There are many ways to reform the justice system.
Sometimes change is the product of landmark court cases, like the Supreme Court decisions that established the right to counsel for those charged with criminal offenses. Sometimes change comes from legislation, as in the 2nd Chance Act, which focused renewed energy on the importance of the reentry process. And every once in awhile, change is the product of a singular intellectual insight such as the "broken windows" theory or problem-oriented policing.
But there is another path to reform that typically receives less attention: using demonstration projects to test new ideas in pilot settings. The past generation has arguably been a golden era for such projects: drug court, CeaseFire, HOPE Probation, the drug market intervention—all of these and more began life as small, one-of-a-kind experiments before being broadly replicated.
At the Center for Court Innovation, we are committed to the thoughtful development of demonstration projects. Starting with the Midtown Community Court, we have helped to conceive and implement more than 20 model projects—and provided technical assistance to dozens of others.
Here are links to a handful of new publications that look at demonstration projects from a variety of different angles and seek to help the innovators of tomorrow avoid reinventing the wheel:
If you would like to learn more about the Center for Court Innovation’s approach to criminal justice reform, I encourage you to visit our website, www.courtinnovation.org.
Thank you for your time and interest.
Learning by Doing: What Demonstration Projects Can Teach Us About Innovation.