February 12, 2017

Pete HaackJustice Matters

An interfaith network working for justice in Lawrence

This is an update on Justice Matters issues being researched this season:

Affordable Housing
There is a severe and long-standing affordable housing shortage in Lawrence. There is a need for 4,000 more affordable homes. The objective of the Justice Matters Affordable Housing Campaign is to end the shortage of affordable housing in Lawrence by 2027 by focusing on establishing an affordable housing trust fund with sufficient funding and a dedicated revenue source(s).

Mental Health
The typical destination for those in mental health crisis in Lawrence is currently jail or the emergency room, neither of which offer ideal outcomes. There is agreement among key stakeholders for the need to build a 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Care Center. The objective of the Justice Matters Mental Health Campaign is to improve access to mental health treatment through private/public collaboration. We urge our county officials to consider this 24/7 Mental Health Crisis Care Center separately from the jail expansion, both in an effort to prioritize its opening and to decriminalize mental illness.

Growing Incarceration
There are two options to resolve the situation of our Douglas County jail overcrowding: build a bigger jail and/or address the reasons why people are in jail. The objective of the Justice Matters Criminal Justice Reform Campaign is to reduce the recent spike in jail population through safe, effective alternatives to incarceration.

Childhood Trauma
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) research links childhood trauma and toxic stress to adult onset of chronic disease, mental illness, incarceration, substance abuse, and various work issues. These effects, in turn, span generations. The objective of the Justice Matters Childhood Trauma Campaign is twofold: to prevent intergenerational trauma exposure through ACEs screening and parental support and to implement (and expand) trauma and resilience training for early childhood educators in our community.

Institutional Racism
The committee is thoughtfully evaluating several problems associated with institutional racism to identify the one we wish to address. Current areas of research include: disciplinary actions in schools that disproportionately impact students of color, high representation of minorities in our jail and criminal justice system, and effective outcome-based training for public school teachers.

For more information about Justice Matters and the issues we are currently researching and studying you can contact either Joe Snyder joesnyder42@gmail.com or Pat Lechtenberg plek10berg@aol.com, or visit the website: