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Columbia Justice Reinvestment in Architecture New Orleans Feb 2009

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SPATIAL
INFORMATION
DESIGN
LAB Justice
ReInvestment
New
Orleans

Spatial Information Design Lab
Columbia University Graduate School of
Architecture, Planning and Preservation
February 2009

Aerial view from above Central City, New Orleans, September 2005.
Photo: U.S. Navy, Jeremy L. Grisham
2

3

Part 1
Mapping Incarceration
Since 2005, the Spatial Information Design Lab
has been investigating the geography of
incarceration in the contemporary United States.
Building on work done jointly by the Council of
State Governments, the JFA Institute, and the
Justice Mapping Center, the Lab’s mapping
project seeks to focus research and policy
attention on the conditions and needs of urban
spaces with high rates of incarceration. Rather
than examining only the punishment and
rehabilitation of individuals, the research identifies
particular places and emerging strategies for
investing public resources in order to address
the urban conditions from which prisoners come
and to which most of them return.
A Call to Action
Hurricane Katrina exposed New Orleans’
neglected physical infrastructure and ecological
vulnerability. It also highlighted the fragility of
civic institutions in the city’s poorest
neighborhoods, places in which social life is
made even more unstable by the constant
displacement and resettlement of people in the
criminal justice system.
Weeks after the storm, the Spatial Information
Design Lab transformed its analytic incarceration
mapping project into an action-oriented proposal
for Justice Reinvestment in New Orleans. This
report and plan are the product of two years of
research, countless conversations, and a
network of local and national participants
dedicated to creating a more just and sustainable
future for New Orleans.

5

The Growth of Prisons

and federal prison population has grown
eightfold to nearly 1.6 million. With another
723,000 people in local jails, a total of 2.3 million
Americans are incarcerated. As a 2008 Pew
Charitable Trust report documents, for the first
time in the nation’s history more than one in 100
American adults are behind bars.2

The United States has the highest rate of
incarceration of any country in the world. Though
it has only four percent of the world’s population,
the U.S. is home to one quarter of the world’s
incarcerated individuals.1 Since 1970, the state

LA

Incarceration Rate
(per 100,000 residents)

800
700

MS

600

TX

ID
KY VA

400
300
200
100
0

1000

2000

3000

4000

Crime Rate (per 100,000 residents)

Incarceration Rate
(per 100,000 residents)

Crime Rate
Incarceration Rate

5000

300

4000

200

3000

100

2000

0

1931

Year

Top: Louisiana leads the nation in incarcerations.
Source: FBI Uniform Crime Report and Bureau of Justice
Statistics
6

2005

1000

Crime Rate (per 100,000 residents)

6000

400

The U.S. Department of Justice reports yearly on
the social and demographic statistics of
incarceration. Its data reveal that high
percentages of the people in American jails and
prisons are people of color and male.6 Analysis of
the statistics indicates that high percentages of
incarcerated people have (or had) incomes that
put them at or below the poverty line.7

Crime maps are common instruments for policy
makers and urban police forces pursuing tactical
approaches to fighting crime. The places where
crimes are committed cluster in so-called
“hotspots” on which resources can be
concentrated. The benefits of this approach are
short-lived. The city spaces that are targeted may
become safer, but too often crime incidents are
simply displaced to other locations.

Very little research, however, treats these
statistics as indicative of an urban or spatial
phenomenon. Using maps as tools, our research
has focused on defining the spatial patterns that
link poverty, racial segregation, and incarceration,
and on investigating how their repeated
coincidence takes on identifiable urban forms.8
These patterns suggest that policy responses to
urban poverty and racial isolation have
systematically abandoned the neighborhoods
they were meant to address. This disinvestment
has been matched by increased investments in
the institutions of the criminal justice system,
particularly jails, prisons, and other infrastructure
of incarceration. Today, those institutions
constitute the primary public investment in many
of the nation’s most distressed communities.

Prison admissions maps have the potential to
guide urban designers, planners, and policy
makers in pursuing strategic investments in
infrastructure, social capital, and governance that
could produce different patterns in our cities.

5000

500

Socio-Spatial Analysis of Incarceration

The geography of crime differs considerably from
that of incarceration. When data about the
residences of those admitted to prison are
mapped, they show that a disproportionate
number of the 2.3 million people in U.S. prisons
and jails come from very few neighborhoods in
the country’s biggest cities.3

MO GA
SC AZ
FL
MI
AR NV
CA
DE
CO
SD
TN
WY IN OH AK
WI
MD
MT IL
CT
NC OR
KS
NY NJ PA
NM HI
WV IA
WA
UT
VT
NE
MA
NH ND
RI
MN
ME

500

0

AL

OK

From Crime Maps to Geographies of
Incarceration

Bottom: The crime rate in the U.S. has been falling since
1991 and is as low today as it was in 1970. In contrast,
incarceration rates have climbed rapidly and continue to
grow. Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics

Million Dollar Blocks and Neighborhoods
In many places the concentration of prison
admissions is so dense that states are spending
in excess of a million dollars a year to incarcerate
the residents of single city blocks or
neighborhoods. Eric Cadora began to identify
what are now known as “million dollar blocks”
and “million dollar neighborhoods” to describe
this pattern.4 The areas often show a high degree
of poverty and disinvestment, as well as neglect
of key civic institutions and urban infrastructure.
Millions of dollars are spent on these
neighborhoods, but not in them.5

Infrastructure and Exostructure
Prisons act as part of the public infrastructure of
cities. In some neighborhoods they are the
best-funded and most significant government
institutions. But unlike streets, utilities,
communication networks, parks, hospitals, and
schools, prisons are often located hundreds of
miles away. Rather than directing resources
toward the neighborhoods, prisons act more like
urban exostructures, displacing investments to
prison towns outside of the communities to
which prisoners will return.

7

Reentry and Reincarceration

Research conducted by Todd R. Clear suggests
that communities can reach a tipping point beyond
which increased incarceration undermines the
local networks and infrastructure of everyday life.12

As prison costs have risen and policy makers
look for ways to control them, they are increasingly
paying attention to the 650,000 people who
return home from prison each year. The process
by which newly released prisoners reestablish
their citizen status in the free world is known as
“reentry.” Reentry is emerging as a primary site
for intervention and innovation.9 Ninety-five
percent of people sent to prison are eventually
released, and data suggest that most of them
return to the communities from which they
came.10 But reentry is often troubled. Nationally
about half of those who return home are
readmitted to prison within three years of their
release. This cyclical pattern—like a permanent
migration in and out of our nation’s largest
cities—is both costly and spatially concentrated.

Once past that point, neighborhoods can enter a
downward spiral where incarceration perversely
leads to increased crime and juvenile delinquency,
while damaging public health, housing values,
and rates of political participation. Incarcerating
people in larger and larger numbers dilutes even
further the small crime reduction effect that is
gained from incarceration, while increasing the
costs.
The Vera Institute of Justice has reported that,
although “increased incarceration rates have
some effect on reducing crime,” accounting for
about one quarter of the drop in crime during the
1990s, “continued growth in incarceration will
prevent considerably fewer, if any, crimes than
past increases did and will cost taxpayers
substantially more to achieve.”13

Much of that pattern is generated, though, by
surprising factors. Too often people return to
prison or jail not because they have committed
another crime in the ordinary sense of the word.
Each year about 650,000 people are admitted to
state prisons (about the same number being
released). Between 50 and 65 percent of them
are reincarcerated simply because their parole or
probation has been revoked. Of that group,
between half and two-thirds are returned to
prison for technical violations (absconding from
supervision or failure to show up for meetings
with their parole officer; failure to pay supervision
fees, restitution fees or fines; failure to attend
treatment; drug use as detected by urine
analysis; failure to maintain employment; or being
arrested, but not convicted, for a misdemeanor
or felony-level crime).11

Confronting Incarceration Growth
In 2004, state governments faced the worst
budget shortfalls since World War II, with deficits
totaling $80 billion dollars. In most states,
correctional spending was one of the costliest
budget items, totaling over $41billion nationally.
Research conducted by the Council on State
Governments revealed that incarceration growth
in states was driven largely by parole revocation
and reincarceration, a phenomenon that
stemmed from inadequate reentry planning. To
cope with extreme fiscal circumstances and
failing correctional systems, lawmakers in over
twenty-two states passed sentencing reforms
and policy changes that would begin to slow
prison growth and reduce costs.

Beyond Criminal Justice
High incarceration rates take a dramatic toll not
only on the prisoners who cycle back and forth
between cities and remote prisons, but also on
the urban communities from which they come.

for prisoner reentry. If the money allocated from
the Act is indeed appropriated, it will provide
hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to
effective programs. State and local governments
are now searching for the best approaches to
undo the costly economic and social
consequences of mass incarceration.14

An Urban Strategy
Until now, the institutions supported by Justice
Reinvestment initiatives have remained largely
within the orbit of criminal justice and correctional
facilities. Although these service-oriented programs
are crucial to the reduction of the over-reliance of
incarceration and reincarceration, reentry
planning must also tackle larger-scale urban
problems. Failing schools, chronic unemployment,
and laws preventing previously incarcerated
people from receiving housing assistance or
educational aid are typical of the obstacles
facing those who return home from prison.18

Justice Reinvestment
This report focuses on allocating public safety
resources with a new approach, known as
Justice Reinvestment, in which public officials
identify ways to reduce the growth of the prison
population and reinvest those savings in the
parts of cities to which most people released
from prison return.15 The states of Connecticut,
Texas, Arizona, and Kansas have passed Justice
Reinvestment laws. In Texas, for example,
lawmakers created a $241 million network of
treatment and incarceration diversion programs
rather than spending $500 million on new
prisons. Lawmakers in Kansas mandated a
twenty percent reduction in parole revocations
and set aside $7 million for reinvestment in high
incarceration communities.

Incarceration as an urban problem is particularly
difficult to address because prisons are largely
invisible institutions. Visualization of the spatial
characteristics of incarceration is thus an
important first step in implementing Justice
Reinvestment strategies in neighborhoods at an
appropriate urban scale. Recognizing the
patterns of incarceration in million dollar blocks
and neighborhoods reveals opportunities to
disrupt the cycle of release and reincarceration.

The Council on State Governments has provided
technical support to lawmakers in half a dozen
other states considering similar justice
reinvestment initiatives. Typical projects include
introducing day reporting centers as alternatives
to jails and prisons,16 promoting workforce
development and job placement, providing drug
treatment and other community-based programs
to inmates and parolees, and strengthening
family networks as people return home.17

The widespread correctional policy changes that
ensued led to the passage of the Second Chance
Act in 2007, which established a national strategy
8

9

Public hearing of the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) at the New Orleans City Council chambers, March 7, 2007.
Photo: Johnna Cressica Brazier
10

11

Part 2
Incarceration in New Orleans
Crime has been cited as a major social, political,
and economic obstacle in the rebuilding of New
Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Criminal
Justice Leadership Alliance in Orleans Parish has
proposed that the entire criminal justice
infrastructure—not just policing—be rethought to
establish a safer city.19 Some local officials have
gone farther and suggested that criminal justice
must be rethought not simply in the interest of
crime control but as an essential component of
the rebuilding process. While other public and
social infrastructure like education, health, and
housing are being radically transformed, and even
linked to one another physically and
programmatically, the criminal justice
infrastructure has been largely ignored.
Moreover, the city’s planning process is
neglecting to take into account the obstacles that
mass-incarceration creates for neighborhood
revitalization.
Social and economic viability of the city depends
upon the creation of a new urban criminal justice
strategy aimed at reducing incarceration rates
and undertaking strategic interventions to
improve the institutions and infrastructures that
revitalize neighborhoods.

13

Orleans Parish:
Neighborhoods and Incarceration

neighborhoods. Like other cities in the United
States, the maps reveal an uneven distribution of
both prison admissions and prison expenditures
across the city.

Correlating prison admissions data from 2003 to
2007 with other urban data over the same
four-year period, the Spatial Information Design
Lab has produced a series of maps visualizing
incarceration in Orleans Parish’s seventy-three

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Orleans Parish neighborhoods ranked from lowest to highest
incidence of prison admissions, as measured by the ratio of
percent of prison admissions to percent of total city population.
Million dollar neighborhoods are highlighted in red.

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the higher the number of incarcerated people
and the larger the amount of money being spent
on incarceration.
Aligning census data from 2000 with criminal
justice and other urban data from 2003 provides
a picture of Orleans Parish’s pre-Katrina
condition.20

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14

Since Katrina, a lack of accurate data about the
returning population of the city has made analysis
and mapping difficult. Although many
organizations have estimated current
populations, an updated census will only take
place in 2010.21









Orleans Parish, prison expenditures per neighborhood
in thousands of dollars, 2003

2IVERÖ0ARK#UTÖ/FF,OWERÖ#OAST



15







Ö-ILES

Incarceration Demographics

American, were migrating in large numbers
between distant state prisons, local jails, and a
few city neighborhoods.23 In 2003, two-thirds of
people admitted to prison were arrested for
violations of parole, and nearly three-quarters of
prison admissions were due for release in one to
three years.

Before Hurricane Katrina, the State of Louisiana
had both the highest incarceration rate in the
nation and one of the most disproportionately
black prison populations.22 New Orleans
residents in particular, most of them African-

In an effort to address the racial imbalance in the
justice system, the repetitive cycle of
incarceration and reincarceration, and to rethink
prison spending as a state investment, the
Governor convened a task force in 2003 to
consider prison population reduction and highreentry community investment strategies.24

Hurricane Katrina halted the task force’s efforts
and intensified the pattern of migration that the
criminal justice system had been supporting for
years: large numbers of people, mainly poor and
black, were displaced from the most distressed
parts of the city.25

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Percent persons of color per block group, 2000

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16







Ö-ILES













Percent persons living in poverty per block group, 2000



17







Ö-ILES

Costs of Incarceration

poverty, and race in the city. Public spending on
incarceration was disproportionately
concentrated in Planning Districts (PDs) 2, 4, and
7. Census data from 2000 indicate that
percentages of people of color and those living in
poverty in PDs 2, 4, and 7 were consistently
higher than the city wide averages.

Orleans Parish was home to 485,000 people
prior to Hurricane Katrina. In 2003, it cost $42
million to incarcerate 1,432 of its residents.
The maps and their resulting spatial statistics
underscore the overlaps between incarceration,

Planning District % Total Admissions % Total Population
2
15
10
4
24
17
7
14
9
All
.3
100

% People of Color % Living in Poverty
75
40
88
44
87
39
73
28

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Percent adults admitted to prison per block group, 2003

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18







Ö-ILES











Prison expenditures per block group
in thousands of dollars, 2003



19







Ö-ILES

Incarceration and Recovery

2003

,OW

September - December, 2005

2006

2007

(IGH





Ö-ILES

Prison admission density, 2003-2007

Data have been mapped to show the citywide
density of prison admissions over four years. As
of 2007, prison admissions had not yet returned
to pre-Katrina levels, but they had been rising.
In order to illustrate spatial density in these four
maps, the data have been translated into density
surfaces, where bright red indicates the highest
density of prison populations.

2007 maps clearly show that although some
shifts in intensity have occurred, on the whole the
reduction was short-lived.
The 2006 data show that incarceration rates
began to rebound soon after Katrina. The spatial
analysis reveals that incarceration shifted
towards less damaged neighborhoods where
people continued to live, and to which they had
returned.

Comparing prison admission density maps from
2003, late 2005, 2006, and 2007 reveals how
incarceration patterns have shifted and
intensified in some areas since Hurricane Katrina,
while other areas have decreased in prison
admissions. The most striking—if obvious—shift
occurs in the 2005 map, just after Hurricane
Katrina, when incarceration rates dropped nearly
to zero in most areas of the city. The 2006 and

By 2007, the citywide incarceration rate was at
57 percent of its 2003 level, while the overall
population was estimated at 71 percent of its
pre-Katrina figure.26 Incarceration rates, however,
varied from neighborhood to neighborhood, and
in some cases exceeded the corresponding
rates of population return. Central City, for
20

example, had reached 82 percent of its preKatrina incarceration level in 2003, even though
only an estimated 69 percent of its 2000
population had returned. By comparison, the
badly damaged Lower 9th Ward showed prison
admissions down 75 percent, although its
population had fallen by an estimated 85 percent
since 2000.

sent to prison.
These data and maps suggest that there are a
considerable number of questions left open in
the recovery process. However, despite the
prevalence of incarceration in certain
neighborhoods, the city had not considered an
attempt to reduce incarceration growth as a
means of stabilizing affected communities within
the neighborhood planning processes.

There are, no doubt, many ways to interpret the
causes and factors underlying the fluctuations in
rates of incarceration in Orleans Parish over this
period. More importantly, although the particular
neighborhoods facing the highest incarceration
rates have shifted since 2005, the pattern
remains the same as it was before Hurricane
Katrina: a few neighborhoods continue to have
disproportionately high numbers of residents
21

What if?

Orleans Parish criminal justice agencies made
their plan for the future of the city’s justice
infrastructure available to the public in the Justice
Facilities Master Plan, released in September
2007.27 The masterplan predicts that
incarceration rates will return to pre-Katrina
levels by 2017 and proposes refurbishing and
expanding the city’s jail to meet those demands.

As Orleans Parish continues to recover and
rebuild, will it reach or surpass its pre-Katrina
incarceration rates, even as the overall city
population stagnates at its current lower levels?
Or can the city maintain and even reduce lower
the incarceration rates that followed Hurricane
Katrina?
Part three of this report suggests an alternative
strategy for the city. What if Orleans Parish
invested in communities rather than in jails?
What if the city confronted the persistent pattern
of migration back and forth between jail or prison
and certain parts of the city? What sorts of
projects could interrupt that cycle?

Orleans Parish Prison Occupancy
(number of inmates)

In November 2008 Orleans Parish voters
approved a bond initiative that included a
last-minute provision introduced by the Sheriff to
fund a portion of the construction costs for the
first phase of the jail plan. $41 million was
allocated for the construction of a 1,500-bed jail
that is primarily funded by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA).28 The jail would
nearly double its current capacity, bringing the
total to 4,000 beds, or 57 percent of the preKatrina level.29 The latter phases of the masterplan,
which have not yet been funded, call for the
construction of an additional 3,500 prison beds.
Prison reform advocates worry that expanding
capacity in this way will create a financial
incentive to jail more people.
Justice advocates, public officials, and journalists
have expressed varying opinions about the plan,
arguing on the one hand that jail facilities
damaged during the storm are in need of repair,
and on the other that the expense of the facilities,
especially their enlarged size, requires diverting
funding from other crucial infrastructure and
rebuilding priorities.
Adoption of the plan might suggest that New
Orleans voters put building jails ahead of
attempts to reduce incarceration levels. But this
choice does not appear to be coordinated with
the larger-scale rebuilding plans for the city.
Neither the Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP),
which included citizen participation in the design
process, nor the Office of Recovery
Management’s Target Area Development Plans,
incorporated the jail plan into their proposals.

Orleans Parish Prison Occupancy
(number of inmates)

Seeking a Lower Baseline

Hurricane
Katrina

8000
7000

Projected Growth

6000
5000
4000
3000
2000
1000
0

2005

2008

Year

Hurricane
Katrina

8000
7000
6000
5000
4000

Possible Stabilization
and Reduction

3000
2000
1000
0

2005

2008

Year

Top: Projected growth in jail occupancy from Criminal Justice
Facilities Master Plan indicates a return to pre-Katrina levels
of incarceration by 2017. Source: redrawn from illustration in
Justice Facilities Master Plan
22

2017

2017

Bottom: Possible reduction in jail occupancy based on
a strategy to reduce current levels of incarceration while
establishing a safer city with targeted new investments.
Source: SIDL
23

View from O.C. Haley Boulevard towards Central Business District
Photo: Alexandre Galbiati

25

Part 3
Justice Reinvestment in Central City
In July 2006, a team of students and researchers
from the Columbia University Graduate School of
Architecture, Planning and Preservation
conducted fieldwork in New Orleans with the aim
of identifying a pilot site for exploring Justice
Reinvestment strategies.
Guided by prison admissions maps, the team
engaged in a variety of onsite research, attending
planning meetings, conducting site surveys of
million dollar neighborhoods, and making maps,
drawings, photographs and diagrams. Exploring
possible partnerships, the team presented its
findings to community leaders, local groups,
non-profit organizations, and government
officials.
In the course of this research, the neighborhood
of Central City emerged as a prime candidate for
Justice Reinvestment efforts. The team focused
on sites that had high incarceration rates, less
serious damage from Hurricane Katrina, and a
significant number of returning residents.
Maps suggested what residents of the
neighborhood already knew: large numbers of
African-American residents were cycling in and
out of prison. Central City was a place of
concentrated poverty, under-performing schools,
limited access to health care, few job
opportunities, disinvestment, and a crumbling
infrastructure. At the same time, the
neighborhood’s strong social networks,
community groups, and not-for-profit
organizations were already addressing the
effects of incarceration, whether or not they were
dealing with the issue directly.

27

A Million Dollar Neighborhood

Since at least 2003—the beginning of our data
set—Central City has been home to a
disproportionate share of people in prison (see
map on page 15). Even as population numbers
plummeted after Hurricane Katrina, people from
Central City continued to represent about eleven
percent of Orleans Parish prison population and

about four percent of its total population. In 2006,
about half of Central City’s population had
returned but the disproportionate ratio of prison
population to total population remained constant.
New prison admissions data indicate that this
phenomenon continues today. In 2006 and 2007,
the neighborhood still displayed the highest

concentrations of prison admissions in relation to
the total population in all of Orleans Parish. By
2007, Central City’s population was estimated at
69 percent of its pre-hurricane level, yet public
spending on incarceration had reached 82
percent of its pre-Katrina level, totaling $3.5 million.

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Central City is highlighted in white on maps in this section.
28

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levels of flooding made this part of the
neighborhood uninhabitable, resulting in a
decrease in incarceration.

experienced increases in public spending on
incarceration.

Conversely, the blocks around Oretha Castle
Haley Boulevard and Jackson Avenue in Central
City’s core sustained less damage and



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Although Central City maintained consistent
incarceration rates on the whole, within the
neighborhood spatial patterns of incarceration
shifted as a result of the storm. The southeast
corner of Central City was not flooded at all, while
flood levels reached heights of six feet in the
northwest part called the Hoffman Triangle. High

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Forms of Disinvestment

All three public housing projects in the vicinity of
Central City—the C.J. Peete Homes, the B.W.
Cooper Homes, and the William J. Guste
Houses—were underfunded by the Housing
Authority of New Orleans (HANO) before
Hurricane Katrina. After the storm, the C.J. Peete
and B.W. Cooper Homes were closed and
condemned, barring many evacuated residents
from returning to their city and neighborhood.
The housing projects are now being redeveloped
as mixed-income developments, which will
inevitably displace some of the former residents.

In the late 1960s and 1970s, Central City was
the site of major urban demolition and building
projects that changed the quality of its
boundaries and its connections to other
neighborhoods. Its northeastern border was
established in 1975 with the construction of
Interstate 10 and the Louisiana Superdome, a
72,000-seat stadium. These structures isolate
the neighborhood from the adjoining Central
Business District, and from Treme and Lafitte
further to the north. Until the 1970s, Treme,
Lafitte, and Central City had been centers of
African-American business and culture in the
city.

Disinvestment is visible in many storefronts along O.C. Haley Boulevard, a Central City thoroughfare. It is being reinhabited and
revitalized by many of the neighborhood’s community organizations (see asset map on pages 34 and 35).
Photos: Alexandre Galbiati
32

Asset Mapping

Despite Central City’s proximity to the Central
Business District and tourist attractions, prior to
Hurricane Katrina nearly half of its residents lived
below the poverty line (see map on page 15).
The area surrounding O.C. Haley Boulevard in
Central City has shown signs of revitalization, yet
the overall pattern of public and private
disinvestment is visible in the abandoned
storefronts and houses lining the neighborhood’s
streets and in the disrepair of public parks and
recreational spaces.

Despite, or perhaps because of, these
challenges, Central City has an extraordinarily
active and diverse array of community-based
organizations. These groups provide services
related to justice, health, philanthropy, civics,
recreation, faith, education, arts, housing, and
economics. Their projects range from afterschool
programs and cultural events to juvenile justice
services and local food establishments. All of
them have been forced to grapple with the
causes and impacts of high levels of
incarceration.

Some forms of neglect are less visible, however.
In 2003, all but one of the public schools in
Central City were rated as either “unacceptable”
or “under warning” in terms of the 2001 No Child
Left Behind Act. Approximately 60 percent of the
people admitted to prison from New Orleans
were between the ages of 20 and 24, and 46
percent of the Central City residents had no high
school diploma.30 In too many cases, public
education was serving as a pipeline to prison
rather than, as a public asset.

Mapping the locations of Central City’s
organizations and businesses, researching their
missions, and meeting with them was an initial
step towards understanding their functions in the
community. Although the success and failure of
the work of each organization should be
evaluated on its own terms assessing what might
be common to all in terms of the needs of
residents affected by incarceration was at the
heart of our project. This technique is called
“asset mapping.”

33

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34

Left: Proposed Justice Reinvestment Corridor extends the
city’s Target Recovery Corridor along O.C. Haley Boulevard,
Jackson Avenue, and La Salle Street, connecting existing
neighborhood assets.

Top: Target Recovery Areas and proposed Justice
Reinvestment Corridor superimposed on prison expenditure
map, 2007.
35

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Groups working citywide on health, education,
community service, and economic development
were invited to think about expanding their
existing programs to new locations in Central
City. They were encouraged to examine how
their missions could fit into the creation of a
broad-based Justice Reinvestment network that
could provide opportunities both for reentering

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The asset mapping process revealed three
concentrations of activity around O.C. Haley
Boulevard, Jackson Avenue and the C.J. Peete
Homes (see map below). This area coincides
with some of the highest concentrations of
incarceration expenditures in Central City in

social-service groups, an arts and culture center,
a café that acts as a training facility for youths
recently released from prison, a community
health clinic, a newly-established charter school,
and faith-based organizations. Yet despite their
physical proximity, many of these groups worked
in near-total isolation from one another.

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2007 (see map on pages 38 and 39). An urban
corridor links these assets along a central axis
running from the intersection of O.C. Haley
and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevards south to
Jackson Avenue, then west along La Salle Street
to C.J. Peete. The corridor is home to a diverse
array of active neighborhood organizations,
including clusters of small justice-reform and

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Establishing a Justice Reinvestment Network

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this neighborhood.
A Justice Reinvestment proposal for Central
City was presented by the Spatial Information
Design Lab to the New Orleans City Council
in July 2007. The plan expands on the three
recovery and rebuilding plans developed by the
City of New Orleans and its residents: the Bring






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and development projects along the stretch of
O.C. Haley Boulevard north of Martin Luther
King, Jr. Boulevard. By extending the Target
Area corridor past M.L.K. Boulevard to the
south, the Justice Reinvestment network could
connect these improvements to those areas of
the neighborhood with the highest incarceration
rates.


.



New Orleans Back Commission, Lambert, and
Unified New Orleans Plans. These three plans
were consolidated into 17 Target Recovery
Plans by the Office of Recovery Management,
including two located in Central City. A Justice
Reinvestment network would benefit from
and reinforce these existing plans. The city is
currently proposing $1.3 million in improvement

lvd
.

individuals and for members of the community
at large who, by proximity and association,
are affected by incarceration. Through the
examination of maps like the one below,
participating organizations came to understand
the overlap between their work in a specific
field (e.g. health and education) and the issue of
justice reform and specific need of residents in





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Assets activated in Central City Justice Reinvestment network. On this page, clockwise from top left: Ashé Cultural Center,
Café Reconcile, Van McMurray Park, Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, Tulane Community Health Center On the Road,
Allie Mae Williams Multi-Service Center.
40

Assets on this page, clockwise from top left: Hope Community Credit Union, Youth Empowerment Project, Edna Pilsbury Clinic
and Central City Mental Health Clinic, C.J. Peete Community Center, Good Works Network, Dryades YMCA.
41

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Over the course of this work, the Spatial
Information Design Lab team organized a series
of meetings with dozens of local organizations.
The discussions centered on ways that
community groups could, within the limits of
mandates not obviously related to criminal

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justice, nevertheless begin to consider the issues
of incarceration and reentry already facing some
of their constituents. Many of these groups have
worked successfully in Central City for decades,
while others from outside the neighborhood were
seeking local partners. The networking project
brought together groups and residents around a
common purpose: to create a safer, healthier,

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Activating a Justice Reinvestment Network

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Dozens of organizations within and outside
Central City have joined the Justice Reinvestment
network. To enhance communication and

supplement face-to-face meetings, social
networking tools on Facebook designed by the
Spatial Information Design Lab are bringing
unexpected participants into discussions.
Reducing gaps between local and distant actors,
this online environment gives all its participants
the opportunity to shape project development
and the ability to spread news rapidly. As
participation continues to expand, social
networking software can become a powerful tool
for sharing information and coordinating Justice
Reinvestment projects in Central City.

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and more just community in Central City. Once
formalized, a Justice Reinvestment network
creates opportunities not only for people returning
home from prison, but also for other members of
the community. The ambition is to eliminate
disruptive cycles of incarceration and
reincarceration, while simultaneously revitalizing
Central City and retaining its residents.

Network wheel displaying institutions and organizations in Justice Reinvestment Initiative for Central City.
Red: network participants. Black: potential network participants. Photo on facing page shows SIDL meeting with Network
participants March 2008.
42

Clockwise: Norris Henderson, Safe Streets/Strong Communities; Cory Turner, Day Reporting Center; Reed Dixon, Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans; Reverend Emanuel Smith, Israelites Baptist Church; Betty Gene Wolf, Target Recovery
School District; Barbara Lacen-Keller, Central City Partnership and Office of Stacy Head, New Orleans City Council, District B.

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Each Pilot project activates a different potential group of network assets: 1. Tulane Community Health Center On the Road,
2. Construction Mentoring Program, 3. Central City Day Reporting Center, 4. Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans
44

The four pilot projects have been established
independently and are currently supported by a
diverse array of public and private sources. They
will be seeking additional Justice Reinvestment
funds in order to expand their programs
specifically for projects which overlap with issues
of criminal justice reform, the needs of people
returning home from prison, and especially their
familes. Although each of the projects originates
in the expertise of a single sector—health, justice,
economic development, housing, education—the
programs break down the usual silos, overlap to
reinforce one another, and create a network.
Each pilot project includes a cross-section of
organizations in the Justice Reinvestment
network, and together build an interconnected,
multi-sector, spatially dispersed project. The
resulting neighborhood investment is larger than
the size and costs of its parts.

their own contracting firms. Possible partners
for the construction mentoring program include
the New Orleans Neighborhood Development
Collaborative, Café Reconcile, and the
Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans.
3. New Orleans Day Reporting Center
A day reporting center opened February 2, 2009,
funded by the Louisiana Department of
Corrections and the Louisiana Office for
Addictive Disorders. It provides an alternative
sentencing program for people with substanceabuse problems or other treatment needs.
Participants live at home and come daily to a
community-based center for drug rehabilitation,
education, jobs, and community service. As a
result of the Justice Reinvestment networking
initiative, the planners of the Day Reporting
Center decided to locate the project on the
border of Central City in order to maximize its
local effectiveness.

1. Tulane Community Health Center On the Road

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The networking meetings organized by the
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establishment of four pilot projects that, when
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of the community-based Justice Reinvestment
network. The pilot projects exemplify a dual

ENTER

approach to Justice Reinvestment that
addresses prisoner reentry and provides
alternatives to incarceration, while also
addressing the institutional needs of other
community residents. Ideally, these and other
programs would be funded, in part, by the
reinvestment of savings gained through the
reduction of revocations and reincarceration.

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Pilot Projects

The Tulane Community Health Center On the
Road project provides weekly health services to
Central City residents through a mobile medical
unit, addressing the acute health needs of the
population regardless of insurance coverage or
ability to pay. The unit operates out of the parking
lot at Israelites Baptist Church and partners with
the church to connect people and resources.
The goal is to provide cost-effective,
neighborhood-based preventive primary care
that is relevant and responsive to the needs of
Central City residents.

4. Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans
The Conservation Corps of Greater New
Orleans (CCGNO) is a Civic Justice Corps
project coordinated by the Corps Network
in Washington DC. The Conservation Corps
works with young adults in service-learning
projects focusing on environmental restoration,
energy conservation, and historic preservation
and restoration. Many of the participants have
already become entangled in the courts or the
criminal justice system, and CCGNO works to
change the basic terms of that entanglement by
linking youth, employers, justice agencies, and
educational institutions in entirely new ways.
One of CCGNO’s programs, Limitless Vistas,
trained students in mapping the Central City
neighborhood, block-by-block, in an effort to
support restoration.

2. Construction Mentoring Program
The Good Work Network, a small business
incubation program for low income residents,
primarily women and people of color, is creating
a construction mentoring program. Using a new
tax credit program for large developers who
agree to mentor small developers, the program
will assist formerly incarcerated people to create
45

Two Cycles: Two Futures
Justice Reinvestment offers an alternative to the
current cycle of incarceration and return in
Orleans Parish. Two choices confront residents,
community groups, and government officials as
they continue to rebuild the city. They can
deepen the current dependence on a criminal

Housing

Health

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justice exostructure that siphons money and jobs
away from their own neighborhoods and toward
prison communities hundreds of miles away, or
they can reinvest public resources in
neighborhood institutions and infrastructure,
networking existing assets and building new
ones. All citizens have something at stake in the
outcome of this decision.

Conclusion

expanded Justice Reinvestment plan. The City
Council could adopt policies that lead to
reduced growth in City jail and State prison
populations and expenditures. Guided by the
Justice Reinvestment Initiative, cost savings from
the correctional system could be channeled into
investment in Central City as well as other million
dollar neighborhoods in New Orleans.

The introduction of a geographic or spatial
dimension into the analysis of mass incarceration
is important because it identifies specific places
in need of attention that might be invisible to
policy makers, urban designers and planners.
Central City, New Orleans is one such place.
Detailed maps at the neighborhood scale allow
the identification of local institutions and
infrastructures where the need for improvement
is greatest.

By integrating justice reform efforts and
community-based participatory programming to
coincide with and reinforce the city’s rebuilding
efforts, the success of a Justice Reinvestment
project in Central City could promote safety,
social justice, urban, economic and social
revitalization, and also serve as a model for other
million dollar neighborhoods in Louisiana and
nationwide.

Guided by what prison admissions data and
maps made visible—consistently high levels of
and public spending on incarcerating residents
of Central City from 2003-2007—the Spatial
Information Design Lab worked to create a
neighborhood-based network to catalyze a
Justice Reinvestment Initiative. The four pilot
projects which have emerged, exemplify ways in
which targeted investments will benefit the entire
neighborhood including people coming home
from prison. More projects can grow out of these
pilot initiatives and leverage other public and
private investments to contribute to the ongoing
rebuilding of the city.
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is a work in
progress. As a next step, the Central City
network needs to formalize, coordinate, and
evaluate the impacts of these overlapping
projects, and enable the multiple groups to
continue programming projects and strategies.
During this process, the network should
strengthen its collaboration with the New
Orleans City Council’s Criminal Justice
Leadership Alliance, which brings together local
government officials and experts to promote
correctional policy reform. The network should
also select and identify an organization or leader
to take ownership, and guide and coordinate the
process of creating and implementing an

Network

This diagram describes two options for criminal justice infrastructure in the city: 1. as an exostructure, cycling people and money
from their neighborhood to prison and back; or 2. as an infrastructure, which keeps people and money in their neighborhood by
investing in alternatives to incarceration, education, arts, economic development, health, recreation and beyond.

47

Network Participants

Economic

Philanthropy

Central City Economic Opportunity Corporation
2020 Jackson Ave New Orleans, LA 70113

*Baptist Community Ministries
400 Poydras Street, Suite 2950 New Orleans, LA 70130
www.bcm.org

*Good Work Network
1824 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd New Orleans, LA 70113
www.goodworknetwork.org
Hope Credit Union
1726 Oretha C Haley Blvd New Orleans, LA 70113
www.hopecu.org
O.C. Haley Merchants and Business Association
1614B Oretha Castle Haley Blvd New Orleans, LA 70113
www.ochaleyblvd.org
Justice
*Families and Friends of
Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC)
1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd New Orleans, LA 70113
www.FFLIC.org
*Juvenile Justice Project of Lousiana (JJPL)
1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd New Orleans, LA 70113
www.jjpl.org

*Open Society Institute, After Prison Initiative
400 West 59th Street, New York, NY 10019
www.soros.org

Civic
*Allie Mae Williams Multi-Service Center
2020 Jackson Ave. New Orleans, LA 70113
*Central City Partnership
2020 Jackson Ave. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.centralcitypartnership.org
Central City Renaissance Alliance
1809 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.myccra.org
*Criminal Justice Leadership Alliance
Faith

*Juvenile Regional Services
1820 St. Charles Ave Suite 205, New Orleans, LA 70130
www.jrsla.org

Catholic Charities
2407 Baronne St. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.ccano.org

*Safe Streets / Strong Communities
1600 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.safestreetsnola.org

God Who Cares Tabernacle
P.O. Box 57954 New Orleans, LA 70157

*Youth Empowerment Project
1604 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd New Orleans, LA 70113
www.youthempowermentproject.org
Health
Central City Mental Health Clinic
2221 Philip St. New Orleans, LA 70113
Edna Pilsbury Health Clinic
Healthcare for the Homeless Program
2222 Simon Bolivar Ave. New Orleans, LA 70113
REACH NOLA
www.reachnola.org
*Tulane Community Health Center
611 N. Rampart St. New Orleans, LA 70112
*Tulane Community Health On the Road
1430 Tulane Ave. SL-16, New Orleans, LA 70112
2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (Fridays, 8:30am-4:30pm)
www.tuchc.org

*Israelites Baptist Church
2100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.israelitecamp.com
Living Witness Church of God in Christ
www.livingwitnesscogic.org

Education
Café Reconcile
1631 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.cafereconcile.com
Central City Headstart
2020 Jackson Ave. New Orleans, LA 70113

Dryades YMCA
P.O. Box 58217 New Orleans, LA 70156
www.dryadesymca.com
Kids Camera Project
www.kidcameraproject.org
KIPP School Central City
2625 Thalia St. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.kippcentralcity.org
*Louisiana Recovery School District
New Orleans Central Office
1641 Poland Avenue New Orleans, LA 70117
www.rsdla.net
Art
Ashe Cultural Center
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. New Orleans, LA 70113
www.ashecac.org
Community Development Through Music, CulturePAC
4900 Laurel Street New Orleans, LA 70115
www.rhythmconspiracy.com
Housing
Neighborhood Development Foundation
4000 Bienville St. Suite A, New Orleans, LA 70119
www.ndf-neworleans.com
Neighborhood Housing Services of New Orleans
4700 Freret St. New Orleans, LA 70115
www.nhsnola.org
New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity
7100 Saint Charles Ave. New Orleans, LA 70118
www.habitat-nola.org
New Orleans Neighborhood Development Collaborative
1055 St Charles Ave. Suite 120, New Orleans, LA 70130
www.nondc.org
The C. J. Peete Redevelopment
www.nondc.org
Urban Strategies
1415 Olive St. Suite 209, St. Louis, MO 63103
www.urbanstrategiesinc.org

*Conservation Corps of Greater New Orleans
4240 Canal St. New Orleans, LA 7011
*The Corps Network
666 Eleventh St. NW, Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20001

*Active Participants in Justice Reinvestment Network

Notes

1. Adam Liptak, “Inmate Count in U.S. Dwarfs Other Nations,”
New York Times, 23 Apr. 2008.
2. Pew Center on the States, “One in 100: Behind Bars in
America 2008.” <http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/
uploadedFiles/One%20in%20100.pdf>
3. Architecture and Justice (GSAPP/SIDL, 2008).
4. Jennifer Gonnerman, “Million-Dollar Blocks: The
neighborhood costs of America’s prison boom,” Village
Voice, 9 Nov. 2004. See also: Lauren MacIntyre, “Rap Map,”
The New Yorker, 8 Jan. 2007; and Amy Zimmer, “Multi
‘million-dollar’ blocks of Brownsville: The cost of incarceration
vs. investment in community,” Metro New York, 14 May 2007.
5. Although the cities range in size from hundreds of
thousands to millions of people, the pattern of incarceration
is more or less the same in all the cities analyzed. The Pattern
(GSAPP/SIDL, 2008).
6. “At year end 2005 there were 3,145 black male sentenced
prison inmates per 100,000 black males in the United States,
compared to 1,244 Hispanic male inmates per 100,000
Hispanic males and 471 white male inmates per 100,000
white males.” Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prison Statistics:
Summary of Findings, 2005. <http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/
prisons.htm>
7. See among others: Michael Jacobson, Downsizing Prisons
(New York: New York University Press, 2005) pg. 43.
8. See: The Pattern (GSAPP/SIDL, 2008) for documentation
of this phenomenon in four U.S. cities. Analysis of data from
Phoenix, Wichita, New Orleans and New York City, and
other cities, revealed that high incarceration neighborhoods,
community districts, and census blocks are overwhelmingly
populated by people of color and people living in poverty.
9. The Council of State Governments (CSG) created a
Reentry Policy Council, and along with the JFA Institute, the
Vera Institute of Justice, and others, it is doing pioneering
work in this field.
10. Petersilia, Joan, When Prisoners Come Home: Parole
and Prisoner Reentry (Studies in Crime and Public Policy)
(Oxford University Press, 2003).
11. “Unlocking America: Why and How Reduce America’s
Prison Population” JFA Institute, Nov 2007 pg 23 <http://
www.jfa-associates.com>
12. Todd R. Clear, Dina R. Rose, Elin Waring and Kristen
Scully, “Coercive Mobility and Crime: A Preliminary Examination of Concentrated Incarceration and Social Disorganization,” Justice Quarterly, 20[1] Spring, 2003: pg. 33-64.

13. Public Safety Performance Project, “Public Safety, Public
Spending: Forecasting America’s Prison Population, 2007–
2011,” 2006 pg 24. <http://www.jfa-associates.com>
14. <http://reentrypolicy.org/government_affairs/second_
chance_act>
15. See the work of the Justice Center in the Council of State
Governments at <http://justicereinvestment.org>
Justice Reinvestment was conceived and launched by Susan
Tucker and Eric Cadora at the After Prison Initiative at the
Open Society Institute in 2003.
16. Erik Eckholm, “New Tack on Straying Parolees Offers a
Hand Instead of Cuffs,” New York Times, 17 May 2008.
17. Family Justice is a not-for-profit organization in New
York. Its mission: “Family Justice taps the natural resources
of families, the collective wisdom of communities, and the
expertise of government to make families healthier and
neighborhoods safer. Since its founding in 1996, Family
Justice has emerged as a leading national nonprofit institution
dedicated to developing innovative, cost-effective solutions
that benefit people at greatest risk of cycling in and out of the
justice system. “ <http://www.family justice.org>

23. On the unusual numbers and conditions of prisoners
in Louisiana local jails, see: Michael Jacobson, Downsizing
Prisons, New York: New York University Press, 2005
pg. 204.
24. See Council of State Governments and Criminal Justice
Program, “Options for Policy Makers considering a Justice
Reinvestment Initiative in Louisiana,” Jan. 2004. <http://www.
csgeast.org/pdfs/justicereinvest/LAjustreinvestmentreport.pdf>
25. Ibid, 8-9.
26. Estimated by the Brookings Institute based on the
number of households actively receiving mail in the city.
<http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2007/~/media/Files/rc/r
eports/2007/08neworleansindex/200801_katrinaES.pdf>
27. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA),
“Justice Facilities Master Plan: New Orleans, Louisiana,”
15 Sept. 2007. <http://www.fema.gov/news/newsrelease.
fema?id=46685>
28. Bruce Eggler, “Money OK’d for roads, parks; $320
million slated for city infrastructure,” Times-Picayune, 15 Oct.
2008.

18. Jeremy Travis, But They All Come Back; Facing the
Challenges of Prisoner Reentry (Urban Institute Press,
2005).

29. Laura Maggi. “Jail bond proposal on Saturday ballot;
Critics say it didn’t get enough public input,” TimesPicayune, 2 Oct. 2008.

19. Established in the fall of 2007, the Criminal Justice
Leadership Alliance joined with the Vera Institute of Justice
to create a fair, efficient, accountable, and effective criminal
justice system in New Orleans. Initiatives prioritized by the
Alliance include providing a range of sentencing options
(for example, community service, drug treatment and job
training) for individuals who do not pose a threat to public
safety, enhancing inter-agency procedures between the New
Orleans Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office
that support early case screening, and developing a problemsolving, community-based approach to municipal offenses.

30. Council of State Governments, “Options for Policymakers
Considering a Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Louisiana,”
pg 3.

20. The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center
(GNOCDC) archives pre-Katrina statistics.
<http://www.gnocdc.org>
21. GNODC and the Brookings Insititute have published
estimated population statistics since Katrina based on utility
accounts and residential postal deliveries. <http://www.
brookings.edu/reports/2007/08neworleansindex.aspx> and
<http://www.gnocdc.org>
22. Public Safety Performance, a project of the Pew
Charitable Trust, Public Safety, Public Spending,
Forecasting America’s Prison Population, iii. <http://www.
pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/Public%20
Safety%20Public%20Spending.pdf>

Data Sources

Copyright 2008 by the Trustees of Columbia University in the
City of New York. All rights reserved.

Prison Admissions Data 2003 provided by:
Justice Mapping Center and JFA Institute.

ISBN 1-883584-58-2

Prison Admissions Data 2006, 2007 provided by:
Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

This pamphlet has been produced through the office of the
Dean, Mark Wigley and the Spatial Information Design Lab.

All other data from 2000 Census unless otherwise noted.

Spatial Information Design Lab
Graduate School of Architecture Planning
and Preservation / Columbia University
1172 Amsterdam Avenue
400 Avery Hall
New York NY 10027
http://www.arch.columbia.edu/SIDL

The data source agencies are not responsible for the
accuracy of the maps or the conclusions of the authors, who
themselves take sole responsibility.

Credits
Justice Reinvestment: Central City is a project of the Spatial
Information Design Lab which was founded in 2004 as
an interdisciplinary research unit in the Graduate School
of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia
University. This work was generously funded by the Katrina
Fund at the Open Society Institute.
This work builds upon a two year research project: Graphical
Innovations in Justice Mapping, a collaboration between
the Justice Mapping Center, the Spatial Information Design
Lab and the JFA Institute. Project Team: Laura Kurgan, Eric
Cadora (Project Directors), Sarah Williams, David Reinfurt.
Project Director: Laura Kurgan
Project Coordinator: Steven Caputo
Research Associates: Johnna Cressica Brazier,
Deborah Grossberg Katz
Summer Research Fellows 2006: Andrew Colopy, Candy
Chang, Derek Lindner, Leah Meisterlin, Julia Molloy,
Intern: Alexandre Galbiati
Invaluable research and thinking was also provided by the
students in the GSAPP Advanced Studio, Spring 2007:
Johnna Cressica Brazier, Steven Caputo, Jane Estrada, Laura
Lee, Catie Liken, John G. Lloyd, Annemarie Scheel.
With special thanks to Susan Tucker, Director of the After
Prison Initiative at the Open Society Institute, and The
Honorable James Carter, Councilmember, District C, New
Orleans City Council.
This project would not have moved forward without the
assistance of: Leah Berger, Allyson Collins, Reed Dixon,
Norris Henderson, Dana Kaplan, Luceia LeDoux, Barbara
Lacen-Keller, Karen De Salvo, Cory Turner, and especially
Nadiene Van Dyke, and who generously provided us with
local expertise, assistance and meeting space in New
Orleans. The work could not have been done without your
participation.

Spatial Information Design Lab
Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation
Columbia University

 

 

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