Community Court

Overview

Community courts are neighborhood-focused courts that attempt to harness the power of the justice system to address local problems. They strive to engage outside stakeholders such as residents, merchants, churches, and schools in new ways in an effort to bolster public trust in justice. And they test new approaches to reduce both crime and incarceration. The first community court in the country was the Midtown Community Court, launched in 1993 in New York City. Several dozen community courts, inspired by the Midtown model, are in operation or planning around the country. International interest in community courts includes programs in Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore.

To get help planning, implementing, or evaluating a community court, click here.

2016 Community Court Grant Program

This initiative, a partnership between the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, advances community justice through the creation and enhancement of community-focused courts that seek to reduce crime and the use of jail and restore public confidence in justice. Ten sites have been named for funding and technical assistance.

Community Justice 2016

The Center for Court Innovation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, hosted the Community Justice 2016 International Summit in Chicago in April 2016.

 

Regional Summits

The Center for Court Innovation periodically hosts summits that bring together a range of justice-system stakeholders and experts to share ideas and discuss challenges for justice reform. Resources from these summits include podcast interviews exploring the latest innovations in community justice, jail reduction, risk assessment, procedural justice, and other areas of reform, as well as articles, videos, and photographs.

  • On September 30, the Center for Court Innovation hosted its final regional summit, Justice Innovation in Times of Change: New Challenges, New Opportunities in North Haven, CT.  The one-day summit provided an opportunity for practitioners from both inside and outside the justice system to learn about a range of topics relating to chronic lower-level offending.
  • In December 2015, reformers from across the country gathered at Courts, Community Engagement, and Innovative Practices in Anaheim, Calif., to discuss the impact of recent jail reduction legislation in California and opportunities to build upon these policy changes.
  • Reinvesting in Justice, held in Dallas in November 2015, focused on strategies for increasing community engagement, creating meaningful responses to low-level chronic offending, and improving the legitimacy of the justice system.

In The News

Publications

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Full Report)

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Full Report)

By Cynthia G. Lee, Fred L. Cheesman II, David Rottman, Rachel Swaner, Suvi Hynynen Lambson, Michael Rempel and Ric Curtis

With funding from the National Institute of Justice, the National Center for State Courts completed this independent evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in 2013.

Download executive summary

Download a fact sheet about the evaluation

Listen to an interview with the researchers

Download a fact sheet highlighting recommendations for improving court responses to misdemeanors

Read More

Video

'They Treated Me Like a Person': Inside the Red Hook Community Justice Center

'They Treated Me Like a Person': Inside the Red Hook Community Justice Center

The Red Hook Community Justice Center has become an international model of justice reform by implementing innovative strategies that have reduced the use of jail, lowered recidivism and strengthened public confidence in justice. This short film about the Justice Center produced by the Center for Court Innovation was selected as a 2016 finalist in the TV/Video category of the National Council on Crime and Delinquency's Media for A Just Society Awards.

Video

Justice That Works: The Midtown Community Court

Justice That Works: The Midtown Community Court

The Midtown Community Court is a public/private partnership created in 1993 to apply innovative responses to quality-of-life offenses in and around Times Square. This video shows how the first community court in the country continues to adapt and thrive.

Video

Testing New Ideas: Evidence, Innovation and Community Courts

Testing New Ideas: Evidence, Innovation and Community Courts

This film produced by the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S. Department of Justice tells the story of community justice, which seeks to reduce incarceration and strengthen public confidence in justice by transforming the relationship between justice agencies and the neighborhoods they serve. The film includes interviews with judges, lawyers, police officers and others from initiatives across the U.S., including the Midtown Community Court in New York, the South Dallas Community Court in Texas, and Newark Community Solutions in New Jersey.

Publications

Responding to Homelessness: 11 Ideas for Justice Systems

Responding to Homelessness: 11 Ideas for Justice Systems

By Raphael Pope-Sussman

This fact sheet explores strategies that jurisdictions around the United States are using to deal with the issue of homelessness. Whether led by law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, or the courts, these approaches seek to address underlying causes and provide the practical support homeless offenders need to stabilize their lives. For each strategy described in this fact sheet, we have also included a case study. 

Most Popular Research

Books

Dispensing Justice Locally: The Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court

Dispensing Justice Locally: The Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court

By Ric Curtis, Brian Ostrom, David Rottman and Michele Sviridoff

Published by Harwood Academic Publishers, this book offers the original evaluation of the country's first community court, the Midtown Community Court,examining the court's impacts on local crime, public opinion and jail expeditures.

Order from Amazon

Publications

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders

By Michael Rempel

This fact sheet distills a growing body of research about evidence-based strategies in five areas for reducing recidivism among criminal offenders: assessment, treatment, deterrence, procedural justice, and collaboration.

Publications

Prostitution Diversion Programs

Prostitution Diversion Programs

By Sarah Schweig, Danielle Malangone and Miriam Goodman

Many communities across the country grapple with how best to respond to prostitution.

Read More

Contact
  • New York
  • 520 8th Avenue
  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • 601 Tully Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13204
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
  • Canterbury Court
    1-3 Brixton Road
  • London, SW9 6DE
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060