Research

Audio

Improving Access to Civil Justice: A Conversation with Jordan Dressler

Improving Access to Civil Justice: A Conversation with Jordan Dressler

By Robert V. Wolf and Ignacio Jaureguilorda

Jordan Dressler, the director of the recently created New York City Office of Civil Justice, discusses Mayor Bill de Blasio's ambitious five-year plan to provide free or low-cost legal assistance to every low-income New Yorker facing eviction, deportation, or other potentially life-altering civil proceedings. The interview focuses in detail on the benefits this guarantee is expected to have on tenants confronting landlords in Housing Court (the latter almost always represented by lawyers).

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Using Volunteers to Evaluate the Courtroom Experience: A Conversation about CourtWatch of King County, Wash.

Using Volunteers to Evaluate the Courtroom Experience: A Conversation about CourtWatch of King County, Wash.

Court observation programs around the country send volunteers into courts to observe, collect data, and sometimes issue reports about what they've seen. Their goals include keeping courts accountable to the public and improving transparency, but not all courts are eager to receive public feedback. CourtWatch of King County, Washington, has worked closely with its local courts since the program's founding, trying to build a relationship that is more collaborative than adversarial. As Laura Jones, manager, and Mary Laskowski, services and outreach coordinator, explain to New Thinking host Robert V. Wolf, this collaborative approach has allowed CourtWatch to support judges and court administrators in efforts to improve the court experience for everyone.

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The End of Rikers? A conversation with Courtney Bryan about the Lippman Commission and its recommendation to close the Rikers Island jail facility

The End of Rikers? A conversation with Courtney Bryan about the Lippman Commission and its recommendation to close the Rikers Island jail facility

Rikers Island is “a stain on our great city” and should be closed. That’s the headline-grabbing conclusion of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. With influential leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, in agreement, the next question is: Where do we go from here? Matthew Watkins speaks to the Center for Court Innovation's Courtney Bryan to learn more about the Center's role in researching and producing the commission's report, and the steps needed to carry out its recommendations. We also hear a range of activists and reformers react to the pledge to close the troubled jail facility.

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Reducing New York City's Jail Population

Reducing New York City's Jail Population

New York City's incarceration rates have been dropping steadily, but a new report from the Center for Court Innovation, in collaboration with the Vera Institute of Justice, suggests the city’s jail population can still be brought significantly lower. The report looks in detail at key decision-points along the path from arrest through bail to sentencing and makes concrete suggestions for how to improve the system, especially for those defendants detained awaiting trial. In this New Thinking podcast, Matthew Watkins speaks with Michael Rempel, the report's lead author and the Center's research director.

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Audio

Problem-Solving in L.A.: Multiple Issues, One Collaborative Court

Problem-Solving in L.A.: Multiple Issues, One Collaborative Court

In this New Thinking podcast, Judge Marcelita Haynes of the Los Angeles Superior Court talks with Matthew Watkins about Community Collaborative Courts, the county's new approach to problem-solving justice. Judge Haynes says the courts look for long-term solutions to a range of problems—from mental health issues to homelessness—that can fuel repeat offending.

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Seeking Evidence: A Professor Looks for Empirical Proof to Improve Access to Justice

Seeking Evidence: A Professor Looks for Empirical Proof to Improve Access to Justice

In this New Thinking podcast, Harvard Law School Professor James Greiner talks with Aubrey Fox about why he launched the Access to Justice Lab, which has researched topics as varied as how to provide self-help materials to defendants involved in civil debt collection cases to the effectiveness of commonly used pretrial assessment interview tools in criminal court. Greiner also discusses what he sees as a strategy for improving the legal profession's openness to evidence-based thinking.

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How Can Lawyers Help Address Poverty and Eviction? A Conversation with Law Professor Raymond Brescia

How Can Lawyers Help Address Poverty and Eviction? A Conversation with Law Professor Raymond Brescia

In this New Thinking podcast, Raymond H. Brescia, associate professor of Law at Albany Law School, speaks with Aubrey Fox and Robert V. Wolf of the Center for Court Innovation about the role lawyers can play in addressing poverty and eviction, why New York City has been dramatically expanding funding to provide lawyers to respondents in Housing Court, debt collection cases as the next great issue for public interest attorneys, and how a good lawyer is like a patronus from a Harry Potter book. 

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Houston's SAFE Court Offers Victims of Human Trafficking a New Path

Houston's SAFE Court Offers Victims of Human Trafficking a New Path

In this New Thinking podcast, Ann Johnson, an assistant district attorney and the human trafficking section chief with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, discusses her office's strategies for combating human trafficking, including increased enforcement against traffickers and buyers, and diversion from prosecution for victims. One of the office's diversion programs, SAFE Court, gives those aged 17 to 25 who are charged with prostitution the opportunity to clear the charge from their criminal records by completing a year-long program of monitoring and social services. SAFE Court was created with support from a Smart Prosecution grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. To learn more, visit the Association of Prosecuting Attorney's Smart Prosecution website.

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Taking a Collaborative Approach to Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System

Taking a Collaborative Approach to Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System

Tshaka Barrows, deputy director of the Burns Institute, discusses his organization's collaborative and community-centered approach to addressing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Barrows spoke with Robert V. Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation, after participating in a panel on Race and Procedural Justice at Justice Innovations in Times of Change on Sept. 30, 2016.

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The Potential for Bias in Risk-Assessment Tools: A Conversation

The Potential for Bias in Risk-Assessment Tools: A Conversation

In this New Thinking podcast, Reuben J. Miller, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, and his research collaborator Hazelette Crosby-Robinson discuss some of the criticisms that have been leveled against risk assessment tools. Those criticisms include placing too much emphasis on geography and criminal history, which can distort the actual risk for clients from neighborhoods that experience an above-average presence of policing and social services. "Geography is often a proxy for race," Miller says. Miller and Crosby-Robinson spoke with the Center for Court Innovation's Director of Communications Robert V. Wolf after they participated in a panel on the "The Risk-Needs-Responsivity Framework"  at Justice Innovation in Times of Change, a regional summit on Sept. 30, 2016 in North Haven, Conn.

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Fairness, Procedural Justice, and Domestic Violence: A Conversation with Judge Jeffrey Kremers

Fairness, Procedural Justice, and Domestic Violence: A Conversation with Judge Jeffrey Kremers

In this New Thinking podcast, Judge Jeffrey Kremers of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court brings procedural justice to bear on domestic violence. Sharing his insights from the bench, Judge Kremers talks about the importance of procedural justice for both defendants and survivors as well as their families, and discusses strategies for addressing the unique challenges posed by domestic violence cases.

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Foundations Can Support Justice Reform, If You Know How to Ask: A Conversation with James Lewis

Foundations Can Support Justice Reform, If You Know How to Ask: A Conversation with James Lewis

Private foundations are an overlooked resource for innovative justice programs.  James H. Lewis, senior program officer and director of research and evaluation at the Chicago Community Trust, offers insight into how foundations make funding decisions and shares tips for attracting foundation investments in justice programs. The interview was conducted by the Center for Court Innovation's Director of Communications Robert V. Wolf at Community Justice 2016, where Lewis participated in a panel on "Funding Change."

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Strengthening Ties Between Police and the Community: A Conversation about Restorative Justice in Madison, Wisconsin

Strengthening Ties Between Police and the Community: A Conversation about Restorative Justice in Madison, Wisconsin

Joe Balles, who recently retired as a captain after a 30-year career with the Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, discusses restorative justice and police legitimacy with Robert V. Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. A mentee of Herman Goldstein, considered the father of problem-oriented policing, Balles was instrumental in the creation of the Dane County Community Restorative Court, a diversion program based on the Native American principles of peacemaking. The interview took place during Community Justice 2016.

Audio

A Second Chance Society: A Conversation about Justice Reform in Connecticut

A Second Chance Society: A Conversation about Justice Reform in Connecticut

Mike Lawlor, Connecticut's under secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, discusses Governor Dannel P. Malloy's Second Chance Society, a series of justice reforms (including dramatic changes to bail and juvenile justice policies) that seek to reduce crime, lower spending on prisons, and help rebuild relationships between criminal justice professionals and the communities they serve. This New Thinking podcast was recorded in Chicago in April 2016 after Lawlor participated in a panel on "Jail Reduction and Public Safety" at Community Justice 2016.

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#ASaferJamaica: Addressing Adolescent Community Violence in Jamaica, Queens

#ASaferJamaica: Addressing Adolescent Community Violence in Jamaica, Queens

This podcast was created by the Queens Neighborhood Youth Justice Council at the Queens Youth Justice Center.  The Council is an after-school program made up of teenagers who want to study and propose solutions to the public safety challenges that most affect them.  The 2016 Council focused on community violence in Jamaica.  According to the New York City Health Department's Community Health Profiles 2015, the injury assault rate in Jamaica and Hollis is higher than the overall Queens and citywide rates.  Based on the Council’s research and interviews with experts in the field including law enforcement, community activists, young people living in the community, teachers, government officials, and lawyers to name a few, the Council developed recommendations on how to improve local policies.  During the podcast, you will hear different definitions of community violence and opinions

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