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Showing posts from April, 2013

Three Ways of Looking at a Community Court (In One Day)

My day began with a slew of e-mail messages about a morning broadcast on WNYC.  Torrey Maldonado -- a teacher and author who was born and raised in Red Hook -- had just described the inception of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in powerful, poetic fashion: "Drugs plus Daly's death spun Red Hook into social and economic depressions. People and businesses fled to shores where principals aren’t killed. The Red Hook Community Justice Center was the phoenix that arose out of Daly’s ashes and helped make streets safer. Newcomers arrived, and by 2012 our battered Red Hook climbed onto its feet."
I then met with our friends and collaborators at Groundswell to plan an intensive mural program that could serve as a stand-alone alternative sentence for court-involved youth. It was a fun and dynamic meeting, with a lot of great creative energy and heavy conceptual lifting.  I am excited to see where this new idea takes us... stay tuned!


Finally, I sat down with J…

No Sleep Till Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Our friends at the Carroll Gardens Association, Inc. (CGA) celebrated their 42nd Anniversary at Marco Polo Restaurant on April 11, 2013.  The CGA works to preserve and develop affordable housing, enforce quality housing management practices, promote small business economic development, and connect residents to social services and resources.

I was deeply honored to accept the CGA's Public Service Award on behalf of the Red Hook Community Justice Center.  Many thanks to the CGA's Executive Director, Vilma V. Heramia, for her thoughtful and generous words of introduction, and to CGA's Chair, Cynthia Gonzalez (pictured above). 

Congratulations to our fellow award recipients:  Salvatore “Buddy” Scotto, Founder and President Emeritus of CGA, who received the Lifetime Achievement Award; Paul DiAgostino, owner of the House of Pizza & Calzone, who received the Small Business Leadership Award; and Ralph Bumbaca, Senior Vice-President of TD Bank, who received the Corporate Lead…

Speaking of Law Schools and Problem-Solving Justice...

I spent yesterday afternoon at Fordham Law School with the Stein Scholars, the school's public interest lawyering program. Three students, Liz Ling, Prescott Loveland, and Amanda Niederauer, presented their reflections and findings from a semester-long project with the Red Hook Community Justice Center. We asked the group to conduct a qualitative analysis of the Brooklyn Adolescent Diversion Program, particularly with an eye toward a new program slated to launch in July.

The project required the group to spend quite a bit of time in Red Hook and at the downtown criminal courthouse on Schermerhorn Street. Ultimately, the students' collective experience resembled some sort of wonderful, albeit peculiar hybrid of crash-course in criminal justice reform and acute immersion in the professional culture of misdemeanor criminal practice. Not surprisingly, this experience yielded an equally fascinating set of observations and recommendations, a thoughtful blend of process analysi…

The Community Court Difference

As many readers of this blog already know, the Red Hook Community Justice Center has the privilege of hosting over 200 visitors each year (as project director, facilitating site visits is a significant part of my job).Although their interests and objectives vary considerably, most visitors are eager to hear something about the Justice Center's core commitment to community engagement. In response, we generally talk a lot about the stuff we do outside of the formal court process, e.g., the Red Hook Youth Court, arts programming, the baseball league, and a broad range of community improvement projects.In other words, when it comes to community engagement, we are quick to remind visitors that we are more than just a courthouse.Too quick. Jackie Soto and Stephanie Lovett have run the Justice Center's Alternative Sanctions Office (more commonly known as "intake") for over 10 years.Among many, many other things, intake is the first stop for anyone sentenced to community, soci…

From New Zealand to Red Hook

A nearly-9000 mile journey has brought Julia Spelman from New Zealand to Red Hook for the next three months as part of a collaborative internship between the Justice Center and the Center for Court Innovation's Domestic Violence and Family Court Programs department. Because we have a specialized approach to criminal justice, we are in a unique position to develop streamlined and innovative approaches to supporting victims of domestic violence and holding perpetrators of domestic violence accountable. Additionally, because Red Hook is a laboratory for innovations in criminal justice, it is a setting ripe for the exploration of alternative interventions for defendants beyond traditional approaches. The need for innovation in this area is especially important given that Brooklyn has the highest number of domestic violence incidents within the five boroughs. During her internship, Julia will be exploring opportunities to enhance, expand, and innovate Red Hook's approaches to inti…