In 2006-2007 Candy Chang received a fellowship to work with the Spatial Information Design Lab (SIDL) in New Orleans. Working with community groups and charter schools in the Seventh Ward, Central City, and Broadmoor neighborhoods, as well as SIDL’s directors Laura Kurgan and Sarah Williams and fellows Andrew Colopy, Derek Lindner, Leah Meisterlin, and Julia Molloy, they developed Million Dollar Blocks, an SIDL project that uses prison expenditure maps to examine changes in the way money is invested in communities.
More than 2 million people are in jails and prisons in the U.S., and Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In many places the concentration is so dense that the government spends over a million dollars per year to imprison residents of a single city block. At the same time, communities are continuously struggling to get funding for civic services like youth programs, job training, and peer support that would provide more opportunities for residents and prevent a life towards crime. These maps provide the case that money is available if used in better ways. They worked with a justice reinvestment network of local organizations, including Cafe Reconcile, Safe Streets/Strong Communities and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, to help establish local pilot projects for job training, health services, and mentorship programs supported by justice reinvestment funding.