Fellow Since 2001
The Shapiro Justice Initiative
This profile was prepared when Carol Shapiro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Carol believes that the very families that are often destabilized by drugs and crime are, in fact, a major stabilizing influence for those under community-based justice supervision. By drawing upon family members' mutual loyalties, desire to help, and availability (often, 24 hours a day), supervision agencies can improve supervision and treatment outcomes, as well as family well-being. Carol's organization, Family Justice, is helping government agencies identify these under-utilized family resources and mobilize needed support systems for supervisees and their families. Carol's idea contains a number of innovations. For example, Carol's model builds on the strengths of the family rather than on the deficits of the individual. It identifies untapped areas in which family members can offer support to each other, while also identifying areas of family and/or individual need that can be addressed through social service interventions. Secondly, the model builds upon supports in the community, thus engaging the help of powerful systems that, when coordinated, can function as a cost-effective safety net for the family. The model also looks to partnerships with government to create a framework in which all parties involved feel a sense of ownership of the philosophy, methodology, tools–and success–of its practice. Having first applied her model to a population of substance abusers under community-based justice supervision from a storefront facility in lower Manhattan, Carol is now applying the model in other venues and with other populations under justice system supervision. Today, Carol's justice innovation enjoys broad-based support from both the public and private sectors and is creating a paradigm shift–moving community supervision practices away from a coercive, criminal punishment model and toward a collaborative, public health model.