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; click here for a list of active courts. International interest in community courts includes courts in Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Singapore.

Expert Assistance

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

Four Community Courts to Serve as Mentors

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.

Community Justice 2014: International Summit

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.

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 Richard 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. The evaluation found that the Justice Center's emphasis on alternatives to incarceration, including community restitution projects and social services, helped reduce the use of jail even as it helped reduce recidivism among misdemeanor offenders.

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

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

The Short Answer: What Principles Guided the Creation of the Midtown Community Court?

The Short Answer: What Principles Guided the Creation of the Midtown Community Court?

John Feinblatt, senior advisor to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and founding director of the Midtown Community Court, talks about the principles that guided the creation of the Midtown Community Court.

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 Bureau of Justice Assistance tells the story of community courts, which have been developing creative responses to crime since the first community court was founded in Manhattan in 1993. The film includes footage from the Midtown Community Court, the South Dallas Community Court, Newark Community Solutions, and interviews with judges, lawyers, police officers and others from across the United States.

Most Popular Research

Publications

What Makes A Court Problem-Solving: Universal Performance Indicators for Problem-Solving Justice

What Makes A Court Problem-Solving: Universal Performance Indicators for Problem-Solving Justice

By Adam Mansky, Rachel Porter and Michael Rempel

This report establishes a set of universal performance indicators against which to judge the success of specialized problem-solving courts.

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

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 Richard 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

Contact
  • New York
  • 520 8th Avenue
  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • One Park Place
  • 300 South State Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13202
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
  • Kean House, 6 Kean Street
  • London, WC2B 4AS
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060