The title of this post is the title of this notable new report from the Alliance for Safety and Justice. Here is how the report’s Executive Summary gets started:
Toward Shared Safety: The First-Ever National Survey of America’s Safety Gaps is a first-of-its-kind national study of Americans’ unmet safety needs and public safety policy preferences. In a moment of unprecedented change — and growing consensus on the need for new approaches to public safety — this report aims to fill critical gaps in information, to help point decision-makers toward a new set of safety solutions that can better serve vulnerable Americans, improve public safety and stop the cycle of crime.
Despite dramatic increases in safety and justice spending over the last several decades, few of those expenditures are informed by the needs of Americans lacking safety or consistently aligned with Americans’ policy preferences. As concerns about spending and criminal justice grow, there’s never been a more important time to ask some fundamental questions about safety. What are the gaps in safety that people impacted by crime, violence and criminal justice experience? What are the priority safety investments that matter the most to Americans of all walks of life?
In June of 2020, over 4,000 Americans were surveyed about their experiences with safety and attitudes about safety policy. In particular, the survey engaged with people vulnerable to the cycle of crime, including crime victims, people experiencing mental health or substance abuse challenges, and those living with past convictions, as well as voters of all backgrounds, regardless of experience.
As the report details, there is remarkable alignment between gaps in safety that vulnerable people face and the public safety policy preferences that most all Americans support — policy preferences that would address those very gaps. Broad consensus exists at the neighborhood level and across different demographics: public safety policies and investments should prioritize violence prevention, recovery, mental health, reentry and the most effective strategies to stop the cycle of crime, more than incarceration. It’s time for federal, state and local expenditures to match these urgently needed and popularly supported priorities. It’s time for Shared Safety.