Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brownsville on a Rainy Day

I spent this afternoon in Brooklyn, checking in on our small team in Brownsville.   The place is very much a work in progress, but it is buzzing with activity.  While I was there, an air conditioner was being installed in the hallway, staff were preparing for a youth court graduation, and probationers and other local young people were busy taking tests and meeting with case managers.  Somehow James and the rest of the crew remain calm and composed amidst all of the chaos.

The photo above comes from the Tumblr page for a Brownsville rapper named Ka.  He's got a unique, slow-paced, conversational rapping style that suits his generally grim subject matter (check "Cold Facts" for example).  But his real gift may be visual.  I like both the photos and the videos he has made to illustrate his songs.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bail Reform in New York

This week's Village Voice has a long cover story on the need for bail reform in New York.  I could quibble with some aspects of the piece, but I think the portrait that it paints of the arraignment process is generally accurate.  The piece also features two long-time friends/partners of the Center for Court Innovation: Jerry McElroy of the Criminal Justice Agency and Robin Steinberg of Bronx Defenders.

While I'm thinking of the Voice, I want to put in a plug for my buddy Graham Rayman's work.  Graham writes frequently about issues of crime and justice in New York, including investigative pieces about the NYPD that received a PASS Award from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

Friday, April 20, 2012

People That I Admire, Springtime Edition

It's time for another installment of my irregular feature People That I Admire:

Mike Schrunk, the elected district attorney in Portland, Oregon and a relentless innovator, has done it again: Multnomah County is now holding court in a homeless shelter.

Elish Angiolini, who visited the Red Hook Community Justice Center not too long ago, seeks to rethink how Scotland handles female offenders.

Alexis Sturdy, who has done an amazing job building Wesleyan's Center for Prison Education, is featured in the Middletown Press.

Andrew Kimball, who has kept the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the forefront of economic development in New York, is rewarded with a glowing editorial in the New York Daily News.

David Kramer, a real estate developer with both heart and vision, is profiled in the New York Times.

Scott Millstein continues to drive Coro New York forward.  The organization's annual benefit is coming up on May 17 and features, among other honorees, Bill Bratton.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Justice Reform in Australia

I spent some time this morning with Tania Sourdin, the head of the Australian Centre for Court and Justice System Innovation, which was created by Arie Freiberg, the dean of Monash University Law School. Just about a year old, the Australian Centre is not formally connected to the Center for Court Innovation, although they have been kind enough to place me on their board of advisors.

The agenda of the Australian Centre is still taking shape, but they seem to be focusing on issues of civil and restorative justice at the moment, providing research and training to reformers across Australia. The also have an interest in improving courtroom communication techniques and spreading community justice practices beyond pilot settings. In the months to come, I hope that we can work together to think through these and other issues.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


A couple of people have asked recently about what motivates me. The truth is that I find inspiration in lots of different places.

For example, I went to see my friend Ana Gasteyer's one-woman show at Joe's Pub earlier this week. I found the show inspiring because Ana has managed to achieve something that I think is pretty difficult: succeeding in a cutthroat business on her own terms. She combines the high level of technical excellence that you'd expect from a professional singer/actor/comedian with a profoundly idiosyncratic worldview and an utter lack of pretentiousness and celebrity attitude. No easy feat.

Here are a handful of other things that inspired me this week: