Rahmel Warren, a participant in UPNEXT, our fatherhood engagement program, works keeping New York’s Times Square clean. A project of our Midtown Community Court, UPNEXT provides training and resources to non-custodial, often justice-involved fathers, helping them find employment and reconnect with their families. The program also offers short-term employment through a partnership with the Times Square Alliance. See here for a brief video introduction to the program. Enrollment is open for the next cycle beginning November 6: apply or make a referral online or call 646-264-1354.
Justice of a Different Feather
Ironbound Community Corporation’s LaQuan Thomas introduces one of the inhabitants of the Ironbound garden to Newark Community Solutions’ Lamar Mitchell. Our program seeks to reimagine justice in Newark, New Jersey.
First Lady Kasich
Karen Kasich, Ohio’s First Lady, speaks with the Center's director of communications, Robert V. Wolf, as Bill Harkins, our multimedia specialist, captures the interview on video. The occasion was the filming of a CATCH Court graduation in Columbus, a court serving human trafficking survivors. Kasich is a long-time supporter of the court and advocate for survivors. The CATCH Court is being featured in our video, scheduled for release next year, on prostitution diversion courts. The project is part of the Center's national training and technical assistance on justice-system responses to human trafficking.
Poverty Justice Solutions Launch
Genesis Miranda, a 2016 Poverty Justice Solutions fellow with Make the Road New York, speaks with Ignacio Jaureguilorda, the program’s director, center, and Raun Rasmussen, the executive director of Legal Services NYC, one of the fellowship’s host organizations, at a launch party for the 2017 fellows. Each year, Poverty Justice Solutions places 20 recent law school graduates in two-year fellowships with civil legal service providers in New York City. The fellows work exclusively on Housing Court cases, assisting clients who could not otherwise afford lawyers. In the previous two years, they have helped prevent more than 1200 evictions.
Rapid Response in Brownsville
Laverne Mobley, the aunt of a 19-year-old shooting victim, addresses a "rapid response" event convened in Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood by our Save Our Streets (S.O.S.) program. Mobley says her niece, who is five months pregnant, is in stable condition, and police reportedly do not believe she was the intended target. Mobley told the crowd of approximately 150, “We will not kill each other… Stand up for something, or you’re going to fall for anything." The core of S.O.S.'s work involves violence interrupters with first-hand knowledge of their communities working to mediate conflicts before they escalate.
Restorative Justice in Schools
Some of the members of our Restorative Justice in Schools project pause for a photo in the halls of the Samuel J. Tilden High School Campus in Brooklyn, N.Y. Many juvenile justice advocates highlight how standard responses to misbehavior in schools—chiefly suspensions, and the widespread adoption of zero tolerance policies—can increase a student's chances of coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Responding to these concerns, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, we're implementing school-wide restorative justice programs in five Brooklyn public high schools. Our researchdepartment will be evaluating the effectiveness of the programs versus traditional forms of discipline over the next three years, with a focus on disparities related to race and disability.
Queens Youth Graduation
Melanie, graduating this spring from Richmond Hill High School in Queens, N.Y. Two years ago, Melanie was referred by Family Court to attend QUEST, an alternative-to-detention program run by our Queens Youth Justice Center. It offers young people family support, educational advocacy, and ongoing monitoring. After successfully completing the program, Melanie continued to return to the Justice Center and this summer took on a leadership role, mentoring new young women entering QUEST. But an even more remarkable accomplishment awaited. This fall, Melanie is off to New England College, on a full scholarship. Congratulations Melanie!
Mapping Tribal Justice
Our Tribal Justice Exchange helps tribal communities across the country looking to develop or enhance their justice systems. Here, Adelle Fontanet, a senior associate with the Exchange, stands in front of a “system response map.” Adelle is in a workshop with the Lower Sioux Indian Community in Minnesota. The map is following a hypothetical domestic violence case from the moment police are called, to the completion of the case for every party involved, including the offender, victim, and children. The point of the exercise is to underline the complexity of the justice system and to chart the interventions of various agencies that occur at different stages of what can be a years-long process. Mapping work like this can also help identify strengths and gaps within the system.
Sharing what we’ve learned with justice innovators across the U.S. and around the world is at the core of what we do. Here, Eugenia Haedo, the criminal secretary for the Federal Judiciary of Argentina’s Chaco Province, speaks at a recent training event at the Center for Court Innovation. Haedo was part of a delegation of 30 judges, prosecutors, and other justice practitioners from eight Latin American countries who visited the Center and several of our operating programs to learn about problem-solving justice, with a special focus on the community court model. The week-long visit was organized in partnership with the Centro de Estudios de Justicia de las Américas. Also pictured, at left, are Juan Carlos Checkley, the president of Peru’s First Criminal Chamber of Appeals of Piura, and, at right, Hernán De León, the chief magistrate of the Civil Chamber of Panama’s Supreme Court of Justice.
Bridging the Gap
Working to improve public trust in justice is at the core of what we do. Perhaps nowhere is this more important than the relationships between police and young people. For a year now, our Red Hook Community Justice Center has been running a ‘Bridging the Gap’ series, bringing young people, local officers, and community members together to provide opportunities for interaction, and to break down stereotypes on all sides. To mark the success of that first year, a celebration was held recently at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Along with speeches from dignitaries and young people, the event featured discussion circles, and the unveiling of a mural signed by everyone in attendance. For media coverage of the event, see here and here. The goal of the Justice Center is to expand the series outside of Red Hook, and eventually across Brooklyn.
Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform
Glenn Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA and the #CLOSErikers campaign, speaks at a recent meeting hosted by the Center for Court Innovation for global leaders from the Open Society Foundations. Participants discussed the work of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform which called for the closure of the Rikers Island jail complex, and how lessons from that work could be applied to reform efforts elsewhere. The Open Society Foundations helped fund the commission and the Centercoordinated its staffing and final report. At the far left is long-time reform advocate Herbert Sturz, a senior advisor to the Foundations and a commission member, and next to Sturz is former New York Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, chair of the commission.
Brett Taylor, director of operations for our Tribal Justice Exchange program and coach of our staff softball team, Siegel's Sluggers, updates his lineup card in the midst of another victory for the Sluggers in Central Park last week. The team is named in honor of Alfred Siegel, the Center's former deputy director, and his lifetime of contributions to reforming the criminal justice system in New York City. Siegel passed away in 2014. In partnership with John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the Center has established a scholarship in Siegel's name, with a particular focus on students with previous involvement in the justice and/or child-welfare systems. See here for a brief video introduction to the scholarship, and here to donate to the fund.