Our Queens Community Justice Center recently moved to a new location and is planning to open a new office in the Rockaways. The Justice Center is dedicated to supporting people both in and outside the justice system, providing a range of services and opportunities for civic engagement for people of all ages. In this video, see the new space and hear our staff share how expanding services will build a stronger community for the residents of Queens.
Specialized domestic violence courts centralize resources and trained staff to handle a dedicated domestic violence docket. Domestic violence courts operate in jurisdictions across the country, adapting to local laws and court structure, available resources, and community-specific needs. While there is no one model for a specialized domestic violence court, they rely on some common strategies and goals to ensure victim/survivor safety, a robust coordinated community response, and accountability and engagement for those who cause harm.
Whether it is a warm meal or a pair of shoes, we help people who are housing insecure and living with severe mental health issues address immediate needs and then work towards linking them to longer-term housing, services, and support. With programs like Community First, law enforcement no longer has to be the only response to mental health crises and homelessness.
"Until you begin to deal with that hurt and that trauma on the inside, it's always going to affect you and the things that you do," says Timothy, a program manager for our Men’s Empowerment Program. We support the mental health of young men of color by helping address and break the cycle of trauma and violence in the lives of young Black and Brown men in Harlem, NYC. With a trauma-informed focus on healing, young men experience a positive shift in how they see themselves and how they can be a resource to their community and the world.
For 25 years, the Center for Court Innovation has been committed to transforming justice. Hear our partners and staff share how the Center started as one program in New York City to change the "status quo" in justice reform. Today, we co-create and generate safety, while shrinking the footprint of the legal system.
Dr. Anton Treuer, Professor of Ojibwe at Bemidji State University, discusses the role of bias in the justice system and its impact on Native Americans. He talks about some of the recent initiatives in Beltrami County and we hear from Judge Paul Benshoof about the introduction of tribal flags in the domestic violence court. Dr. Treuer addresses ways in which court staff and others working in the justice system can have frank conversations about bias and historical trauma, and incorporate cultural elements into services for survivors and people who cause harm.
In Hennepin County, the family court created a project to address several key and unmet needs. To ensure family safety, the court began screening for and addressing domestic violence in custody/visitation and child support cases. The project also looked to enhance access and improve the court experience for all litigants. It specifically sought to rebuild trust with the Native American community who were not accessing the court system. After judicial listening sessions, the court hired a tribal state liaison and introduced a number of changes to improve the process.
Associate Justice Anne K. McKeig of the Minnesota Supreme Court talks about the importance of judicial leadership and having a diverse bench. She shares her experience on creating change within the courtroom and the justice system. As part of our national work providing expert assistance to courts and communities looking to implement or improve specialized, court-based responses to domestic violence, this video was made for the Judicial Engagement Network, which works to strengthen judicial leadership on domestic violence.
The Rev. Kevin Jones is the faith-based organizer in Brooklyn for our Save Our Streets program, working to end gun violence at the neighborhood level by changing local norms. "The Rev," as he's known, has created a network of religious leaders of all faiths who share the “Stop Shooting, Start Living” message through community events and rapid responses to individual shootings.
Black History Month celebrates the voices, stories, and achievements of Black people and their central role in American history. As part of our Black History Month celebration at the Center for Court Innovation, we're highlighting a poem by Erica Wright, the lead facilitator of our Restorative Justice in Schools program. Ms. Wright wrote and reads "The Children Who Didn't Belong," a poem reflecting the reality of underserved, predominantly Black schools, where accountability needs to start with the system, not the students, as the poem underscores so poignantly.