University News

Dr. Cooper and Team Unveil Chicago's Million Dollar Blocks, Illustrating Cost 
 of Incarceration in Communities 08.04.15
Dr. Cooper and Team Unveil Chicago's Million Dollar Blocks, Illustrating Cost
of Incarceration in Communities

Daniel Cooper, Ph.D., Co-Director of Adler University's Institute on Social Exclusion, has helped create Chicago's Million Dollar Blocks, a website that tracks how much is spent block-by-block on incarceration in Chicago.

Collaboratoring with research partner Ryan Lugalia-Hollon and civic-tech company DataMade, Cooper and the team analyzed data from 2005 to 2009 released by the Chicago Justice Project.

Their findings starkly illustrate how much is spent on incarceration in the Chicago's West and South side communities—more than half a billion in Chicago's Austin neighborhood alone, and $2.4 million on a single block in that community

"All we hear about is how the state is in billions of dollars in debt, and meanwhile we have more than a billion dollars every year pumped into a corrections system that's had a track record of failure," Cooper said.

The Million Dollar Blocks site offers alternatives to spending on incarceration that Cooper and his team report are less expensive and more effective at reducing crime and keeping communities safe. They include workforce development, mental health diversion, and addiction treatment programs.

Cooper hopes the site stokes conversation and action on criminal justice reform, and prompts leaders to prioritize prevention over punishment.

"People hear that there’s a very big violence problem in Chicago, but nobody’s really talking about the drivers of it," Cooper says. "Nobody’s asking the questions: Why are there shootings in the first place? What’s further upstream? What are the bigger determinants of this problem?”

About Adler University

Adler University educates students to engage the world and create a more just society. Established in 1952, the University enrolls more than 1,200 students in master’s and doctoral programs for social change—through its campuses in downtown Chicago and Vancouver, and its online Global Campus. Its mission is to continue the pioneering work of Alfred Adler, the first community psychologist, by graduating socially responsible practitioners, engaging communities, and advancing social justice.


Jeff Brennan
Associate Director of Media Relations
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