Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Farewell in Red Hook

Yesterday, the Red Hook Community Justice Center hosted a farewell party for Leroy Davis, a court officer who retired after more than a decade of service in Red Hook. Since the very start of the Justice Center, Leroy has been an important part of establishing the culture of the place. There's an old aphorism that you never get a second chance to make a positive first impression. Leroy, and the rest of the court officers who guard the building and keep inhabitants safe, seem to take that wisdom to heart. At the door to the Justice Center, they help set a tone that is both secure and friendly, welcoming and no-nonsense. But Leroy's role at the Justice Center was never confined to his job description; he always went above and beyond, particularly if kids were involved. To get just a little bit of the flavor of the man, it is worth checking out the short Red Hook video. We wish him well going forward.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The GAO on Drug Courts

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress and investigates how the federal government spends its money. In a new report, the GAO declares that drug courts reduce recidivism. The GAO study is based, in part, on the multi-site adult drug court evaluation that we conducted along with the Urban Institute and RTI International. According to the GAO, “This is the broadest and most ambitious study of Drug Courts to date; it is well done analytically; and the results, as they relate to the impact of Drug Courts, are transparent and well described.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

Honoring Joel Copperman

Last night, Youth Represent honored Joel Copperman, the executive director of CASES, at their annual benefit. It always makes me happy to see good work rewarded. There's much to admire about Joel -- his affability, his decency, his commitment to CASES' clients, etc -- but the thing that stands out for me is his longevity. Joel's been running CASES for more than twenty years, through good times and bad, and I can discern no dimunition whatsoever in his zeal for the work at hand. CASES is lucky to have him, as is New York City and the field of alternatives to incarceration.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

NeON in Brownsville

This morning saw the official launch of the New York City Probation Department's Neighborhood Opportunity Network initiative (or NeON for short) in Brownsville. It was a feel-good event, headlined by Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs, Probation Commissioner Vinny Schiraldi (pictured above in a grainy shot taken on my cell phone). Along with the Brownsville Partnership, we will be core partners in the NeON initiative: in the days ahead, our Brownsville Community Justice Center team will be located side-by-side with a team of probation officers dedicated to serving Brownsville residents. Together, the hope is that we can improve service delivery, making it easier for probationers to get the help they need to get their lives back on track. In his remarks, Commissioner Schiraldi was particularly gracious toward the Center for Court Innovation, saying that the idea for neighborhood-based probation was partly inspired by our community courts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Kelling at John Jay

I spent this morning at John Jay College at a standing-room only lecture by George Kelling hosted by the National Network for Safe Communities and David Kennedy. Kelling has said nice things about the Midtown Community Court in the past and was even generous enough to blurb my book Good Courts, so take my opinion with a grain of salt, but I found his speech fascinating. Kelling essentially provided an overview of criminal justice policymaking in the U.S., with a particular focus on policing over the past two generations. One of the themes that he returned to again and again was the importance of establishing and maintaining legitimacy among agents of social control. Two of his lines struck a chord with me: "police are the people and the people are the police" and "in a democracy, you cannot police citizens unless they consent to be policed."

Kelling's focus is obviously the police, but his thinking resonates with our work within court systems and the lessons we are learning about the importance of procedural justice. In talking about the transformation of the New York City subway system in the 1990s, Kelling credited police with clearly articulating their enforcement strategy and then rigorously following through on that strategy. The more I look around, the more I think that this seemingly simple idea -- purposeful communication combined with a focus on implementation that encourages the system to live up to its intentions -- underlies many of the most intriguing innovations of recent years (HOPE Probation, the drug market intervention, community courts, etc.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lessons from Greenlight

The latest issue of the National Institute of Justice Journal contains another look at Project Greenlight by James A. Wilson and Christine Zozula.

For those who don't recall, Greenlight was an effort to produce better outcomes among those leaving prison in New York by providing specialized programming in the months immediately preceding release to the community. An initial evaluation, which tracked participants for 12 months post-release, found that Greenlight actually increased re-arrests. Full credit to our friends at the Vera Institute of Justice, which helped to conceive and implement Project Greenlight: they have been remarkably forthright about these results and have sought to help the field learn from their experience.

Wilson and Zozula return to Greenlight, re-assessing the project's impact over a longer period of study (30 months v. 12 months) and looking at the results through the lens of risk. In particular, they sought to tease out whether Greenlight might have had different impacts depending upon the level of risk posed by participating offenders. They found that Greenlight participants still performed worse than the comparison group at 30 months, regardless of the risk level. Somewhat counter-intuitively, they also found that Greenlight performed best with low-risk offenders, despite the fact that, in general, intensive correctional programming seems to work best with medium- and high-risk offenders.

Kudos to NIJ for another interesting issue of NIJ Journal.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

My Uncle Warren

My uncle, Warren Gelayder, passed away yesterday. Warren grew up with my mother in Newark, New Jersey and spent most of his life in the jewelry business. I will remember him mostly for his affability. He never took himself too seriously and always seemed to be in a good mood. I think his sense of humor was one of the things that made him such a good father. He was truly a family man -- I always admired his commitment to his wife and kids. He will be missed.

Even before he fell ill, I often found myself thinking of Warren when I visited Newark Community Solutions. Mostly what I thought about is how our individual lives intersect with the lives of the cities we inhabit.

My family's story on my mom's side is fairly typical of the American Jewish experience. My grandmother Loretta moved to the U.S. as a small child. She came with her family from the town of Lwow, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire (after a brief spell as part of Poland, the city is now part of the Ukraine and called Lviv). Like many Americans, their immigration had roots both economic (the search for a better life) and political (the search for a life not defined by anti-semitism).

My grandmother, who became a U.S. citizen in the 1950s, ended up marrying Max Gelayder. (As an aside, the family name "Gelayder" is apparently an Americanized version of the Russian "Galaida.") For many years, my grandfather presided over a jewelry store at 519 Fulton Street in downtown Brooklyn. My uncle Warren followed him into the business. The picture above captures Warren in front of the store in the 1960s.

Alas, the family business in Brooklyn didn't last forever. Nor did the good times in Newark: like many Jewish families, the Gelayders ended up moving to the suburbs. If the forces of history pushed my uncle out of Newark and Brooklyn at the end of the last century, those same forces are pushing me in the other direction: I find myself living in Brooklyn and working in Newark (albeit only occasionally). I enjoy the symmetry. And I wonder what my daughters' relationship will be to these places that have helped to define our family, for both good and bad, for nearly 100 years.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Trip to Prison

I spent the bulk of the day today at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Connecticut. I visited because I recently joined the advisory board of the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education, an initiative that offers college-level courses to incarcerated students. Today's class was a political philosophy seminar devoted to Albert Camus' "The Rebel." Much of the conversation focused on a passage towards the end of the book in which Camus writes that the task before humanity is "to learn to live and to die, and, in order to be a man, to refuse to be a god." From this jumping off point, the students discussed religion and the nature of justice, bringing in earlier readings from Nietzsche and other philosophers. It was a pretty typical Wesleyan class: an interesting professor challenging a room full of highly engaged, thoughtful students. The only thing different really was the setting: we were behind bars in a windowless classroom and the students had all been convicted of serious crimes, including murder. I left feeling proud of my alma mater for sponsoring such a program -- and with my faith in liberal arts education, and its ability to teach both context and empathy, bolstered. For more information on the Center, check out this New York Times article.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bronx Defenders

Last night, I attended the annual fundraiser for Bronx Defenders. Great event, great organization, and great honoree -- the event honored Herb Sturz, who helped establish the blueprint for innovative criminal justice non-profits when he founded the Vera Institute of Justice a half century ago.

Institutional partnerships between non-profits can be a challenge given the realities of politics, personalities, and the competition for limited resources. That said, we have been fortunate to establish a long-standing, mutually-beneficial (I hope!) relationship with Bronx Defenders. We aren't on the same side of every issue, but there is a basic foundation of respect and understanding between the two agencies that has enabled us to work together on projects like Bronx Community Solutions and the Center for Holistic Defense. We've also tapped Robin Steinberg, the head of Bronx Defenders, to be on numerous task forces, including our initiative to improve communication in criminal courts.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Video Roundup

Interrupting Violence in Crown Heights from NYC in Focus on Vimeo.

I spent the end of last week in Washington D.C. speaking to an inter-agency gathering of federal officials with an interest in substance-abusing offenders that was convened by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. While I was gone, several videos featuring Center for Court Innovation projects started making the rounds:

The above video, which describes our anti-violence work in Crown Heights, comes from NYC In Focus.

Last week's Brownsville Youth Court graduation was captured on film by one of the participants' parents. The results can be seen in this You Tube video.

The good folks at NYC Community Cleanup have created a neat time-lapse video of a graffiti removal project.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Daily News

Two recent articles in the Daily News caught my eye. The first, about gang violence, includes this quote from Brookyn DA Charles Hynes about the Red Hook Community Justice Center: “That court helped transform Red Hook from a place you wouldn’t enter without the 3rd Marines into one of the five safest neighborhoods in New York.”

The second, an op-ed about violence in Brownsville, cites our research into community attitudes about crime and highlights the efforts we are making to address gun violence in Crown Heights.

Still More From England

Reviewing my notes, here are a few selected moments that struck a chord with me from the US-UK criminal justice summit that our Centre for Justice Innovation put together with Policy Exchange last week:

Nick Herbert, the minister of policing and criminal justice, saying that it is time for the UK to break out of "stale thinking" about crime and that he welcomed the creation of the Centre for Justice Innovation to aid in this process.

Kit Malthouse, MP and deputy mayor of London, nodding toward our trial and error work, saying "we have to recognize that part of innovation is failure."

New York City Probation Commissioner Vinny Schiraldi, highlighting the differences between the US and the UK in terms of how government policy is made and how that may help to stifle innovation: "You can't fail small in the UK, you have to fail big."

Chris Watler of the Harlem Community Justice Center, encouraging criminal justice reformers to be more aggressive in getting their messages out to the public and the media: "We are a storytelling species."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More From England

I've returned to New York after half a week in London. As part of the release of From the Ground Up, we helped to organize a two-day summit on criminal justice reform that brought together a select group of American and British innovators. About 100 people attended the public portion of the event, which was held at London City Hall. These included a mix of frontline practitioners, national bureaucrats, foundation people, and academics.

I think the report and the event helped us to solidify our role in England. After more than a year of exploratory work, it has become clear that our niche in England will be to promote criminal justice reform by aiding and abetting demonstration projects in a variety of fields -- probation, courts, corrections, etc. This will take several forms: research, convening, technical assistance, and behind-the-scenes advocacy with central government.

While there are numerous capable non-profit organizations in the UK, I am pretty confident that our Centre for Justice Innovation can make a real contribution. One of my principal takeaways from the summit has to do with the differences in the playing fields between the US and the UK. Because of the nature of the government (national as opposed to federal), the politics (crime is a top national concern and a key partisan issue in England), and the media (i.e., relentless national tabloids), it is much, much harder to be creative and test new ideas in the UK than it is in the US. In this environment, criminal justice reformers need all of the help they can get. I hope in the days ahead that we will be able to help strengthen the hands of both frontline practitioners and policymakers who are interested in doing new things.

Culture Roundup

A few things I've been enjoying of late:

Everlast's guerilla street art video for "I Get By"

"Attack the Block" -- easily the best horror/sci-fi/social commentary/comedy film I've ever seen

A new compilation of Billy Bragg downloads called "Fight Songs" includes several songs that rank with his best work

Taylor Branch takes down the NCAA in a lengthy, but entertaining, Atlantic Monthly story

Friday, November 4, 2011

From the Ground Up

I'm in London this week for the release of From the Ground Up, a new publication that our London office put together with our friends at Policy Exchange. The book is basically a meditation on the value of demonstration projects as a reform strategy. As part of the book launch, we convened a two-day event that brought together innovative criminal justice officials from England, Wales and Scotland with their counterparts from the US. I will try to write more expansively when I get home and have access to a proper computer, but for now I will just say that the gathering was a huge success and really underlined how far we have come in a relatively short time in the UK. Much praise is due of course to Aubrey Fox, who has been leading our London efforts. Aubrey has had a fair amount of help of course. Credit is also due to Policy Exchange (particularly Blair Gibbs), the Young Foundation (particularly Anton Shelupanov) and Gavin Lockhart, who co-wrote From the Ground Up with Aubrey.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Brownsville Notes

The centerpiece of my day today was a meeting with James Brodick and Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz to discuss Brownsville. In the aftermath of last week's horrible shooting, we are re-doubling our efforts to advance the idea of a community justice center for the neighborhood. Under James' leadership, we've already got a fair amount going in Brownsville, including a youth court that just held its 100th hearing and an array of community service projects. To this, we will soon add "Safe Surrender," a joint effort with the Brooklyn DA's office, the New York court system, the Legal Aid Society and local clergy to help local residents clear up outstanding warrants without having to schlep downtown to court. We also plan to convene a local task force to look at juvenile reentry issues. And we are hoping to raise money to attempt a Ceasefire-style gun violence project. While NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman have both endorsed the idea of a community court for Brownsville, the realities of New York real estate and raising capital dollars mean it is going to take some time before we have a vibrant courthouse in the neighborhood. But I think we can still do a lot of good in Brownsville in the meantime. The bottom line is that I think we don't have to wait for a courtroom to open the Justice Center.

P.S. A couple of interesting invitations hit my in-box today. The first is for a lecture, hosted by David Kennedy's Center for Crime Prevention and Control, by George Kelling at John Jay College on December 6th. One of the originators of the "broken windows" theory, Kelling has been a hugely influential criminal justice scholar for more than a generation. The community court model certainly builds on his insight that the justice system needs to take minor offending seriously.

The second invite comes from Youth Represent which is honoring Joel Copperman, the executive director of CASES at their upcoming event on December 8th. CASES is a wonderful organization that runs alternative-to-incarceration programs (among other things) and Joel is one of the true class acts that I have met in the world of justice reform.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Change at the Top

Yesterday came news that Ann Pfau had stepped down as the chief administrative judge of New York. While this position is mostly invisible to the general public, it is hugely important inside the justice system. Reporting directly to the chief judge of New York, the chief administrative judge is responsible for overseeing the third branch of government, which includes thousands of employees, millions of cases, and hundreds of tough policy calls each year. Today, Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that Pfau will be replaced by Gail Prudenti. In the Law Journal story covering the announcement, Judge Prudenti said this: "I want to work with the Center for Court Innovation and look for partners that have the same goal of equal justice for all."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What's Going On

A quick review of recent developments:

Our friends from the New Economics Foundation in England visit the Harlem Reentry Court.

The Offender Aid & Restoration of Essex County will honor Jethro Antoine and Newark Community Solutions at their upcoming gala.

At their 25th anniversary event headlined by Jeremy Travis of John Jay College, the Sentencing Project unveils a short film highlighting several alternative-to-incarceration projects, including the Red Hook Community Justice Center.

The New York Times editorial page endorses New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman's court reform plan for teenage offenders.

And finally, strange days at the Midtown Community Court.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Good Design

Last night I had the chance to attend the Center for Urban Pedagogy's annual benefit and talk about our collaboration on "I Got Arrested...Now What?", a comic-book guide to the juvenile justice system that is now being distributed throughout New York City by the Department of Probation. For those that don't know CUP, they are a small, Brooklyn-based non-profit that serves as a bridge between the world of art and design and the world of public policy. I think quite highly of them -- they certainly did wonderful work with us.

Amidst all of the praise that I have heaped on our founding director John Feinblatt of late, one of the things that I didn't focus on was his commitment to good design. In the early days of our agency, he sent a clear signal about this by hiring Amanda Burden to think through signage, Alta Indelman to work on various architecture projects, and Pentagram to work on our branding. Since becoming the director of the Center, I've tried to carry forward this value, most recently by engaging Zago to re-engineer our website and Megan McConagha to assist with some of our printed materials.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tuesday Night in Chelsea

On Tuesday of this week, we held our first-ever fundraiser at the Chelsea Art Museum: a cocktail party to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Center for Court Innovation. More than 250 people came out to see us honor John Feinblatt, our founding director, and to hear New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman say nice things about us. My favorite line was probably this one from the Mayor:

“Reducing recidivism is one of the toughest things to do in criminal justice, but it is probably the most important and has the greatest impact on crime rates. Everybody wins when it happens, our streets are safer, taxpayers spend less money on jail, and people put their talents to more productive uses. And I think it’s fair to say that no one has been as effective at finding new ways to reduce recidivism than the Center for Court Innovation.”

New York Law Journal coverage here.

Mayor Bloomberg's official photos of the event here.

Our write-up of the party here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Public Enemy

Yesterday's Providence Journal had a story on Rhode Island's efforts to create a specialized domestic violence docket that quotes our own Rebecca Thomforde Hauser. Our national technical assistance efforts continue to bear fruit...

At the risk of over-sharing, my first thought on reading the piece was not of domestic violence but of my own brief history writing for the paper known as the "ProJo." Back in the early 90s, I lived in Providence for a short spell. I cobbled together different part-time jobs to stay afloat, including writing grants for local non-profits. What I enjoyed the most, however, was doing freelance music criticism for the ProJo. This was back in the days before the Internet, so sadly none of my work seems to be available on the web. But here is a scan of a piece that I wrote for the paper on Public Enemy just for the historical record.

Monday, September 26, 2011

What If the Secret to Success Is Failure?

A few things have put the subject of failure back on my mind of late. My brother-in-law Tom (who runs an organization called Heartland Democracy) pointed out that The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story a couple of weeks ago -- "What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?" -- the title of which is a neat summary of the argument that Aubrey Fox and I were trying to make in Trial & Error in Criminal Justice Reform: Learning from Failure. (For those few of you who haven't already read the book, Criminal Justice magazine recently published a slightly adapted version of one of the chapters, which they entitled, "Why Good Programs Go Bad.") Then Dall Forsythe at Atlantic Philanthropies sent me a link to a story in the Non-Profit Quarterly about how an overreliance on accountability may actually undermine confidence in public institutions. I find the whole issue of public-government relations fascinating. Part of what we tried to say in the Trial & Error book is that in the world of criminal justice, officials are often guilty of articulating unrealistic goals and then failing to meet them -- and that this dynamic tends to lead to public cynicism about government.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lippman on Juvenile Justice Reform

At a breakfast speech at the Citizens Crime Commission this morning, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman called for New York State to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18. This would effectively transfer some 45,000 cases involving 16 and 17 year olds from criminal court to family court. From my perspective, this is one of the rare policy announcements that is simultaneously a bold move and a conservative play. It is conservative because New York has somehow gotten out of step with the rest of the country on this issue; only one other state (North Carolina) sets the age at 16 and they are apparently about to change it. So it isn't exactly a radical notion that Lippman is advancing. Having said that, every issue needs a champion and Lippman is certainly taking a valuable leadership role here. Among other things, Lippman's speech called for careful study of the financial implications of raising the age, legislative change in Albany, and the creation of pilot projects in criminal courts where judges will receive specialized training and access to enhanced sentencing options for 16 and 17 year olds. The Center will have a role in working with the courts to make these projects a reality. New York Times coverage of the speech can be found here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Various and Sundry

A few things from around the Internet that caught my eye today, most involving friends of mine or organizations that we have worked with in the past:

Judge Kevin Burke, a leading light in the fight for procedural justice and newly installed as president of the American Judges Association, has started a new blog.

I've been so busy shilling for the Center's upcoming 15th anniversary event that I thought I'd give it a rest for a day and highlight the Center for Urban Pedagogy's upcoming benefit on Oct. 13th. Keen readers of this blog will remember that we partnered with CUP on one of my favorite projects of the past couple of years: a comic book guide to the juvenile justice system for young people arrested in New York.

A New York Times editorial quotes research by John Jay's Jeff Butts to make the case that states should incarcerate fewer juveniles and use more community-based alternatives -- exactly what programs of ours like QUEST and the Red Hook Community Justice Center and the Staten Island Youth Justice Center have been doing for years.

Sticking with the Times, the paper also covered the race for district attorney in San Francisco with an emphasis on the candidates' support for restorative justice. Potentially good news for the community court in San Francisco?

My buddy Glenn Markman's wife, Jan-Testori Markman, has an art opening this Thursday. I like the stuff that's featured on her website.

Which is more important offense or defense? My favorite soccer blog, Missed A Sitter by my buddy John Bostwick, takes on this eternal debate.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Shoot

A busy day today: I spent this morning at 100 Centre Street walking through the arrest-to-arraignment process with our friends at the Criminal Justice Agency, had coffee with Alison Stewart who will serve as MC at our upcoming 15th anniversary celebration, participated in a remote board meeting for the Australian Centre for Court and Justice Service Innovation, and attended the Vera Institute's annual fundraiser. I also noted that long-time friend of the Center David Kennedy is fast approaching the publication date for his new book, Don't Shoot. He has generously posted an excerpt on his website if you are interested in giving it a test ride.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Helping Parents in Brooklyn

I spent this afternoon in Brooklyn Family Court. Going to Family Court isn't always a happy experience. After all, it is a place of broken marriages, juvenile offenses and family dysfunction. But not today. Today was a graduation ceremony for a unique family support program that we have been piloting with the help of the Family Court and the Human Resources Administration (the City's welfare agency). The goal of the program is to help parents (dads, really) make their child support payments and learn how to interact with their children more effectively. Four men graduated from the program today. Together, they were responsible for making more than $16,000 worth of child support payments. But clearly the program is about both dollars and sense (forgive the horrible pun). As one of the graduates said when he spoke, the initiative is really about "helping the judicial system see beyond the money to the person behind the case." All in all, an impressive day. I'm hoping we can build on this foundation in the days ahead. Kudos to Liberty and her team for organizing.

PS -- Here's a link to a nice photo commemorating the Red Hook Community Justice Center's visit to a firehouse.

PPS -- Center staffer Sarah Schweig has just released her first book of poetry. Haven't read it yet, but if its anything like the work of hers that I have read, it is worth checking out. Click here to order.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Five Years Ago

In the run-up to our 15th anniversary celebration on October 4th, I've been going through our archives and choosing some interesting photographs from the history of the Center for Court Innovation. Today's shot was taken at our 10th anniversary, and features Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the podium as the last two New York State chief judges -- Judith Kaye and Jonathan Lippman -- look on. The 10th anniversary party, which took place at the City Bar and featured the release of our Documenting Results book, was a great bash. Here's hoping that the 15th is even better...

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Discretionary Justice

Yesterday saw the return of Leslie Paik to the Center for Court Innovation. An alum of the Center, Leslie is now a professor at the City University of New York and has written a book, Discretionary Justice, that grows out of more than a year's worth of ground-level field research at a juvenile drug court in California. Leslie's presentation was about the challenges of defining and responding to non-compliance in a juvenile drug court setting. She emphasized that the messy realities of teenage life in problematic families don't easily conform to the rules and structure of the justice system -- even in a setting like drug court that is supposed to be more flexible and understanding than conventional courts. Leslie made a big contribution to the Center while she was here; it is nice to see her making a contribution to academia as well.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The New York Miracle

Today's New York Law Journal has a great op-ed by two people I admire: New York City deputy mayor Linda Gibbs and NYC probation commissioner Vinny Schiraldi. Gibbs and Schiraldi write about a new mayoral initiative to change the trajectories of young black men. Along the way, they discuss what I think is still an under-reported story: New York City's remarkable track record in reducing both crime and incarceration. The article itself is behind a pay wall, but I'll spare you the effort of trying to get past it by quoting my favorite lines here (emphasis is mine):

New York's unique, dual success in reducing both crime and incarceration has been attributed to a number of factors, including innovative police practices, a concerted effort to eliminate poverty and one of the nation's most robust networks of alternative to incarceration programs. We've taught the country that locking up African-American and Latino youth and throwing away the key is short-sighted, ineffective and expensive. While incarceration will always be an unfortunate necessity...it is increasingly our criminal justice system's backstop, not its backbone.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

17 Years and Counting

Tomorrow marks the 17th anniversary of the day I started working at the Midtown Community Court. This photo of John Feinblatt and me was actually taken a year or two later, but it gives a sense of how young we both were back then. As an added bonus, here is a link to one of the first articles about the Midtown Community in the New York Times. While the piece describes the fact that both Legal Aid and the Manhattan DA at the time opposed the project, there's no escaping the topic sentence: "Justice has never looked so fabulous."

PS, thanks to Cynthia, Bill and the folks at the Wesleyan alumni magazine for providing the above photo.

PPS, to complete today's dose of nostalgia, here is a link to a great post on the egotrip website about the making of Boogie Down Productions' "My Philosophy" video, which was one of the songs that kindled my interest in hip-hop back in the 80s.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"How Can We Do It Better?"

New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman talks about the role that the Center for Court Innovation has played over the past 15 years in helping the New York judiciary identify new ways to improve its business.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Judith Kaye on the Center for Court Innovation

In this interview, filmed for our 15th anniversary celebration, we sat down with former New York State Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye at her office at the law firm Skadden Arps. Among other things, Judge Kaye talks about testing the glass holding areas at the Midtown Community Court by taking a hammer to the glass the night before the project opened. She also talks about the importance of public-private partnership and the role the Fund for the City of New York played in getting the Center for Court Innovation off the ground.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Amanda Burden on the Midtown Community Court

New York City Planning Commissioner and former Center for Court Innovation staffer Amanda Burden discusses meeting John Feinblatt for the first time and her work at the Midtown Community Court. These are excerpts from an interview conducted as part of the preparations for our 15th anniversary celebration on October 4th.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

End of an Era?

I just turned off the TV after watching my beloved Arsenal lose at home to Liverpool. It made for painful viewing. The season is only a few games old and already it it feels like hope is lost. Actually, it feels worse than that. It feels a little like the end of an era. At the risk of being melodramatic, the poor start to the season, combined with the departure of Arsenal's best player, Cesc Fabregas, feels like the death blow for an idealistic vision of football crafted by Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger. Contrary to the established way of doing things in England, in recent years Wenger has assembled a bunch of young, small and technically-adept players from a diverse array of nations. His team plays arguably the most attractive football in the country, full of intricate movement and goals from unexpected angles. But for the past six years, Arsenal has wilted down the stretch and finished without a trophy. The conventional wisdom from the pundits and bloggers has been that Arsenal will never win unless Wenger changes his approach and brings on older, bigger and more defensive players. Every fiber in my body wants Wenger to be right and his critics to be proven wrong. Alas, even my faith in the manager has been shaken of late. Unless something changes dramatically, I think we are witnessing the end of Wenger's grand utopian scheme -- and perhaps the end of Wenger as manager as well.

I often try to learn management lessons from the world of sport, but I'm not sure what to make of all this. Sadly, Arsenal is beginning to remind me of the Spider-man musical on Broadway, which I saw in previews with Julie Taymor still at the helm. That show, which deserved all of the criticism it received in my opinion, felt like the product of hubris unbound. It seemed like there was no one involved in the production with the common sense and authority to tell Julie Taymor that her more outlandish ideas (like dedicating the second half of the show to a character other than Spider-man) made no sense. Arsenal under Wenger are apparently suffering from the same problem. So maybe the lesson is about the importance of staying humble, balancing idealism with pragmatism, and being willing to make mid-course adjustment to grand plans if they start to go off the rails.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Flashback to 1998

Today's dip into the Center for Court Innovation vault is a photo from 1998 of John Feinblatt and Jonathan Lippman accepting the Innovations in American Government Award from Susan Berresford of the Ford Foundation and David Gergen of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. I wasn't in attendance that day because the ceremony happened the same week that my daughter Hannah was born. I remember coming back to work following my brief paternity leave and feeling as though the Center had made an important leap forward -- that our small, start-up enterprise had reached a new plateau in terms of respectability. Another highlight from the Innovations Award was the New York Times coverage, which featured this classic quote from then-New York State Chief Judge Judith Kaye: "I'm sailing. I'm flying. When I heard the news, I put down the phone and had to do a couple laps around the courthouse."

As an added bonus, here is a link to a video that captures Feinblatt and Lippman's presentation to the Innovations in American Government award committee.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

From the Archives

Today's shot from the archives comes from the opening of the Harlem Community Justice Center in 2001 and features former chief judge of New York Judith S. Kaye, current chief judge Jonathan Lippman and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The press release for the event quotes the Mayor saying: "The opening of the Harlem Community Justice Center marks a new step in the resurgence of this proud, historic community. New York City's progress in modernizing our court system communicates the importance and essential dignity of the legal process. But it is not just the building itself, but the innovative practices that will occur inside that will help New York City retain its status as the pre-eminent local law enforcement community in the nation." Ten years later, the Justice Center has gone a long way towards living up to this hype.

Design Like You Give a Damn

Design Like You Give A Damn 2, a new book on architectural design for social change, will feature a section on the Red Hook Community Justice Center. The book isn't quite done yet, but I've seen drafts and it looks lovely. Available for pre-order from Amazon here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Celebrating Our History

In the run up to our 15th anniversary celebration on October 4th, I thought I'd comb through our archives and release an interesting photograph highlighting the history of the Center for Court Innovation every few days or so. Today's photo highlights two of my favorite former Center colleagues: Greg Steinberg and Eric Lee. If memory serves, Greg and Eric are pictured at Windows World Open 1995, where the Midtown Community Court was awarded a prize for public sector technology innovation.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Ch-Check It Out

I've just returned to New York after a week's vacation in California. I spent the first part of the week in Santa Cruz, where my wife gave a paper at a Dickens conference. (I am currently reading Great Expectations as part of the eternal English seminar that is my marriage.) This was followed by a couple of days in San Francisco where, among other things, I had perhaps the best dim sum I've ever tasted.

While I was gone, the month of July ended on a good note for the Center for Court Innovation. We had lots of proposals and progress reports to crank out and thankfully Jill and the development team were able to meet that challenge. We also had a number of news hits. Here are a sample:

Chris Watler of the Harlem Community Justice Center is quoted in a Wall Street Journal article on Mayor Bloomberg's new plan to improve the life prospects of young men of color in New York City.

The New Orleans Tribune is one of several papers to cover the release of the national drug court evaluation we did with the Urban Institute and RTI International.

Bronx Community Solutions' work with young offenders was covered in the Daily News.

A New York Times blog covered the reaction of our Crown Heights team to the documentary film "The Interrupters."

Coming back from vacation has its challenges, but it is always easier to return to good news...

PS -- Here is a link for anyone with lots of money to burn who would like to get me an early birthday present.

Monday, July 25, 2011

More Feinblatt and Mintz

Several people have asked me for my impressions of the John Feinblatt-Jonathan Mintz wedding, which I was privileged to attend yesterday at Gracie Mansion, so here goes...

It was a remarkable event in almost every respect. Somehow, John and Jonathan managed to reconcile two agendas that I would have thought it impossible to achieve simultaneously. On the one hand, this was unmistakably a media and political event: many of the bold face names in New York City government were in attendance (including the Mayor, who presided) as were enough reporters and photographers to dispel the notion that the media industry is in decline. On the other hand, they staged a fun, intimate, and informal wedding for about 150 guests. It is easy to imagine these two agendas being in tension with one another, but that's not how it played out yesterday.

One reason for this might be the active involvement of John and Jonathan's daughters, who processed, carried rings, danced, sang and generally brought a sense of mirth to the festivities. Another reason might be the level of comfort and ease that John and Jonathan brought to the wedding. At most of the weddings I have attended, I find myself thinking about the future of the newlyweds: Will they manage to stick together through bad times? How will they reconcile their careers? Will they have kids? What will they be like as parents? In John and Jonathan's case, they have already answered all of these questions, so there is little doubt that they have what it takes to make a successful marriage.

All in all, it was a beautiful and moving event that made me proud to call myself a New Yorker and a friend of John and Jonathan's.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Youth Court Links (Plus Spidey!)

It is a sultry and enervating July day in New York. Most of the energy that hasn't been drained out of me by the heat has been devoted to youth development in one form or another. Earlier today, I met with a group of young people from Red Hook who are working on a photography project to document justice in their neighborhood. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what they come up -- they were super impressive.

Also, here are two youth court links that came across my desk today. The first is "Youth Courts 101," a piece from the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange that includes this awkward video of me.

The second is "In Judge Nikkia's Court, A Response to Teen Crime," a piece from Brooklyn Ink.

In truth, the most exciting news of the day is that the trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man has hit the Internet, posted below for your convenience.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Drug Court Study and More

Apologies for the lack of recent blog activity -- the last couple of weeks have seen me out of the office on vacation and visiting my brother and his wife, who just had twin girls (that's me, and my wife, holding the babies above).

I keep waiting for things to slow down around here for the summer but it hasn't really happened as yet. This week, to coincide with the national drug court conference, we are partnering with the Urban Institute and RTI International to release a major new study on drug courts. This is one of the more significant pieces of work that our research department has undertaken: a five-year project that looked at 23 drug courts across the country. The findings underline what we have suspected for some time: that drug courts reduce substance abuse and criminal behavior and save the system money to boot. The most interesting thing about the study, from my perspective, is that it underlines the importance of procedural justice and the role of the judge: defendants who felt like they were treated fairly and with respect had better outcomes.

Speaking of drug court, we have sent a decent-sized contingent to the national drug court conference in Washington DC -- if you happen to be at the conference, please look for our table. Also on the subject of fighting addiction, I was pleased to see community courts highlighted once again in the White House's latest drug control strategy.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Feinblatt and Mintz

Today's New York Times brings word that John Feinblatt, the Center's founding director and the honoree at our upcoming 15th anniversary party, will marry his partner Jonathan Mintz (the City's commissioner of consumer affairs) later this month. This is big news because Mayor Bloomberg will officiate and the ceremony will take place on the first day that same-sex marriages become legal in New York. I couldn't be happier for John and Jonathan. During their time in government, they have both made enormous contributions to the City, tackling big, important issues like gun violence and financial literacy, while somehow managing not to take themselves too seriously. I'm a big fan of both of theirs and I wish them nothing but peace and prosperity in the days to come.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Unsung Heroes

One of the things that it took me awhile to learn when I started working in the non-profit sector is that titles only tell you so much about how an organization actually works. Within almost any agency there are people who do not hold particularly lofty positions but end up being crucial to the process of actually getting things done. Today at the Center we celebrated one such person: our office manager Veronica, who is leaving us to move to Beirut. Veronica is rigorously self-effacing but the truth of the matter is that she has been a key behind-the-scenes player here. Veronica was the first hire I made after I became the director of the Center and she has provided us with an administrative backbone as we have doubled in size over the past decade. I will miss Veronica's wicked sense of humor, her integrity, and the unfailingly high standards she set not just for herself, but for me and the entire organization.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Good Month (And It Ain't Over Yet)

The month of June has been a whirlwind at the Center for Court Innovation. In addition to the usual work, we have organized the opening of Newark Community Solutions, an attendance court graduation in Harlem, youth court events in Greenpoint and Harlem, the unveiling of the Youth Justice Board's latest recommendations, a reentry court graduation, a celebration of the fathers who participate in the Midtown Community Court's parenting program, an anniversary celebration at QUEST, and a community event in Brownsville where we shared the findings of our neighborhood survey with local residents. Along the way, our procedural fairness work has been profiled in the ABA Journal, our reentry work in the Bronx was featured in the Daily News, and the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre was the subject of debate in the House of Lords. And I haven't even mentioned Mike's trip to speak at the prestigious Stockholm Criminology Conference. Or Julius, Elvita and Brett going to Australia to advance the cause of community justice. I could go on, but you get the picture. Just a spectacular month all around.

Friends Who Write

My earlier mention of Joanna Schwartz's op-ed in the Times made me realize that I actually have a number of friends who are good writers whose work I should be promoting. Here are a few off the top of my head:

Clara Jeffrey, the editor of Mother Jones, has a recent piece on the demands of American working life.

Andy Postman shares his idiosyncratic take on the world at Dayriffer.com.

John Bostwick has a blog about American soccer.

Aubrey Fox has a blog about the NBA.

Glenn Markman has a blog about real estate.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


Assistant US Attorney General Laurie Robinson has created a new website, CrimeSolutions.gov, dedicated to helping visitors sift through the research on what works in criminal justice reform. Here's how the Justice Department describes the site:

CrimeSolutions.gov is intended to be a central, reliable, and credible resource to help practitioners and policymakers understand what works in justice-related programs and practices. The site includes information on over 125 justice-related programs and assigns “evidence ratings” -- effective, promising or no effects -- to indicate whether there is evidence from research that a program achieves its goals.

This is an exciting development for the field. It is even more exciting from a parochial, Center for Court Innovation perspective because several of the programs that the Justice Department chose to highlight as effective are programs that we had a hand in either creating or evaluating: drug courts in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Suffolk County.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kids, Art and Red Hook

I spent yesterday afternoon in Red Hook at a reception to celebrate a youth photography project that the Justice Center co-sponsored with the Brooklyn Arts Council. It was a feel-good event: beautiful weather, fascinating photographs, good kids, etc. The highlight for me was my conversation with the mother of one of the junior photographers. She said she had lived in Red Hook her entire life and had attended Visitation School (the Catholic school that, after having been closed for 20 years, we were able to turn into the home of the Justice Center). She was generous in her praise of the Justice Center, not only for rehabilitating the building, but for its impact on the health of the community. It was a good bookend to a week that also featured the pomp and circumstance of the Newark opening. As nice as it to hear the Mayor of Newark and other dignitaries praise our work, at the end of the day, our success depends upon the impact we have on the lives of people on the ground in Red Hook, Crown Heights, Harlem, and the other neighborhoods where we do business.

P.S. My friend Joanna Schwartz, a professor at UCLA Law School, had an op-ed in the New York Times this week that is worth checking out, particularly since it uses one of my favorite Elvis Costello tunes as a headline.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Notes from Newark

Over the course of the 17 years (!) that I've been doing this work, I've been blessed to participate in some memorable public events. I was there when US Attorney General Janet Reno toured the Red Hook Community Justice Center. I was at the award ceremonies when the Center received the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation and the Prize for Public Sector Innovation from the Citizens Budget Commission. I was at the Harlem Community Justice Center when Mayor Rudy Giuliani held an impromptu press conference about his love life. I was at the Midtown Community Court's 10th anniversary breakfast when the lord chancellor of England and Wales came to tell Mayor Michael Bloomberg that Britain would be emulating our community court model.

To these powerful memories I can now add a new entry: yesterday's opening of Newark Community Solutions. There sre many reasons why Newark's opening will stand out in my mind. First was the remarkable turnout: a standing-room only crowd that filled the City Council chambers with government officials, non-profit executives, clergy, community groups and a fair number of Center for Court Innovation staffers from across our different operating projects.

Then there was the keynote address by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, whose reputation for eloquence turns out to be well-deserved. Among other things, Booker saluted the "heroes" that work at Newark Community Solutions and other criminal justice experiments in Newark. He connected their work to the history of American reform movements, including the efforts to pass civil rights legislation, to abolish slavery and to declare our independence from England.

As compelling as Booker was, he was nearly matched by the other speakers at the event. In particular, I will long remember the remarks of Judge Victoria Pratt who talked about being able to see the impact of Newark Community Solutions on a daily basis in the faces of the defendants who come before her having made real progress in transforming their lives.

It has taken a little while for Newark Community Solutions to get off the ground. Initial planning began about five years ago. But as with the Red Hook Community Justice Center (six years in planning, for the record), the wait seems to have had some positive, if unintended, benefits. Namely, it has allowed the project to develop and solidify relationships with a broad range of local partners. In my experience, the kind of community spirit in evidence yesterday afternoon can't be faked. It also doesn't happen overnight. Massive credit goes to Jethro, Adam and the rest of the team at Newark Community Solutions for putting in the hard work and long hours to make it happen.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Planting the Flag in Syracuse

I spent yesterday in Syracuse visiting our office there. It had been awhile: since my last visit to Central New York, we've added new staff, moved into new office space, and launched several new initiatives focused on tribal justice issues. Syracuse and London are half a world apart, obviously, but we are basically attempting to do the same thing in both locations: plant our flag in new territory. One of the things I like about the Center for Court Innovation is that we are committed to adapting to conditions on the ground. So while the goal is the same, our offices in Syracuse and London are evolving in different ways (an emphasis on tribal justice wouldn't make much sense in England, for example). Now if I could just figure out a way for Syracuse and London to share information effectively so that they can learn from each others trials and tribulations...

Saturday, June 11, 2011

LeBron James and the Weight of High Expectations

Last year around this time I wrote about the NBA Finals and how Ray Allen's stellar Game 2 performance (8 three pointers made) was as much the product of teamwork as individual brilliance. Unfortunately, things went south for Allen and the Celtics from there -- they ended up losing in seven and Allen never approached that level of performance again.

This year, a similar drama is unfolding on an even grander scale. After destroying the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals, LeBron James has basically gone missing. Instead of imposing his will on the game (he is the best player in the world, after all), he's been strangely passive. It is hard to escape the feeling that if the Heat end up losing, LeBron will have cost them the series.

For reasons that I don't fully understand, I find myself fervently rooting for James. I think it is partly because I believe he got a bum rap for leaving Cleveland -- I don't understand why so many fans and writers seemed to think that this decision carried some sort of moral weight. And I think it is partly because, despite his physical dominance, LeBron has in fact always seemed a little fragile. There's something more human (read: endearing) about him than the players he is most often compared to, Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.

While there are plenty of theories about why LeBron is playing as poorly as he is (the fatigue of a long season, bad chemistry with Dwayne Wade, the defense of the Mavericks, etc.), the one that I find most convincing is that the moment has simply gotten to him. The pressure of constantly being watched, of being hated by millions of people, of being expected to be the best player every time you take the floor...it is basically beyond my capacity to imagine. In Game 5, LeBron had a triple double -- something that's only been done by about a dozen players before, all of them basically hall-of-famers -- and was universally criticized for having a poor game. There's a lesson in here somewhere about the importance of managing expectations and the danger of setting unrealistic standards.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Youth Perspectives on Brownsville

Yesterday, we celebrated the release of Looking Forward: Youth Perspectives on Reducing Crime in Brownsville and Beyond, the latest report from our Youth Justice Board, an after-school leadership development program that recruits teenagers from across New York City to study a public policy issue of importance to young people. The event, which was held at John Jay College, featured a keynote address by Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes, who talked about his commitment to improving public safety in Brownsville, his history of partnership with the Center for Court Innovation, and his eagerness to hear and respond to the concerns of young people. After that, the Youth Justice Board presented their findings to a crowd that included foundation executives, NYPD officials, and other city bigwigs. The highlight for me was during the Q and A session when NYC Probation Commissioner Vinny Schiraldi asked the kids what advice they had for him about reforming probation. The moment encapsulated what we are trying to achieve with the program: getting the perspectives of young people taken seriously by city decisionmakers. For more information about the Youth Justice Board's latest report, check out this blog post from Linda Baird on the Reclaiming Futures website.

Monday, June 6, 2011

England, Research and Failure

Three recent clips from around the world wide web featuring speakers from the Center for Court Innovation:

T2A National Conference Film 6: Expert Panel Discussion from Barrow Cadbury Trust on Vimeo.

Aubrey Fox (see above video) at an event convened by the Barrow Cadbury Trust talking about criminal justice reform in England.

Michael Rempel talks about the challenges of conducting randomized trials in criminal courts.

Video clips from my recent trip to DC to talk at a National Institute of Justice forum about community courts and the trial and error process.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Don Farole

Yesterday brought awful news: Don Farole of the Bureau of Justice Statistics has passed away. A PhD in political science, Don worked at the Center for Court Innovation as a researcher up until a couple of years ago. I will remember Don for many things, not least of which was his remarkable productivity. A quick review of all of the documents that Don wrote for us reveals a number of important intellectual contributions to the field of criminal justice. My personal favorites include Avoiding Failures of Implementation, Applying the Problem-Solving Model Outside of Problem-Solving Courts, and the Harlem Parole Reentry Court Evaluation. Although, truth be told, everything that Don worked on was first-rate. He was a clear thinker and a sharp writer -- two qualities that are perpetually in short supply.

But as anyone who knew him can attest, Don was more than a workhorse -- he was a fundamentally good guy. He had a dry sense of humor and a sly smile that always seemed to suggest that he was one step ahead of the conversation. I know I speak for lots of folks, not just here at the Center but throughout the field of criminal justice, when I say that Don will be missed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Pretrial Justice

I spent the better part of the last two days in Washington D.C. attending the National Symposium on Pretrial Justice.

The symposium, which was convened by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Pretrial Justice Institute, explicitly refers back to a similar gathering convened by Robert Kennedy in 1964 that was instigated by Herb Sturz and the Vera Institute of Justice.

Much of the conversation at the symposium was devoted to assessing the current state of bail reform in the US. While there was some acknowledgment of the good things that have happened in the field since '64, the general appraisal seems to be that we have hit a wall in terms of pretrial justice. Of particular concern is the sheer volume of jail admissions (12.8 million per year, compared to only 748,000 prison admissions) and the fact that on any given day, 61 percent of the people in jail in the US are being held there pretrial. The numbers suggest that despite the drop in crime over the past 15 years, there has been no proportionate drop in the jail population.

I'm curious to see what comes out of the symposium. It was certainly impressive to see the hierarchy of the US Department of Justice, including Attorney General Eric Holder and Laurie Robinson, make such a strong statement in support of bail reform and pretrial release. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be a lot of money to throw at the problem and whatever solutions emerge will inevitably have to be local, rather than national, in nature.

Still, I left the conference feeling energized about the topic. In fact, it seems like bail reform is every where I turn these days. Yesterday, the New York Times ran an op-ed arguing that pretrial release can help California tackle its prison problems. And my friends over at the Vera Institute of Justice have embarked on an ambitious effort to create a pretrial agency as part of their effort to strengthen the criminal justice system in New Orleans.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Newark and the Challenges of Sustaining Demonstration Projects

Yesterday, I spent part of the morning being interviewed about the sustainability of demonstration projects. The conversation was part of a research project being conducted by the Rand Corporation at the behest of the U.S. Department of Justice. The project is just starting, but the goal is to help the Justice Department make more informed decisions about which start-up projects are likely to continue once federal funding expires. We'll see how the project turns out, but at this point it sounds like a good companion piece to some of the research we've been doing at the Center into the lessons of failed criminal justice reforms.

One of the things that I said during the interview is that, in my experience, the demonstration projects with the best chance of surviving over the long haul are those that a) target a clear and pressing need, b) have a strong local champion, and c) enjoy early buy-in from key government agencies. I was reminded of these qualities quite forcefully today when I took a trip to visit our newest project: Newark Community Solutions.

It is still early days in Newark: we don't officially launch the project till next month, when Mayor Cory Booker will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Still, we are already starting to handle cases as we gear up toward full implementation. The goal, as with Bronx Community Solutions, is to bring the community court model into a centralized courthouse, providing additional sentencing options so that judges don't have to default to incarceration or fines when someone is before them on a misdemeanor offense.

Already, it is clear that Jethro and his team have become well integrated into the Newark courthouse. I had a chance to spend some time with judges, court administrators and city officials who all were uniform in their appreciation of the project. Like all demonstration projects, Newark Community Solutions confronts an uncertain future -- there are no guarantees in this business. But it is fair to say that Newark seems to have many of the key elements in place for long-term sustainability.