Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $250,000)
The National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR) seeks to strengthen and expand the Neighborhood Opportunity and Accountability Board (NOAB), a model that diverts at-risk youth from formal justice system involvement at the point of arrest and focuses on restorative, rather than punitive practices; increases community involvement in decision-making; and invests resources in youth, families, and neighborhoods. NICJR’s primary proposed activities include strengthening existing NOAB programs in Oakland and Richmond, CA; supporting the planning, implementation, and refinement of a new San Francisco NOAB program that will be operated by the City and community partners; laying the groundwork for a more regional approach to NOAB in the Bay Area; and widely sharing lessons learned from NOAB implementation to encourage its adoption in other jurisdictions. Nearly all youth referred to NOAB are arrested for felonies and diverted entirely from system involvement. All of the youth also have multiple risk factors that put them at risk of involvement in violent crime without effective interventions. Further, formal justice system involvement, which is itself a serious risk factor for violence, is prevented by referral to the program. Thus, by providing timely and intensive interventions to youth arrested for serious crimes and preventing them from entering the formal justice system, NOAB will prevent youth violence, including youth gang/group violence. In implementing this project, NICJR will draw upon lessons learned and protocols established through work implementing NOAB in two cities, as well as experience as a federal grantee and a training and technical assistance provider to numerous jurisdictions. Further, NICJR’s proposed team brings a strategic blend of expertise and lived experience that will allow the organization to establish strong working relationships with the communities engaged through this grant. Notably, the team consists entirely of people of color, and many proposed staff have played key roles in NICJR’s NOAB work to date.