Sustainable communities discourse, literature and initiatives have essentially excluded poor marginalized communities at a time when sustainability efforts require more stakeholders and stakeholder involvement. The families in poor marginalized communities of color in the United States are struggling to meet basic needs (food, medicine, shelter, safety). Additionally, in these communities there is a disproportionate level of forced mobility to prisons, jails and detention centers. These communities are unsustainable. This dissertation is comprised of three articles. I present in the first article (published in Sustainability Journal) an argument for a definition of sustainability that includes recognition of the major, complex and persistent problems faced daily by poor marginalized communities of color (African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American) including those connected to mass incarceration and high recidivism. I also propose a system-of-communities conceptual framework. In my second article, I explore sustainability assessment tools and find them to be inadequate for measuring the progress toward sustainability of poor marginalized communities with high incarceration and recidivism rates. In order to fill this gap, I developed the Building Sustainable Communities Framework and a Social Reintegration, Inclusion, Cohesion, Equity (Social R.I.C.E.) Transition Tool, a qualitative interview guide (a precursor to the development of a community sustainability assessment tool). In the third article, I test the utility of the Building Sustainable Communities Framework and Social R.I.C.E. Transition Tool through a community-based participatory action study: The Building Sustainable Communities-Repairing the Harm of Incarceration Pilot Project. Three types of participants were included, formerly incarcerated, family members of formerly incarcerated and community members. The Restorative Justice Circle process (based on a traditional practice of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples) was also introduced to the groups for the purpose of having discussions and sharing personal stories in a safe, nonthreatening, confidential and equitable space. During the study, data was gathered for reflexive thematic analysis from two participant groups, in-depth interviews, focus groups and short qualitative surveys. The findings reflect the community is in dire need of a path to stability and sustainability and needs the knowledge and tools to help them make collective community decisions about present and future sustainability issues.