Social Justice & Policy

SIROW engages in multiple strategies to contribute to a more just and equitable society, including advocating for policy change. Although all SIROW work aims to advance social justice, the following list of projects particularly exemplify SIROW’s work in this area.

Current Projects

The Pima County Behavioral Health Department (PCBH) contracts with several local organizations that provide discretionary and legally mandated support services for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking. These organizations have partnered with Pima County to build the Pima County Domestic Violence Coalition, a partnership of providers focused on efficient use of resources to better serve victims and survivors. The Coalition has partnered with the SIROW to create a needs assessment designed to study community services at a systems-level. The purpose of the needs assessment is to:

  1. identify barriers and facilitators to seeking service;
  2. use data to gain visibility on how to close service gaps and guide sustainable policy decisions;
  3. research potential community-level benefits and risks associated with different service models (e.g. centralized vs. scattered-site models); and
  4. Establish quality improvement measures at a systems-level and create an ongoing feedback loop to ensure services are accessible, equitable, and responsive to community needs.

Contact: Claudia Powell,

SIROW project team: Claudia Powell, Stephanie Murphy

Project partners: Pima County Behavioral Health Department, Pima County Domestic Violence Coalition

Location: SIROW Main campus, 925 N Tyndall Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721

A collaborative review of domestic violence related deaths in Pima County to determine how agencies might improve services for people experiencing intimate partner violence.

Contact: Claudia Powell,

Location: SIROW Main campus, 925 N Tyndall Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721

Let's Measure Better Project

Prosperity Initiative and Anti-Poverty Policies

The purpose of the Prosperity Initiative and Anti-Poverty Policies project is to identify evidence-based policies, applicable at the local government level, that are frequently cited strategies for breaking the cycle of poverty, improving opportunity and creating community wealth.

Project Findings Presentation: Keith Bentele & Bonnie Bazata presentation on Prosperity Initiative Housing Policies Overview, August, 2023.

Contact: Keith Bentele,

SIROW project team: Keith Bentele and Tamara Sargus

Project partners: Pima County Department of Community and Workforce Development

Location: University of Arizona, 925 N Tyndall Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721-0438


SIROW and the Law Department at the University of Sonora (UNISON) are developing a binational (US-MX) interdisciplinary research team focusing on human rights of, health needs of, and access to care for returnees or people in transit in the United States-México borderlands. SIROW and UNISON have vast research experience on migrant health issues (e.g., women and mixed-status families, migrant agricultural workers and indigenous populations of México). The binational team will:

  1. Identify non-profit community centers/health clinics that serve migrant communities; and
  2. Rely on qualitative and quantitative exploration of both offers and barriers to meet public and private health needs, patterns of search and demand for care and the social integration of mobile persons, with a focus on chronic, infectious or emerging diseases related to return migration.

Contact: Rosi Andrade,

Project partners: UArizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Mexico Initiatives, University of Sonora (UNISON)

Location: SIROW Central, 3776 N. 1st Ave., STE. 102, Tucson, AZ 85719

Completed Projects

Completed projects are listed in alphabetical order.

An initiative to work with an Alliance to assess the best strategy to promote mental health education and reduce stigma in all Arizona schools.

ASAP stands for Access to Syringes at Pharmacies. This pharmacy‐based intervention study develops and tests a pharmacy-based intervention to increase non-stigmatized syringe sales in community pharmacies located in 3 Arizona counties with high rates of hepatitis C and HIV (Pima, Maricopa, and Mohave). This 2-year project involves collaborative intervention with pharmacy staff and beta testing of the resulting intervention. The project emerged from a SIROW-led study of pharmacy-based syringe purchase experiences among people who inject drugs in Arizona and Indiana. Collaborators include the UArizona College of Pharmacy, the Arizona Pharmacy Association, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Phoenix Community Consulting, and the Indiana University School of Public Health (SIROW leads research). 

ASAP Update: We initiated a 3-county syringe “Buy Study” to characterize syringe purchasing in the ASAP counties. Not only are we interested in whether the 55 community pharmacies geomapped to drug copping/using areas actually sell syringes without a prescription to prevent bloodborne illnesses (BBIs) but also the degree to which this is done – the quality of the interaction using a measure of social expression of stigma. This will inform the intervention trial for ASAP that will occur in 2022-2023.

Contact: Beth Meyerson,

SIROW project team: Beth Meyerson, Keith Bentele

Project partners: UArizona College of Pharmacy, the Arizona Pharmacy Association, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, Phoenix Community Consulting, and the Indiana University School of Public Health

Location: SIROW Main campus, 925 N Tyndall Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721

This project is a binational collaboration between SIROW, University of Sonora (UNISON), and other partners in Mexico. This project is focused on improving the prison system by developing educational opportunities to support the engagement of people who are incarcerated in personal development and change as well as to develop marketable skills.

Contact: Rosi Andrade,

Project partners: UArizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Mexico Initiatives, University of Sonora (UNISON)

Location: SIROW Central, 3776 N. 1st Ave., STE. 102, Tucson, AZ 85719

This policy impact study measures the degree to which Arizona providers of methadone and buprenorphine (suboxone, etc.) implement the temporary federal policies to expand access to MOUD during COVID and factors predicting this implementation. We also measure MOUD patient experience during COVID while attempting to or accessing MOUD and continue recovery, and the impact of community‐civic engagement to convey results to policymakers. A tribal collaboration component will develop a collaborative MOUD research agenda with tribal partners for future funding. A statewide civic engagement process involving people with lived experience (drug use) and providers of methadone and buprenorphine will convey evidence from the study to state and federal policy makers as well as MOUD practitioners. The study is a community-based participatory and action project as it was brought to SIROW collaborators from community partners, collectively developed and implemented.  Collaborators include the Arizona statewide Drug Policy Research and Advocacy Board (DPRAB), UA College of Public Health, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Sonoran Prevention Works, and Southwest Recovery Alliance.  

Contact: Beth Meyerson,

SIROW project team: Beth Meyerson, Keith Bentele, Brenda Granillo

Project partners: Arizona statewide Drug Policy Research and Advocacy Board (DPRAB), UA College of Public Health, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Sonoran Prevention Works, Southwest Recovery Alliance

Location: SIROW Main campus, 925 N Tyndall Ave, Tucson, AZ 85721

Contact: Sally Stevens,

Funded by the Ford Foundation to UArizona Family Studies and Human Development (Stephen Russell) and Department of English (Aleda Lacona), The Crossroads Collaborative included University of Arizona faculty and students and two youth-oriented community partners, Gay-Straight Alliance Network and YWCA Tucson. The collaborative was dedicated to advancing research, graduate training, public conversation, and ultimately social change in the area of youth, sexuality, health, and rights. The Crossroads Collaborative aimed to lead and engage others in an informed and productive dialogue.

Contact: Rosi Andrade,

Community Connections in the Sulphur Springs Valley was a project of the Elfrida Citizens Alliance (Jeanne Shaw) in partnership with SIROW (Sally Stevens and Rosi Andrade) to develop and facilitate a comprehensive needs assessment that would provide tools for stakeholders and community advocates to raise awareness of the problems and conditions of economic distress faced by residents of Sulphur Springs Valley.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

An Education and Training Conference was held in San Antonio, Texas, January 27-28, 2012. The main purpose of this education and training conference was to advance our understanding of women’s health and sexualities and to inform education, advocacy, service, and policy on and about women living in the southwest United States (US) and the US/Mexico border region.

Contacts: Sally Stevens,; Rosi Andrade,

This pilot project explores the barriers facing immigrant mothers in Southern Arizona who seek public benefits for their citizen children. This is the first of such a study in Arizona, and is urgently needed since one-third of Arizona’s children have immigrant parents, even while Arizona has been expanding its laws to bar immigrants from public benefits. The Immigrant Mothers with Citizen Children Pilot Research Project includes structured qualitative and quantitative interviews with 20 immigrant mothers. The data will allow us to analyze: 1) the impact of current laws on citizen children’s access to public benefits; 2) cultural barriers to utilizing benefits; and 3) how social welfare policies might become re-crafted to treat transnationalism (reflected by families with citizen children and immigrant parents) as an opportunity on which to build stronger communities, regions, and futures. Project data will also allow us to seek external funding for a larger action and research project to assist this population.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

The Infant Adoption Awareness Training Program (IAATP) was a collaboration with Arizona's Children Association (AzCA), other statewide adoption providers, public and private non-profit health care providers, and the National Curriculum Training Institute. IAATP project staff developed curriculum and implemented a statewide training plan to help achieve the legislative goals of Title XII: Adoption Awareness of the Children's Health Act of 2000. In 2004, this project expanded to the state of Nevada. IAATP included an evaluation, which is aligned to measure process and outcome objectives related to project goals including: 1) enhancing the awareness, knowledge, and skills of designated staff of eligible health centers in order to facilitate the delivery of adoption information and referrals on an equal basis with all other courses of action included in non-directive counseling; and 2) ensure the ability of women with unplanned pregnancies to make informed decisions regarding their pregnancies and receive appropriate referrals from their health care provider to assist in making those decisions. Training sessions have been well attended, and very positively evaluated in terms of the content of the training sessions and usefulness of the content. Additionally, the participants gained considerable knowledge as measured by pre and post-tests. Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health through a subcontract from AzCA.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

A research, policy and advocacy project that addresses social justice hazards facing youth and their families involved in the juvenile justice system.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

Funded by the University of California Humanities Research Institute.

This project aimed to engage middle school students in digital activism for social justice. Primarily working with girls and communities of color, our Saturday workshops offered middle school students an opportunity to collaborate, produce, and use a geographic information system (GIS) social application that enabled them to locate, follow, and learn from positive examples of social justice. Focusing on the UA campus, specifically the Women's Plaza of Honor, LoveMaps engaged youth in both technology and activism - fostering lifelong engagement and community identity.

Contact: Monica Davis,

This project is a multi-site national evaluation of the Juvenile Drug Court and Reclaiming Futures Initiative (JDC/RF) to improve the effectiveness and efficacy of juvenile drug courts. The initiative is aimed at rehabilitating nonviolent, substance-abusing youth by integrating two models, the Juvenile Drug Court: Strategies in Practice and the Reclaiming Futures models. We are implementing a cross-site evaluation plan with both quantitative and qualitative methods inclusive of process, outcome, and cost-effectiveness analyses that will provide a comprehensive and robust evaluation of the JDC/RF initiative to identify the factors, elements, and services that perform best with respect to outcomes and cost-effectiveness. This project is funded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) through an interagency agreement with the Library of Congress.

Integration of the Juvenile Drug Court and Reclaiming Futures Models

The JDC/RF evaluation team seeks to examine what processes lead to effective integration of the two models. This requires an understanding of the problems the two models seek to address, the goals and objectives of integration, and the key activities and output and outcome measures which can be used to measure successful model integration.

The following links include the Integrated Logic Model as well as presentations focusing on program integration:

Cost Analysis and Program Evaluation

The successful integration of the two models into existing systems of care can be challenging.  It is important to measure program performance along the way to ensure that the needs of the target population are being met in the most cost effective manner.

Watch the video, Economic Evaluation of the Juvenile Drug Court/Reclaiming Futures Model.

The following presentations from the National Cross-Site Evaluation focus on cost analysis and program evaluation.

Clients of Juvenile Drug Court/Reclaiming Futures Programs

The JDC/RF Evaluation Team collects a variety of data on the clients served by these juvenile drug court programs. These data are analyzed to determine a broad range of the characteristics of the clients being served, the activities clients regularly engage in, the resources available and utilized in the local community, and services clients receive as a result of program participation. The following links are reports from the National Cross-Site Evaluation on these data:

Individuals or Personnel Working With Juvenile Drug Court/Reclaiming Futures Programs

The JDC/RF Evaluation Team also collects a variety of data on the individuals directly employed by and working closely with the juvenile drug court programs. These data are analyzed to determine how staff are trained to provide service to youth and integrate the two models, as well as how the programs are perceived in the local professional community. The following links are reports from the National Cross-Site Evaluation on these data:

Policy Briefs from the National Cross-Site Evaluation of Juvenile Drug Courts and Reclaiming Futures

Publications from the National Cross-Site Evaluation

Other National Cross-Site Evaluation Research

In a presentation, Dr. Rodney Haring (Seneca Nation), a member of the JDC/RF qualitative analysis team, discusses what researchers and treatment providers should consider when working with Native Americans, including historical environmental influences, confidentiality, tribal differences and styles of communication.

Watch the presentation, Learning from Our Animal Colleagues: Diverse Perspectives for Working with Native Peoples and Communities.

Final Report


SIROW wishes to acknowledge the contributions of the evaluation sites and the evaluation partners, Chestnut Health Systems and Carnevale Associates LLC to this National Cross-Site Evaluation.  In addition, SIROW is appreciative of support from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Reclaiming Futures National Program Office, and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

The objective of the Partners in Change Project: Women Take Action Against Poverty was to: 1) create space (via workshops) for women (in poverty) to express their individual experiences of living in poverty; 2) build capacity of participants as both self-advocates and community change agents; and 3) work with women to develop recommendations on poverty reduction that will be presented to policy-makers and the general public. The first workshops took place in Tucson with transitional housing and shelter residents at Primavera Foundation. At the culmination of the training, the participants presented information and personal stories on living in poverty to members of the Tucson City Council. We continue to look for further funding that will allow us to increase the number and geographic scope of the workshops. This project was funded by the UA Foundation’s Independent Research Fund

Contact: Corey Knox,

SIROW, in partnership with the Primavera Foundation, was awarded a grant to create the Partners in Change-Women in Poverty Project. The goal of the project was to provide women who are affected by policies and conditions that create poverty with support, tools and opportunity to participate in decision-making and public policy discussions that affect their own economic status. Secondarily, but no less important, this project had the goal of providing our community and its leaders with new insights into poverty from the “experts”—women who are experiencing poverty on a daily basis. This project developed and designed a five session curriculum, and conducted two workshops with a total 27 women who were homeless or living in transitional housing.  At the conclusion of the two training sessions, the women gave presentations at two city council ward offices. The presentations, which were created by the participants, combined statistics, poetry, music, personal testimony, and concrete policy change suggestions, and were enthusiastically received by policy makers. Project participants continue to be involved in community advocacy events and activities. This project was funded by the UA Foundation’s Independent Research Fund.

Contact: Claudia Powell,
Collaborators: EMERGE! Center for Domestic Violence

Through the Office on Violence against Women, the Pima County Attorney’s Office had secured a grant to implement a centralized, well-trained vertical prosecution unit for Domestic Violence to manage both misdemeanors and felonies. The unit consisted of five attorneys, five legal support staff, two detectives and two victim witness advocates. They worked in teams to collaboratively handle all domestic violence cases from arrest through post-sentencing supervision. SIROW's role on this project was to facilitate the groundwork (including multi-disciplinary team meetings) for a county wide safety audit that addressed the victim safety from the 911 call to parole hearings. Through this project, a Lethality Board was formed to review domestic violence cases that have resulted in the death of the victim.

Contact: Rosi Andrade,

Funded by the Safety + Justice Challenge, MacArthur Foundation; May 1, 2016 – April 30, 2019

To continue building on past reform efforts, Pima County was awarded $1.5 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge in 2016 to invest in strategies that will further reduce the average daily jail population over the next three years. The county will seek to safely reduce its jail population through: risk screening for all misdemeanor defendants in order to increase post-booking releases from jail; diverting nonviolent individuals with substance abuse or mental health issues to post-booking treatment instead of jail; an enhanced automated call, text and email court-date reminder system that is expected to reduce failure to appear rates; and detention alternatives made possible through electronic monitoring technology. SIROW will work with a Collaborative Working Group of justice system actors and community representatives to conduct a qualitative research study to capture and assess the impact of the strategies from the perspective of inmates and former inmates including what barriers to success they perceive. The study will focus on success in terms of reducing both incarceration and racial and ethnic disparities, and perceptions of system fairness.

Project to expand sexual violence prevention efforts among Native American and Latino youth ages 13-17 in Southern Arizona.

A collaborative research project to examine social justice based approaches to science education in public school environments.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

Funded by Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime; October 1, 2015-September 30, 2018

Southern Arizona Anti-Trafficking Unified Response Network (SAATURN) is an anti-human trafficking project inclusive of both labor and sex trafficking. The project is a collaboration between CODAC Behavioral health Services, Tucson Police Department, and SIROW. The goals of the project are to: 1) build a strong coalition across Southern Arizona (Pima, Santa Cruz, and Cochise counties) aimed at addressing issues of human trafficking; 2) provide training on human trafficking to a wide range of constituents; 3) reduce human trafficking through law enforcement activities including the identification, arrest, and prosecution of those who engage in human trafficking crime; 4) provide services to victims of human trafficking; and 5) conduct an evaluation of the overall project. SIROW’s role in the SAATURN project is to conduct a process evaluation (e.g., implementation timeline; facilitators and barriers to project start-up; ongoing activities) and to track changes in in the number of law enforcement activities as well as the number of trafficking victims served across the three year project period.


Contact: Sally Stevens,

Development of a plan for implementing a mentorship program for victims of sex trafficking.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

The Transborder Consortium conducted an analysis of in-depth interviews with health experts from both sides of the Mexico-US border. The analysis was centered on community health needs, challenges, and viable policy recommendations for gender-informed, regionally-appropriate policy recommendations regarding women’s health in the transborder region, revolving particularly around Arizona, U.S. and Sonora, Mexico. Recommendations were shared in diverse ways with various audiences concerned with gender and health policy-- from academic researchers to health practitioners to policy makers at local, regional and national levels. Preliminary findings around varying perceptions about the border region, and the ways those perceptions impact upon assessing needs and proposing changes in health policy, were presented to the Annual Information For Action Border Health Conference held in Tucson, October 27-28, 2005. Later work further analyzed the interviews and laid the groundwork for a critical deconstruction of ideologies and their impacts on health and health care systems. The Transborder Consortium presented a human rights framework as the best way to facilitate women’s health and reduce the inefficiencies of negotiating disparate systems and cross-cutting jurisdictions. The Transborder Consortium was funded by the Ford Foundation.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

The Transborder Health Consortium has continued to maintain and add content and resources to its website, “Women’s Health on the Border”. Through ongoing SIROW support, this bilingual website contains information on women’s health issues specific to women in the border region as well as links to local and regional health providers and informational health resources. Specific health issues identified by health care workers in the region have been highlighted in a section of periodic issues entitled “¿Qué Me Cuentas. . . ? (What Can You Tell Me About. . . . . ?)”. Two issues had been developed with a focus on cancer prevention and menopause, and environmental health for women. The research on these issues was conducted with focus groups of older women in Arizona and Sonora, extensive literature reviews and consultation with medical and lay professionals and residents of the border region. The information on the website relates to the direct experiences, cultural beliefs and practices, and health care access of women living in the border region. The information on the website is easily printable for dissemination by health providers and outreach workers.

Contact: Sally Stevens,

Research and publication of a white paper on burdens that Arizona’s justice-involved youth and their families face along with promising court practices.

Contact: Rosi Andrade,

The purpose of this project was to gather data that would be useful to a variety of public history initiatives that would result from the Rio Nuevo project being implemented by the City of Tucson and associated projects. There was concern that the existing archives of information on women’s lives and contributions to Tucson’s community and commercial development did not provide adequate information for interpretive planning. In an effort to insure that women’s achievements and contributions were not overlooked in this new development initiative, the Southwestern Foundation had funded SIROW to document and disseminate information on women’s roles in commerce and community development in downtown Tucson. Much of this information was collected through taped interviews with women entrepreneurs, descendants of these women, and community members. Dissemination activities included a traveling exhibit with copies of the exhibit, including interview transcripts, photographs, and research findings archived at the UA library as well as SIROW offices. This project was funded by the Southwestern Foundation of Southern Arizona.