Staying Connected to Detroit from Afar – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Staying Connected to Detroit from Afar

An experience that has stood out to me from this summer that did not occur at my placement has been the various speakers that we have had in our Tuesday DCERP meetings. Beyond the work at our sites, it is difficult to even have other experiences in the DCERP program other than our weekly meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays and our learning groups. So, the Tuesday meetings have really been a highlight for me.

I find it really helpful to learn about various social issues in Detroit from professionals directly working on those issues, like LaNeice Jones from the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center, for example. I thought that her stance would be straightforward in terms of restorative justice and defunding the police being concepts that I thought would align. However, her discussion revealed the nuances of her position and the precarious relationship she has to uphold with the Detroit Police to maintain her community court. This was interesting to me because I thought I knew a lot about criminal justice reform and injustices within the justice system. However, it never occurred to me that restorative justice would mean only the most minor infractions would be included, and maintaining a relationship with police. It was eye-opening to hear how these ideas I’ve learned about in the classroom really play out in real life in Detroit, but it was also a little bit disappointing. I hope the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center can expand their programs beyond the most baseline infractions, and also help people who go to jail pre-trial for nonviolent misdemeanors because they cannot afford bail. I also wonder if they offer any aid to citizens transitioning back into society from jail or prison.

Without hearing about these issues like restorative justice, public health, or trauma-informed care during our meetings, I probably would not have learned about them this summer solely from working at my site. Being that we’re working remotely, I appreciate feeling much more connected to what is happening in Detroit through these meetings.

2 thoughts on “Staying Connected to Detroit from Afar”

  1. These are great points that you outlined in your post. Some of the topics that were presented were things I had experienced or knew about I just didn’t know the term the technical term associated with it. It’s been nice to learn more about issues in not only Detroit, but those that can be applied to the rest of the world. It really makes you critically think about your role in all of it too which is nice to think about when you’re doing the work like we’ve been doing this summer.

  2. Hi Mackenzie,

    I’m glad to hear you found Ms. Jone’s presentation interesting, although the organization’s position can be complex and frustrating. I am also happy to hear you are thinking about what additional resources the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center can offer to returning citizens. Just this week, Ms. Jones has indicated she’d like to find funding to greatly improve our program for returning citizens. For the past few days, I have been working to find grant opportunities to help SWDCJC accomplish this goal. I will update you with how the organization and Ms. Jones decided to move forward. I hope the rest of the program continues to connect you with Detroit in new ways!


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