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; click here for a list of active courts. International interest in community courts includes courts in Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore.
To get help planning, implementing, or evaluating a community court, click here.
The Center for Court Innovation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, has selected community courts in Dallas, Tex., Hartford, Conn., Orange County, Calif., and San Francisco, Calif., to serve as mentor courts for jurisdictions seeking to enhance procedural justice and promote the use of alternatives to jail where appropriate. To find out more, click here.
The Center for Court Innovation in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance and the California Administrative Office of the Courts hosted Community Justice 2014 in San Francisco, Calif., in April 2014.
The summit addressed a wide range of topics, including best practices in procedural justice, risk/needs assessment, alternative sanctions, and community restitution. "How to" sessions on planning court-based community justice initiatives, engaging community stakeholders, understanding addiction, reducing incarceration, and integrating evidence-based practices were also offered.
Click here for highlights from Community Justice 2012, held in Washington, D.C.
In The News
- An article from Pacific Standard discusses how community courts across the country, like the San Francisco Community Justice Center, are fighting judicial backlog and lowering re-arrest rates.
- Over 250 people attend the 20th anniversary celebration for the nation's first community court.
- The Detroit Free Press covers the launch of a new community court in southwest Detroit, the first of its kind in Michigan.
- The Portland Tribune writes about the community court housed at Bud Clark Commons, a homeless facility in Multnomah County.
- The Midtown Community Court starts a Veterans Initiative.
- Russell F. Canan, of the Superior Court of Washington D.C., participates in a "Google Chat" with Sheriff Alistair Duff of Scotland about community justice.
- Associated Press writes about community courts.
- Seattle Community Court launches veterans treatment court.
- The White House's National Drug Control Strategy endorses community courts.
- "Broken Windows" author on the role community courts play in reducing crime.
- USA Today on the growth of community courts.