The Narrative Development Toolkit is a resource intended to support community organizers and health equity advocates in developing, using, and adapting transformational narratives to advance equity in the criminal justice and juvenile justice systems. This resource was developed by a workgroup of the National Criminal Justice and Public Health Alliance.
We believe that a better world is indeed possible — we can create a more just society that promotes health, safety, and equity. An important step in doing so is using the process of developing transformational narratives to envision that world.
The National Criminal Justice and Public Health Alliance created this toolkit to support community organizers and health equity advocates in developing, using, and adapting transformational narratives to advance equity in the criminal and juvenile justice systems.
The National Criminal Justice and Public Health Alliance’s Narrative Workgroup went through a process similar to the one described in this resource to develop a transformational narrative. We found the process to be incredibly eye opening — it sharpened our analysis, fundamentally changed how we communicate about our work, strengthened our relationships and deepened our resolve to transform the system.
This toolkit includes the following materials:
- An introduction to public narratives and their role in community organizing, systems change, and public policy change
- A six-step guide to developing a transformational narrative
- A set of exercises and tips to support transformational narrative development
Why public health?
Public health professionals have an important role in partnering with people working on justice system transformation — public health work and criminal justice reform intersect across multiple areas:
- Involvement in the justice system is a social determinant of health with multi-generational health impacts
- Many people caught up in the justice system face multiple public health issues, including mental illness, substance use, and trauma
- Equity is an important public health value and goal and the justice system is currently one of the most inequitable systems in the US, with people of color and people living with low incomes facing disproportionate outcomes at every stage of interaction with the system
- Societal conditions that lead to inequitable involvement in the justice system are the same conditions that lead to health inequities
- Public health’s focus on upstream prevention, reducing harm, restoring people to full physical, mental, and social health, and valuing life support working for transformations to every stage of justice system involvement.