The Justice Mapping Center uses computer mapping and other graphical depictions of quantitative data to analyze and communicate social policy information. Our approach is based on the plain fact that American society is stratified and that where people live is a direct expression of those different social and economic strata. Therefore, criminal justice, social welfare, and economic development policies are intimately related to particular jurisdictions, neighborhoods, and locales. Our goal is to help our partners add these socio-geographic dimensions to their work. We use maps to:
- Reveal hidden patterns and realities that tables and charts leave unrecognized.
- Create place-based measures of performance that build shared goals among separate agencies.
- Provide compelling visualizations of policies that are easily understood by a wide variety of constituents.
Who We Are
The Justice Mapping Center is directed by Eric Cadora, who oversees policy analysis and Charles Swartz, who oversees geographic research and map production. While the Center itself has wide-ranging and long-standing experience in criminal justice policy analysis and information design, we are also closely linked to specialists and experts around the country.
The Center also benefits from an innovative partnership that links a research lab environment to applied field work. In collaboration with the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, & Preservation, we experiment with new visualizations of quantitative data at the Spatial Information Design Lab, where architects, GIS researchers, graphic designers, and studio students all collaborate over a variety of policy representation challenges. At the same time, the Center works closely with the JFA Institute, which is a national leader in criminal justice policy analysis and a technical assistance provider to state correctional agencies around the country.
In this way, we are able to bring real-world policy challenges to the Design Lab at Columbia University, while testing out innovative information visualizations in the field with the JFA Institute. This feedback loop enables us to continually refine our analytical, evaluation, and communications strategies.
The Justice Mapping Center is the work of Eric Cadora and Charles Swartz. “Justice Mapping” was developed by Cadora in 1998 while working with the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services under a Community Justice grant of the Open Society Institute. Over the following years Cadora and Swartz produced justice mapping analyses in numerous states around the country in partnership with many organizations, including the Open Society Institute, the JFA Institute, the Council of State Governments, and the Urban Institute.
Prior to establishing the Center, Cadora served as Program Officer for The After Prison Initiative at the Open Society Institute Foundation for four years. The After Prison Initiative is a grantmaking program created to support criminal justice policies that place reintegration and public safety at the center of the criminal justice mission. Cadora joined OSI in June, 2001 after 14 years at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES). CASES is the nation’s largest and longest running intermediate sanctions program. Over the years, Cadora directed the work of CASES’ Research, and Policy, Court Communications, and Information Systems units, as well as its Day Center program. Cadora was the recipient of an Edna McConnell Clarke justice grant in 1996 to help the North Carolina Division of Adult Probation and Parole—with whom he worked for the following five years—to implement intermediate sanctions programs under the state’s new structured sentencing guidelines. Cadora is co-author of the book, Community Justice, with Dr. Todd Clear, which reviews the emergence of community policing in the 1980’s, community courts in the 90’s, and the emergence of a new community corrections in 2000.