Working with SWDCJC – Detroit Community-Engaged Research Program

Working with SWDCJC

Hi fellows! Hard to believe our second week is almost over, I can already tell this summer is going to fly by. With this being our first full week, I felt as though I’m getting into a better routine for myself and getting my work done. 

This summer I am partnered with the Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center (SWDCJC), which focuses on increasing public trust in the justice system while meeting the needs of the community. I like to think of it as a large partnership among law enforcement, business owners, legal professionals, and community members. SWDCJC has three programs: Community Court, Prositituion Offenders Program, and Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion. The community court has been a main focus for them, and its mission is to allow individuals who commit low-level and non-violent offenses to essentially participate in community service, rather than pay fines and/or be incarcerated. In addition to community service, the social workers at SWDCJC provide counseling and assist in meeting other needs of the individuals in the program. In restoring trust with the justice system, this program also works to understand the underlying causes of committing offenses: homelessness, unemployment, mental-health, substance-use, etc.. 

The bulk of my summer project is to support my supervisor with research so she can apply for two grants to support the program. My first research topic is focusing on mental-health, and how incorporating short-term mental-health counseling into SWDCJC will help offenders overall and in jail diversion. My second area of focus is looking into other community court programs and what changes they have made due to COVID. Additionally, I will be researching how COVID has impacted mental-health and why the addition of short-term counseling into our program will be beneficial. 

As for the DCERP program, I’m really enjoying it and I’m looking forward to the rest of the summer. I already feel as though we’ve created a strong sense of community among the fellows, despite the circumstances of being online this summer. I would be lying if I said this experience isn’t impacted by it being remote, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to learn and have an enjoyable experience. While this may be an obvious observation, I really like that everyone is engaged, and we all participate because we all want to be here. Breakout rooms are always full of conversations and getting to know one another, and I think that’s really important and I hope it continues for the remainder of the summer. 

I am in the policing learning group, and since we have only had one time to meet we haven’t talked much about what we want to explore this summer. In the meeting we did have, we really just discussed our opinions on policing, the problems we could identify, and talked about how our experiences with policing are also different. I’m looking forward to having more discussions, and I think they are super important.

2 thoughts on “Working with SWDCJC”

  1. Your project sounds super cool, and it’s exciting that the research you are doing will have such a direct and positive impact on the organization! It sounds like the topic of your small learning group will complement your work at SWDCJC well (and vice-versa). I’m interested to hear more about the connection between mental health and justice over the course of the summer!

  2. Manar Aljebori

    Hi Amanda!
    Southwest Detroit Community Justice Center’s mission is really important. I am glad your research will make an impact on the lives of those incarcerated for non-violent offenses. I would love to hear more about the grant and how its going. I also feel like we have a small community forming among us and cannot wait for it to continue over the summer!

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