The Arts and Criminal Justice
One of the things that has kind of snuck up on me over the years is how much arts-related programming we do at the Center for Court Innovation. To give just a small sample:
- The Crown Heights Community Mediation Center organizes an Arts to End Violence festival.
- The Red Hook Community Justice Center has a youth photography program.
- The Brownsville Community Justice Center, in concert with Groundswell and other partners, creates a community mural.
- The Midtown Community Court works with MoMA on a project to help victims of trafficking express themselves through art.
This list just scratches the surface. Like many things, our arts-related work is not the product of some grand strategic plan, but rather the result of the vision and entrepreneurial energy of the staff at our operating projects, who are constantly looking for new ways to serve their clients and the local community. One of my goals for the year ahead is to get smarter about the intersection of criminal justice and the arts, reflecting back on what we have learned over the years at our own projects as well as the lessons that others in the field can offer us. Stay tuned for more on this subject in the months to come.
Note: The image above is a painting by the talented Brooklyn artist Jason Das, who has worked on a couple of projects with the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center. I was so impressed by his work that I commissioned a painting of the Midtown Community Court as part of our celebration of the Court's 20th anniversary -- we gave prints to the evening's honorees instead of the usual glass paperweights.