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.
The Center for Court Innovation held a book-launch for To Be Fair: Conversations About Procedural Justice. The book is a compilation of interviews with more than 20 practitioners working on the ground to improve perceptions of fairness in the justice system. A first for the Center, the event was live-streamed, a recording of which can be seen here. Pictured left to right, are Emily Gold LaGratta, our director of procedural justice initiatives, along with three of the people interviewed in the book: Barbara Marcille, the trial court administrator for Oregon’s Multnomah County; Melba Pearson, the deputy director of the ACLU of Florida; and Steve Leben, a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals. Visit our procedural justice page to see all of our resources, including a handy three-minute animated video introducing the topic, and an online training on implicit bias.
Dancing for Dad
At a recent Save Our Streets, 'Stop Shooting, Start Living' talent show in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Lavon Walker Jr. performs a dance tribute to his father to the music of Michael Jackson. Lavon Walker was a founding member of S.O.S. in Crown Heights who was fatally shot in Miami last year. More than 300 people attended the show, with a number of performances addressing the effects of gun violence and the importance of S.O.S.'s work to engage its community. (Photo courtesy of Sina Basila.)
Art vs. Prison
Participants and supporters of an arts program for court-involved youth in Brooklyn workshop a performance exploring the most important moment surrounding a young man’s arrest. A collaboration between Brooklyn Justice Initiatives and Recess, the program gives young people charged with misdemeanors the option of participating in a curriculum of art and performance education, after which prosecutors can choose to dismiss and seal their cases. Several participants from the first cohort to complete the program elected to do additional, optional work, including the public workshop pictured here. A second cohort gets underway at the end of this week. (Photo courtesy of Alloy/Kaz Sakuma.)
Help for Child Witnesses
Participants at a recent meeting convened by the Center for Court Innovation brainstorm different strategies for preparing children to testify in court. The meeting was part of the Child Witness Materials Development Project, funded by the Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. Experts came from all over the country to discuss how to develop materials to support child witnesses and victims who testify in court, as well as provide guidance for caregivers and justice personnel who help to prepare them.
Your Serve, Senator!
New York State Senator Michael Gianaris recently dropped by our Queens Youth Justice Center. Along with several rounds of ping-pong, Senator Gianaris also spoke with some of the young people enrolled in the Alternative-to-Detention program and was an enthusiastic participant in a session of the Neighborhood Youth Justice Council. The Council is a forum for young people to address neighborhood challenges in collaboration with partners from justice and law enforcement.