Thursday, October 24, 2013

News from North Liverpool


This week brings disappointing news from England: the Ministry of Justice has decided to close the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre.

In truth, the handwriting has been on the wall for the Justice Centre for some time.  The combination of the fiscal crisis and uncertain evaluations regarding the effectiveness of the project meant that the Justice Centre has been on the chopping block for the past several years.

Still, this doesn't make the decision any happier for those of us who care about the ideas that the Justice Centre was intended to embody: a justice system that takes minor offending seriously, that seeks out alternatives to incarceration wherever possible, and that attempts to reach out to defendants and the community in new ways in an effort to restore public faith in government.

North Liverpool was arguably the most prominent symbol of these values in England, but it wasn't the only one.  Indeed, our British partner, the Centre for Justice Innovation, has recently published a great document, entitled Better Courts, that highlights examples of innovative practice across England, Wales and Scotland.

I don't have much doubt that, with the help of the Centre for Justice Innovation, ideas like procedural justice and community payback and enhanced judicial monitoring will continue to survive and even thrive in the United Kingdom.  But that's a story for another day.  Today is a day to acknowledge the passing of the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre and the efforts of everyone who worked to get the project off the ground in the face of numerous obstacles.