DJ+DS | About
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Our Mission

At Designing Justice + Designing Spaces (DJDS) we believe that the built environment embodies many of our society’s gross inequities. Through our innovations in architecture and real estate development, we seek to end the crisis caused by mass incarceration by supporting re-entry and diversion programs and practices. With our non-profit, government and community partners, we co-create new prototypes such as peacemaking centers, mobile classrooms, and housing for foster age youth. Together, we harness the power of the built environment to create triple bottom line equity and support the success and expansion of restorative justice, education, and workforce development programs.

Thousands of these processes operate in the US, Canada, and Europe, with many dialogues occurring in prisons when the offender is incarcerated and the crimes have been violent. Research suggests that these encounters contribute to increased empathy, improved restitution completion, and reduced offending.

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Bold Idea

By engaging communities in the design and development of new buildings that integrate restorative justice/economics, education and reentry housing, DJDS counters prevailing policies and societal inequities evident in the dominant architectural models of courthouses and prisons.

Our Philosophy

Restorative justice seeks to restore and repair the people and relationships impacted by crime by understanding victims’ needs and holding offenders accountable in a way that meets these needs. It brings victims and offenders together for face-to-face meetings to discuss impacts, needs, and, when appropriate, ways to repair damages. Thousands of these processes operate in the US, Canada, and Europe, with many dialogues occurring in prisons when the offender is incarcerated and the crimes have been violent. Research suggests that these encounters contribute to increased empathy, improved restitution completion, and reduced offending.

Rather than focused on punishment, this philosophical approach to justice relies on values such as respect, participation, trust, accountability, and healing. Just as the principles and values of our punitive approach to justice manifest in our current justice architectural typologies, the philosophies of a restorative model can inform the design of justice spaces in a radically different way.

At DJ+DS our work is informed by these values and beliefs. Using the philosophy of restorative justice we design physical environments in such a way that the environmental design supports the programs which occur within the space.

This concern for the design of the spaces in which restorative justice occurs is new but important. As a localized, place-based criminal, cultural, and civic approach, restorative justice practices require local, flexible and immediately available meeting places. It requires that we support the development of new types of housing and resources centers to address the root causes of mass incarceration.

Tools

As we seek to make the transition from a punitive model of justice to a restorative system tools are required to inspire dialogue, education and strategize on the future we are working to create. DJ+DS creates digital and analogue tools and curriculum to fuel this change.

Design

We believe that good design influences how we feel and act. With our partners and stakeholders, we harness the power of the built environment support our emotional and physiological well-being.

Deanna Van Buren

Deanna Van Buren

Co-founder and Design Director
Prior to starting DJDS, Deanna spent 15 years as a design lead on domestic, institutional and higher education projects in the Bay Area, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.   Her design leadership in restorative justice design has attracted funding such as a Byrne Justice Innovation Grant with the Center for Court Innovation to develop a peacemaking center in Syracuse, NY.  In addition to built projects, Deanna manifests her thought leadership on restorative justice architecture through published materials such as the “Restorative Justice City Map”and “Guidelines for Creating Restorative Spaces in Schools”.
Kyle Rawlins

Kyle Rawlins

Co-Founder and Development Director
Kyle has been active in the analysis, financing, design, construction and management of real estate in North and South America for nearly 15 years. In addition to pursuing development projects in New York City, Kyle has consulted to the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) in the development of a solution for how might NYCHA, as landlords with a mission to help residents grow their income and assets, spearhead the creation of an economic development model to empower unemployed, unbanked, credit challenged “NYCHApreneurs” so that they may access capital to build sustainable, livable wage producing businesses.
Barb Toews

Barb Toews

Restorative Justice Consultant
Barb is an experienced practitioner and educator in restorative justice, with a special interest in its application in correctional facilities. She is currently Assistant Professor in criminal justice at University of Washington Tacoma. Her current research focuses on the relationship between restorative justice, architecture and design, and psycho-social-behavioral-judicial outcomes, research that includes the use of art/design-based methodologies. She and Deanna VanBuren are co-creators of Designing Justice+Designing Spaces Toolkitfor working with incarcerated individuals, architects/designs, and criminal and human service professional to engage with restorative justice and re-envision the design of justice spaces.