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Every person has inherent dignity
We can create new models for safety and justice
Every community has immeasurable worth
We can focus on healing, not retribution
Together, we can build something better
We can imagine new models of community safety


A criminal punishment system reinforces the false idea that there are good guys and bad guys, and the more we punish the bad guys, the safer we are.

We reject that idea.

Instead, we are diagnosing the underlying causes of injustice and instability, so we can create an antidote and imagine a new approach to community that serves the healing process, not the retribution process.


At Just Communities Arizona, we are creating new models for justice and safety, outside of Arizona’s punishment system. Together, we’re working toward a system that provides peace, community, and safety for everyone. How are we accomplishing this? We work alongside people with convictions, formerly incarcerated people, and our shared communities to:
  • Center their stories
  • Cultivate the next generation of community leaders
  • Reframe justice through a lens of healing, not retribution
  • Dismantle outdated ideas and hurtful systems
  • Build community-based solutions
Safe communities invest in arts, leisure, sustainable food systems, and take a proactive approach to ensuring people are active, healthy, and living in a thriving environment.”
Cesar Ruiz
Barrio Centro, TUCSON, AZ

Some Key Facts

The punishment system sends the constant message that we are unsafe because dangerous criminals are everywhere, seeking to harm us or our families. In reality, it is this very system that creates the most harm.  

50 th
Incarceration rate

Despite having average crime rates, Arizona is the 5th highest incarcerator in the US.

1 %
Personally Impacted

1 in 13 Arizonans are personally impacted by the system.

-4 %
Violent crime

You are more likely to be caught up in the punishment system than you are to be a victim of violent crime.*

The Bottom Line

Such a high rate of incarceration means most of us have someone in our lives who’s been caught up in the criminal punishment system.

These are our sons, daughters, cousins, aunts, neighbors, and friends. They are loved ones who might have drug or alcohol addictions, struggle with mental illness, or kids who fell in with the wrong crowd.

And they didn’t get the help they needed when they needed it most, because Arizona invests more in enforcement and incarceration than in programs and services that address the root causes of crime.

The antidote to this failed system lies in our own communities.

We know what we need to keep us safe. Join us and help create the communities we all want to be part of. Join our newsletter mailing list today to learn more about how you can be part of the solution


The highlights

We are an organization of abolitionists that affirms the inherent and undeniable dignity of every person and the immeasurable worth of every community.

We are creating new models for justice and safety outside of Arizona’s punishment system.

For decades, the conversation around community safety, meant surveillance, policing, and criminalization with arrest or incarceration as the go-to solutions.

But when affected communities are asked directly what makes them safe, they refer to things that exist entirely outside the criminal justice system: conditions that bring people together, build relationships and trust, attend to the needs of children and families, and support both physical and emotional health.

We serve those directly impacted by the punishment system: people with convictions, formerly incarcerated people, and their communities.

Community reviews

What does Community Safety Look Like?

Over a 2-year community action research project on safety, we asked members of the Barrio Centro community, in southeast Tucson, Arizona, what community safety feels like.

Notably, although the community has it’s average share of reported crime, no respondents name traditional carceral safety, including police, policing, border patrol, or jails, as resources that community members feel contribute to healthy, thriving, and safe-looking or safe-feeling communities.

A just community is a place where there is connection, fairness, support, compromise, nature, love, purpose, and meaningful jobs.
Emily Flores
Barrio Centro
Just communities are places that are compassionate, inclusive, open, supportive, forgiving, and foward thinking.
Lucas Grant
Barrio Centro