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The Red Hook Family


R. Gil Kerlikowske (left), director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visits Judge Lillian Sing at the Community Justice Center. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle / SF
R. Gil Kerlikowske (left), director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visits Judge Lillian Sing at the San Francisco Community Justice Center. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle / SF
Within the international community court family, the Justice Center has many "off-spring" based on the Red Hook model. The first community court in England, the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre, was based on our model, as well as the San Francisco Community Justice Center. In recent years, we have been proud to host a number of government officials, judges, and other stakeholders during the planning process for new community courts and show them how we do things here in Red Hook. It is always a proud moment when we see these new courts open and thrive.

This week, R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visited the San Francsico Community Justice Center, which opened in 2009, to observe how they handle drug-related offenses. Problem-solving courts and drug courts are a key part of President Obama's national drug control strategy, and Kerlikowske praised the San Francisco model, with a little jab at us thrown in for good measure:
"Most courts around the country think people are arrested for a drug violation," he said. "We see district attorneys who say, 'Why put them into services? Let them do 30 days in jail. And then when they re-offend, let them do another 30 days.' Here you are seeing the nexus of the drug issue, which is that there are other problems, addiction and mental health. That is what is so impressive." [...]
He said it was such a model that he's recommending that law enforcement officials from other countries visit the San Francisco program. "I'd send them to Red Hook," he joked, "but I think they'd have a better time here." 
Not to be outdone by their California sibling, another Red Hook-based community court, the North Liverpool Community Justice Centre, is saying farewell to their founding Judge, David Fletcher. Judge Fletcher has visited Red Hook several times, and has been a valuable participant in the international conversation on community justice. A recent editorial in the Liverpool Echo praised his work adapting our model to fit the community he served: "Judge Fletcher wanted it to be pro-active and collaborative – and it certainly has been, having brought so many different agencies together and put plans in place aimed at stopping people reoffending."

As a demonstration project of the Center for Court Innovation, we are keen to continue sharing our work, and look forward to being inspired by the continued success of new community justice initiatives.

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