• Oct 3, 2017

Justice Works: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Community Justice

  • 5:00-7:00 pm
  • Wasserstein Hall, Milstein 2036 East C, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA

We have been developing our model of community justice for several years. As noted elsewhere on this site:

Community justice is the process of building public policy by incorporating the voices, knowledge and aspirations of individuals living and working in communities decimated by decades of disinvestment, neglect and over-policing.

The scope of community justice is broad and deep, extending to every area of public policymaking and investment infrastructure. We believe we must replace the narrow, misguided, punitive policies of today’s criminal justice system and show, as the title of this gathering suggests, that justice works when anchored in community.

This event marks the Houston Institute’s first dedicated public convening specifically addressing the practice of community justice. The panel is organized around a report by the Oregon Justice Resource Center entitled, “Disrupting Mass Incarceration at the Local Level.” In keeping with our vision, the panelists will provide different perspectives on such an undertaking.

We will hear about the Resource Center report from Kate Gonsalves, the political director for OJRC, with an emphasis on the action plan it outlines and how this plan is being implemented by local organizers in Oregon.

We will then hear from Lillie A. Estes, who has been developing a community justice framework in Richmond, Virginia. She will discuss how the OJRC framework could be replicated in other communities and adapted to other issues.

Amherst College senior and former CHHIRJ intern Katherine Stanton will describe the toolkit she and fellow intern Samantha O’Brien developed for analyzing voter data in District Attorney elections as a means of mobilizing voter interest and increasing voter participation in local elections and in key community issues.

Finally, we will hear from Florida State Attorney Aramis Ayala, whose campaign for office included a pledge not to pursue capital punishment, and who also characterized the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police as “death sentences.” She will join us to talk about her efforts to deliver on her campaign observation that: “There is no contradiction in supporting law enforcement while also saying there are serious issues with the relationship between police and some of the communities they serve.”

We expect this to be a wide-ranging, informative discussion and hope you can join us.


  • Aramis Ayala, State Attorney, 9th Judicial Court for the State of Florida
  • Lillie A. Estes, Community Strategist, ALO Community Strategy, RePHRAME and Community Justice Film Series
  • Kate Gonsalves, Political Director, Oregon Justice Resource Center
  • Katherine Stanton, Amherst College; CHHIRJ Intern

Moderator: Jasmine Gomez, Democracy Honors Fellow and Attorney at Free Speech For People