The best way to get involved with the Valley Justice Coalition is to come to one of our regular Monday meetings. We meet each Monday from noon until 1:00pm at the Dean House, 110 Old S. High St. Harrisonburg, VA 22801. You’ll meet other people who are passionate about criminal justice reform and making a difference in our community. That way, we’ll get to know you to and be able to collaborate.
That said, here’s a few things we can use help with:
- Plan an event. It’s crucial that we keep the broader Harrisonburg community involved in what’s going. Not everyone can make it to the dizzying array of meetings where decisions get made. Not everyone can evaluate policy proposals. Yet we believe in a democracy where everyone’s voice matters, and this can be accomplished in part by creating events to share what we’re working on and encourage public dialogue on the ways public decisions impact our community.
- Write a politician. State legislators tell us that if they get ten letters on a topic, that’s a big deal. On some topics, you might be the only person they hear from. We work mostly at local levels where each person’s voice can make a difference. Click here for some tips.
- Write a letter to the editor. In our local newspaper, the Daily News-Record, letters to the editor must be no more than 150 words, and open forum opinions must be 480-500 words. That’s not very much! On the bright side, this forces you to get straight to the point you’re trying to make. You can do it!
- Review research literature. If digging through academic journals is your thing, we have plenty research projects for you. At the time of this writing, the major task is drug court best practices, but there’s always something. We want the most effective policies, practices, and programs for reducing incarceration and supporting desistance from crime, and to do this we need to utilize current research and theory.
- Improve this website. Do you have an eye for design? Interest in making infographics and data visualizations? An obsession with organizing? There’ s a lot that can be done to make this site attractive, add content, and share more of the data we have accumulated.
- Find members for our Speakers Bureau. If you or someone you know has lived experience that may be relevant to our work, please consider talking to us. Even if you’re not comfortable speaking in public, you could be a great help to us in talking with individual decision-makers, anonymous anecdotes, or other mediums.
We often work with interns from James Madison University and Eastern Mennonite University. Contact us if you’d like to arrange a formal internship.
We have worked hard to gather resources that will be helpful to those interested in getting involved. Check out our extensive library to understand the criminal justice system, learn about community organizing, or track our local city and county budget process.