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.