The WEP oversight body, the Working Group, adopted the following subcommittee structure and charge for each of its six subcommittees in September 2021.

At the Working Group’s December 2021 meeting, our facilitators at the Vera Institute of Justice led us through a discussion about participatory action research and the approach the Working Group might take in deciding how to develop research themes to guide the subcommittees’ work. Below are the slides used in that meeting.

The Working Group did a Jamboard group exercise in early 2022 to help it identify the themes that the subcommittees should address in their work.  As part of the exercise, members answered the questions, “What do we already know about Washtenaw’s criminal legal system?” and “What do we need to know?” on virtual sticky notes.  What emerged from the exercise were the following six themes.   

  1. What are the primary drivers of racial disparities within and upstream of the criminal legal system and how can they be intervened on? 
  2. What do county residents need to thrive and feel safe, and are government agencies and other service providers delivering those needs?  
  3. What gaps exist in access to community resources/services? 
  4. What opportunities exist to increase the use of non-punitive alternatives and to move problems outside of the criminal legal system? 
  5. What are strategies to increase transparency around racial disparities in the criminal legal system? 
  6. What are strategies to increase accountability around racial disparities in the criminal legal system? 

These became the research themes adopted by the Working Group.  The subcommittees have been asked to ensure that their research priorities fall under at least one of the research themes.  Below is a graphic showing the virtual sticky notes that Working Group members posted during the Jamboard exercise and how the six research themes emerged from those sticky notes.

The six subcommittees began meeting monthly in January 2022. They used the first set of meetings to make sure they had an effective mix of people to serve and familiarize themselves with their charge, the Guiding Principles and the research themes adopted by the Working Group.  The subcommittees then began discussing their research priorities and the steps, research and methodology necessary to address their respective priorities.  The subcommittee co-chairs discussed their draft research priorities with other subcommittee co-chairs and the Working Group on April 19, 2022.  The PowerPoint slides below were used at the April meeting to summarize the subcommittees’ research priorities.  For more detailed information on a specific subcommittee’s research priorities, please refer to the meeting minutes of the relevant subcommittee.

In anticipation of the WEP’s work ending with the adoption of the report, Chair Alma Wheeler Smith asked the Working Group for the authority to appoint a short-term “Bridge Team” (referred to as an ‘Implementation Team” in her proposal) to establish a framework for implementing the Partnership’s recommendations and conduct communications to engage the community about the Partnership’s report.  The Working Group voted to adopt the WEP Report Implementation Plan.