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.

Community Justice Summit: April 13-15, 2016

The Center for Court Innovation, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance, will be hosting the Community Justice 2016 International Summit in Chicago, Ill., on Wednesday, April 13 through Friday, April 15, 2016.

Funding Available for Community Courts

On January 6, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance and the Center for Court Innovation announced the 2016 Community Court Grant Program. Up to 10 jurisdictions will receive up to $200,000 to support their efforts to promote local alternatives to incarceration.

In The News

  • Victoria Pratt, chief judge of Newark Municipal Court, discusses her work on procedural justice during appearances 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, who are interested in replicating the Justice Center model.
  • The Guardian profiles Newark Community Solutions, examining the origins and evolution of the program and the growing national interest in procedural justice.
  • Four mentor community courts are named.
  • Community Justice 2014 international summit brings together hundreds of reformers.
  • 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.

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.

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.

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 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

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

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.

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
  • Canterbury Court
    1-3 Brixton Road
  • London, SW9 6DE
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060