As I hope our website and latest annual report make clear, the Center for Court Innovation is a unique institution. We are a team of researchers, planners, technologists, attorneys, social workers, and others who have come together to aid victims, reduce crime, limit the misuse of incarceration, and improve public trust in government.
The Center stands at the crossroads of action and reflection, doing and thinking. Our job is to dream up new ideas and then go out and test them in the real world. (For more on the history of the Center, see this interview with the New York Law Journal.)
We believe in learning by doing. So, we operate a number of programs that are testing new solutions to difficult problems. These range from large-scale reform efforts like the Red Hook Community Justice Center that handle thousands of cases each year to smaller experiments like the Brooklyn Mental Health Court that work intensively with a few dozen participants at a time. Crucially, we run programs inside the criminal justice system, and we run programs in the neighborhoods that have been directly affected by crime and incarceration.
Unlike some other organizations, the Center for Court Innovation aspires to make a difference both on the ground and in policy circles. For example, by supporting the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform with research and strategic advice, we have played an important behind-the-scenes role as New York City has drastically reduced the use of jail and set a goal of closing Rikers Island.
Here are a few examples of what policy leaders have had to say about our work:
Speaking at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Red Hook "epitomizes what I believe in terms of a progressive approach to public safety."
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "No one has been more effective at finding ways to reduce recidivism than the Center for Court Innovation." Mayor Bloomberg also named the Center one of the ten most innovative non-profits in New York City.
When he was U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder said, “Over the course of nearly two decades, since the very first community court opened its doors in Manhattan, combining punishment with assistance has proven to be a critical strategy in improving public safety... I’ve seen this first hand...I’m proud of the progress that we are making and of the investments we are directing to support our community courts [and] the Center for Court Innovation.”
New York State Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said, “The Center for Court Innovation has played a crucial role in making the justice system smarter, more effective, and more humane. I salute the Center for its work to define the cutting edge of court reform and look forward to partnering with them in the days ahead.”
New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said, “When I visited Midtown Community Court, I was really amazed by the programs and the excellent results. People were given real assistance that helped divert them from the criminal justice system, which is exactly what we want. I really appreciate the work of the Center for Court Innovation and the work it does in my district.”
Malcolm Feeley, author of the classic book about frontline criminal courts, The Process Is The Punishment, has written that the Center for Court Innovation is the "quintessential good-government, innovative, entrepreneurial organization that has promoted numerous valuable programs in New York and beyond... Anyone who has spent a day in either [the Midtown Community Court or the Red Hook Community Justice Center], including this author, comes away impressed."
If you are interested in staying up to date on our work, please subscribe to our newsletter using the box at the bottom of this page. You can also check out my blog Small Sanities or follow me on Twitter @GregBerman50. Thank you for your time.
last updated April 2, 2019