Thursday, April 30, 2009

My In Box

A few things that have crossed my desk in the past 24 hours or so that I found particularly interesting or provocative:

1. An editorial from Scotland bemoaning the decision to cancel plans for an adaptation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center

2. The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers released a report that details some of the problems that American courts face in delivering justice in misdemeanor cases

3. The Ministry of Justice in the UK releases a "green paper" on community engagement in the criminal justice system that, among other things, calls for an expansion of community justice in England and Wales

4. WNYC's Brian Lehrer features our Harlem Reentry Court on a recent broadcast

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trip to England

Last week was a big one in terms of the Center's relationship with England. Aubrey and I spent several days in the UK thanks to Policy Exchange, a think tank that asked us to write a paper about problem-solving justice in England and Wales. The topic continues to be big news here in the UK -- while we were in London, the Guardian ran a long profile of the judge in London's pilot drug court (interestingly, the judge cited New York's leadership in drug courts in the article). And the Ministry of Justice is preparing a "green paper" -- which should be released this week -- articulating its plans to spread community justice nationwide.

The trip had a number of highlights, including a luncheon where Aubrey and I had a chance to talk about the Center to an audience of two dozen members of Parliament and high-ranking government officials and a day-long visit to the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre. Our visit coincided with a new push by the Home Office to publicize "community payback," so we got to visit with a group offenders performing community restitution in a local park. The community service crew said all the right things -- that they wouldn't re-offend, that they took pride in the work they were doing, and that they were grateful not to be in jail.

Aubrey and I were trumped (as we often are) by the Hon. Alex Calabrese, who was also in London last week to speak about the Red Hook Community Justice Center at a policing conference. While he was in town, Judge Calabrese actually had an audience with the Queen!

All in all, a good week for the Center in the UK.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Brooklyn Law School

Just a quick report from my evening at Brooklyn Law School at Anne Swern's class on problem-solving justice.  Anne is part of the brain trust at the Brooklyn DA's Office and has been a crucial partner on the Red Hook Community Justice Center, the Brooklyn Mental Health Court, the Brooklyn Treatment Court and other projects.  A couple of years ago, she decided to teach a class at Brooklyn Law, adapting a curriculum on problem-solving courts that we created with the help of a handful of legal academics (Val and Adam piloted the curriculum at Fordham Law School).  Her class was an impressive group -- around 20 third and second year students, all Brooklynites.  Each student came to the material from a different perspective -- domestic violence, family law, alternative dispute resolution, etc.   It was encouraging to see that our work in academia continues to reverberate -- and that the next generation of lawyers is deeply curious about court innovation.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Blogosphere Round-Up

A quick round-up of what you will find at the moment on the various blogs related to the Center for Court Innovation:
  • Rethinking Reentry: Among other things, the Harlem Community Justice Center's reentry blog has an interesting post on cell phone technology and reentry.
  • Crown Heights: This blog, from the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, includes a wonderful letter from a local school principal who writes about the Mediation Center's work coordinating an interfaith panel for her students.
  • Changing the Court: The Bronx Community Solutions blog has a good post reflecting on the project's work with juvenile probationers.

Kudos to Ben, Amy, Kate and everyone else who works to keep these blogs fresh and lively.

Nydia Velazquez in Red Hook

Last night, the Red Hook Community Justice Center held an event to celebrate the young people who participate in all of the various youth programs at the Justice Center -- youth court, baseball league, mentoring, internships, etc. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, who has been such a generous supporter of the Justice Center, gave the keynote address. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also made remarks.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Manhattan DA's Race Gets Even More Interesting

The New York Times reports that John Feinblatt, former director of the Center for Court Innovation, is considering a run for Manhattan DA.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Bloomberg and the Non-profit Sector

Today I went to see Mayor Bloomberg speak about the non-profit sector at NYU's Wagner School.  Amidst all of the handwringing these days about how to save Fortune 500 corporations, it was refreshing to hear a major public official focus on improving the business climate for non-profit organizations.  Bloomberg acknowledged just how important non-profits are to New York, not just in terms of culture and education and social services, but in terms of our economy.  (Among other statistics that he cited, he said that fully 15 percent of NYC workers are employed by non-profit organizations.)  He went on to announce a series of reforms designed to make life a little easier for non-profit groups, including an expansion of the Fund for the City of New York's cashflow loan program, enhancements of the City's contracting process, and the creation of an initiative designed to explore whether it is possible to realize some economies of scale through group purchasing of office supplies, technology and insurance.   I'll be interested to see what kind of play these initiatives get in the papers tomorrow. 

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Malcolm Feeley

I spent this afternoon at Princeton University, teaching a class on the courts and social policy with Aubrey.  We were invited by Malcolm Feeley, who is a visiting scholar at Princeton this year (he is usually a professor at Cal-Berkeley).   Over the years, Malcolm has been extraordinarily generous with his time, allowing me to pick his brain on all manner of subjects.  He has written a couple of books that I recommend to anyone who is interested in court innovation.   The more famous of the two is The Process Is the Punishment, which is an in-depth look at the lower courts based on field work in New Haven criminal court.  Harder to find (but well worth the trouble) is Court Reform on Trial, which is probably the best book I have read on reforming criminal court. 

Red Hook Without People

I just stumbled across a section of the American Institute of Architects website devoted to the Red Hook Community Justice Center. It includes a slide show of beautiful photos. I must say
that the place looks very different without people in it...