We seek to document and address racial disparities in the justice system.
The Center for Court Innovation is committed to studying and reducing racial disparities in the justice system. This effort includes bringing together experts to examine the role that race plays in risk assessment instruments;documenting publicperceptions of justice amongcommunities of color; advancingculturally responsive programming for domestic violence survivors and their families; and examining how restorative justice might help reduce the racial impacts of disciplinary measures in schools.
Given that nine out of ten people being held in jail in New York City are Black or Latino, we recognize the urgent need for action on a local level. In response, we are taking active steps to reduce the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color by helping the city to remove hundreds of thousands of summonses from the criminal process, diverting low-level cases prior to any criminal adjudication, and offering alternatives to incarceration to thousands of defendants every year. We are adapting lessons from this work to aid the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which seeks to reduce the use of jail across the United States and the disparate impact of incarceration on people of color. Through Project SAFE, we're also working to improve the services offered justice-involved Black and African-American women who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Bronx Community Solutions
Bronx Community Solutions provides community-based alternatives to jail, restores community relationships, and helps participants avoid further criminal justice involvement.
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives seeks to improve how the centralized criminal court in Brooklyn responds to misdemeanor and felony cases.
Civil Alternatives offers New Yorkers issued civil summons the option to perform community service instead of paying a fine.
MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge
The MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Price of Justice Initiative
The Price of Justice Initiative helps jurisdictions address the disparate impact of fines and fees on defendants who cannot afford them.
Project SAFE works to improve the services offered to criminalized black women who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Rethinking Rikers Island
By providing support to the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, we're aiding in the effort to reduce New York City’s jail population and close Rikers Island.
Restorative justice is about repairing harm. But for Black Americans, what is there to be restored to? This special episode of New Thinking features a roundtable with eight members of our Restorative Justice in Schools team. They spent three years embedded in five Brooklyn high schools—all five schools are overwhelmingly Black, and all five had some of the highest suspension rates in New York City.
Our analysis of the revisions passed in April 2020 to New York State’s bail reform projects they will lead to a 16 percent increase in New York City’s pretrial jail population, relative to the effects of the original law. However, even the revised statute makes an estimated 84 percent of cases ineligible for bail. The analysis also weighs factors, including the COVID-19 emergency, that could produce a culture change in pretrial decision-making—in the direction of less, or more, reliance on detention.
Drawing on a case study of more than 175,000 defendants in New York City, this report concludes concerns over risk assessments perpetuating racial disparities in pretrial decisions are real. However, at least in the New York City example, it finds a more targeted use of risk assessments could both significantly reduce pretrial detention and alleviate racial disparities. But realizing that potential requires jurisdictions to think "beyond the algorithm"—what do they want to use a risk assessment for?
The Center’s Youth Action Institute (formerly called the Youth Justice Board) alum and current WNYC Radio Rookies reporter, Rainier Harris, is an advocate for abolishing the NYPD’s gang database, which he researched as part of our 2020 report called ‘All Eyes on Us.’ As Rainer shares on this segment, the database is a list of more than 17,000 people that police have labeled as gang members, often without any known affiliations to a gang.
Center researchers explain how their experience and credibility influenced how they approached interviewing New York City youth for our study on gun violence, "Gotta Make Your Own Heaven." They share the importance of centering community voices through this anecdotal narrative of their experience.
In Slate, John Pfaff compares gun violence reduction strategies in both Philadelphia and New York City, citing our August 2020 report that looks at reducing this type of violence by addressing the root causes, often systemic, that negatively impact already marginalized communities.