Past Program


Serial failures to redress social, legal, and economic injustice and structural racism underpin violence and disproportionally shape politics, policing, and judicial systems around the world. Yet bold reforms in different jurisdictions suggest that cross-cutting interventions can be cost-effective and foster more humane, inclusive and healthier societies. What can we learn, share and take to scale for long-term results?

As part of a major multi-year initiative – Global Innovations on Youth Violence, Safety and Justice – this focus group meeting will bring together a diverse, cross-sector, international, inter-generational cohort of participants to identify the most effective, viable and replicable solutions to enhance community safety and cohesion. This focus group will address this bottom-up level of intervention to compare individual lived experience of violence, injustice, racism and prejudice across the sectors and structures of different societies.

Participation in this program is by invitation only.

In many countries around the world, including the United States, there is growing recognition among policymakers and reform advocates that effective criminal justice reform must look beyond the toolkit and institutions of the criminal justice system itself. In a growing number of settings, innovations based on community-centered, cross-sectoral approaches and socially integrative methods of engaging young people and violent offenders before, during, and after they encounter the criminal justice system, are proving to be more humane, just, and effective. 

To catalyze global research-based exchange to tackle youth violence and promote youth safety and criminal justice reform, including the seeding of new strategies in the United States, Salzburg Global Seminar is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and the David Rockefeller Fund on a major multi-year initiative. 

The initiative will address the current structural, legal, economic, and social weaknesses and inefficiencies of judicial and custodial systems across multiple countries and jurisdictions. Working with diverse stakeholders from around the world, including young adults, it will identify the most innovative and effective approaches, tools, and technologies, in and outside the criminal justice system, to enhance public safety and community cohesion, reduce crime and incarceration, and help transform judicial and prison systems. 

Key trends and drivers that will influence the future of reform efforts worldwide include:

  • Changing demographics 
  • Decolonization and contested legacies that drive demand for diversity, equity, and inclusion in policing, judicial, and law enforcement structures 
  • Climate change and migration 
  • Unequal representation and access to justice 
  • Constraints on public justice system budgets and shrinking resources for legal aid 
  • Political and societal determinants of (in)justice 
  • Rapid and unequal urbanization with increased spatial and social segregation 
  • Uses and abuses of new technologies 
  • Radical changes in the labor market and future economic opportunities
  • Measures introduced as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic
Program Format
Goals & Outcomes
Eddie Bocanegra
Senior Director, Heartland Alliance - READI Chicago, USA
David Brotherton
Professor of Sociology, John Jay College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York, USA
Hernán Carvente-Martinez
Founder/CEO, Healing Ninjas, Inc., USA
Elizabeth Cauffman
Professor of Psychological Science, University of California, Irvine, USA
Khalil Cumberbatch
Director, Strategic Partnerships, Council on Criminal Justice, USA
Teresita Escotto-Quesada
Independent Consultant, Mexico City, Mexico
Barry Feld
Centennial Professor of Law Emeritus, University of Minnesota Law School, USA
Laurie Garduque
Criminal Justice Program Director, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, USA
Lukas Haynes
Executive Director, David Rockefeller Fund, USA
Michael Jacobson
Professor/Executive Director, CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance, USA
Damola Johnson
Chief Operating Officer, African Development University, Niger
Samuel Karuita
Director of Programs, Peace Ambassadors Integration Organization, Kenya
Marsha Levick
Chief Legal Officer, Juvenile Law Center, USA
Tracey Meares
Walton Hale Hamilton Professor of Law, Yale Law School, USA
Eduardo Moncada
Assistant professor, Barnard College, Columbia University, USA
Edward Mulvey
Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, USA
Tess Peacock
Director, Equality Collective, South Africa
Asier Santillan Luzuriaga
Crisis Response Officer, Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, European Commission, Spain
Devon Simmons
Vice-Chair, Canary Impact Fund, USA
Obioma Uche
Visiting Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology, Nigeria

This focus group is part of Phase 1 of the multi-year initiative, Global Innovations on Youth Violence, Safety and Justice. Please see the ABOUT section in the main menu for a full description of the format of the initiative. 

In each focus group, a small group of stakeholders (see PARTICIPATION) will be asked to:

  • Identify select stakeholders and relevant institutions to join, collaborate, and build a wider community;
  • Generate ideas, critical questions, and research outputs on pertinent topics;
  • Appraise measures and interventions along a continuum of radical innovation, gradual reform, and/or maintenance of the status quo; and 
  • Set priorities and build visibility for Phase 2 of the initiative.
Key Questions

The focus of this group will be: Enhance Community Safety and Cohesion 

Focus groups addressing this bottom-up level of intervention will compare individual lived experience of violence, injustice, racism and prejudice across the sectors and structures of different societies. This baseline analysis will support stepwise inquiry as follows: 

  1. What are the most innovative approaches that effectively address individual lived experience, cultures of violence and unequal treatment before the law? 
  2. Where has community leadership generated positive change? 
  3. What are the methods of analysis (technology, data, tools and techniques), and what are the research gaps? 
  4. What are the media & communications implications, and how can these examples be utilized in other contexts? 
  5. What other aspects (education, health, financial literacy, political, cultural…) need to be addressed?

This initiative will bring together a diverse, cross-sector, international and intergenerational group of stakeholders, including young people, formerly incarcerated people and victims/survivors of violence.

Participants in the initiative will include community representatives, educators, social entrepreneurs, activists, and leaders from public health, sports and culture; members of communities facing racial, ethnic, economic, and other forms of structural injustice; mayors, public officials, and policymakers; judges, prosecutors and public interest lawyers; police chiefs, prison governors and probation officers; formerly incarcerated persons; academics and researchers; and media/communications innovators. 

Participation will be inclusive and non-transactional, using an iterative process that can engage thought leaders, practitioners, people with experience of incarceration, victims/survivors, and others with unique perspectives who are identified as the initiative evolves. 

The initiative will first focus on the United States and selected countries in Latin America and Eurasia. Additional jurisdictions may be added to integrate specific examples and experiences of criminal justice transformation.

Goals & Outcomes

This multi-year initiative aims to:

  1. Enhance community safety and cohesion
  2. Reduce violence, crime and incarceration 
  3. Transform judicial and prison systems 

In addressing these three goals, the initiative aims to accelerate systems change and lasting results at three levels: 

  1. Individual lived experience by enhancing community safety and cohesion.
  2. Individual/community interactions with systems of authority, law and order by reducing violence, crime and incarceration.
  3. System/institutional mandates, funding, staffing, metrics and accountability by transforming judicial and prison systems.

For each level of intervention, the participants in the initiative will identify and evaluate approaches, tools and technologies in four specific fields:

  1. New intervention points that could have long-term benefits for reducing violence, injustice, racism, and implicit bias/prejudice in and outside criminal justice systems.
  2. Multi-country comparisons, focusing initially on national/subnational jurisdictions that have pioneered successful approaches in criminal justice policy and practice.
  3. Direct engagement of people and communities of color and other marginalized communities to learn from and amplify their voices.
  4. New initiatives to change attitudes, behaviors, and investments, responding to racial and social justice protests in the United States and around the world and to risks and demands driven by the pandemic.

Salzburg Global, partners and participants in the initiative will communicate and disseminate the most promising research-based strategies to reduce rates of violence, incarceration, and recidivism to policymakers and communities in the US and globally through publications, media, products, video interviews/documentaries, targeted recommendations, and a future cross-sector research agenda.