Transformative Justice Program

how we do it

LSJA’s Transformative Programs shift mental models to encourage innovation. We pilot innovative, evidence-based programs, evaluated to measure impact, to ensure effectiveness, and to scale. 

Mental models are how we understand the world.  They are shaped by individual life experiences, perceptions, community, information, policy, practice, history, tradition, etc.. Mental models are the foundational drivers of activity in any system.    

By engaging community members and criminal legal system stakeholders in innovative programs that focus on underlying causes for behaviors and system involvement, we work to shift mental models from punitive responses to behaviors to trauma-informed, strengths-based  responses that promote growth and development toward self-determination.  

    6 Key Elements for Transformation

    Relying upon the Pew Charitable Trust’s evidence-based policymaking framework, the Transformative Justice Model (link to Transformative Justice Model page) was established with 6 key elements:

    These services are delivered in the community by a multidisciplinary team (MDT) of behavioral health and social service providers to reduce recidivism and improve social determinants of health (SDoH), at a lower cost than jail or prison.

    As an alternative to incarceration, when a participant graduates a TJ program, the participant’s case(s) are dismissed and immediately filed for expunction, opening the door of possibilities for justice-involved emerging adults free from the collateral consequences of arrest and/or conviction.

    A “triggering event”

    a multi-disciplinary panel of behavioral health and social service experts guided by a validated risk/needs assessment to inform individualized decision-making;

    trauma informed, relationship and outcomes-driven intensive case management delivered in the community;

    stage and incentive-based programming an outcome-driven approach to case management;community-based interventions in the least-restrictive environment; and

    an ongoing evaluation that assesses public health outcomes, as well as the recidivism of participants. Our own experience added a sixth element:

    community engagement programming to deepen the social networks that sustain emerging adults after the program ends.

    A key component to this Model is the evaluation of the programs’ results to develop scalable models that will lead to a fundamental shift in the way Texas addresses emerging adults in the criminal legal system.

    Our Growth Strategy


    Innovate scalable programs in partnerships with cross-sector community organizations and justice stakeholders focusing on reducing criminal legal system involvement and racial inequities.


    Cultivate partner understanding of the criminal legal system and developmentally appropriate responses to youth and emerging adult behavior.


    Replicate successful innovations in new communities and/or contexts for systemic impact.