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Justice Reform

To build public support for justice reform, advocates need frames that help people to think differently about deterrence and punishment.

To move towards restorative, equitable approaches, justice advocates have to win not just in the courtroom, but also in the court of public opinion.

FrameWorks researchers found that appealing to the value of fairness backfires, leading the public to support uniform sentencing. But focusing on common sense changes and shared goals makes people more supportive of a range of progressive reforms—including eliminating racial disparities in the system.

Framing is part of ending mass incarceration, eliminating the use of court-imposed fines and fees, transforming the system’s approach to youth justice, responding more humanely to people with behavioral health issues, and more.

Explore these studies to learn more about how to reframe justice reform.

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One Half of the Story

Media coverage of adolescents focuses on the perils of the teen years - but has little to say about the possibilities that are part of adolescent development.


Amplifying Positive Frames

As we advocate for healthy adolescent development, how can we balance the way we talk about risks and opportunities in youth?


Framing Advocacy on Fines and Fees Reform

This Frame Brief offers justice reform advocates guidance on framing the issue of monetary sanctions for the public.

Frame Testing Recommendations

Reframing School Discipline: A Strategic Communications Playbook

This strategic messaging playbook offers guidance. It outlines 12 evidence-based framing strategies that communicators in the education, justice, and civil rights sectors can use to challenge...


New Narratives: Changing the Frame on Crime and Justice

The research shows that these strategies can shift and expand public thinking and yield new and more productive public conversations around criminal justice reform.


“You Only Pray that Somebody Would Step In”: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Elder Abuse in America

Elder abuse is a topic that most people would rather not think about, but they carry assumptions nonetheless. This study maps public thinking on elder justice.


Shifting Gears on Juvenile Justice

Welcome to Shifting Gears on Juvenile Justice—a collection of framing research, recommendations, and sample communications.


Talking Juvenile Justice Reform: A FrameWorks MessageMemo

This MessageMemo highlights tested reframing strategies that build support for a restorative, developmentally appropriate approach to youth justice reform.


“It’s Hard to Wrap Your Head Around”: Mapping the Gaps Between Expert and Public Understandings of Child Maltreatment and Child Sexual Abuse in Alberta

People would rather not think about child sexual abuse - but they hold deep assumptions nonetheless. A map of public thinking helps us navigate them.


Narratives of Child Maltreatment and Child Sexual Abuse in the Canadian Media

This report analyzes Canadian media coverage of child maltreatment and examines the impacts of these narratives on the public’s understanding of this issue.


All Aboard: Explanatory Tools to Talk About Children’s Well-Being in Jacksonville

Systems thinking is hard - which makes explaining "systems of care" even harder. It helps to have a metaphor.


‘Like a Holiday Camp’: Mapping the Gaps on Criminal Justice Reform in England and Wales

This report documents differences in how experts and members of the public understand criminal justice issues.