Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"I Don't Want To See You Here Again"

The last couple of weeks at work have been kinda lousy ones for me, full of setbacks, mishaps, and frustrations.  Today offered a bit of a break.  It began with a breakfast sponsored by the Citizens Crime Commission featuring a lecture by federal Judge Robert Katzmann.  Katzmann talked about the problems faced by immigrants in the legal system, including a new program that he helped birth: the Immigrant Justice Corps.

Learning more about what Katzmann is up to was fun.  Even better was this afternoon's graduation of the Parent Support Program in Kings County Family Court.  I've written about the program before, so I won't rehash it here, but it was inspiring to see the real-life impact of our efforts to rethink the child support process.  A couple of dozen fathers were honored today.  All had managed to reconnect to their kids and make meaningful child support payments in the process.  Alan Farrell, an assistant deputy commissioner at New York City's Human Resources Administration (pictured above), offered the keynote address.  But the final word of the day went to Magistrate Nicholas Palos who told the graduates, "I don't want to see you back here again!"

In truth, the last two weeks haven't been all dismal.  The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed that I wrote entitled "A Surprising Portrait of the Misdemeanor Criminal." (I didn't choose the title.)  And Corrections Today ran a nice review of my book Reducing Crime, Reducing Incarceration.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Glenn Markman

One of the secrets to success in New York City has always been real estate.  This is true even for non-profit organizations like the Center for Court Innovation.  A stable and (reasonably) affordable home base is an essential prerequisite for all of the things we hope to achieve in the world -- improving New York City neighborhoods, changing the life trajectories of vulnerable individuals, spreading new ideas about how to reform the justice system, etc.

I write all of this to explain why this week has been a sad one for me.  On November 4th, longtime friend of the Center for Court Innovation Glenn Markman passed away.  In addition to being a donor to the Center, Glenn was a real estate broker for Cushman and Wakefield.  A few years ago, we worked with Glenn to figure out where the headquarters of the Center should be for the next decade.  The assignment was to find a space that we could afford, that was easy to reach for visitors from out of town, and that provided access to all of our operating projects in the five boroughs and Newark.

While we are a decent-sized non-profit, the Center was a small client in Glenn's portfolio.  He certainly had clients that were more high-profile as well.  But I never felt like we received less than Glenn's full attention.  He worked diligently to find us multiple options and to help negotiate terms once we decided that we wanted to stay in west Midtown.

In short, Glenn helped provide us with a good home.  In the years since, I've gotten to know Glenn outside of work as well.  He was a stand-up guy.  He loved Brooklyn and saw the potential in the borough well before it became an international brand.  He was devoted to his family and talked about his kids with the kind of passion that you hope to see in fathers.  And he was committed to the idea of "giving back" that went beyond the usual platitudes.  I will miss him.  My thoughts go out to his family.