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.