Community courts are neighborhood-focused courts that attempt to harness the power of the justice system to address local problems. They can take many forms, but all focus on creative partnerships and problem solving. They strive to create new relationships, both within the justice system and with outside stakeholders such as residents, merchants, churches and schools. And they test new and aggressive approaches to public safety rather than merely responding to crime after it has occurred. 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 is also increasing. For example, community courts are already in operation 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 and the California Administrative Office of the Courts hosted Community Justice 2014 in San Francisco, CA in April 2014.
Since community policing took root in the 1980s and the first community court opened in Midtown Manhattan in 1993, the concepts that animate community justice—such as community engagement, multi-agency collaboration, and problem-solving—have helped shape new initiatives across the United States and the world.
The summit provided an opportunity for practitioners from both inside and outside the justice system to learn about a 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 offered along with opportunities to network and discuss the future of the community justice movement.
And click here for highlights from Community Justice 2012, held in Washington, D.C.
In The News
- 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, an associate judge for the Superior Court of Washington D.C., participates in a "Google Chat" with Sheriff Alistair Duff of Scotland about Washington D.C.'s community court and approach to problem-solving justice.
- Associated Press writes about community courts.
- R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, observes and praises the San Francisco Community Justice Center. Read the article or hear a radio report.
- International Conference of Community Courts held in Washington, D.C.
- Seattle Community Court launches veterans treatment court.
- Mayor Cory A. Booker celebrates the opening of Newark Community Solutions.
- Mayor Michael Bloomberg announces plans to create a new community court in Brownsville.
- 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.
- Mentor community courts are selected: Dallas, Hartford, Seattle.