Participatory Budgeting as Prisoner Reintegration
- General Issues
- Law Enforcement, Criminal Justice & Corrections
- Specific Topics
- Budget - Local
- Jails and Prisons
- Scope of Influence
- Start Date
- End Date
- Time Limited or Repeated?
- A single, defined period of time
- Develop the civic capacities of individuals, communities, and/or civil society organizations
- Make, influence, or challenge decisions of private organizations
- Leadership development
- Total Number of Participants
- Open to All or Limited to Some?
- Open to All With Special Effort to Recruit Some Groups
- Facilitator Training
- Trained, Nonprofessional Facilitators
- Face-to-Face, Online, or Both
- Types of Interaction Among Participants
- Discussion, Dialogue, or Deliberation
- Information & Learning Resources
- Expert Presentations
- Video Presentations
- Decision Methods
- Idea Generation
- If Voting
- Preferential Voting
- Communication of Insights & Outcomes
- Public Report
- Traditional Media
- Type of Organizer/Manager
- Non-Governmental Organization
- Type of Funder
- Non-Governmental Organization
- Evidence of Impact
- Implementers of Change
- Stakeholder Organizations
- Lay Public
A Canadian non-profit organization dedicated to prisoner reintegration used participatory budgeting to introduce current and former prisoners and community members to small-group deliberation, decision-making, and voting on the allocation of 5% of the organization's budget.
Problems and Purpose
As a democratic process, Participatory Budgeting presents several advantages, including (1) the active involvement of those typically excluded from group decision-making, and consequently (2) the opportunity for civic capacity-building as well as (3) spending which better reflects the needs and interests of the affected population. Accordingly, its use in a prisoner reintegration programme served to further the initiative's goals of reducing the alienation of those who have spent time in prison and facilitating their successful integration into the community as full participating citizens. Overall, this initiative serves as a successful example for other non-profit organizations dedicated to social change who wish to capitalize on their clientele’s expertise while further developing the confidence and capabilities necessary to effectively participate in community life.
Montreal-based Communitas is an organization focused on prisoner reintegration. Participatory Budgeting (PB) was introduced because of its capacity to further Communitas’ objectives both directly through the process itself as well as indirectly through its shaping of outcomes. Procedurally, PB has been hailed as a “school of democracy” for the way in which it includes the typically-excluded and offers opportunities for civic capacity-building by empowering them to make decisions about collective problems. Moreover, by giving those affected by decisions direct decision-making authority and harnessing their own experience and on the issues, PB has also been recognized as leading to decisions which better reflect stakeholders’ needs . With these features in mind, Participatory budgeting was viewed as both itself a processof reintegrating (ex-)prisoners into the community, and also a means of facilitating spending decisions which better reflect their needs. Each of these rationales is outlined below.
Participatory Budgeting and Prisoner Reintegration
Generally speaking, prisoner reintegration refers to the process of individuals successfully rejoining society following a period of incarceration. Success in this respect is often defined in terms of the development of social networks or the ability to navigate one’s own personal and economic needs, and ultimately the leading of a pro-social, crime-free life. In a democratic society, however, full reintegration should also include, first, the incorporation of (ex-)prisoners into the processes through which citizens participate in community governance as well as, second, the cultivation of dispositions and capacities which allow them to participate effectively. These include, among others, both the ability and confidence to contribute their perspective and knowledge, listen to those of others, and deliberate about the common good.
In this respect, individuals returning from prison—especially those doing so after extended periods of incarceration—often face significant barriers. In returning to the community, they often face considerable isolation, both because of limited social networks outside of prison as well as the social stigma which accompanies past criminal offenses. Moreover, the effects of institutionalization or adaptation to the prison environment can run counter to that which is needed for active public engagement. Coming from an environment where even the most basic decisions about daily routines are made for prisoners, incarceration can result in an overreliance on others for direction and diminished feelings of self-efficacy. So too can it result in interpersonal distrust, reluctance to interact with the broader public, and a survivalist focus on one’s own needs rather than shared issues.
As an inclusive process of decision-making about collective needs and resources, participatory budgeting was envisioned as an opportunity to address these barriers and contribute to a fuller reintegration of (ex-)prisoners. Through this process, all participants could practice engaging in collective deliberation and decision-making, turning their minds toward shared concerns, proposing and discussing various possibilities with others whom they may or may not know, and contributing their own ideas and expertise. In doing so, they could not only further develop their civic capacities but gain the confidence and sense of empowerment that accompanies past participation . Doing the above within the context of a relatively familiar and supportive organization would allow this activity to serve as an nonthreatening stepping stone toward more active participation in the broader community.
Participatory Budgeting and Organizational Decision-Making
Non-profit organizations which work with marginalized individuals are often at risk of adopting an ‘us and them’ mindset, where service-providers consider themselves the experts and fail to seek out input from those they are working to serve. Accordingly, some within the non-profit sector have emphasized the importance of “listening to” beneficiaries and recognizing the latent expertise of those directly affected by social issues . As an organization dedicated to social reintegration and community-building, Communitas has long emphasized the importance of eliminating barriers between community-based volunteers and those returning from prison, as well as including the full spectrum of its stakeholders within the decision-making processes of the organization to ensure effective decision-making. For instance, this had previously been sought through representation on the Board of Directors, Steering Committee, and many sub-committees, as well through wider annual and quarterly consultations.
Despite this historical intentionality, Participatory Budgeting was seen as an opportunity to provide additional ownership to—and further harness the creativity, interests, and expertise of—its various stakeholders, especially those who grapple with the challenges of reintegration firsthand. In using this process, organizers expected that spending decisions would be improved to better support the success of those returning to the community after incarceration. At the time of the process, Communitas’ activities included several longstanding initiatives which enjoyed wide support and served as the pillars of the organization. Other mechanisms were in place for feedback on how to improve these existing initiatives, and a small budget meant that limited funds were available for any further initiatives or purchases. Accordingly, an inclusive and deliberative process which allowed for creative new ideas was seen as essential to ensure than the remaining portion of the budget was used in an effective way.
Background History and Context
This initiative arose out of the host organization’s own internal governance strategy and builds on Participatory Budgeting’s past use within non-profit and carceral contexts. Centrally, this initiative formed part of a broader effort by Communitas to increase stakeholders’ participation in the organization’s governance as a means of providing them with a sense of ownership over the organization and the community it fosters, as well as further developing their capacity to take part in and shape the wider municipal and national community. A formal proposal to assign part of the organization’s budget to PB was put forward to the Board of Directors by the organization’s Coordinator and, with approval, marked the first time that the organization used this process.
With respect to participatory democratic initiatives, Participatory Budgeting has emerged as perhaps the foremost innovation based on the frequency and breadth of its use. Accordingly, it represented an accessible and well-established tool to achieve Communitas’ objectives. PB has been employed primarily at the municipal level, including within Montreal’s Plateau Mont-Royal borough from 2006-2008 ; however, there is some precedent for its use within non-profit organizations to engage stakeholders rather than citizens per se. Notably, the Participatory Budgeting Project has used an online ‘PB2’ process to allow their donors to decide how a portion of donations are spent. Moreover, Participatory Budgeting has also been used within school settings, providing students the opportunity to decide part of its budget, as well as within non-profit community housing corporations, with tenants as participants . Accordingly, this case study builds on these projects by applying PB processes to a new context and including a diversity of organizational stakeholders.
PB also has some history within the carceral context. In the past, some city-wide Participatory Budgeting processes in the United States have intentionally included current and former inmates as participants, recognizing both the contributions that they could make as well as the way in which participatory democratic processes offer opportunities for growth. In 2015, the New York City participatory budgeting project sought the participation of formerly incarcerated individuals by holding one of its ‘budget assemblies’ at a residence for those returning from prison. In doing so, organizers noted that former prisoners too could contribute to the public good and that, despite this, are regularly marginalized . As well, a 2016 Hartford Decides project extended the ability to vote in the city’s participatory budgeting project to inmates of the Hartford Correctional Center, bringing ballots within the prison and ultimately having 71 participate. Here, organizers envisioned the inclusive process as “a way of fostering civic responsibility and community respect,” and one which should extend to those in prison . Indeed, it might be argued that opportunities to foster these qualities are of particular importance for a population which, at least at one point in time, has shown disregard for public responsibilities by engaging in criminal behaviour. The present project builds on these prior uses and rationales by making the participation of both current and former prisoners central to the process, its motivation, and indeed the substance of the project proposals.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Communitas is a Montréal-based, English-speaking grassroots organization that works to facilitate the successful social reintegration and well-being of current and former prisoners within the Montréal area. It formally incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2015, though as an unincorporated group it has worked in this area since 1999. To accomplish its objectives, Communitas organizes a variety of opportunities for interaction, exchange, support, and mentorship between current or former prisoners and volunteer members of the community. These include activities ranging from intensive community support circles dedicated to specific high-risk, high-needs individuals to less intensive large-group social events.
Communitas provided all funding for the Participatory Budgeting process, both in terms of the budget and the support costs. A formal proposal was submitted by the organization’s Coordinator and, after consultation with the membership, approved by the Board of Directors. An organizing committee—comprised of volunteer representatives reflecting the diversity of the stakeholders within the organization (i.e. community members, ex-prisoners, administrators)—was struck to assist with certain tasks such as refining project proposals and determining the most appropriate voting method for the context.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Participants included the variety of stakeholders within the organization at each stage of the process on a voluntary basis; this included ex-prisoners living in the community (whether within transition houses or independently), current prisoners on Escorted Temporary Absences from local penitentiaries (for one of whom the PB process served as the first time ‘outside’ in twenty-five years), volunteer community members, and organizational staff. Prior to the launch of the process, those living within the community were notified in advance of the process’ dates through the organization’s mailing list and through announcements made at prior events and meetings. The first session (covering an introduction and idea collection process) involved over thirty-five participants, many of whom had received these notifications, though, given that the participatory budgeting process was built into an existing weekly event, some had not. The participants on escorted release from the penitentiary were those approved by the warden of the institution which lined up with the event given a previously determined rotation of institutions.
An open invitation to participate in the planning and execution of the remainder of the participatory budgeting process—including proposal refining, material preparation, deliberations, and voting—was also extended to stakeholders. Ultimately, a small five-member project committee representing the spectrum of stakeholders (excluding those within the penitentiaries) was formed of volunteers. The second and final public session (which involved deliberations and voting) involved another thirty-five to forty participants, some of whom were unique from those attending the first session. The voting process was also held open an extra week so that those participants on escorted release who attended the first session could cast a vote as well. In total, the process involved approximately 60-65 unique participants.
Methods and Tools Used
This initiative employed a Participatory Budgeting (PB) process, adapted for use within a small non-profit organization. Generally speaking, Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which stakeholders deliberate and vote directly on how to use shared resources. While Participatory Budgeting is context-dependent and can vary across its applications, the process typically involves three general stages, including (1) brainstorming of ideas, (2) filtering and developing those ideas into fuller proposals, and (3) voting on which proposals to fund. The first and third of these involve a broader segment of interested participants, whereas the middle stage involves a smaller, more select group.
Communitas’ implementation of PB followed the model’s general framework in these respects, although shortened the process across six weeks in light of the smaller number of possible participants as well as smaller amount of funds available. Communitas’ implementation differed further from the typical municipal project in that it was restricted to stakeholders within a particular non-profit organization rather than the general public within a geographical area. Moreover, it was also restricted with respect to the substantive scope of projects, given the organization’s mission and the legal constraints of its charitable status. Accordingly, the PB utilized in this case represents a combination of what Cabannes and Lipietz refer to as ‘thematic’ and ‘actor-based’ Participatory Budgeting, rather than the typical a territory-based initiative .
Within the PB process, small-group deliberation was also used at both the brainstorming stage as well as the expo and voting stage. This was done to facilitate decisions that were well-reasoned and informed by the variety of relevant considerations and perspectives within the organization. These deliberations involved mostly small groups of 4-5 individuals, though those taking place prior to voting typically involved smaller groups of 2-3 as well as a larger group of 35-40 participants in a less intensive plenary session. The small-group deliberations were self-facilitated, though guidance on how to achieve quality deliberations was provided in some detail to participants at the first stage of the process.
Lastly, with respect to the voting method, Communitas employed a unique process which saw each participant being given an equal ‘share’ of the budget: a precise dollar amount determined by dividing the total budget by the number of voters. Each participant was then able to distribute that money across proposed projects as they saw fit—in other words, by allocating their entire amount to one project, dividing it evenly across several projects, or by allocating different projects different amounts. Accordingly, participants could allocate funds proportionally based on their interests and considering the varying costs of the projects, rather than simply voting for a select number of projects without expressing these nuances. When a project reached its required level of funding, it was automatically funded; however, to ensure that as much as possible of the available budget was spent, the amount of funds not ‘spent’ in this manner—that is, the leftover portion of the budget spread across the other incompletely funded proposals—was then assigned by funding the next affordable project which received the most amount of assigned money, and so on, until no further projects could be funded.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Decision Making
Following the initial planning stage, the Participatory Budgeting process proceeded in three stages, including:
1. A large-group session dedicated to and introductory presentation, deliberations regarding possible projects, and proposal collection;
2. A project committee stage to refine and develop initial proposals as well as plan the final exposition and vote; and
3. A large-group session dedicated to an exposition of the finalized proposals, further deliberation about which projects ought to be funded, and the final voting process.
The large-group sessions bookending the process were built into a pre-existing weekly organizational activity to maximize participants, including those who were pre-approved to attend only these activities by their institution. Prior to the launch of the process, the first stage was primed by informing stakeholders about the process and encouraging them to brainstorm possible projects in advance.
The first stage occurred at a large-group session lasting approximately two hours, and was dedicated to introducing participants to Participatory Budgeting and collecting initial ideas for project proposals. The session opened with a twenty-minute interactive presentation on Participatory Budgeting which discussed the process, its past use, the reasons for using it at Communitas, and what would be accomplished that evening. The presentation also included an introductory video created by the Participatory Budgeting Project to complement the presentation and provide a visual illustration of the process. 
Subsequently, participants broke out into smaller groups of 4-5 individuals to discuss and record project ideas. In doing so, participants were first engaged in a discussion about self-facilitating a deliberative atmosphere at the table, including making sure that everyone at the table had a chance to speak, listening actively and asking questions to unpack ideas further, and giving reasoned feedback on the others’ suggestions. Groups were also each provided with sheets on which they could record ideas which they felt were worthy of further investigation, and which would be used as the starting point for the next stage of the process. These sheets asked groups to describe each idea as clearly as they could, explain why it is important, and provide an initial estimation of its cost. Throughout group deliberations, the project coordinator visited each table to answer any remaining questions about the task at hand. At the closing of the session, sheets were collected and participants were reminded of the next steps and invited to participate further.
The second stage involved the work of a project committee to narrow and develop the initial proposals collected at the first session, and to prepare for the project exposition and vote. Approximately twenty proposals were collected from the initial session, and the committee reduced the number to nine final projects to be voted on. As appropriate, overlapping proposals were combined into a single project, and those projects which were not feasible in light of common legal conditions placed on those under community supervision were excluded. The remaining nine projects were then researched and developed further, setting out a more detailed explanation of the idea and its importance, an accurate projection of associated costs, and a general action plan for its implementation. These expanded project descriptions, along with relevant images for illustration, were then used to create accessible display posters to be used at the exhibition stage of the process.
Dedicated to the project exhibition and the voting process, the third stage of the process occurred at a large-group session lasting approximately two hours, and took place five weeks after the initial session. In order to remind those who had participated in the first session and to orient those who were only joining the process at this later stage, the session opened with a brief recap of the participatory budgeting process, an explanation of how the night’s session fit into that broader process, and an overview of the evening’s agenda. Participants were then provided with ballots which listed the nine projects and their costs, and provided space for individuals to allocate their assigned funds as they wished.
Subsequently, the exhibition of the projects began with the project committee providing brief one-minute presentations of each of the nine projects, following which participants were permitted to browse the more substantial poster presentations which encircled the room. Members of the project committee made themselves available throughout this time to answer any questions or clarify any ambiguities that remained. In being directed to the posters, participants were encouraged to discuss their impressions with one another, and tables were set out where participants could gather after having viewed the projects.
After approximately 45 minutes, participants returned to plenary and were invited by a facilitator to share which projects they thought were most important to fund and explain why, respond to others’ input, as well as ask any remaining questions. Participants were also invited to provide feedback of the use of the process itself. Following an exchange along these lines, participants were then invited to fill out their ballots and deposit them in a sealed ballot box. Also included on their ballot was space to leave feedback on the Participatory Budgeting process and they were also encouraged to fill this out. While this concluded the majority of the voting process, the vote was held open to allow for the same individuals who joined the first session on Escorted Temporary Absence from a local penitentiary (and who did so on a pre-determined schedule) to conclude their participation—a request made by them and one which was happily accommodated.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The Participatory Budgeting process had direct influence on the decisions of the organization while also having impacts beyond the immediate process itself. In approving the participatory budgeting process, the commitment from Communitas’ Board of Directors was that so long as the outcomes were not inconsistent with the organization’s legal obligations (e.g. charitable status), the selected projects would be funded. Accordingly, being attentive to these considerations, participants’ decisions directly determined how the allotted funds were spent. In this respect, of the nine projects that were put forward, four were ultimately funded through the vote:
1. Scholarship for Children of Incarcerated Parents: The fourth project involves creating a scholarship to help support the costs of post-secondary education for a student with an incarcerated parent. In doing so, Communitas’ members will help minimize the more immediate damage done to families by incarceration, while also contributing to breaking the potential generational cycle of criminal offending.
2. Post-Release Pilot Project: The second of these was a pilot project which involves additional support for individuals immediately following their release from prison. Participants had highlighted the need for services such as picking up individuals from the penitentiary and orienting them within their destination neighbourhood as well as the Montreal community generally, and this project will see funds being provided for one-on-one support in this respect.
3. Coffee that Supports Ex-prisoners: The third of these involves upgrading the organization’s coffee supply to purchase it from an out-of-town social enterprise (Klink Coffee) that provides training and employment to those returning to the community from prison. Participants voted to fund the difference in cost between the generic grocery brand which is typically bought and this alternative which better reflects Communitas’ objectives and values.
4. Community Garden Project: The first of these involves the organization renting a plot in a local community garden as well as purchasing the necessary equipment and supplies to tend it. In doing so, Communitas’ own members are expected to benefit physically, emotionally, and mentally while also being given the opportunity to give back to the community, donating the fresh produce to individuals or community groups in need.
Each of these projects were ones that had not been thought of or considered by the organization prior to the PB process and can be said to both enjoy widespread support among the organization’s members as well as reflect needs and values of the organization. Accordingly, it could be said that the results of the process align closely with the prediction that a widely participatory process would bring new, high-quality ideas forward that reflect the interests of the organization’s stakeholders.
Following the vote, the four winning projects were announced at the organization’s annual Member Appreciation event, during subsequent weekly group activities, as well as through its newsletter to ensure that all participants were aware of the outcomes. At the time of writing, Communitas has begun implementing the funded projects. The third coffee project is fully implemented and ongoing, while the others are in the process of taking necessary administrative steps: for example, having applied for a community garden plot and waiting for a reply from the relevant municipal agency.
In addition to the direct influence on spending decisions, the process might be said to have had other impacts as well, including on the participants, the organization, and even the broader community. While no formal measurement of the growth in individuals’ civic capacities or confidence was conducted, basic observations indicate that the process did likely serve these ends. The overall success of the process suggests that individuals were able to successfully exercise the skills and attributes relevant to public decision-making, and should also therefore be instilled with some level of confidence. In one case, a participant on his first outing from the penitentiary in decades had expressed at the outset that he felt quite unsure of himself; nonetheless, he fared well in group deliberations and seemed much more at ease in the subsequent session. In addition, the fact that many participants indicated a desire to use the process again with an even greater sum suggests a certain degree of added confidence as well.
At an organizational level, the process might also be said to have instilled within leadership at least some degree of confidence in the collective capacity of the organization’s stakeholders, and thus cultivated support for using similar participatory processes again in the future. As the first attempt with Participatory Budgeting, organizers were conscious of the possibility that the opportunity might fail to garner sufficient interest among stakeholders, or may have otherwise failed in some respect. However, both the organizers as well as Board members seemed pleased at the result, and discussion regarding the potential use of additional PB processes in the future has become common among those previously unfamiliar with the process.
Lastly, by bringing worthwhile new ideas to the fore and publicizing them with community partners, the participatory budgeting process triggered further action outside of Communitas as well. After hearing about the scholarship project through Communitas’ newsletter, another community organization reached out to indicate that they might be interested in contributing to the scholarship as well. Accordingly, the PB process at Communitas—and the expertise among stakeholders that it engages—can be seen as contributing to wider social or community awareness of relevant issues and possible solutions, as well as action toward implementing those solutions.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
With respect to evaluating the use of the process, organizers used a relatively modest formal assessment which included both space for written anonymous feedback on the ballot, as well as an open discussion at the process’ conclusion. Individuals were encouraged to give written feedback (and to do so honestly) on their ballots by answering a single, open question of “What did you think of using Participatory Budgeting at Communitas?”. Just under 50% of participants did so. The assessment was also complemented by a more informal one by the organizers using their own observations throughout and informal discussions with participants after the fact.
In addition to achieving the positive outcomes discussed above, overall the process of PB was very successful in that it included a large number of stakeholders, it facilitated a deliberative approach to decisions, and it achieved widespread satisfaction of stakeholders. While there were some limitations to this success, these were both relatively minor and addressable in future processes. In all then, this case demonstrates that Participatory Budgeting processes can successfully be used both within an organizational context generally, as well as within the context of prisoner reintegration specifically.
First, considering the organization’s small size, the participation of 60-65 individuals was a clear success. Organizers and participants both agreed that building the process into existing activity structures was instrumental in achieving the high rates of participation. Because of individuals’ various personal constraints, it is unlikely that creating standalone PB sessions would have resulted in as many participants. This was certainly true with respect to the participation of those who attended on escorted absences from the penitentiary, and who were only pre-approved for those activity dates and times. Accordingly, other organizations who wish to increase participation through PB processes should also consider how they might build the process into existing initiatives or structures in their own contexts.
Generally speaking, the deliberative portions of the process were also successful. Though self-facilitated based on brief instructions for adopting a deliberative approach, small group discussions on the whole were nonetheless inclusive, respectful, considerate of a diversity of views, and productive. While some may doubt that those convicted of serious crimes are capable or interested in contributing to decision-making about the common good, this experiment adds further evidence to the contrary. In terms of capacity, for instance, this process indicated that (ex-)prisoners were not only perfectly capable of contributing to collective decision-making processes, but did so in a way that showed concern with a common good rather than merely their own personal interests. This was of no surprise to organizers, though remains a point worth highlighting in light of popular prejudices. Based on the ideas put forward and subsequent discussions, for example, it was evident that currently or formerly incarcerated participants were eager to use the available budget to help others and ‘give back’ to the community, while initially ‘community’ participants largely put forward ideas that they thought those returning to the community would simply find enjoyable (e.g. recreational activities). At least in some ways then, the former group modeled civic behaviours that citizens more widely would do well to emulate.
Despite the general success of deliberations, time constraints and insufficient structure did at times interfere with their depth. A clear trade-off of building PB into existing activities was that the public sessions were also limited by their time constraints, meaning that some deliberations were felt to be more rushed than desired by both participants and organizers alike. Additionally, the distribution of ballots at the outset of the Exposition and Voting session also detracted from deliberations. Individuals were provided with their ballot in plenary, prior to viewing the posters, so that it might be explained and they themselves could record the amount of money they were allowed to distribute. Having these in hand as they viewed the posters, however, led a few individuals to make (and record) their decisions before having the opportunity to discuss their views within group discussions. Accordingly, at the time of more intentional deliberation they were likely already set in their decisions and thus not open to influence by others’ arguments. This, however, was limited to a small number of people, and could easily be addressed in future by distributing ballots immediately preceding the vote.
Lastly, the success of the process was further demonstrated by widespread satisfaction of participants. In both group and individual discussion, several participants expressed their support for the process, recognizing it as an enjoyable way of including the full breadth of stakeholders and collecting new ideas. Several others indicated that they hoped that the process could be used again in the future, with a greater amount of money. One individual commented that the process helped achieve legitimacy for the outcomes by demonstrating popular support. Others’ positive views were expressed implicitly: for instance, in learning that their outing schedule would not allow participation in the ultimate vote, one group attending from the penitentiary requested that it be held open one week longer to allow them to see their participation through to the process’ conclusion.
Similarly, in their written assessments of the process, participants expressed almost entirely positive views. For example, in their written comments, more than half of respondents wrote that using PB was either a “good”, “very good” or “great” idea. Others wrote that it was “very interesting”, “cool”, a “fantastic way to get everyone involved”, a “wonderful addition to our life”, something which should be done again, and “a small seed from which something surprising may grow.” Other comments were more muted, sharing that it was “workable” and “good but a bit rushed.” No negative comments were included on the anonymous ballots.
 Brian Wampler, “Participatory Budgeting: Core Principles and Key Impacts” (2012) 8(2) Journal of Public Deliberation Issue, Article 12 at 4-6: https://www.publicdeliberation.net/jpd/vol8/iss2/art12/.
 This rationale has also been employed with respect to prisoner enfranchisement in Canada. See e.g. Sauvé v. Canada (Chief Electoral Officer) 2002 SCC 68 (“To deny prisoners the right to vote is to lose an important means of teaching them democratic values and social responsibility.”).
 Fay Twersky, Phil Buchanan, and Valerie Threlfall, “Listening to Those Who Matter Most, the Beneficiaries”, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2013: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/listening_to_those_who_matter_most_the_beneficiaries
 Abigail Friendly, “Participatory Budgeting: The Practice and the Potential” (2016) 6 IMFG Forum: https://munkschool.utoronto.ca/imfg/uploads/356/forumpaper_6_friendly.pdf at 5.
 “Participatory Budgeting in Schools”, Participatory Budgeting Project: https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/how-to-start-pb/pb-in-schools/; “Participatory Budgeting”, Toronto Community Housing: https://www.torontohousing.ca/pb.
 “Ex-Prisoners Tell NYC How to Spend Money”, Oscar Perry Abello, September 11, 2015, online: https://nextcity.org/daily/entry/participatory-budgeting-new-york-city-meetings-ex-prisoners.
 “Hartford Inmates Help Decide How City Spends $1.25 Million”, Vinny Vella, Hartford Courant, March 30, 2016, online: http://www.courant.com/community/hartford/hc-hartford-inmates-voting-0330-20160330-story.html
 Yves Cabannes and Barbara Lipietz, “Revisiting the Democratic Promise of Participatory Budgeting in Light of Competing Political, Good Governance and Technocratic Logics” (2017) Environment & Urbanization 1 at 2.
 “Real Money, Real Power: Participatory Budgeting” (4:13), Participatory Budgeting Project, online: https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/resources-to-do-pb/videos/
Lead image: The Associated Press https://goo.gl/SYRtHR