DJDS | About
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Our Mission

We are an Oakland-based architecture and real estate development non-profit working to end mass incarceration by building infrastructure that addresses its root causes: poverty, racism, unequal access to resources, and the criminal justice system itself. Our work counters the traditional adversarial and punitive architecture of justice—courthouses, prisons, and jails—by creating spaces and buildings for restorative justice, community building, and housing for people coming out of incarceration.

We also operate the Concept Development Fund, a program which helps nonprofits and advocates transform their ideas for community infrastructure reinvestment into fully realized designs complete with budgetary outlines, imagery, and other concrete details. The Fund receives charitable contributions that are used to support the financial costs of the concept development process.

Bold Idea

Our bold idea is that by transforming the spaces and places where we do justice, we can help our society make the shift from a punitive justice system to a restorative justice system. We hope to see peacemaking centers in every community in this country and end the age of mass incarceration.

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 DJDS 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 important, but not all that a truly restorative community requires. It also requires that we support the development of new types of housing and resource centers to address the root causes of mass incarceration and the decades of disinvestment, trauma, and harm done to our communities of color.

Our Team

DJDS_Team2_web
Deanna Van Buren

Deanna Van Buren

Co-Founder, Executive Director, Design Director

Kyle Rawlins

Kyle Rawlins

Co-Founder and Vice President of Real Estate

Shelley Davis Roberts

Shelley Davis Roberts

Architectural Associate

Brandi Mack

Brandi Mack

Community Liaison

Tola Thomas

Tola Thomas

Architectural Designer

Sabrina Siskind

Sabrina Siskind

Production Designer

Garrett Jacobs

Garrett Jacobs

Chief of Finance and Operations

Maryann Hulsman

Maryann Hulsman

Events and Development Manager

Board Members

Deanna Van Buren

Deanna Van Buren

Board President

Executive Director of Designing Justice + Designing Spaces

Raphael Sperry

Raphael Sperry

Board Treasurer

President of Architects / Designers / Planners for Social Responsibility and Associate at Arup

Barb Toews, PhD

Barb Toews, PhD

Board Secretary

Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at University of Washington Tacoma

James Stockard

James Stockard

Director at Large

Curator of the Loeb Fellowship and Lecturer of Urban Planning and Design at Harvard University

Allison Williams, FAIA

Allison Williams, FAIA

Director at Large

Principal at AGWms_studio