The Center for Court Innovation recently created three leadership councils to support staff and encourage inter-agency collaboration. At the first meeting of one council, illustrator Chrissie Bonner visually represents the Center’s dynamic structure.
Help for Trafficking Victims
Judge Toko Serita of the Queens Human Trafficking Intervention Court explains how the court works to reduce the use of criminal convictions, instead connecting trafficking victims to trauma-informed services. The International Association of Women Judges recently convened a meeting of more than 20 judges from around the world at the Center for Court Innovation. Much of the discussion focused on mitigating the collateral consequences of justice-involvement for trafficking victims. The Center provides national consulting on anti-trafficking reforms along with statewide training in support of New York's Human Trafficking Intervention Courts.
Marching to End Gun Violence
Members of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets (YO S.O.S.) rally at the March for our Lives, taking their message of "Stop Shooting, Start Living" to the nation's capital. The youth branch of our Save Our Streets anti-violence program, YO S.O.S. works in central Brooklyn empowering young people affected by violence, offering them career and leadership training and educational support, as well as helping them organize for positive change in their community.
More than 250 guests joined the Center for Court Innovation last week at a benefit celebrating justice reform and the accomplishments of four New York City innovators from a variety of fields. The honorees were New York Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, Made in Brownsville’s Quardean Lewis-Allen, Propel Capital’s Sarah Williams, and L&L MAG’s MaryAnne Gilmartin. The evening was hosted by actor and activist Jeffrey Wright.
Start Here: A Roadmap to Reducing Incarceration
What can be done to reduce the number of people sent to jail and prison? Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration, released this month from The New Press, offers a concrete road map for anyone who wants to move from analysis to action. Written by Greg Berman and Julian Adler from the Center for Court Innovation, proceeds from sales will support our reform efforts. To order Start Here from Amazon, click here. To order from an independent bookseller, click here.
Improving Services for Criminalized Black Women
Antonia Vann of The Asha Project, left, Umi Hankins of the National Institute on Transformation and Healing in the Black Community, and the Rev. Dr. Cheryl Dudley of the American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan New York participate in a Project SAFE roundtable, "Addressing the Needs of Criminalized Black Women Survivors" at Duane Morris, LLP. Project SAFE is a collaborative effort of the Center for Court Innovation, Black Women’s Blueprint, and the National Black Women’s Justice Institute.
Milestone on Path to Closing Rikers
Former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman speaks at a press conference announcing a deal between New York City's Mayor Bill de Blasio, left, and the City Council to replace the notorious Rikers Island jail complex with modern community-based facilities. Building the facilities, near the borough courthouses they serve, was a central recommendation of the blue-ribbon reform commission chaired by Judge Lippman whose work we helped coordinate. The agreement ensures a single public review of four identified sites, one in each borough with the exception of Staten Island. The city's 10-year timeline for closure remains unchanged. (Photo courtesy NYC Mayor's Office.)
Help for the Opioid Epidemic
Maria Almonte, the director of our Bronx Community Solutions, speaks at a news conference introducing the new opioid treatment court in the Bronx. A first in New York City, the initiative offers treatment and services in lieu of a guilty plea and incarceration for defendants judged to be at risk of an overdose. In 2016, 308 people died from drug overdoses in the Bronx, the most of any New York City borough. Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, to the right of the podium, Executive Assistant D.A. Odalys Alonso, and Criminal Court Supervising Judge George A. Grasso are helping to lead the effort. After two months of operation, 52 defendants have been placed in treatment overseen by Bronx Community Solutions. (Photo: Bronx D.A.'s Office)
Youth Court Now in Session!
A new cohort is inducted into Staten Island's youth court at a recent ceremony at the Staten Island Justice Center. As with all of our youth programs, youth court engages the voices of young people to improve justice for all. We operate five youth courts in the New York City-area, with a sixth slated for the Bronx. The courts take a restorative approach to misbehavior, and train young people to adjudicate real-life cases involving their peers.
Our Restorative Justice in Schools team gives the audience a taste of one of its ice-breaker exercises at a recent meeting at the Center. We've implemented school-wide restorative justice programs in five high schools in Brooklyn, N.Y. Our researchers are evaluating the programs' effectiveness at reducing disparities in punishment by race and disability. One of the staff explained, "For some of these kids, our discussion circles are the only chance they get to really talk."