Sunday, September 30, 2012

Set It Off

In addition to the start of the Harlem Justice Corps, Friday also marked the opening of the Barclays Center, a new stadium that will house the Brooklyn Nets as well as various concerts and other events.  I'm a Brooklyn resident and a basketball fan, so I have followed the development of the stadium with some interest.  My interest was heightened by the fact that I live a few blocks away from the stadium so its success or failure will directly impact the quality of my life.

The arena opened with a concert by Brooklyn's most famous rapper, Jay-Z.  I didn't get tickets, but I took my daughters to soak up the atmosphere outside the building.  It was a fun occasion -- there was  nice spirit on the streets.  Inside, Jay-Z paid tribute to the golden era of hip-hop by giving Big Daddy Kane, one of my all-time favorite rappers, a share of his spotlight.  Big Daddy Kane appears around the 6 minute mark in this video shot by an amateur cameraman.

The Clouds Part in Harlem

Friday was a rainy day in New York City, but the clouds parted and the sky was blue by the time I left the open house for our newest project in Harlem: the Harlem Justice Corps.  The weather seemed an apt metaphor for what we are trying to do with this project, which is part of the NYC Justice Corps, a program created by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Center for Economic Opportunity.

The Harlem Justice Corps will work intensively with young people (ages 18-24) with a history of involvement with the criminal justice system.  The goal is not just to help them avoid criminal behavior, but to provide them with the kind of coaching and training that will help them find fulfilling work -- in other words, to help shepherd talented but troubled young people to brighter futures.  It is a challenging project that sets ambitious goals for a difficult population.

To find out more, I encourage you to check out the Twitter feed of the Harlem Community Justice Center.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fighting Gun Crime

Yesterday's press event in Brownsville was a good one: BJA director Denise O'Donnell, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, Brooklyn DA Joe Hynes and US Attorney Loretta Lynch spoke in front of a crowd of several dozen community residents and reporters at the Stone Avenue Library.  Despite the fact that everyone was there because of a serious problem (gun violence in the neighborhood), the mood in the room was upbeat and optimistic.

The program that we are launching in Brownsville, which we are calling the Brownsville Anti-Violence Project, attempts to bring together law enforcement and community voices to deliver a clear message to potential offenders that violence is not acceptable.  In many ways, yesterday's press conference embodied the underlying values of the project -- it gathered together federal officials, local justice system players, social service providers, and neighborhood residents to talk about how to work collaboratively to solve community problems.

All of the speakers were great, but my favorite was probably Mark Tanis, a Brownsville business leader.  Here is a YouTube video that offers a portion of his remarks:

And here are selected links to some of the coverage from the press conference:

Sunday, September 23, 2012

"This Is Called Tough Love"

A nice piece from the Associated Press on community courts entitled "Novel courts handle low-level crimes" has been picked up by a number of media outlets, including Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal.  My favorite quote in the article comes from Lillian Sing, the judge at the San Francisco Community Justice Center, who tells a defendant, "This is called tough love.  I don't want to see you die on the streets."

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Brownsville on the Move

The Brownsville Community Justice Center continues to gather momentum.  On Friday, the Brooklyn Community Foundation, one of our core funders, sent around an email blast highlighting the mural that we recently created in partnership with Groundswell and the NYC Department of Probation and others.  Next week, another one of our core funders -- the US Department of Justice -- will hold a press event in Brownsville to celebrate a new, national initiative that seeks to focus the energies of the justice system on innovative, place-based interventions.  Brooklyn District Attorney Joe Hynes will be one of the featured speakers and will talk about our join efforts to reduce gun crime in the neighborhood.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Close to Home

Today, I was fortunate to spend a few hours at Gracie Mansion attending a kick-off event for New York City's Close to Home initiative.  As NYC Probation Commissioner Vinny Schiraldi explained, the program is a landmark effort to halt what has been the trend in juvenile justice for generations:  confining increasingly large numbers of troubled urban kids in rural facilities.   Instead, thanks to a unique partnership with Governor Cuomo and legislative change in Albany, the City will attempt to keep as many city kids as possible "close to home" by creating a range of new responses to delinquency, including non-secure group homes in all five boroughs and Westchester County.

I don't mean to wax rhapsodic, but the event made me feel proud to be a New Yorker -- both the talent and the commitment to change on display at Gracie Mansion were inspiring.  Of course, it helped that the event had a significant Center for Court Innovation presence.  Raye Barbieri and Jackie Sherman, two former Center staffers, are key players in the reform effort at the Administration for Children's Services.  In addition, one of the new programs that was highlighted today -- Probation's Advocate Intervene Mentor (AIM) initiative -- will be implemented on Staten Island with the help of our Staten Island Youth Justice Center.   All in all, a good day both for the Center and for the City.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Crime, Non-profit Managment, and Peter Drucker

At the end of last week, I sat down for an interview with Winfried Weber, a professor at Mannheim University in Germany and the editor of Peter F. Drucker's Next Management, a book that I contributed a chapter to a couple of years back.  Weber is working on a new project on non-profit management.  I spent some time with him describing how the Center for Court Innovation thinks about reforming the justice system and the ways in which its status as a non-profit organization enhances (and, sometimes detracts) from this mission.   

By coincidence, last week Claremont's Drucker Institute did a blog posting that attempted to bring Peter Drucker's perspective to the debate about why crime has gone down in the US.  (For my take on why crime has declined in New York, check out A Thousand Small Sanities.)  

All of this talk of Peter Drucker reminded me of one of my favorite pieces of his: What Business Can Learn From Nonprofits.  Apologies if I have already linked to this article, but even after all of these years, I think it is still a healthy reminder that, notwithstanding recent claims to the contrary during the presidential race, the for-profit sector isn't the only place to learn effective management.

Finally, a couple of links:

Temple University obituary for John Goldkamp.

The New York Times covers a mural project co-sponsored by the Brownsville Community Justice Center.