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An effective justice system protects people and preserves public safety, respects human dignity, restores victims, removes barriers to opportunity for people with criminal records, and ensures equal justice for all under the law. Protecting public safety requires partnership with community members, yet the current approach to policing in the United States often breaks down trust and imposes harm, especially for people of color and individuals living with addiction and mental health issues.
Police are regularly put in situations they are not trained for or that could be better addressed by alternative solutions. To unbundle the current all-encompassing nature of policing, we need community-based alternatives to the criminal justice system that are developed, strengthened, and adapted for scale to take a more comprehensive approach to public safety and well-being.
In partnership with MIT Solve, Stand Together Ventures Lab is launching the Unbundle Policing: Reimagine Public Safety Challenge – an Incubator and Accelerator for social ventures focused on decreasing the number of unnecessary law enforcement encounters and the risk of adverse outcomes for community members. This Challenge aims to accelerate a range of more appropriate alternatives for individuals experiencing or at risk of a crisis otherwise likely to result in an unwarranted police encounter, emergency room visit, and/or incarceration.
“There is an unmet need for innovative, scalable ideas to reduce unnecessary and often adverse interactions with law enforcement,” said Sihyun Choi, Managing Director of Stand Together Ventures Lab. “We're excited to support this cohort of social entrepreneurs who are passionate about solving this problem."
Successful solutions will:
- Utilize data and technology to better understand and divert unnecessary law enforcement encounters;
- Engage diverse stakeholders and establish stakeholder buy-in
- Incorporate conflict resolution, mediation, and trauma-informed approaches
"This Challenge will help us get one step closer to our goal of removing unnecessary criminalization in order to empower police to focus on serious crime,” said Ayla Smith, Director at Stand Together Ventures Lab. “We are at a critical juncture with this issue, and participants in this Challenge will be at the forefront of driving meaningful change."
Applications to join the three-month Incubator are open now through July 19th, 2021. The Incubator, which will run September 7 - November 19, is designed to support individuals and teams in developing and refining solutions through networking, workshops, team building, and expert feedback at no cost to participants – and ultimately prepare teams to apply for the spring 2022 Accelerator program for the opportunity to receive $50,000 and wraparound, six-month support to deploy and scale solutions across the US.