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.
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.
International and Regional Summits
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.
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 a 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
- The Christian Science Monitor features Chicago's plans to open a community court for young adult offenders in 2017 that will give them a chance to make reparations to victims and avoid a criminal record.
- The Guardian describes a pilot program to bring problem-solving courts to the United Kingdom, which was inspired by problem-solving courts in New York.
- In an op-ed for the American Bar Association journal, ABA President Paulette Brown talks about Newark Community Solutions and the Red Hook Community Justice Center.
- The New York Times reports on the Brownsville Community Justice Center's efforts to improve public spaces and the lives of young people.
- Victoria Pratt, chief judge of Newark Municipal Court, discusses Newark Community Solutions on MSNBC's "The Docket" and "The Melissa Harris-Perry Show."
- The Philadelphia Inquirer covers a visit to the Red Hook Community Justice Center by a delegation of Philadelphia officials.
- The Guardian profiles Newark Community Solutions, examining the origins and evolution of the program and the growing national interest in procedural justice.
- The Christian Science Monitor spotlights how community courts can help decrease the use of incarceration.
- 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.
- Associated Press writes about community courts.
- Seattle Community Court launches veterans treatment court.
- The White House's National Drug Control Strategy endorses community courts.
- USA Today on the growth of community courts.