Friday, April 30, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop

Quick movie pick: I was pre-disposed to like it since I'm a fan, but I was unprepared for the brilliance of Banksy's Exit Through the Gift Shop. Very funny and highly recommended.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

UK Op-Ed

Yesterday was a big day in England -- Prime Minister Gordon Brown's gaffe (he was caught calling a supporter a "bigoted woman") may well end up costing Labour the election. Today brings word of an op-ed in the Daily Telegraph that references the report on problem-solving courts that Aubrey and I wrote for Policy Exchange a few months back. Maybe slightly less earth-shaking than Gordon Brown's unfortunate turn of phrase, but still...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Attendance Court

Click here for story on our attendance court in Harlem that will appear in tomorrow's New York Times.

Monday, April 26, 2010

High Fives and Steve Nash

This is a brilliant video about one of my favorite basketball players, Steve Nash. In it, an intern for the Phoenix Suns counts how many times Nash high fives his teammates during a typical game. The number is truly staggering: more than 200 times. This comes on the heels of body language research that suggests that teams that touch each other more often are more successful than ones that touch less frequently. It got me thinking about leadership and the importance of positive affirmation. Sometimes, in the crush of daily responsibilities, it is easy to forget to praise outstanding performance. In this spirit, let me just single out two moments of excellence from my day: first, Julius returned from a business trip to Argentina having made a bunch of new friends for the Center and second I had a great meeting with Melissa who is doing a wonderful job running the Staten Island Youth Justice Center.

Friday, April 23, 2010

R.I.P. Guru

I wrote awhile back about Guru, the rapper from Gang Starr, falling ill. Earlier this week, he passed away.

The tragedy that afflicts many great rappers (think Rakim, KRS-One) is being saddled with lackluster beats that don't match their skills. Guru had the opposite problem: a producer (DJ Premier) so talented and beloved that Guru's contributions are doomed to be perpetually underrated. In truth, he was never the most adept rapper, but he did have the benefit of a unique, monotone style. Most of the obits I have read about Guru have focused on his split from Premier and the drama surrounding the collaborator he chose at the end of his career, some guy named Solar that I don't really know anything about. The best thing I've read about Guru is this piece by a writer named David Roth that accurately and lovingly pegs Guru's workmanlike style and penchant for slightly goofy lines ("Lemonade was a popular drink and it still is"). For anyone who wants to check out Guru at his best, I encourage you to check out this video for my favorite Gang Starr song: "Just To Get A Rep."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Newark Youth Court

Today marked the graduation of the first-ever class of Newark Youth Court participants. We marked the event with a ceremony at City Hall featuring Mayor Cory Booker. Booker gave a remarkable address. One of the applause lines was when he turned the old saying "it takes a village to raise a child" on its head and declared that it takes children to raise a village. This segued into praising Youth Court members for their willingness to step up and help fix the problems of Newark. As great as Booker was, he was matched by two Youth Court members who spoke of their time in the program and their commitment to making a difference in the lives of their peers. All in all, a feel-good event. Adam, Jethro, Evelyn and Danielle did a great job putting it together, working with an array of partners in New Jersey.

DARE Reaction

A couple of months ago, we published a white paper on the controversy over D.A.R.E., the substance abuse prevention program that sends cops into schools to educate young people about drugs. Researchers have criticized the program for failing to make an impact on teen drug use. Nonetheless, D.A.R.E. is alive and well and working in hundreds of schools. Our paper explored this phenomenon and used it as a jumping off point for making some observations about the relationship between research and practice. I've been pleased by the response to the paper, which has been downloaded thousands of times from our website. Here are links to some of the reactions:

Governing magazine

Reality Check

Crime Report

Reclaiming Futures

Analyst's Corner

One Minute Lawyer

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Helping Non-Profits

The New York Times reports that Mayor Bloomberg is launching a new effort to help cut bureaucracy for New York City non-profits that do business with the City. The article mentions our corporate parent, the Fund for the City of New York, and its work to provide struggling non-profits with desperately-needed bridge loans.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Red Hook Anniversary

Yesterday, the Red Hook Community Justice Center held a special luncheon to celebrate its 10th (!) anniversary. It felt like a reunion in many respects. Not only did several former staffers make the pilgrimmage back to Red Hook, but there was also great turnout from some of the key local residents -- Emma and Jerry and John and Wally and others -- who helped to advocate for the Justice Center in the early days. It happened to be a particularly sunny day and several people remarked to me how beautiful Coffey Park looked -- full of flowers, kids playing, etc. All in all, a far cry from the days when there were more crack vials than people in the park.

Friday, April 9, 2010

An Evening at Harvard

I spent yesterday at the Kennedy School at Harvard, moderating a panel on how New York has managed to reduce both crime and incarceration over the past decade or so. It was a fun event for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Center alum Kate Krontiris did an amazing job organizing the panel and attracting a good-sized crowd. Second, I was joined on the panel by people I really enjoy -- Alex Calabrese from Red Hook, Chris Watler from Harlem and NYU law professor Tony Thompson. But probably the best part was the give-and-take with the students, faculty and criminal justice professionals who attended. It was a chance to make new relationships (including the Massachusetts commissioner of corrections) and re-kindle old friendships (it was particularly good to spend some time with Harvard's Frank Hartmann, who always inspires me). As I said at the event, I feel the Center owes a debt to the Kennedy School -- we were fortunate to received the Innovations in American Government Award from them at an early stage in our development. While I like to think that we would have done good work with or without the Award, I think the prize did lend us credibility and legitimacy and a sense of momentum in our early days. For that, I will always be grateful.

New York State Youth Court Conference

Earlier this week, together with the New York Bar Foundation and the New York Association of Youth Courts, we helped pull together a gathering of nearly 100 youth courts across New York State. The event was held in Albany and featured a keynote address by former chief judge Judith Kaye. For a short report, click here.