Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hynes on Red Hook

Joe Hynes has a wonderful editorial on the Red Hook Community Justice Center in the Daily News today. Click here.
I spent this morning at QUEST. While I picked a lousy day to travel to Jamaica in terms of weather, once I got there, things couldn't have been better. Dave and the rest of the team are running a great program, with a compliance rate of 84 percent. We're also close to unveiling a new mental health initiative in Queens, to be known as QUEST Futures.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleaning Up Queens

Email of the week comes from Manny in Queens, who writes:

On October 18th, 2008 thirty six volunteers came out in the cold to paint the Queens Boulevard Pedestrian Bridge. This was a long awaited project, not just by Queens Community Cleanup, but by many local officials, business and residents as well. This bridge connects many of the Long Island City buses and trains to Sunnyside, in particular LaGuardia Community College, and Aviation High School.

Recently we asked City Councilmember Eric Gioia what projects he would like to see completed in Long Island City, and graffiti removal on this bridge was top on the list. We then approached the Department of Transportation for permission to paint the bridge, and after a few emails, and phone calls, not only did we have permission they donated all the paint for the project as well.

At first we weren’t sure if we would have enough time or paint to cover the entire bridge, which mind you is a quarter mile long, the support columns for the elevated train are also part of the bridge, and there is a wall on both sides of the bridge. So we at first focused on just covering the graffiti, but when our strong group of volunteers finished in record time, and we had paint to spare, we decided to go back and make it look brand new. So by the end of the day we painted over a half miles worth of walls, equaling approximately 10,000 square feet.

I am very proud of the work we accomplished that day, and thankful for all the volunteers, and friends who came out and braved the cold to help make Long Island City, and better place to work, live and play.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Just a quick reminder that the folks at Midtown are organizing a benefit on Friday evening in an effort to help support their work with women caught up in the sex trade. It promises to be a fun event. For more info about how to attend, click here.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gladwell on the Nature of Genius

At home today recovering from strep and catching up on my reading.

Those who know me well often mock my affection (or is it affectation) for dropping references to Malcolm Gladwell into proposals, emails, casual conversation.  Now here comes a blog entry. 

Reading last week's New Yorker, I spotted a piece by Gladwell on "late bloomers" -- people who achieve greatness late in life.  The piece was typical Gladwell -- he takes some research findings and wraps a beautifully written story around it.  I even got kind of choked up at the end of the piece, when Gladwell calls for perseverance in the face of failure and describes the "love stories" behind late-blooming geniuses.

After the emotions faded, however, I began to look at his argument more critically.  Gladwell (and the economist David Galenson, upon whose research Gladwell bases much of his story) spend a lot of time distinguishing "old masters" from "young geniuses."  But are these really the only choices?  Can we really reduce all human accomplishment to a simple dichotomy -- early or late?  What about the middle?  For every teenage prodigy and octogenarian innovator, aren't there dozens of talents whose greatest accomplishments occur in the years between 30 and 50?  Indeed, in Galenson's review of the eleven most important poems in the American canon, six were written by poets in the years 30-50 (and only one in the years after).  And if we broadened our scope to look beyond the arts to other fields -- academia, business, architecture, etc. -- I dare say the proportion would be even greater in favor of the middle aged.  

Yes, I am middle aged. 

Click here for a New Yorker podcast with Gladwell. 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Trip to Crown Heights

I spent part of the afternoon today in Crown Heights, where the Mediation Center is on a roll.  In addition to the recent article in the Daily News about Ife, Amy and the rest of the staff there are cooking up a bevy of activity for the fall, including a new youth court, a reentry resource guide, leadership training for local residents and mediation training in schools.  Amy, in her usual gentle way, chided me for not having linked to Crown Heights new blog.  So, here it is. 

The other highlight of my day was a phone call with Louise Casey, a cabinet level official in the Brown administration in the UK.  She filled me in on a sweeping criminal justice reform agenda that she is spearheading, including a number of reforms -- an emphasis on community restitution as a response to minor offending, efforts to involve local residents in the process of doing justice -- that are very similar to things we are working on in NYC.   

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New York Times Story on Drug Courts

Today's Times has an A1 story on drug courts that mentions the Center for Court Innovation and New York's work in the area prominently.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Center Alumni Make Good

Nice piece in today's Times about Added Value, a Red Hook youth farming project created by two former staffers from the Red Hook Youth Court. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Waiting for the Debate

I'm at home waiting for the second McCain-Obama debate, full of nervous energy.   Blogging seems as good as way as any to burn it.  So here are a few thoughts and links:
  • Here is a link to a provocative piece in Slate that is critical of Obama's criminal justice positions.  
  • I spent the afternoon today with Sam Sullivan, mayor of Vancouver, as he toured Common Ground's Times Square project.   Sullivan is a fascinating figure: a quadripelgic (from a skiing accident as a teen) and a conservative with a deep interest in urban planning and novel approaches to crime control (including an emphasis on harm reduction).   More important, at least from my narrow, parochial perspective, Vancouver has just opened a community court that will hopefully serve as another model project for the world. 
  • Yesterday, Al and I spent a few hours with Denise O'Donnell, the commissioner of New York State's Division of Criminal Justice Services.   She seemed extremely interested in our work -- and extremely pessimistic about the state's current fiscal climate.    As if to underline her point, today's Times had a story on how non-profits are struggling.  Here's a link.
  • I didn't want to end on a down note, so here is a link that celebrates the reunion of one of my favorite bands from the 80s/90s: the Feelies.  

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Resolving Family Conflicts

Rob and I both have pieces in a newly-published book, Resolving Family Conflicts, from Ashgate.

Website Update

Our award-winning website continues to attract visitors. According to Alina, in September, we had 61,227 visitors who downloaded 19,333 publications. The top 5 downloads for September were:

1. Action Research: Using Information to Improve Your Drug Court
2. The State of Drug Court Research: Moving Beyond 'Do They Work?'
3. Principles of Problem-Solving Justice
4. The Brooklyn Mental Health Court Evaluation
5. Supervised Visitation
One of my favorite components of the website is our new podcast feature. Rob has been doing profiles of innovative projects and justice reformers that are available either on our site or via iTunes. Click here for the latest podcast.