of crime and bettering our community?"
Sylvia Nieto, Santa Cruz County District Attorney’s Office Victims Witness Assistance Program said, “The project has heightened our awareness about the layers of impact crime has on crime survivors and our community. We are working towards further identifying and understanding those impacts and forming stronger sharing of information to promote wellbeing in Santa Cruz County.”
May 28, 2020, the United Way of Santa Cruz County, the District Attorney’s Office & Walnut Avenue Family and Women’s Center presented the report to the Community Corrections Partnership Executive Committee, where they voted to approve and adopt the 47-page report.
Our Goals for the report, include:
#1 Prioritize Healing and Restoration for Crime Survivors
#2 Ensure Access to Trauma Recovery Services
#3 Engage Crime Survivors to Prioritize and Elevate Their Voices
#4 Strengthen Community Trust and Confidence in the Criminal Justice System
#5 Recognize Who is Most Vulnerable to Crime
The report includes sections such as the Story Behind the Data (themes of community input, perspective and other research findings); Gaps Identified by the Community; Existing Community Assets; Top Recommendations; What has Shifted, Next Steps and Lessons Learned; and an extensive works cited section.
Recommendations Included in the Report:
- Crime Survivor Navigators
- Improved Local Data Collection
- Criminal Justice System-Survivor Trust Building
- Trauma-Recovery Center
- Increased Survivor Engagement & Representation
- Survivor Chapter/ Network
- Restorative Practices
- Increased Services & Wellness Resources
- Systems Trainings
- Financial Restoration
- Outreach Campaign
The CCP CEEW is now in the process of prioritizing the top recommendations based on potential impact, community readiness, and resource requirements. The CCP CEEW is already moving forward recommendations. For example, we are currently collecting local victims service utilization data to better understand who is [and isn’t] being served. Additionally, September 25th, we are partnering with Office for Victims of Crime & hosting a Trauma-Informed Leadership: Bettering Meeting the Needs of Victims of Crime training.
For many of the recommendations, the CCP CEEW will recruit appropriate organizations and collaborative groups to adopt and operationalize them. Additionally, the approved plan will allow the findings to guide new initiatives and resources as a coordinated, evidence-based model for promoting public safety throughout the community. Importantly, Santa Cruz County will continue to explore survivor engagement models – both formal and informal – to provide space for survivor voices to be heard, capacity building, and leadership opportunities, with a vision of deeper engagement by survivors of crime leading the conversation.