To communicate the breadth and the impact of the work of the Center for Court Innovation, we publish Photos of the Week.
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.
Helping the Self-Represented in Domestic Violence Cases
Cannon Han, the senior project manager on gender-based violence at the Asian Pacific Institute, makes a point during a recent national roundtable organized by the Center for Court Innovation. The goal of the roundtable is to create a written guide to help jurisdictions improve services for self-represented litigants in domestic violence cases. Listening are Liberty Aldrich, right, who heads up our domestic violence initiatives, and, left to right, Susan Pearlstein with Philadelphia Legal Assistance and Lisa Zayas with the New York State Courts Access to Justice program.
Homeless Not Hopeless
Ananya, one of the 21 members of our Youth Justice Board, answers questions from the audience about the Board’s latest publication, 'Homeless Not Hopeless: A Report on Homeless Youth and the Justice System in New York City,' at an end-of-year presentation at Manhattan's Broome Street Academy last week. The report examines the intersection between youth homelessness and the criminal justice system in New York City. It makes recommendations to policy-makers including expanding diversion programs and short-term services for homeless youth and increasing support for LGBTQ youth in foster care. The Youth Justice Board is an after-school leadership program offering New York City teenagers an opportunity to inform public debate about issues affecting them. Applications for the 2017-18 Board are now being accepted till July 14.
Theater for a Change
Members of Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets, a program of the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center, gather for a “go team” moment before their recent performance at the 5th annual Legislative Theatre Festival, sponsored by Theatre of the Oppressed NYC. The play, based on the real-life experiences of the actors, touched on fears of the school-to-prison pipeline and gun violence. Inspired by the plays, audience members then voted on policy proposals to carry forward to City Council members and city and state agencies, some of whom also participated in the festival. (Photo courtesy of Will O’Hare.)
More than 500 people came out recently to help the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center transform two Brooklyn city blocks into a festival of arts-related activities, positive performances, and empowering community resources. Performances at the seventh annual Kingston Avenue Festival featured hip-hop violinist Yut Chia and the children of PS 532 New Bridges elementary school, among many others, and ended with a rousing drum line from the Brooklyn United Marching Band. More photos and descriptions of the event are available here. (Photo credit: Ryan Christopher Jones)
A More Just New York City
Marcia Maxwell of Global Strategy Group speaks at a recent panel at the Center on the work behind-the-scenes of the year-long process that led to the final report of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. The report recommended the closure of the Rikers Island jail facility and laid out a series of steps to cut the city's jail population in half in coming years. Global Strategy Group provided communications support to the commission and coordinated the community forums that were a core element of its work. Starting from left, other staff members of the commission pictured are Lauren Bierman, also of Global; Greg Berman, director of the Center for Court Innovation; Insha Rahman of Vera Institute of Justice; and Margaret Egan of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. See here to learn more about the commission and the Center's role in helping to produce its report.