Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Community Court Anniversaries

Two prominent community courts recently celebrated anniversaries. San Francisco recently marked its first year of operations with an event featuring Mayor Gavin Newsom. Seattle, meanwhile, celebrated its fifth anniversary. Congrats to both projects and many happy returns...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Parallel Justice

I spent Friday evening at a party to celebrate the release of Parallel Justice, a new book by Pace University professor Susan Herman. Susan's been talking about developing a new vision for how society should respond to victims for awhile, at least since her time running the National Center for Victims of Crime. Now she's managed to put down her vision on paper -- I'm looking forward to checking it out.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Community Court Roundup

The New York Times reports on efforts to fight homelessness in Portland that includes a community court.

New York Daily News columnist Errol Louis mentions community courts as one reason why New York has been able to reduce crime and incarceration.

Scotland should have a community court, says the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

My alma mater, Wesleyan University, screens Red Hook Justice, the documentary on the Red Hook Community Justice Center.

An evaluation of an Australian community court finds reduced recidivism among participants.

Cool photo featuring the Midtown Community Court on Flickr.

Lippman at the Citizens Crime Commission

Last week, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman gave a major address at a breakfast hosted by the Citizens Crime Commission. Among other things, the speech painted a vision for reforming the juvenile justice system in New York, including a call for the creation of a new community court that would focus on youth crime in Brownsville.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Reentry Court Evaluation

Our research department has just released their evaluation of the Harlem Reentry Court and the findings are starting to reverberate on the Internet. (See this for example.) I think this study makes a significant contribution to the field -- the federal government has chosen to make a deep investment in reentry and there have been precious few evaluations of reentry courts to date. The findings are provocative. On the one hand, they show a significant decrease in re-convictions among participants in the reentry court, which suggests that the program has helped to reduce re-offending. On the other hand, the study documents increased revocations among participants in the Reentry Court compared to "regular" parolees. The researchers think that this is the result of what is known as a "supervision effect" -- basically, projects like the Reentry Court supervise participants more closely and are thus more likely to detect technical infractions that might be missed by conventional supervision. Going forward, we need to work with our partners at Parole to think through how to deal with this reality, likely by creating a broader range of sanctions short of revocation.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The New York Miracle

In early April, I'm scheduled to be on a panel at Harvard's Kennedy School that will look at the "New York miracle" -- how the State has managed to reduce both crime and incarceration.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My Friend Keith

Speaking of heroes, this is a BBC report on my friend Keith's work in Malawi for Partners in Health. I've always admired Keith so it is nice to see him get some shine.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Thoughts About Heroism

One of my favorite episodes of the Simpsons was the one where Bart perpetrated an elaborate hoax, pretending he was a boy named Timmy that had fallen into a well. (In reality, Bart had merely hidden a microphone in the well.) The plight of "Timmy" generated enormous attention throughout Springfield, which enabled the show to spoof the media, celebrity charity work and other sacred cows.

At one point in the show, Homer has this exchange with his daughter Lisa:

Homer: That Timmy is a real hero!

Lisa: How do you mean, Dad?

Homer: Well, he fell down a well, and… he can’t get out.

Lisa: How does that make him a hero?

Homer: Well, that’s more than you did!

All of which is a long way around to saying that I typically roll my eyes when people start talking about "heroes," a word and a concept that are easily abused. So I hope you will not find me flippant when I say that I met a couple of people that I found truly heroic earlier today.

Once again, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Sloan Awards, the Fund for the City of New York's annual celebration of excellence within the ranks of New York City's civil service. All of the awardees were public servants in the truest sense: not just government bureaucrats, but people who routinely go above and beyond to improve the delivery of services to the public. Whether its creating innovative recycling programs or finding resources for kids in detention or identifying victims of public tragedies, these folks are a big part of what makes this city great. All New Yorkers owe them a debt of gratitude. I'm just glad that the Fund is able to honor them on our behalf.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Journal of Court Innovation, Issue #3

We just posted the latest issue of the Journal of Court Innovation. Our partners at the New York State Judicial Institute took the lead on assembling this issue, but it does contain an interesting piece by Rob on the challenges of statewide administration of problem-solving courts. We are also close to putting the finishing touches on the next issue of the Journal, which will focus on tribal justice issues.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Fire at 100 Centre Street

The big story in hip-hop today was that Lil Wayne's sentencing was delayed by a fire at Manhattan's centralized criminal court at 100 Centre Street. A small footnote to the story: to keep the wheels of justice turning, the court system moved some arraignments to the Midtown Community Court. Another benefit, albeit unintended, of having a community court! While I'm on the subject of hip-hop, the rapper for one of my favorite rap acts, Gang Starr, is in the hospital with an apparent heart attack. I once almost ran into Guru outside of our offices on 36th Street. I was too shy to say anything. Here's a small sampling of some of his best work.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cy Vance Podcast

Another great podcast from the New Thinking series, this time with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance in Harlem. Rob does an amazing job with these. Well worth a download.