The context within which the Center for Court Innovation operates is constantly changing as new problems—and new ideas—emerge. Rather than shy away from this challenge, the Center actively seeks to explore new topics in justice reform. Sometimes this takes the form of a new programmatic wrinkle at a demonstration project. For example, the Center is currently testing new approaches to prostitution at several of its operating projects. In other cases, the Center explores new territory by convening experts in the field for facilitated discussions or performing new research or creating new publications. This section of the website highlights new directions and emerging areas of interest for the Center for Court Innovation.
At his 2015 state of the judiciary address, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced the creation of Poverty Justice Solutions, a program that will provide 20 new attorneys each year with fellowships at civil legal service providers in New York City. The goal is to help low-income New Yorkers preserve their housing and prevent homelessness. Poverty Justice Solutions will improve access to justice by offering legal representation to hundreds of litigants who otherwise would have gone to Housing Court without a lawyer. The program is the product of a unique public-private partnership involving the New York court system, Robin Hood Foundation, New York City's Human Resources Administration, and civil legal service providers. The Center for Court Innovation will administer the project.
Retail theft is often misunderstood to be a “victimless crime.” In reality, responding to retail theft is costly to public and private stakeholders, and few responses are evaluated for effectiveness or cost-efficiency. The Center for Court Innovation teamed up with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) and Target to create several promising approaches that provide an alternative to the traditional justice system.
In accordance with current trends promoting the greater use of evidence-based practice in the criminal justice system, the Center for Court Innovation is currently working with several public defender agencies to take concrete steps towards improving the quality of indigent defense services. Recently, the Center for Court Innovation teamed up with the Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS), which serves as Massachusetts’ statewide public defender agency, to complete a statewide strategic planning and capacity building project. The Center is also studying and contributing to indigent defense initiatives in New York City and San Francisco, among other jurisdictions.