New Thinking, a Center for Court Innovation Podcast

By Center for Court Innovation

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Research. Development. Justice. Reform.

Episode Date
Misdemeanors Matter #2: Alexandra Natapoff on a Legacy of Injustice
Alexandra Natapoff calls the misdemeanor justice system a "quiet behemoth": making up four of every five criminal cases in the U.S., neglected by scholars and reformers, and potentially harming those caught up in it for life. In Punishment Without Crime, she describes a system warped by financial incentives that acts as a leading engine of racial and social inequality. She also says the reforms are obvious, and already happening in pockets across the country.
Feb 06, 2019
Prosecutor Power #7: Strength in Numbers
The movement to elect reform-minded prosecutors has been around long enough and scored enough victories that progressive D.A.s now have their own support network: Fair and Just Prosecution. Miriam Krinsky, its executive director, explains why she thinks "starry-eyed idealists" who want to transform the justice system need to get the message that "the biggest difference they can make is to go and work in a prosecutor's office."
Jan 25, 2019
Heal and Punish? When Therapy Is the Alternative to Incarceration
How effective is therapy or treatment when it's used instead of incarceration, and what are the challenges to conducting it inside the coercive context of the criminal justice system? New Thinking host Matt Watkins is joined by clinical psychologist Jacob Ham who works with justice-involved young people affected by trauma, and John Jay College's Deborah Koetzle who evaluates programs aiming to help participants rebuild lives outside of the justice system.
Jan 09, 2019
Rikers: An American Jail (Best of 2018)
Highlights from a public screening and panel discussion of Bill Moyers's 'Rikers: An American Jail,' moderated by New Thinking host, Matt Watkins. Commenting on the film and the future of criminal justice reform are Tina Luongo of the Legal Aid Society, Jill Harris of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, and two of the people formerly held on Rikers featured in the film: Barry Campbell of the Fortune Society, and Johnny Perez of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. This episode was originally released in July 2018.
Dec 26, 2018
Prosecutor Power #6: Larry Krasner, The Antagonist
As a defense attorney, Larry Krasner sued the Philadelphia police upwards of 75 times. Then, in late 2017, he was elected D.A. in a landslide. As part of our series on the power of prosecutors, Krasner explains why he has little patience for compromise in a city whose justice system is "an outlier in a country that is an outlier."
Dec 12, 2018
Prosecutor Power #5, Adam Foss: Use Your Power Well
In 2016, Adam Foss, a young prosecutor in Boston, gave a TED Talk on reforming his profession that became a sensation. Today he trains incoming prosecutors in D.A. offices across the country. In the latest episode of our series on prosecutors, Foss says the problem isn't that prosecutors have too much power; it's that no one is teaching them to use it for good.
Nov 28, 2018
Race, Trauma, and Healing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
An audio portrait of Make It Happen, our program working with young men of color in Crown Heights, Brooklyn affected by violence. Through interviews with participants and practitioners, the episode explores the intersections of trauma, involvement with the justice system, and the lived experience of race. This episode was originally released in April 2018.
Nov 09, 2018
Misdemeanors Matter #1: Social Control and the Lower Criminal Courts
In Misdemeanorland, Issa Kohler-Hausmann argues the lower courts are no longer primarily concerned with whether people actually committed the offense they’ve been accused of. Instead, the focus is on future behavior: upholding social order through managing and assessing—often over long stretches—everyone with the misfortune of entering Misdemeanorland. It's an argument that forces us to rethink what justice should look like in low-level cases.
Oct 26, 2018
The Most Hot-Button Issue in Criminal Justice Reform?
About two out of three people in local jails are being held awaiting trial, often because they can't afford bail. What if a mathematical formula could do a more objective job of identifying who could be safely released? That's the promise of risk assessments. But critics call them "justice by algorithm," and contend they're reproducing the bias inherent to the justice system, only this time under the guise of science.
Oct 05, 2018
Prosecutor Power #4: Kim Foxx, Rooted in Humanity
Kim Foxx's unexpected 2016 victory in the race for State's Attorney for Cook County (Chicago) helped to ignite the movement to elect prosecutors promising something other than being "tough on crime." As part of our series on prosecutor power, Foxx explains the reforms she’s put in place, her struggles with being the face of a system that continues to fail so many of her constituents, and offers her take on the “incredible” gains made by the movement to elect a new kind of prosecutor.
Sep 20, 2018
Criminal Justice as Social Justice: A Conversation With Bruce Western
Columbia University's Bruce Western, a leading expert on the connection between mass incarceration and poverty, discusses his new book, Homeward: Life in the Year After Prison, and outlines his vision for a justice system rebuilt to respond to the deep deprivation and trauma fueling much of the behaviour that leads to imprisonment.
Sep 06, 2018
Financial Insecurity and Domestic Violence: A Conversation about Child Support
For survivors of domestic violence, financial insecurity is often a huge problem. Without money to support themselves and their families, survivors can struggle to gain independence. In this New Thinking podcast, Michael Hayes from the Office of Child Support Enforcement and Krista Del Gallo from the Texas Council on Family Violence talk with Robert V. Wolf about strategies that states and the federal government are promoting to help survivors safely access child support.
Aug 22, 2018
Prosecutor Power #3: Reform From Within—The Brooklyn D.A.
Jill Harris says she's "shocked to find myself working for a D.A." A long-time advocate for criminal justice reform, Harris, now the head of the Brooklyn D.A.'s Justice 2020 reform initiative, offers her take on the role of the prosecutor in the third installment of our series on the debate over prosecutor power.
Aug 08, 2018
How the Law Intersects with Everyday Life: Promoting Access to Civil Justice
Legal Hand seeks to help people resolve civil justice issues before they need lawyers and court intervention. In our latest New Thinking episode, learn about how the program works, how civil justice issues impact different communities, and why it can be hard to get basic legal information to the people who need it.
Jul 20, 2018
Rikers: An American Jail
Highlights from a public screening and panel discussion of Bill Moyers's 'Rikers: An American Jail,' moderated by New Thinking host, Matt Watkins. Commenting on the film and the future of criminal justice reform are Tina Luongo of the Legal Aid Society, Jill Harris of the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office, and two of the people formerly held on Rikers featured in the film: Barry Campbell of the Fortune Society, and Johnny Perez of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
Jul 05, 2018
Keeping the Peace: Patrick Sharkey on Sustaining the Great Crime Decline
On our New Thinking podcast, Patrick Sharkey, the author of Uneasy Peace: The Great Crime Decline, the Renewal of City Life, and the Next War on Violence, discusses the wider costs of violence and the threat posed by inequality and disinvestment to the current fragile gains. He points to the signal role of community organizing and community-based nonprofits in combating violence and building safer, more resilient cities.
Jun 20, 2018
How Do We Tell What's Working? Disrupting the Justice Evaluation Model
Who gets to decide which reforms to the criminal justice system receive the imprimatur of "evidence-based"? To combat what she sees as the monopoly over these decisions created by the high cost of the current evaluation model, Angela Hawken founded BetaGov, offering free and fast evaluations of public policy programs. What is more, as Hawken explains on our New Thinking podcast, the ideas tested generally come from practitioners, or even clients, inside the systems themselves.
Jun 06, 2018
Putting the Public in Public Defending: Standing Up for a Profession in Crisis
On our 'New Thinking' podcast, Nashville's top public defender Dawn Deaner explains why she thinks public defending has been "set up to fail" and how working to engage the community—both those who need public defenders and those who never will—is a lifeline for a profession in crisis.
May 23, 2018
Prosecutor Power #2: A Public Defender on the Urgency of Reform
As part of our podcast series on prosecutor power, Scott Hechinger of Brooklyn Defender Services offers a view from the other side of the adversarial process, discussing prosecutors' impact at key decision-points in his clients' cases and weighing the prospects for reform in a time of increasing scrutiny of prosecutorial discretion.
May 04, 2018
Violence, Trauma, and Healing in Crown Heights, Brooklyn
On our New Thinking podcast, an audio portrait of Make It Happen, our program working with young men of color in Crown Heights, Brooklyn affected by violence. Through interviews with participants and practitioners, the episode explores the intersections of trauma, involvement with the justice system, and the lived experience of race.
Apr 19, 2018
Prosecutor Power #1: John Pfaff on Mass Incarceration
On 'New Thinking,' author John Pfaff outlines his argument for how prosecutors have contributed to mass incarceration and considers how much can be expected from the emerging breed of progressive D.A.'s. This is the first in our podcast series on the power of prosecutors.
Mar 27, 2018
Kansas City Domestic Violence Court: Assessing Risk, Addressing Needs
In this New Thinking podcast, Judge Courtney Wachal and Megan Sartin, the offender accountability coordinator, explain the operations of the Kansas City Domestic Violence Court, an Office on Violence Against Women designated mentor court.
Mar 20, 2018
Reducing Incarceration Now: A Conversation About 'Start Here'
On our 'New Thinking' podcast, hear from Greg Berman and Julian Adler, the co-authors of our book from the New Press, Start Here: A Road Map to Reducing Mass Incarceration.
Mar 07, 2018
Renewing Justice: When the Library Becomes a Community Court
Since 2016, the community court in Eugene, Oregon, has met every week in the downtown library. It's part of an effort getting a lot of attention on the West Coast to bring problem-solving justice to friendlier settings. On our 'New Thinking' podcast, hear about Eugene's success with the new model.
Feb 21, 2018
Project SAFE: Improving Services for Criminalized Black Women
On our 'New Thinking' podcast, Afua Addo, our coordinator of Gender and Justice Initiatives, explains our project aiding justice-involved black women who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Jan 10, 2018
Designing Decarceration: Architect Deanna Van Buren
On our New Thinking podcast, the Oakland-based architect explains her firm’s mission to use design to counter incarceration and promote the use of restorative justice. She also discusses her work on our Near Westside Peacemaking Center in Syracuse, N.Y.
Oct 17, 2017
Improving Access to Civil Justice: A Conversation with Jordan Dressler
<p>Jordan Dressler, the director of the <a href="" target="_blank">recently created</a> New York City Office of Civil Justice, discusses Mayor Bill de Blasio's ambitious five-year plan to provide free or low-cost legal assistance to every low-income New Yorker facing eviction, deportation, or other potentially life-altering civil proceedings. The interview focuses in detail on the benefits this guarantee is expected to have on tenants confronting landlords in Housing Court (the latter almost always represented by lawyers). Hosting this episode of New Thinking <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">are Ignacio Jaureguilorda, director of </span><a style="word-spacing: 0.04em; background-color: white;" href="" target="_blank">Poverty Justice Solutions</a><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">, our program that seeks to close the justice gap in Housing Court, and Robert V. Wolf, the Center for Court Innovation's director of communications.</span></p>
Aug 15, 2017
Harlem Parole Reentry Court: A Graduation
<p>New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., and Judge Verna Saunders of the <a href="" target="_blank">Harlem Community Justice Center</a> celebrate the return to the community of participants in the Harlem <a href="" target="_blank">Parole Reentry Court</a>. In their remarks at a ceremony for program graduates, the speakers also highlight the value of reentry programs in helping the formerly incarcerated make successful transitions from prison to freedom.</p>
Jun 19, 2017
Using Volunteers to Evaluate the Courtroom Experience: A Conversation about CourtWatch of King County, Wash.
<p>Court observation programs around the country send volunteers into courts to observe, collect data, and sometimes issue reports about what they've seen. Their goals include keeping courts accountable to the public and improving transparency, but not all courts are eager to receive public feedback. CourtWatch of King County, Washington, has worked closely with its local courts since the program's founding, trying to build a relationship that is more collaborative than adversarial. As Laura Jones, manager, and Mary Laskowski, services and outreach coordinator, explain to New Thinking host Robert V. Wolf, this collaborative approach has allowed CourtWatch to support judges and court administrators in efforts to improve the court experience for everyone.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"></span></p> <p><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"><!--break-->This podcast was supported by Grant No. </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">2015-TA-AX-K023 </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.</span></p>
Jun 15, 2017
The End of Rikers? A conversation with Courtney Bryan about the Lippman Commission and its recommendation to close the Rikers Island jail facility
<p>Rikers Island is “a stain on our great city” and should be closed. That’s the headline-grabbing conclusion of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. With influential leaders, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, in agreement, the next question is: Where do we go from here? Matthew Watkins speaks to the Center for Court Innovation's Courtney Bryan to learn more about the <a href="" target="_blank">Center's role</a> in researching and producing the commission's <a href="" target="_blank">report</a>, and the steps needed to carry out its recommendations. We also hear a range of activists and reformers react to the pledge to close the troubled jail facility.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-none"><img src="" alt="Courtney Bryan, speaking at a clergy breakfast outreach event for the Lippman Commission in the Bronx in January 2017." title="Courtney Bryan, speaking at a clergy breakfast outreach event for the Lippman Commission in the Bronx in January 2017." class="image image-img_assist_custom-493x329 " width="493" height="329" /><span class="caption" style="width: 491px;">Courtney Bryan, speaking at a clergy breakfast outreach event for the Lippman Commission in the Bronx in January 2017.</span></span></p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Apr 21, 2017
What Does Reintegration Mean to You? The Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reintegration Program
<p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Muscogee (Creek) Nation Reintegration Program</a> provides intensive case management and reentry services to tribal members returning to the community from incarceration. The program provides financial assistance for basic needs such as housing, clothing, and groceries, and offers long-term support through educational, vocational, and legal services. This video introduces viewers to the program through interviews with clients, staff and the numerous partners--like prison and court officials--that have allowed the program to help hundreds of clients make successful transitions from prison to home.</p>
Mar 31, 2017
Reducing New York City's Jail Population
<p>New York City's incarceration rates have been dropping steadily, but a <a href="" target="_blank">new report</a> from the Center for Court Innovation, in collaboration with the Vera Institute of Justice, suggests the city’s jail population can still be brought significantly lower. The report looks in detail at key decision-points along the path from arrest through bail to sentencing and makes concrete suggestions for how to improve the system, especially for those defendants detained awaiting trial. In this New Thinking podcast, Matthew Watkins speaks with Michael Rempel, the report's lead author and the Center's research director.</p><br /><p>MATTHEW WATKINS: Hi, I'm Matthew Watkins and you're listening to the New Thinking podcast from the Center for Court Innovation. Both crime and incarceration rates have been dropping steadily in New York City, but a new report from the Center, in collaboration with the Vera Institute of Justice, suggests the city's jail population can still be brought lower; a move that could also cut costs substantially. The report looks in detail at the process, from arrest to sentencing, and makes concrete suggestions on how to improve the system. To discuss the report, I'm joined today by its lead author, Mike Rempel. Mike is also the Director of Research here at the center. Mike, thanks so much for joining me today.</p> <p>MIKE REMPEL: Good to be with you.</p> <p>WATKINS: This report relies principally on industrial amounts of data. What kinds of conclusions, what kinds of perspectives can you get on a system as complex as the New York City correctional system, from looking at the data, that you might not be able to get without access to those kinds of numbers?</p> <p>REMPEL: We can learn a lot. One of the advantages we have in New York City is that we actually have outstanding data sources available to us. We have the state’s Criminal Justice Agency, which is one of the best in the country at maintaining a very clean data set. Then, we merged that data with a variety of local data sources.</p> <p>The idea for the project was actually developed by senior staff at the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice in the city. What they wanted was something that they called a path analysis. What this meant, and what we did, was that we looked at the flow of criminal cases from where they start, at the point of arrest, to the next step, which is the arraignment. That's the very first appearance in court. To the next step, which is the whole processing of a case that takes place, from the arraignment until the final court appearance, which is the disposition.</p> <p>WATKINS: There can often be a long gap in between.</p> <p>REMPEL: There can often be long gaps in between, so this is the path we took. Then, the purpose of the project ... The purposes were essentially two-fold, to describe what happens at each of these decision points. Second, to critically analyze what happens at each of these decision points, and whether what happens is what we think logically should happen. For example, are individuals sent to jail who are in fact low risk and could be better supervised in the community? Or, are there delays in the process that is causing people to spend excessive trips to court or excessive time in Rikers Island, potentially? We looked at facts in each stage. Those were our two questions.</p> <p>WATKINS: If we start with the first decision point, that would be the arrest decision point. What does your research suggest is happening at the arrest stage currently, and what's unexploited in terms of trying to reduce, safely, the number of people going to jail in New York City?</p> <p>REMPEL: At arrest we focused on two potential decisions that a law enforcement officer could make. The first is whether to make what we call a custodial arrest, where the defendant is actually taken into custody and after booking at the precinct, is sent to a holding cell in the criminal court until arraignment, which happens within 24 hours. Essentially they'll spend a night in a holding cell.</p> <p>WATKINS: Custodial arrest for a layperson just means arrest?</p> <p>REMPEL: Arrest and taken into custody.</p> <p>WATKINS: Okay.</p> <p>REMPEL: There's a second kind of arrest where they are booked. They're taken to the precinct, but then they do no spend a night in a holding cell. Instead, they're given a ticket. They're released, and they can come back for their first court date, the arraignment, sometime later. As it happens, it's several months later.</p> <p>That's the first decision that we looked at. Should law enforcement make a custodial arrest? Or rather, we looked at the extent to which law enforcement makes a custodial arrest or issues a ticket. This focuses mainly on misdemeanors. Those are the cases that are eligible potentially for a ticket.</p> <p>Second, we looked at whether there are certain kinds of cases that would be appropriate for neither of those two outcomes, and instead could be appropriate for diversion. Where in fact, the law enforcement officer might send an individual directly to a program of some kind. In effect, they could complete that program, the case could then never be forwarded, and never appear in court. We looked at that second potential decision as well.</p> <p>WATKINS: Broadly speaking, how is the system doing right now in terms of diverting those people it's able to divert, or giving desk appearance tickets to those people who don't need to have a custodial arrest?</p> <p>REMPEL: Let's start with diversion. Right now diversion at the police stage is very, very new. It's actually been a focus of the current mayoral administration. There are a couple of very small scale pilot programs.</p> <p>WATKINS: They could be doing more diversion, in essence. That's what the numbers suggested.</p> <p>REMPEL: There could, in theory, be more on diversion. What we actually found is that one could make a credible, statistical case for more diversion. What we found is that there are a great number of criminal cases that go through the courts whether it's through a desk appearance ticket, a night in the holding cell, making one court appearance, or sometimes making multiple court appearances. Potentially, with each court appearance requiring a day, potentially, waiting in court. None of us ... We found that we can statistically isolate certain categories of cases, that at the end of this process are extremely likely to have the case dismissed.</p> <p>For example, a first-time, non-violent, misdemeanor defendant, ages 16-24, has an 80% likelihood of having the case dismissed. Since we know these cases are overwhelmingly likely to be dismissed anyway, instead of putting them through a process that could undermine their confidence in our justice system. They might be an appropriate candidate for diversion out of court, where they go to a program, perform several hours of something, and then are released.</p> <p>WATKINS: Right, particularly at such a young age when the interactions with the criminal justice system can be so damaging and consequential.</p> <p>REMPEL: Exactly. It's interesting, the justice system. It's actually responsive to the young age. That's why in the end these cases of young people are particularly likely to be dismissed, but the lack of responsiveness is in the process leading up to the dismissal, that perhaps could be circumvented.</p> <p>WATKINS: Right, so we need to go the extra step of actually diverting them before we just dismiss their cases.</p> <p>REMPEL: Right. Unlike diversion, desk appearance tickets are already very common. There are 10's of 1000's issued each year. What we actually found is that law enforcement, by no means, overuses desk appearance tickets. In fact, we found that only 1% of individuals who currently receive a desk appearance ticket pose a high risk of committing a future crime. In other words, it's very low-risk individuals who are sent right back out and told to return to court at a later time.</p> <p>On the other hand, we actually found that desk appearance tickets are arguably underutilized. We did find racial dis-proportionalities in their use because black and Hispanic defendants are less likely to receive a ticket than white defendants, even if they have comparable characteristics.  </p> <p>WATKINS: If we turn to look at the question of arraignments, as related to these desk appearance tickets, there's often a long wait in-between the issuance of the ticket and the arraignment. Is that correct?</p> <p>REMPEL: Right. We had some fascinating findings on that. Again, remember that the desk appearance ticket is supposed to be a positive for the defendant because they avoid the overnight in the holding cell. They basically are released on their own and they can go home several hours after the arrest.</p> <p>However, what we found is that the court date, when the have to return to court for their arraignment, averages two months later city-wide, and three months later in the Bronx. This long gap between the arrest and the court date leads many individuals to forget that they have the court date. They don't appear. A warrant is issued. They're re-arrested.</p> <p>We then found that even though these are primarily very low-level misdemeanor cases— they wouldn't have received the ticket in the first place if it was not a low-level case— We found that if this process happens and in the end they warrant, because they neglected their court date, when they are returned to court they actually are potentially exposed to serving jail time pre-trial.</p> <p>WATKINS: Let's turn a little bit to look at this question of risk assessments. Maybe you could explain for people a little bit what a risk assessment is? Then, what your study found about how defendants of different risks levels are being treated by the system, and where there are some unexploited areas, in terms of reducing jail numbers.</p> <p>REMPEL: Great. Risk assessments are used currently across the country. The purpose of a risk assessment is to use statistical information that is accurate for large groups of individuals, and to apply them to specific cases in order to understand their likelihood of re-offending. </p> <p>Now, typically risk assessments will look at different types of risk. One type of risk might be Person-X has a low or high-risk of committing some future offense. Very often people are not just interested in that, because what they're interested in is a serious crime against the person. Often, risk assessments will focus on risk of violence, which really raises the question of risk to public safety.</p> <p>That's risk assessment in a nutshell. What we did in this study is, we didn't use a risk assessment that is currently in use. In effect, we created our own risk assessment tool based on data we had, in order to in-turn critically examine who's going through the system.</p> <p>Some the most interesting findings from that came during the pre-trial period where we found that a majority of those who currently are sent to jail prior to a conviction, actually pose a relatively lower, at most moderate, risk of re-offending. That led to a key area of reform, in terms of recognizing that there are large numbers that actually could be safely supervised in the community.</p> <p>WATKINS: Essentially the suggestion from the numbers is that the current system is being too conservative, in terms of alternatives to detention vis-à vis risk levels.</p> <p>REMPEL: As of several years ago, the current system was definitely being extremely conservative. Just to give you a sense of some of the statistics, we found that of those who are sent to jail prior to a conviction, right now 64% of them are in a minimal, low, or at most moderate-risk category. That's misdemeanors. Then among the felonies it's 59% in these low-risk categories. This is a pool that's ripe for diversion.</p> <p>This has been the case for years. The city currently is piloting a solution to this very problem. What our findings speak to is the idea that this solution could actually be used with very, very large numbers of individuals.</p> <p>WATKINS: Let's turn to look a little bit at the question of bail, which your report goes into in some detail. Let's say a defendant is ordered by a judge to pay a set amount of cash bail at his/her arraignment. What happens at that point? Is it easy for the person to then pay their bail? The bail is supposed to keep them out of jail, right?</p> <p>REMPEL: The decision to set bail, as you indicated, happens right at the arraignment court appearance. The defendant can't pay the bail because right after the arraignment court appearance the defendant is then escorted to the back and prepared for transport to a city jail.</p> <p>What actually happens is that a family member or friend, who ideally is in the audience at arraignment, hears the bail amount. Then, they have a certain number of hours, potentially, to pay the bail at a window in the courthouse. Now, what we found is that in point-of-fact, in only 11% of cases where bail is set, does the family member or friend actually pay bail successfully before the defendant is transported to a city jail.</p> <p>The reasons for this are many. It could be that a family member or friend was not in the courtroom. It could be they were not notified. It could be that the defendant didn't have an opportunity to call a contact that the defendant had. It could be that the friend or family member was in the courtroom, but because of how quickly the proceedings move, didn't actually catch or understand what the bail amount was, didn't know where to go. It could also be that in any given case, because of the schedules of when the buses leave the courthouses to go to jail, that their window of time ... Which is theory could be up to three hours, was actually much shorter. The family member or friend could have paid bail right at the courthouse, but the defendant left the courthouse and was bused to jail before that could happen.</p> <p>There are number of reasons this happens, but the up-shot is that it's a gap in the system that only about 1 in 10 defendants, for whom bail is set, can get it paid and avoid any jail time.</p> <p>WATKINS: Again, this is another decision point in the system you've identified that is leading, arguably, to unnecessary detention.</p> <p>REMPEL: Correct. What we found in a lot of cases, what happens is the defendants do have the financial wherewithal to get bail paid. What will happen after several days— They will spend several days in jail. They will have the experience that one has in jail, which is an experience that can be deeply scarring psychologically. Then, after several days later they will be released because they were in fact able to make bail.</p> <p>WATKINS: Now, there's a larger debate about cash bail going on in this country that we're not going to get into here. I can see the relief on your face. The idea behind bail is it's meant to guard against either someone being a flight risk, failing to appear at their next court date, or being a risk to public safety. When your research looks at why bail is being set in the New York City system currently, is that how the system is actually functioning?</p> <p>REMPEL: No, it's not. It's actually interesting, legally the justification for bail in New York State is to secure court attendance. In other words, you pay bail and since you're going to lose the bail money you paid if you don't show up for your court dates, you're incentivized to show up for your court dates.</p> <p>Not our research, but what research by others has shown, is that actually about 15% of New York City defendants fail to appear at one of their court dates. Actually, most of those who fail to appear for a court date, they probably forgot. In the end, they tend to show up to court soon thereafter. Only about 5% of defendants both fail to appear for one of their court dates and have still disappeared 30 days later.</p> <p>Others have actually found that fail-to-appear is not a great problem in the city. However, in our study we looked at what really drives bail decisions. We found that it was the charge. When we compared misdemeanor defendants to non-violent felony defendants to violent felony defendants, the likelihood that the prosecutors will request bail and that the judges will set bail goes much higher.</p> <p>We found other factors related to criminal history were also important. Everything was dwarfed by the paramount importance of charge. Even though charge is actually unrelated to one's likelihood of not appearing for a scheduled court date. It is somewhat related, but not strongly related, to future risk to public safety.</p> <p>WATKINS: If we just turn to look at sentencing now, your report looked for example, specifically at misdemeanor offenses. Often those sentences are very, very brief. What does that suggest to you in terms of another decision point in the system?</p> <p>REMPEL: We should pause for a moment on that, and just observe that in some ways the quite low use of jail at the sentencing stage for misdemeanors is a strength of the system. We found that of those that have a conviction, only 16% of misdemeanors have a jail sentence. That means New York City is not drastically overusing jail at the sentencing stage.</p> <p>However, we found that when jail is sentenced with misdemeanors, at the sentencing stage, in 4 out of 5 cases, the sentence is 30 days or less. A jail sentence of 30 days or less, on its face, is too short to incapacitate the defendant for a meaningful enough period of time to prevent future criminal behavior.</p> <p>On the other hand, it's not too short to potentially increase the likelihood that these defendants will actually engage in criminal behavior after they are released, as a negative effect of the exposure to others who are also involved in the criminal justice system while they are in jail who, in some cases, may be up on more serious charges, may have more serious criminal histories, or may be higher-risk individuals.</p> <p>While the strength of the system is the low use of jail, we found that even the use that exists probably could, and should, be avoided because it's so short, to produce no meaningful benefit.</p> <p>WATKINS: And could be counter-productive.</p> <p>REMPEL: And could be counter-productive.</p> <p>WATKINS: Right. If we just want to turn lastly to the topic that will interest a lot of people, I'm sure, and that is cost. It sounds like you've identified a number of decision points in the system that would allow New York City to safely reduce its jail population, potentially quite significantly. What kinds of cost savings could that produce, do you think?</p> <p>REMPEL: Cost savings that are significant, but not as significant as one might expect in the short term. The reasons are as follows. Jail is extremely expensive in New York City. On average it costs about $208,000 to incarcerate someone at a local jail per year. Less than a year, then prorate that on a daily basis.</p> <p>WATKINS: That's far above the national rate.</p> <p>REMPEL: That's far above the national rate. Jail is extremely expensive. In the long term, slashing the jail population would reap tremendous fiscal benefits to the city.</p> <p>In the short term, one should candidly understand that you don't get a defendant per defendant reduction in costs just because you now are no longer filling a jail bed. A lot of the costs are what we call, fixed. You still have to maintain the jail. You still, unless you drastically reduce the jail population, are not going to shrink your workforce. You're still going to pay the pension to people who use to be in the work force. You're still going to pay everyone's salaries. You're still going to have to have subsidiary contracts with health and mental health providers for individuals in the jail.</p> <p>A lot of the costs change slow. People should understand that you could slash the jail population in half. If you do that, the fiscal savings will be overwhelming in the long term, but it may take some time.</p> <p>WATKINS: That's great. Mike, thanks so much.</p> <p>REMPEL: Sure, thank you.</p> <p>WATKINS: I've been speaking with Mike Rempel. He's the Director of Research here at the Center for Court Innovation. Mike is the lead author of a new study called Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform. It's available on our website, My name is Matt Watkins. Thanks for listening to the New Thinking podcast. </p> <p> </p>
Mar 23, 2017
Problem-Solving in L.A.: Multiple Issues, One Collaborative Court
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, Judge Marcelita Haynes of the Los Angeles Superior Court talks with Matthew Watkins about <a href="" target="_blank">Community Collaborative Courts</a>, the county's new approach to problem-solving justice. Judge Haynes says the courts look for long-term solutions to a range of problems—from mental health issues to homelessness—that can fuel repeat offending.</p><br /><p>MARCELITA HAYNES: I don't think courts have ever been about what caused you to steal. Its like, "You're here, you stole, and here are the consequences. Here are the rules."</p> <p>MATTHEW WATKINS: Hi, I'm Matthew Watkins with the Center for Court Innovation and you're listening to the New Thinking podcast. Today I'm at the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn. I'm with Judge Marcelita Haynes of the Los Angeles Superior Court who's here today visiting the Justice Center. Judge Haynes presides over one of LA's four recently created community collaborative courts and that's what we're going to be talking about with her today. These are courts that look for long-term solutions to the problems that can cause some defendants to be appearing again and again in court.</p> <p>Judge Haynes, thanks for joining me today. The first question I wanted to ask you is, how you see this community collaborative court fitting into the problem solving court model and what does problem solving mean to you?</p> <p>HAYNES: Well, what we saw in LA is that just a rise in homeless population and the way they were coming to court with the type of crimes they were committing, clearly those that are lifestyle crimes and others that were escalating because you weren't dealing with them at an early enough stage. Also, the mentally ill. Just a tremendous rise within the county jail and the number of mentally ill patients they have, and I'm talking about chronically and seriously mentally ill. I think they went from 5 years ago 8- or 900 defendants to something like to 2- to 3,000 defends within the system. As well as we saw that our youth getting out of foster care, they're not dumped but there's no safety net. You're in foster care today, you're 18 tomorrow, and then it's "here's a load of money, go take care of yourself' which then force them being on the streets in an environment generally in the area which is the lowest economic scale, of what are you going to do if you have no skills?</p> <p>Well, there's the drug dealer who's driving his Bentley, his Rolls, or his Ford Mustang, whatever it may be, and you've got this 18 year old kid who everyone says is not going to do a lot of time. So that was a population we saw. And then the awareness of victims of human sex trafficking, always the women being arrested and then we're putting them back on the street with a record which help prevented them from getting their education, from getting jobs. We needed to deal with them because as they got older we saw more theft-related crimes.</p> <p>Our veterans, most of the veteran programs that we had looked at had requirements of either you had to have served in active duty in terms of war, warfare, or some sort, and you had to have a diagnosis of certain things to be in. The court, the DA, the public defender, and the police saw that we had an area that we needed to reach in all these areas and that we felt as we came together that we could create programs, reach out to the community to bring in not just substance abuse treatment providers but deal with the VA and be able to be supportive to the VA with additional community programs. Actively get the police to realize there's another way to deal with the youth as we bring them in, that we can get them education, we can get them housing. So those target groups were really the thing that kind of promoted the court, the police, the district attorney, the public defender in our county to look at what can we do to change this rising volume.</p> <p>Because we clearly cannot keep incarcerating people, for two reasons: One, we don't have the finances to keep incarcerating people; two, a lot of them don't need to be incarcerated, we need to do something else. I used to see the same person every six months, give him, here's 18 months state prison, 8 months later you're out, you're back again with the same crime. Because I sat in the same courthouse for so long, I got to know families very well and I wasn't the only judge seeing that. So I think all of those things came together at a time that the public became aware in the State of California that we can't keep warehousing people and not provide services to treat the underlying causes.</p> <p>WATKINS: So how does the model work then? I mean, if we take, say, the defendant that is appearing again and again in your courtroom, what's new now about this community collaborative approach that's going to try to solve that problem?</p> <p>HAYNES: Presiding Judge of the LA Superior Court, Carolyn Kuhl, decided that we had enough resources in terms of judges to put together four courts that could look at that targeted group I mentioned. But in dealing in with our justice partners, they decided we would focus on felonies, keeping people out of prison. So that was the first hurdle. Well then which felonies do we focus on?</p> <p>Well we don't do serious or violent felonies, or what everyone knows I think in the country, which would fall under the Three Strikes laws. We don't do arson, we don't do child molestation, we don't do robberies, we don't do residential burglaries. Now there is an exception to all that the DA's office if they've read the facts and feel that they can change the charges so they're not as serious, and so the district attorney's office is able to say "We find that to be an exception and we feel that you have services within your court that you can deal with that person" because the chances are that person is chronically homeless. And there's what we're beginning to see is mental illness seems to cut across every single area that we're dealing with. So our courts deal with the five areas of substance abuse addicted; 18-25 year old at-risk youths who were in foster care; human trafficking survivors, because I don't like calling them victims because they're surviving; the mentally ill; and veterans.</p> <p>Like I said, almost every case I have, whether it's a vet, there's mental illness, homeless, there's mental illness. We have our first human trafficking survivor and there's mental illness because the court didn't even understand the nature of the abuse that a human sex trafficking survivor has. So I can treat her addiction, but when we found out what was underlying the addiction, we had to get mental health services for that specific condition. As well as we're learning that with our domestic violence victims who are also have criminal charges pending. If she was a domestic violence victim previously, we find that within that history, maybe now she's stealing but the problem goes back to something else— so that we can provide services for her and occasionally him. We haven't crossed to him yet but there are male victims of, not human sex trafficking, that is true, but of domestic violence also.</p> <p>WATKINS: So you're really dealing with people with more than one problem at a time often, which maybe were not treated so well in the past by more conventional courts, do you think?</p> <p>HAYNES: Not treated well because they didn't have the resources to even interview them to know what might be causing - I don't think courts have ever been about what caused you to steal, it's like you're here, you stole, and here are the consequences, here are the rules. I think part of that has not been a lack of concern but due to volume of what the courts have to handle. And I think times have changed, the country's changed, that we're looking at certain crimes we know there are underlying problems.</p> <p>When you see someone stealing, just because it's a petty theft, I need to read a little further. Well what did they steal? You know, oh they went and stole 12 bottles of liquor. Well, you know, now I kind of have an idea if they weren't having a party, which they probably weren't, that I have another issue maybe I can treat if I have the services. I think what's come along with the court's awareness is that communities become aware so there are providers that can provide services for those things.</p> <p>Ten years ago, I could have seen that as a problem, but not have any place to send them to deal with it. Now at least I have some places. We still don't have enough places because we don't have enough money going into private agencies or public agencies to provide for housing. At best, I can get someone in an emergency stay housing and hope in two months they might be able to find them permanent housing. Well what do I do with that person for two months? Well what we do is, you come and see me every week, and I babysit you and I encourage you so that you don't re-offend while I'm trying to get the services to you.</p> <p>With our mental health, sometimes it takes us three to six months to even find someplace before we can release someone from custody because of lack of beds, which is a lack of funding. So our next place that we really need to emphasize is with the legislature that they've got, they have the concept of us doing this but they got to fund the agencies, not just the court. They've got to fund the agencies that will provide the housing, that will provide the counseling, that will provide the drug treatment, that will provide mental health treatment.</p> <p>WATKINS: Right, I mean this is about alternatives to incarceration but right now you're saying you don't always have enough alternatives.</p> <p>HAYNES: Exactly. Fortunately, the way LA's built, the four of us are regional, so I'm in Long Beach. The city of Long Beach, I think it's very interesting listening to how Red Hook came to be. The city of Long Beach is where Red Hook might have been back in the late 90's, recognizes and has a lot of resources. Some of them are specific to only people who live in Long Beach but the rest of the county is catching on.</p> <p>The board of supervisors just created a new agency, it's something about re-entry, it's about people who have been incarcerated, trying to support them when they get out without them having a new case. But they're also working with us in terms of getting grants and funding for housing, for education, for drug rehab. But the court is limited, I can't go out and fundraise. All I can do is hopefully go out to agencies, make people in the public aware that we're here, we want to help, and we need help from the community side.</p> <p>WATKINS: Yeah, I mean, and on the community side, I mean we're here today as you just mentioned at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, which is a community court and a community center very much embedded in its community. But it sounds like with these collaborative courts in LA, that you're really trying to take this problem solving model to scale. You're dealing with a much larger population.</p> <p>HAYNES: Yes.</p> <p>WATKINS: And I'm wondering what are some of the challenges or maybe even opportunities with taking this kind of model to scale like that?</p> <p>HAYNES: Right now I think all four of us got started up and running November of 2015. And it's become, I think, all of us found there's a lack of education first of all, letting our judicial officers know that we're there because we're planning a webinar in fact in February for the entire county to explain.</p> <p>Because the judges ask me "Well what do you do? What kind of cases do you take?" We've been around a year and I'm talking about people I work with in the building don't know what I do, and I've explained it more than once. So that we can take time to really explain it to them, what kind of cases do we take, what kind of work do we do, and then they want to know, "If I sent you a case, do you really have the resources or is this just something that looks good?" To let them know, to educate them that we do have the resources limited as they be, but we do have the resources when we say that we want the homeless and we're going to connect them with housing, we do have those connections and we do have the support.</p> <p>The other part I've found is not just educating the judges, it's educating the defense bar in what we do, that we're there. But also yes, your client can get out of jail in five days but he or she's going to be back in a month and if they take probation then yes, it sounds onerous but it really isn't. You're going to see the same probation officer, the same judge, and we are a family that if I need to see that person once a week to be supportive, I can do that. That way, I'm seeing them not with a new case but I'm encouraging them or if they've slipped, I can say "Hey, you know, I'm a little disappointed in you, what can we do to help you not slip?" And changing that whole thought process from the defense bar.</p> <p>Then of course you have the prosecution has to change the concept of everybody goes to jail, once in prison always in prison as the offer. Then the defendants. What's easier, to take time served and get out because you're a drug addict and you just want to get out? It's harder to say, "You know what? I'm gonna go on probation supervision for three to five years, I'm gonna be monitored, I'm willing and I'm ready."</p> <p>I think where we're at is educating in all those areas as well as letting the community know that we are there and if you have loved ones in the system, make sure the attorney knows that you can go to Long Beach Department South 12 and maybe you can get your case there and maybe we can help you.</p> <p>Well I tell all my defendants I'm here from 9 to 12, 1:30-4:30, because that's the courts hours. You want to stop by and say hi, you can say hi. But that's what it takes to be supportive, to let them know we're a family here, your family previously may have disappointed you but your court family will never disappoint you. Either you can see the judge, we'll find your attorney, or you can talk to your probation officer. Whatever you need, what do you need, we're here to provide what you need.</p> <p>WATKINS: Did you think in those terms of the court as a family? I mean prior to starting this work on the collaborative courts?</p> <p>HAYNES: You know what, I've talked to defense attorneys about that and they've said that I've probably for the last 24 years I've had a component of that, kind of, in the work I did. When you're doing someone who has raped their six-year-old child for months, there's not a lot of thought of family. But when the war on drugs was at its height, I did have that feeling with certain people. But I didn't have enough; I had judicial support but I didn't have resources support to be able, due to the volume in the court and due to resources outside of the court, we really didn't have it to the extent we have now. I've watched it change over the years, so I've always had a component of that. I think I was honored when they asked me to leave a family trial assignment - preliminary hearing assignment actually - to head up a court like this where all I did was make a difference, that's the way I see it. My goal is to make a difference in someone's life.</p> <p>WATKINS: And this new model you feel really helps you to do that in a way that wasn't available? I mean, I guess it's -</p> <p>HAYNES: It wasn't available because the culture wasn't of "We're targeting and trying to help". On an individual basis, yeah, I'm sure during the year I helped some people. Because I've had defendants come back and thank me years later, they're drug counselors, they're still married, or whatever's going on. But not in volume. It's great if you change one life a year, I think that's fabulous, that's one, one human being that becomes productive, that is voting, that's doing what we all want adults to do. But when you have the chance to potentially, right now I have 21 people, to change 21 people in one year is a big difference in changing one. To know that if I pick up the phone right now, I can call LA, I can text my probation officer and say "Go and check on Mr. So-and-so, I've got a feeling something's going wrong." That's something I didn't have 18 months ago that I have now.</p> <p>Or I can call a program and say, "Can you tell me about, tell Mr. So-and-so I'm out of town, I'm not gonna be in court this day, but tell him don't get discouraged, I haven't abandoned him." I didn't have that 18 months ago. There was that sense of it in the court, I'm not the only judge, a lot of judges had it, but to have a systematic structure where you can actually do that, we didn't have.</p> <p>WATKINS: Judge Haynes, thank you so much for speaking with me today. I really appreciate it.</p> <p>HAYNES: Thank you.</p> <p>WATKINS: I've been speaking with Judge Marcelita Haynes of the Los Angeles Superior Court. Judge Haynes presides over one of LA's four recently created community collaborative courts. You have been listening to the New Thinking podcast from the Center for Court Innovation. I'm Matthew Watkins, thanks for listening. </p> <p> </p>
Jan 16, 2017
Seeking Evidence: A Professor Looks for Empirical Proof to Improve Access to Justice
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, Harvard Law School Professor James Greiner talks with Aubrey Fox about why he launched the Access to Justice Lab, which has researched topics as varied as how to provide self-help materials to defendants involved in civil debt collection cases to the effectiveness of commonly used pretrial assessment interview tools in criminal court. Greiner also discusses what he sees as a strategy for improving the legal profession's openness to evidence-based thinking.</p><br /><p>AUBREY FOX: So this is Aubrey Fox. I'm today's guest host for The New Thinking Podcast, which is the Center for Innovation's podcast where we interview legal experts and researchers. And I'm very fortunate to be joined today by Professor James Greiner, who is the William Henry Bloomberg Professor of Law at Harvard University. Does this mean that you're connected to our former Mayor Bloomberg?</p> <p>PROFESSOR JAMES GREINER: Actually, I think that, if I have it right, the Chair was named after his father and he established it on his father's behalf. It's a rotating chair, so I have it for another few months before it rotates to someone else. But that is the connection.</p> <p>FOX: So you're not dining with Mayor Bloomberg on a regular basis?</p> <p>GREINER: I haven't had the pleasure yet. I'm sure it'll be terrific. I'm guessing he probably sets a good table, but I haven't had the pleasure yet.</p> <p>FOX: Among many things, Jim, is the faculty director of something called the Access to Justice Lab, which is a really exciting new initiative that he started where he's trying to bring evidence-based research to the study of criminal justice and civil justice. And so we want to talk to Jim today about his work with the Access to Justice Lab and also some of his thinking about why it's important to introduce this evidence-based approach, and want to talk to him a little bit about some of the particular issues he's investigated.</p> <p>Jim, maybe where we'll start is just to let you talk about how you got interested in this area of criminal justice and civil justice, and tell us a little bit about your background.</p> <p>GREINER: Sure. So when I graduated from law school, I hadn't taken any statistics courses or any sort of quantitative courses in college or anything like that. I just wanted to be a regular practicing lawyer. So I did that for 3 years for the Justice Department and then 3 years for a private law firm, a law firm called Jenner & Block in DC and, at the time, I was litigating cases that involved some numbers. So, employment discrimination class actions, litigation about the 2000 decennial census, whether you could use statistical techniques to try to correct for over-counts and under-counts according to racial groups. I'd always been interested in social justice issues and criminal law issues.</p> <p>When I moved over to the private law firm, I did a couple of pro-bono cases that we picked up. And basically, through the practice, redistricting was in the area I did, got interested in numbers and what numbers and evidence-based thinking could bring to the table in terms of social justice issues. And so after 6 years as a practicing attorney, I left the practice of law for 5 years to get a PhD in statistics.</p> <p>And then when I got my PhD in Statistics I started researching in a bunch of areas, but the one I was having the most fun with, really enjoying and the one that I thought I could potentially do some good with was access to justice issues, more on the civil side than on the criminal side, but some on the criminal side also. So issues like, how do you make law work and be accessible for folks who can't afford to hire lawyers to interface with the legal system. And on the criminal side, how can we make existing institutions perform what we want them to perform better. How can we release more people who are not dangerous, how can we reduce the criminal footprint on communities and still maintain a system of law and order, etc.</p> <p>So those are the big-picture issues that I found most interesting.   </p> <p>FOX: So, having a statistician as a professor of law. Is that an unusual development, or is that something that's been going on for decades and decades?</p> <p>GREINER: No, I think there are only 2 of us still in the legal academy that have stats degrees-- stats PhDs. I know the other person, unsurprisingly. But having someone as a law professor who knows, as we say, "how to count", that's not all that unusual. It's just folks typically have economics degrees or political science degrees or something like that. But the hardcore statistics is what I really wanted to get invested in. And the reason for that was I pretty much knew when I was going into the statistics program that I was a litigator through and through. I was always going to be a litigator. I was going to care about courts and administrative agencies and the practice of law at a person by person level.</p> <p>And so I didn't feel like I wanted to learn a lot about the big-picture political science theory and big-picture economic theory that those folks do. And so I just said let's go straight into the heavy numbers.</p> <p>FOX: And so tell us a little bit about the Access to Justice Lab. What does it do, when did you get it started?</p> <p>GREINER: We're talking in December of 2016. It's only been in existence since July of 2016, and it is funded by a generous grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The foundation itself cares about evidence-based thinking across a lot of different spheres, and it funded the lab. And basically the lab has 2 overall missions. One is to produce useful, rigorous evidence that would assist policy makers and judges and lawyers in what they do. Especially with respect, again, to access to justice related to folks who can't afford to hire lawyers to interface with the legal system for them.</p> <p>And then the second overall purpose is to try to tear down the resistance to rigorous empirical evidence, especially via the randomized control trials, or randomized field experiment, that resistance that exists within the legal profession and within the judiciary.</p> <p>I think that in law, especially with the practice of law, we are in roughly where the medical profession was in about 1938 or 1940. Basically, we are beginning to engage in the debate about whether our profession should be evidence-based in the way that medicine was engaging in a debate about whether drugs and medical devices should have evidence behind them before they are allowed to be sold to the public.</p> <p>And there are many folks in law, on both the bench and the bar, who think that randomization in law is unethical or is unnecessary. Unethical because randomization takes away the professional judgment about who should get what, and unnecessary because we know that, as lawyers and judges, all of our professional judgements are perfect, or very, very good and, therefore, we don't really need to investigate them all that much. And so the Access to Justice Lab's second purpose is to try to suggest to folks that scientific-based thinking and evidence really can bring a lot to the table and it may end up overturning accepted truths within the bench and the bar.</p> <p>FOX: I'm glad, in your comparison to the medical world, you didn't bring up leaches. So at least we're... We're 100 years ahead of where we could be.</p> <p>GREINER: Right.</p> <p>FOX: And, just to follow up for a moment, I kind of want to get your sense of the state of play on this because I understand that there may be resistance to RCTs, which are the most rigorous form of evidence-based analysis and require dividing a control group from an experimental group and giving some people something that you don't give the control group. But there is a history of doing research into criminological issues. So it's not like you're starting from square one. So I guess in this mix of some history and some resistance, where would you say we are at the moment?</p> <p>GREINER: I'd say more resistance than history with respect to courts and judges and lawyers. So you're absolutely right that there is a reasonably well developed literature in the criminology field. And a good portion of it, not as much as many criminologists would like, but still a good portion of it backed up by randomized studies to try to figure out whether, say, afterschool programs prevent people from getting arrested, or whether certain types of treatment as a condition for probation are effective in preventing recidivism. But if you notice in the 2 examples that I gave you, one of them is sort of prior to the involvement, the intervention is prior to the involvement of the criminal justice system, and one of them is post sentencing, sort of after the involvement of what we call the lawyer-based or court-based criminal justice system.</p> <p>And so there has been substantially less in that portion of the criminal justice system where the lawyers and the judges get involved to the point where, when a co-author and I try to catalog all of the randomized studies that have been done in United States law, criminal or civil, that involved randomization of a decision that would otherwise have been made by a judge or a lawyer, so it's how we defined randomized studies in law. We're taking a decision that otherwise would've been made by a judge and a lawyer and randomizing it to find out whether the decision is worthwhile or would be an effective style of treatment or something like that. We could only find about 50 in the history of the United States, based upon all areas of law, all sorts of settings.</p> <p>So if you think about medicine starting from 1938 or 1940, the number would probably be uncountable, be tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of randomized studies that have involved replacing a judgment that would've otherwise been made by a medical professional with randomization in order to figure out whether the treatment or the intervention works. Whereas we could find fewer than 1 per year in law. So again, I absolutely agree with you. Criminology has much more of a history. It's a much more developed field. But they're basically working in their rigorous evidence prior to the formal legal system or after it in the lifetime of a particular defendant or person or crime. And where we think the evidence really needs to be focused is, at least in terms of a new effort, we need to focus on where there isn't as much evidence right now, which is inside courts and law offices.</p> <p>FOX: One of the reasons that I wanted to speak to you, Jim, was the Center for Court Innovation, while we're known more for our work on criminal court programs, we also have been developing a civil justice portfolio. And so I'm curious to hear you talk about some of the work you've done on issues, and you're continuing to do, like debt collection and the assignment of council in housing court cases. And I guess the framework I have for my question is, making the case for this kind of research may rest on finding kind of practical implications that flow from the research. So I'm wondering if you can give us some examples of research you're doing and what you see as the things that a practitioner would immediately identify as, well that's really interesting and useful.</p> <p>GREINER: Absolutely. So I guess, two examples. And I don't want to go on for too long, so stop me if this turns into a monologue, but two examples with respect to financial distress work which you mentioned, the debt collection work that you mentioned, one of the premises of that work is that there is just never going to be enough money, there's just never going to be enough of a social commitment to provide a lawyer at state expense for every individual who can't afford to hire a lawyer who has a legal problem. Even if we were to restrict that set to people who are facing court adjudications that affect basic human needs by some definition, which is the ABA's proposed definition. It's called the Civil Gideon Project, this idea that we can provide lawyers at state expense. I just don't think the resources are ever going to be there. Some smart economists have tried to calculate that and it's in billions upon billions of dollars would be needed.</p> <p>With that in mind, it's probably going to take a battery of lots of different things to address the access to justice problems that we're having in United States society, and one of those things, one of those many things that we need, is going to be self-help. How're you going to make complex subjects accessible, complex procedures and complex principles accessible to folks who can't afford to hire lawyers for them so they can try to address legal problems they have on their own?</p> <p>So the financial distress work that I'm doing is an attempt to try to say, well, if what we need are self-help materials, and we need basically to educate people about how to solve their own problems, what sorts of principles can we draw from non-law fields that would help us make self-help materials more effective, or would we hypothesize that would make self-help materials more effective?</p> <p>For instance, if we're trying to get people to a particular location at a particular time of day and on a particular date to do something they would rather not do because they decide it's good for them, how do we persuade people to do that?</p> <p>Well, if you pose the question at that level of generality, you recognize that... Voting. Political scientists study how you get people to vote on a particular day at a particular time. Public health officials study how to get people out to take flu shots, or to get colonoscopies on a particular day. These are all studies that have been run.</p> <p>But in law, our self-help materials don't actually use any of the lessons from any of those other fields about how to get people to a court date. We think that's bad. We think that if good lessons are learned from those fields, we should try them in law and see if they work.</p> <p>Similarly, there's an entire field called adult education, or just education period, about how you communicate complex concepts to people who need to be able to use them. But in law, our self-help materials don't currently use the lessons from adult education. And you can see that because if you read the legal self-help materials, they're word-heavy. There's just lots and lots of text. Whereas adult education folks, or education folks generally are saying, no, no, no. You've got to use images. So, in our case, we're using cartoons.</p> <p>And so, the idea there is to say, let's try to create the best possible self-help materials that, under the state of the art, we currently know how to create using the lessons from all these different fields. But then, let's don't declare victory there. Because maybe there's something about law, or maybe there's something about the way that we did the self-help materials that would make them not effective, or maybe there's something they're not understanding. Or maybe the best possible self-help materials are just not enough in a system that is so complex that self-help is just not an option.</p> <p>So we go test them. We go put them into the field and we do a randomized experiment. In one randomized experiment, we might randomize people to either get self-help materials or an offer of representation from an attorney. Or in another experiment, we randomize whether people get self-help materials versus no further assistance. Our self-help materials versus existing self help materials which, in many cases, just don't exist.</p> <p>So that's one example. I've got another one but, again, I don't want to go on and on.</p> <p>FOX: I'll just cut in for a moment to say the research you're doing on self-help or pro se council is relevant to us because we run a program called Legal Hands, which essentially employs volunteers who are not lawyers. So it's a bit of a blended model. This is people who are physically talking to a community member, so it's not something that you go online to get self-help materials. But they're not lawyers. And it speaks to your general point which is, it may not be possible to have a lawyer for every person on every case of relevance to them.</p> <p>GREINER: Absolutely. I think what your program is doing is mixing a partial service-based solution with a partial self-help so it might be a sort of guided self-help. Absolutely. Again, I think part of the problem, one of the reasons why I find this field so much fun to operate in but also so frustrating is that we just don't have any evidence to suggest, to guide us as to when we need a partial service-based solution, partial self-help, and what settings a total self-help solution is sufficient. Or maybe it's not the legal setting, maybe it's the type of person. Which people can take care of it on their own if guided appropriately either by self-help materials, or which ones are going to need some service along with it. So absolutely.</p> <p>FOX: Let's hear your other example.</p> <p>GREINER: Another example that comes to mind is the problem of triage which is basically, whenever there is more of a particular type of case, or another way to put it, more clients than you have the capacity to provide the highest level of assistance to. So in our particular study that we've been trying to get underway and still in the planning stages for, this setting is victims of domestic violence who come to a legal services provider and seeking assistance with obtaining civil protection orders from courts, and the legal services provider has the capacity to assist in terms of providing full representation to. Around 1/3 of the folks who come to it who are eligible for the help, income and asset eligible, and who are actively seeking civil protection orders.</p> <p>Now that by the way, that number, 1/3, would go down substantially if the legal services provider did more outreach in the community. So we've looked in the court systems where this LSP is operating and in fact a substantial number of people are already in the court system seeking civil protection orders without council. And so you only see the tip of the iceberg, and you can't even handle the tip of the iceberg, in terms of providing full representation, the traditional attorney/client relationship to these folks, much less the whole iceberg. So what do you do?</p> <p>And it turns out that in medicine, again, to use that analogy, there's been lots of study about how to make these triage decisions. It's both an ethical question and an operational question. Ethically, what do you want to do when you're in that sort of scare situation, and that comes up both in medicine in terms of something like when you don't have enough organs for transplant, it comes up when you have Hurricane Katrina knocking out power in a hospital and you don't have enough evacuation capacity to get all of your patients out of your hospital. That was the subject of a recent Radio Lab episode. So there's an ethical dimension to that question.</p> <p>There's also an operational dimension. Suppose what you wanted to do was to say, we should use these resources to save the most lives. Or, in a civil protection order context, we should use these resources to try to get as many people as possible civil protection orders because that's what they're for and that's best for the community. How would you do that? How would you go about doing that? And one way you would go about thinking about it, the way that the military thinks about it when we're talking about battlefield casualties is, you say, well try to distinguish people into 3 groups. One is a group of people who are going to be able to succeed on their own. So in battlefield casualties, these are going to be people who are going to survive the battlefield even if not assisted immediately. You don't provide immediate assistance to them. In the legal services provider, people who are going to be able to get civil protection orders on their own, you don't offer full representation to them.</p> <p>For people who are never going to be able to survive on the battlefield, or never going be able to get civil protection orders on their own, even if given the full representation, you don't give them full representation either, because it's not affecting the outcome.</p> <p>The people you do give battlefield assistance to, or full representation to, are the folks that you can change their outcome. If you give assistance, they'll survive or they'll get the civil protection order. If you don't give assistance, they won't survive or they won't get the civil protection order.</p> <p>So that's one way to think about it. But if you want to do that, you face the problem of, how do you go about distinguishing those people. Because a lot of study and a lot of different settings, again, emergency room setting is one example, turns out that's a very hard thing to do. To figure out who you can actually change the outcomes for. So we're pursuing a randomized experiment that's designed to try to add to our knowledge of how do you distinguish those folks. And most importantly, whether lawyers, given, exercising professional judgment, can in fact predict which people really would benefit from the help.</p> <p>FOX: And I guess what you're talking about raises a big issue for me, which is, let's give a concrete example, in New York city they're talking about investing potentially $200 million more a year in hiring lawyers to represent people facing eviction in housing court. So there is actually more money now in areas of the law there hasn't been a lot of money in the past.</p> <p>However, you're no doubt correct that there isn't enough money to cover every case at every moment. And so I guess having an RCT or a research study is great progress towards this habit of thinking in a kind of, I would use the term problem solving way. But how do we get to more fundamental change? What's the way to inculcate this way of thinking in a legal services organization in a more fundamental fashion?</p> <p>GREINER: It's a really hard question and one that we've been scratching our heads about in the Access to Justice Lab about. Because that's our overall mission. One way of thinking about this is, if the Access to Justice Lab is going to be one of the few institutions around the country that's going to be doing randomized studies in the law and we're going to depend on those few institutions to produce evidence, we should stop. We're never going to be able to produce enough evidence. Even as a lab and even as an institution, 1 or 2 institutions are never going to be able to do it. Just the same way one center, Johns Hopkins can never produce enough randomized experiments in medicine to make progress in medicine possible.</p> <p>So we have to start a movement. We have to get people to think this way and to demand this evidence. In terms of the strategies we're pursuing in the Access to Justice Lab, we're, first of all, going to try to produce studies and try to educate folks about, hey, this evidence from this study can be useful in your practice, it can get you to think about ways other than the way you were thinking before, or ask new questions about what you should be doing to be more effective.</p> <p>We're in the process of producing a short course so that folks who, either want to do these studies as researchers or to form partnerships with researchers to get the study done, so these field operators will know more about what's required and how to do them. We will be doing persuasion in terms of just appearing at conferences and giving speeches and talking to anyone who will listen to us about why this is so critical and, quite frankly, we think that there's an ethical duty to do these studies.</p> <p>Because if you think about it in the civil protection order context, our view is that if we triaged more effectively, more people would have civil protection orders than currently do with no additional injection of resources. When you think about it that way, there may be an ethical duty to do these studies, as opposed to, oh, well they're just curiosities. We think ultimately that we're going to need to persuade funders to demand evidence. Maybe not demand the evidence, show it to me right now or I'll cut your funding, rather say, if you don't have the evidence, I want you to, this is a funder speaking to a legal services provider, I want you to engage in an evidence gathering study. And sure, I'll fund your efforts, your services as long as you are gathering evidence about whether those actually work.</p> <p>FOX: Well, this is fascinating work. And thank you so much for agreeing to speak with us. Again, I'm Aubrey Fox. I'm the guest host of the New Thinking Podcast for the Center for Court Innovation and joined today by Professor James Greiner who's a Professor of Law at Harvard University and the Faculty Director of the Access to Justice Lab. They have a great website that you can go online and take a look at some of the studies that they're participating in. Thank you so much, Jim.</p> <p>GREINER: My pleasure, thanks for the opportunity. </p> <p> </p>
Dec 16, 2016
How Can Lawyers Help Address Poverty and Eviction? A Conversation with Law Professor Raymond Brescia
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, Raymond H. Brescia, associate professor of Law at Albany Law School, speaks with Aubrey Fox and Robert V. Wolf of the Center for Court Innovation about the role lawyers can play in addressing poverty and eviction, why New York City has been dramatically expanding funding to provide lawyers to respondents in Housing Court, debt collection cases as the next great issue for public interest attorneys, and how a good lawyer is like a patronus from a Harry Potter book. </p><br /><p>ROB WOLF: Hi. I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Joining me today is Aubrey Fox, who was my colleague here at the Center for Court Innovation for about 15 years, where he helped set up a number of innovative programs that we run, including Bronx Community Solutions, and he is now helping out in various capacities as a consultant. Today, he and I are going to do a podcast together. Aubrey, let's tell listeners who we're speaking with today.</p> <p>AUBREY FOX: We're interviewing Ray Brescia, who is a Associate Law Professor at the Albany Law School.</p> <p>WOLF: Why are we speaking with him?</p> <p>FOX: Rob, as you know, the Center for Court Innovation is known for our work on criminal court programs and we operate criminal courts and partnership with the New York State Court system all over the city, but people may know a little less is that we also have some new experiments in the civil justice space.</p> <p>WOLF: Specifically, civil refers obviously to noncriminal. That's family, housing, that sort of thing?</p> <p>FOX: Exactly. Two of the programs that we're running now, one is called Poverty Justice Solutions, in which we assign recent law school graduates to nonprofit civil justice firms around the city, and they work mostly on housing court cases. We also have new program called Legal Hands, where we employ volunteers and train and equip them to give advice to people who are facing issues, in hopes that it can help them keep out of court in the first place.</p> <p>WOLF: I know Poverty Justice Solutions is focused particularly on working with people who face evictions.</p> <p>FOX: Yeah, I mean a lot of the nonprofit civil justice law firms in the city focus on eviction and housing court cases, and there's an immediately obvious reason why. A lot of New Yorkers face issues with their housing, and we know now that there are some very direct links between housing and poverty. People who struggle to pay their rent, if they get evicted, there are all sorts of negative consequences that accrue from that. The city is paying a lot more attention to try and intervene, and at the very least provide legal representation to people who are facing eviction in housing court.</p> <p>WOLF: It's both a more humane approach, trying to prevent people from losing their homes, but there's a practical aspect too, that it's going to cost the city, and impact the quality of life for both the tenants and people who live in the city if they don't prevent these evictions.</p> <p>FOX: Yeah, I mean there's one estimate just produced by the city council that you could save about $300 million dollars, the city that is could save about $300 million a year if it kept around 5,000 families out of shelters. It costs about $43,000 per family per year to put someone in a shelter. Obviously, if there is an appropriate way to keep them in the housing that they currently have, and thus keep them from going into a homeless shelter, then it would seem that everyone would be better off.</p> <p>WOLF: I guess the rationale is that without representation, they may be losing their homes, their tenancy unfairly, because they don't have the right advocate. Legally, if someone was articulating their position and their rights, they hopefully would be able to stay in their home.</p> <p>FOX: Yeah, I mean the housing eviction cases are often very complicated, and sometimes the existing rules and laws aren't applied because in this case, the defendant who's facing eviction doesn't know their rights, doesn't have legal representation. It's an issue that the city is really directly focused on, and as you say, not just because losing a house, your home is a huge personal crisis, but because the consequences of losing your home end up being faced by the city quite often.</p> <p>WOLF: Well so let's get Professor Brescia on the phone. Just so people understand, I'm actually in our office in Manhattan, you are in your special studio in New Jersey, also known as your home. Now we're going to be joined by Professor Brescia, who we're calling in his office.</p> <p>FOX: In Albany.</p> <p>WOLF: In Albany, there you go.</p> <p>FOX: Yes, all right.</p> <p>WOLF: Okay, let's get him on the line. Ray Brescia, welcome to the podcast.</p> <p>PROFESSOR RAY BRESCIA: Thank you very much, thanks for having me.</p> <p>FOX: Ray, where we wanted to start was just to get you to tell us a little bit about how you got involved in public interest law.</p> <p>BRESCIA: Well, it goes back to being a young person and being very concerned about politics and the world, and being very excited about things that were happening around me. I was a child of the 70's, and so there was a lot of politics that went on in the 70's. Some of my earliest memories were of the end of the Vietnam War, and then Nixon's resignation. I just have always been interested, I think it comes from a family that's very interested in political issues, and over the years as I was growing up, I realized that a lot of people about whom I was reading in the newspaper were lawyers and involved in the issues that I was interested in. That really sparked my interest in becoming a lawyer.</p> <p>WOLF: You've been deeply involved now in the civil side of the law and civil justice, so you've observed recently how there's been growing interest in civil justice. In fact, the city created recently an office of civil justice, and now there's talk of what's being referred to as "civil Gideon", and Aubrey and I were curious, you know if you could maybe explain what civil Gideon means. Obviously Gideon refers to the 1963 Supreme Court decision that gives people right to counsel in criminal cases. What does that mean on the civil side?</p> <p>BRESCIA: On the civil side, it would mean the same thing in civil cases as you see in many criminal cases, not all criminal cases. Lower level offenses, you don't have a right to counsel, but on the civil side, just like on the criminal side, when people talk about civil Gideon, they mean a right to counsel in cases where fundamental human rights are at stake, shelter, loss of benefits, things like that. If you look at sort of what the consequences are of not having counsel in a criminal case and in a civil case, in many of the more impactful civil cases, the outcome can be the same. Someone could be institutionalized, someone could be incarcerated, someone could be, you know their freedom could be restricted if they become homeless, if they have to move into a shelter.</p> <p>If the consequences are similar in certain civil cases as they are in some criminal cases, then the importance of counsel is similar as well. I think a lot of people don't understand, they think that there's legal aid, and so people have a right to counsel in an eviction case, but they just don't. The number of people in a place like housing court in New York, which evicts 25,000 families a year, low-income tenants who can't afford an attorney, most of them do not have access to counsel, even though we do have phenomenal legal aid programs that can provide services to low-income people and to help them prevent eviction.</p> <p>Short of the funding that recently came down from the city of New York, when I was practicing in housing court in New York City, a very small fraction of low-income tenants had counsel. That meant that they faced eviction without a lawyer, and eviction cases can be very complicated. I think what the de Blasio administration is doing and what city council is proposing is really going to expand access to justice in housing court, and hopefully in other settings as well, at least in New York City, to ensure that in really important cases on the civil side, like in the criminal side, people have access to a free lawyer.</p> <p>WOLF: Let me just throw out some numbers too related to what you said. The office of civil justice said that in 2013, only 1% of tenants in New York City housing court were represented by attorneys, but they project that with their investment of, I think $100 million, the city's investment in fiscal year 2017, 27% will be represented, one in four basically, of tenants will be represented. That would represent a dramatic shift, and would you anticipate that that would then dramatically change outcomes, you know fewer people would in fact be evicted and have to move into shelters and that sort of thing?</p> <p>BRESCIA: Certainly. It's going to do two primary things: One, it's going to ensure that many thousands of tenants have a fighting shot in housing court. Once you do, if you have a fighting chance, most of the time a lawyer can make a huge difference in raising important defenses, negotiating viable solutions that don't require the tenant losing his or her home, dismissing cases because the landlord's case is weak. In the first instance, many tenants who, with representation, are going to avoid eviction, period, full stop.</p> <p>I think a second consequence of the increased number of tenants with counsel is that landlords are going to bring fewer cases. A lot of landlords now don't have to worry about their tenant being represented, and they can bring trumped-up cases, they can bring cases that are weak. They know at the end of the day, many tenants won't even show up to fight the case because they think that there's no hope in fighting the case, because they don't have a lawyer, they don't know their rights. Many move out when they get the eviction papers, or simply sit back not knowing what they're supposed to do, and don't defend themselves. I think landlords count on that for at least a percentage of cases, and if they know that tenants are going to be represented, not only are they only going to bring the strongest cases that they can, but they're not going to bring the cases that they think they can get by on weak claims.</p> <p>FOX: One thing I find really interesting is you have the city investing a lot more in this area, but I guess I'm curious about the context here. What do you think is driving this idea that we should take a second look at the relationship between poverty and housing? Is it driven mostly by practical conditions on the ground, is there an intellectual momentum that has developed that is starting to reframe these issues?</p> <p>BRESCIA: I would like to think that there are two main drivers of seeing this issue as an access to justice issue, that is an issue that centers around the low-income people's lack of access to a lawyer. One is moral, and it's based in our fundamental belief that in our democratic system, people should have a right to defend themselves adequately in a court of law when legal claims are made against them, so that's the moral case to be made for access to justice. I think more practically that there's a fiscal case that can very easily be made for the investment of counsel.</p> <p>Counsel in a housing case is usually provided by a nonprofit for roughly about $3,000 a case. They're reimbursed for the number of cases that they handle for about $3,000 a case. A family that is evicted that goes through the shelter system costs the city about $30,000. If you can, by the provision of a lawyer, you can prevent that family from becoming homeless, you're saving the city and the people of the city of New York and any other jurisdiction that takes this view, you're saving them lots of money. There's an absolute moral case, but also a practical fiscal case.</p> <p>WOLF: It's interesting that you say the lawyer only gets $3,000, which makes me think about the attractiveness of going into civil justice law for law students today. I mean, there is a trimmed down market on the corporate or the money-making side, so to speak, of the legal profession. Is it more attractive? Are you seeing a shift? Are more law students interested in civil justice, especially as there's more interest and more need for lawyers, as there is at least a little more money to pay for them?</p> <p>BRESCIA: I think a lot of people go to law school, a lot of law students go to law school because they want to make a difference, and they want to do work that is meaningful that makes a real difference in people's lives. Too often, law school debt, practical reality, economic realities drive students away from those reasons that they went to law school to begin with. The more that funding is made available as the de Blasio administration is making such funding available for nonprofits to represent low-income tenants in housing court and hopefully in other settings, there'll be more opportunities for students to get back to the reasons they went to law school in the first place.</p> <p>FOX: We've talked mostly about housing court, but there are other types of civil legal cases. I just wonder if you want to bring up another example of the kind of case where a good attorney could really make a difference in the lives of somebody in a particular type of case.</p> <p>BRESCIA: Well, you know there's another area that's gotten a lot of attention lately is consumer debt. Consumers, which are everybody, people, can mount up consumer debt from an old credit card, from an old cell phone bill, maybe they move, they don't get the last bill, and penalties can accrue, and the consumer can face a lawsuit in court for a $200 bill with fines and penalties can quickly become something that escalates and grows into a two, three, $5,000 bill that the filing of a lawsuit against them alone will impact their credit score. They find that their wages are garnished, their bank accounts are frozen, they can't pay their rent, they can't buy things like medications or food.</p> <p>Another area where lawyers can make a real difference, I mean it's hard to say that fewer defendants get represented in consumer debt cases than in housing court cases, because in 1% of housing court cases, the tenant has representation, but it's actually less than 1%, at least in New York City, according to research that the Urban Justice Center did years ago, less than 1% of tenants have representation. That can have a real impact on people's lives, and can spiral into an eviction case if they can't pay their rent, or a hospitalization if they can't get medication to keep them out of the hospital.</p> <p>That's another area, and these are very straightforward cases, they're often very strong defenses, that a pro se person, someone without a lawyer, doesn't really know how to raise such defenses, but with a lawyer, that defendant can easily raise very strong defenses and often get the cases dismissed. Our experience has been, and lawyers who do this work, that the mere presence of a lawyer in a case is enough to get the plaintiff to simply withdraw the case, that they don't want to fight it because they know that there are so many strong defenses that will be raised by a lawyer who is worth his or her salt. It's like in Harry Potter, it's like the character, you know they can call out their character that helps them defeat the evil beings, it's not a Horcrux.</p> <p>WOLF: Their patronus.</p> <p>BRESCIA: Their patronus, exactly, thank you very much. You know it's like a patronus, you can call forth your lawyer and the plaintiff just runs away.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, it sounds like a situation that is also ripe for abuse then, that as you said with housing cases, if people bringing these consumer cases, these debt cases, knew a lawyer would be there, they're less likely to even bring the case because they know that there maybe isn't a lot of substance to it. I wonder, what about the Center for Court Innovation, in collaboration with several partners also has a program called Legal Hand, which basically gives advice to pro se litigants. They can go to a community walk-in storefront situation and get some advice, and I wonder, short of providing an attorney, and perhaps in some cases where an attorney, there isn't enough money to give everyone an attorney yet, but at least giving them some legal advice, how useful is that, do you think? Does that also have a practical impact?</p> <p>BRESCIA: I think it does. You have to do what we call in the legal services world "effective triage". You have to identify cases where they're relatively straightforward, where advice alone is enough to arm the tenant with the information, or whoever the party is, the party seeking the information, that it's a straightforward case where simple information would be enough to prepare him or her to defend him or herself in court or in an administrative proceeding like a welfare hearing or the DMV, wherever it is. It depends on a number of factors, I think the first factor is the complexity of the case.</p> <p>Is it a case where straightforward information that's easy to understand is enough, so the person can defend his or her rights? Then it will depend also on two other things, I think, what's at stake, and then the ability of the individual in the context he or she finds him or herself in, to use the information obtained effectively. Things that are, where there's high risk, you know Warren Buffet doesn't deal with issues, billion dollar deals without a lawyer, someone who's facing an eviction or the loss of a child or the termination of welfare benefits, given what's at stake, it's very difficult to say to that person, although we do it every day, "You don't get a lawyer."</p> <p>With what's at stake, I think that's another factor to think about because of the risk of loss of what's at stake. Then, is this individual someone who can manage the case with a little bit of information, or is it someone because of disability or because of the complexity of the case, can't handle the issue on his or her own? You sort of have to go through a series of questions to triage each case to determine, is this a case where a little bit of information is going to be enough so that person can protect his or her rights, or are there enough of these variables that say, "Wait a minute, this is a person who needs full representation."?</p> <p>WOLF: Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with Aubrey and me today.</p> <p>BRESCIA: Thank you for having me.</p> <p>FOX: Thanks Ray.</p> <p>WOLF: We've been speaking with Ray Brescia, who's an associate professor at Albany Law School, and he's been speaking with us about trends in civil justice and some of the exciting things that have been happening here, particularly in New York City. To find out more about the Center for Court Innovation and some of our civil justice programs, and in fact all our programs, you can visit us at our website at I am Rob Wolf, director of communications, and my cohost today is Aubrey, you want to say who you are again?</p> <p>FOX: I'm Aubrey Fox, and I'm going to try to find a patronus after this interview's over. They sound useful.</p> <p>WOLF: Thanks everyone, and thanks for listening.</p>
Dec 13, 2016
Houston's SAFE Court Offers Victims of Human Trafficking a New Path
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, Ann Johnson, an assistant district attorney and the human trafficking section chief with the Harris County District Attorney's Office, discusses her office's strategies for combating human trafficking, including increased enforcement against traffickers and buyers, and diversion from prosecution for victims. One of the office's diversion programs, SAFE Court, gives those aged 17 to 25 who are charged with prostitution the opportunity to clear the charge from their criminal records by completing a year-long program of monitoring and social services. SAFE Court was created with support from a Smart Prosecution grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. To learn more, visit the Association of Prosecuting Attorney's <a href="" target="_blank">Smart Prosecution website</a>.</p><br /><p>ROB WOLF: Hi. I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Welcome to another New Thinking podcast. Today I am speaking with Ann Johnson, who is an Assistant District Attorney with the Harris County District Attorney's Office in Texas. She is also the Human Trafficking Section Chief of that office. For those who may not realize, Harris County is where Houston is located, very large county. Thank you very much, Miss Johnson, for joining me today.</p> <p>JOHNSON: Thank you. It's an honor to be here. It's an honor to speak with you on behalf of District Attorney Devon Anderson and the other folks that are working tirelessly to combat human trafficking in the Houston area.</p> <p>WOLF: You're here today and tomorrow to observe what goes on here in New York at some courts that are also working to address human trafficking.</p> <p>JOHNSON: Yes, we are very fortunate that our SAFE court team, which is a prostitution diversion court, our defense attorney, our probation officer, our judges and our research partner and myself have been able to come up and visit two of your companion courts to be able to work with our peers and exchange ideas and see about the innovations that are taking place here locally.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, as I said when I introduced you, you are the Section Chief for the Human Trafficking Division in your office. You do have a robust program going on there as well. I wanted to talk to you about that. In particular, I thought we could focus on what you guys are calling the SAFE court, which I understand stands for Survivors Acquiring Freedom and Empowerment court. I was hoping you could tell me a little bit about how that court got started and what its goals are.</p> <p>JOHNSON: The vision for this court actually started about four years ago when then District Attorney Mike Anderson hired me to come in as a human trafficking specialist. I had been with the DA's Office. I had left for health reasons and I was actually doing juvenile defense work and began representing children who were charged with prostitution. Through the course of that time in private practice, not only did we challenge a case of an individual charged with prostitution of which the Texas Supreme Court ruled in the case of IN RE: B.W., that children are the victims of child prostitution not the offenders.</p> <p>Myself and District Attorney Devon Anderson were actually the two founding defense members of a court called GIRLS court, which is for Growing Independence and Restoring Lives, which assist children at risk of human trafficking, who are in our Juvenile Justice System between the ages of 10 and 17. With this background, I came back to the DA's Office in February of 2013 and the commitment at that time was just recognizing that Houston was well known as a hub of human trafficking and District Attorney Anderson had this vision to see how we could best combat the issue and reenergize our focus within the DA's Office.</p> <p>At the time, we began looking at cases of individuals charged with prostitution because we knew from the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force report that the State Department was estimating that we identify about 0.04% of victims in existence. We knew that we had hundreds of people being charged with the offense of prostitution. The commitment was to start with the new vision from the legislature, which was that now in Texas, if you are a victim of human trafficking, it's a defense to prosecution for prostitution.</p> <p>Our office has taken this commitment that that's a defense that we value and want to assist the defense bar in identifying. We began this new procedure of reaching out to the defense bar, talking with individuals who were charged with prostitution and helping them identify and disclose a human trafficking defense. We're very proud of those efforts, but what we saw is we began to see a population of young offenders who did not technically have that defense. Yet they got into the gang when they were 13 or 14. They don't have high school diplomas. At this point, they're of an age where they're willing, but not reaching the level of force, threat, prod or coercion. We saw a very vulnerable population that legally we were able to prosecute, but inherently we wanted to do something more.</p> <p>District Attorney Devon Anderson sought the smart prosecution grant, with the vision of being, of us targeting this population between 17 and 25, charged with prostitution with the companion being that we would be evaluated by Sam Houston State University and have a research component to see if we could come up with a way to divert these folks out of the life.</p> <p>WOLF: Just to clarify, this smart prosecution grant comes through the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance.</p> <p>JOHNSON: Correct. We were one of the original recipients of that grant. We were very honored to be part of that initial “Smart Suite” prosecution and glad that we could create and comply with the Department of Justice in trying to combat the issue of the vulnerability of human trafficking for people that are caught in the Criminal Justice System.</p> <p>WOLF: Also, to clarify, you had said the statute had changed, so the other cohort of people you were talking about, if they do have a defense of human trafficking, their cases ... What happens then? They are dismissed?</p> <p>JOHNSON: They are dismissed. The legislature in Texas and people always say, because the case of B.W. was a case of first impression and they say, "Really? All these reforms are coming out of Texas." I say, "Absolutely." These reforms have come from the Texas Supreme Court, the legislature has given us incredible tools and District Attorney Devon Anderson has been very committed to this process of leading this charge to not only identify victims, but to better prosecute pimps and exploiters, such as johns and the demand side. That's what we've been doing in the office for the last almost four years to combat this issue of human trafficking.</p> <p>If they are technically a victim of human trafficking, we dismiss their case. They're no longer in the Criminal Justice System and we are dependent on those private public partnerships that can provide services. Where they legally can be prosecuted, we are still offering them the diversion of working through the court process or working through a pre-trial diversion contract with our office, so that ultimately their case is being dismissed.</p> <p>WOLF: Is that what the SAFE court is?</p> <p>JOHNSON: That's what SAFE court is and that's what we do with other populations. Our District Attorney Devon Anderson has expanded these efforts beyond this age requirement of 17 to 25. She says in her leadership is that arrest as recovery, not as conviction. She has a vision to make sure that we are assisting this population that maybe charged as defendants, who have an underlying vulnerability, who need our help to get out of the game. That's important because it not only helps the individual and stops that revolving door in criminal justice that is not only costly to the person, but it's costly to the community. By doing this, we are not only helping people, but we are helping community safety in general.</p> <p>WOLF: How do you help them? What services are you offering them?</p> <p>JOHNSON: When those are in our system, are with our contract or in SAFE court, the assistance is provided for mental health services or drug treatment services. We work with the Harris County Probation Department. They work with our private partnerships, which we are very fortunate to have a number of key partners, such as the Houston Area Women's Center and the Bridge and other organizations that many other communities might find already assisting domestic violence population.</p> <p>Basically where you see other service providers who are helping those who are vulnerable in the community, that's a key partnership that your court can set up and establish with.</p> <p>WOLF: Do you mandate that participation? Is that how the court works?</p> <p>JOHNSON: Yes. By being in the court and I'll tell you when we started a lot of people looked at us and said, "You guys are nuts. Why in the world would somebody sign up for a program where they're going to have to do basically a year-long probation, when they could take time served and just take their conviction and go about their business?"</p> <p>WOLF: It's voluntary. You offer them, you say, "You could get a conviction or you could do, follow this mandate and it'll consist of this in your case. If you do it, the charges will be dropped, but it's more work."</p> <p>JOHNSON: Correct. We work with the defense bar and that's an important key component is the buy in from both the prosecutor and the defense attorney and we give them the option. "Sure, you have the path within the Criminal Justice System to have a conviction and go on about your business, but you have this new path, which it's going to be a harder walk, but the vision is once you make that walk within the year, your case is dismissed. You can seek an expunction and not only is it like this never happened, but you have the tools that are provided to help you with those basic necessities of shelter, of education, of drug treatment."</p> <p>People didn't think we'd have people sign up, but in the first year, we had many more than we thought we'd have. In fact, we've had 43 so far in the court, when we promised that we would have 20 in the first year. We had such an outpouring of requests from defendants who wanted to become clients of SAFE court that our district attorney expanded the program to allow for this alternative pre-trial diversion.</p> <p>Harris County is in a position that if somebody wants help from our office, District Attorney Devon Anderson has said, "We're going to find a way to give it to you." That it is a new vision that we are finding is allowing people the ability to get on with their lives.</p> <p>We recently had a graduation. We have graduations where we reward people and say, "We're glad that you've made it out of this program." Our defense attorney, who works on the court was at a local restaurant getting lunch and all of a sudden heard her name. She turned back and sure enough it was one of the clients and one of the graduates. Of course, this individual is thriving and doing well and her children are doing well. She's been able to put building blocks in place to be incredibly successful. Those are the kinds of stories that keep us going and those are the kinds of stories that we hope we can expand to a new population, who in the old days were being convicted for an offense of which now we recognize there's a vulnerability that we need to help assist with.</p> <p>WOLF: It sounds like you're basically not only part of this movement that's redefining what a charge of prostitution means from someone who is a defendant to someone who is more like a victim. You're also redefining the role of a prosecutor because you're trying to help people not get, people who in theory have met the definition of a crime and you could technically and you do charge them in some cases, but you're trying to help them not have a permanent conviction of their record. That's a very different attitude, some might say, for a prosecutor to take.</p> <p>JOHNSON: It is a different attitude and we are proud of the fact that it is working. When we came back, and I was in a specialist position back in 2013, you had more than 2,000 individuals that were prosecuted or charged with the offense of prostitution. At the time, you had some 56, I'd call them pimps or people that are charged with promoting or compelling individuals into prostitution. The district attorney's vision has been that we do this three prong approach of identifying victims, getting them out of the system and prosecuting pimps, exploiters, who are receiving money and those who are the demand or the buyers.</p> <p>We've had another very important shift, which is the legislature gave us a tool last session and redefined the offense of prostitution. People would ask us, "How many seller and how many buyers are you prosecuting?" Under the law, they were defined in the same way, so we didn't have the ability to track that.</p> <p>WOLF: Everyone was charged with prostitution?</p> <p>JOHNSON: Everyone was charged with prostitution.</p> <p>WOLF: Whether you were selling or buying?</p> <p>JOHNSON: Correct. We didn't have the distinction in Texas yet, so last session we've had great leadership from Houston with Representative Thompson and Senator Whitmire and Senator Huffman, who have led the charge on human trafficking efforts and have given us this tool to say, "Okay, let's redefine these individuals." What we saw last year, once the law changed, we had 90 people who were charged as buyers.</p> <p>So far this year, law enforcement has really kicked in their efforts to try to go after that demand and we've been very fortunate to have great connections with the Houston Police Department and the Harris County Sheriff's Department, who have upped the investigation side on demand. This year, as of August 30th, we had 644 cases against johns or the demand. That's a critical shift and critical component, which helps us further balance out the interest between those that are being sold, those that are buying and those individuals who are engaged in the offense of pimping.</p> <p>We also have a wide variety of tools where we can charge individuals and we most often charge, which people don't realize, Texas has gotten this right since the 70's and Texas had a statute of compelling prostitution of a minor on the books since 1973. It's a law that has been there to be utilized and we most often charge under that offense or that crime because it's got good case law and it's a good provision that protects individuals from being compelled into prostitution, whether you're a minor or an adult.</p> <p>We also have other ranges of aggravated promotion or promotion of prostitution. So far this year, as of August 30th, we had 101 individuals that we had charged with promotion or pimping. We've seen a steady decline over the or a steady decline over the last four years of sellers and an increase every year of cases against pimps, promoters for various levels of offenses and now buyers, which we can track. It has also meant that we have increased the commitment of prosecution and so our office is not just a specialist, but now I'm the Human Trafficking Section Chief. We have wonderful district attorneys that work with us from our felony grade prosecutors of Ana Martinez and Chelsea Honeycutt to our misdemeanor prosecutors that we have working on the demand side and with our overflow populations. We now have five prosecutors, an investigator and a paralegal and many of us are on call 24/7 for law enforcement.</p> <p>WOLF: You mentioned an important component of the smart prosecution grant is that there's a research component. That's the smart in the, you know, that's what makes it smart, I guess, is trying to find out what works and what doesn't. I wonder if there's anything that you can share with me about the research partner, Dr. Lisa Muftic and what she has found so far. I know her reports haven't been finalized yet, but I just wonder if there's anything you can share as far as what you've learned about how the program's going.</p> <p>JOHNSON: The District Attorney's Office has attempted many reforms and there's a key component of recognizing that data is critical. We, as individuals, have all of these stories of people that we work with, like the circumstance of the individual in the restaurant, who's doing very well. We hear those things, but then we have to look and say, "Okay, but what are our numbers? What's the big picture?" We are very fortunate that Dr. Muftic is evaluating our data, looking at the information and also evaluating us and saying are we doing well and where do we need to evolve. The entire team has been open to doing that.</p> <p>So far we have had people stay on track for our four phase graduation. Of course, we've had people that have not made it that we've had to evolve and work with and try to figure out how to best assist them. Since we've had this overflow population because we've had so much interest, we've been able to provide an alternate pre-trial diversion where they're not getting the same level of assistance. For example, they're not getting the monthly interaction with the judge. They're not getting that monthly interaction with our probation officer and our defense attorney, who are dedicated to SAFE court.</p> <p>So far, what Dr. Muftic has found is that the population that's in SAFE court is recidivating at about a third. That overflow population who's not getting the intensive services, but at the same high risk level is recidivating at about half. She tells me that that's a statistically important distinction. We do know which recidivism rates are something important that people want to see, are you successful. That's a good indication of where we're going, but more importantly the individual contacts that we're having with the individuals is we see people that are coming back to the court. We also have people who are in the court, who develop a trust level with the team and then disclose levels of human trafficking.</p> <p>When that happens, at that point, we dismiss and divert them out, but we're very proud of what we've been able to provide with regard to the trust and relationships between our team and the clients and being able to give them a path in the future to say, "Hey, I need help." We measure success on many levels.</p> <p>WOLF: It sounds like the fact that it's been such a, I guess, a popular option that people have been choosing when given that opportunity has allowed you to enhance the quality of your research because the original, as you explained before, you can accommodate 27 people actually in the SAFE court, so that overflow is getting not quite as intensive services and you can see that there is in fact a different long term result in terms of recidivism. The recidivism is higher for people who aren't getting the same intensity as the SAFE court participants.</p> <p>JOHNSON: Not just that, but the change in approach. For example, in the first year, when we started the grant, we worked with the defense bar and let them know we, as the DA's Office, wanted to reach out to their defendant and see if they were an option. In the first year alone, we had 887 people who were potentially eligible for the court and so by working with the defense bar and saying, "Hey, may I assist you with your client? May I help you talk to them?" It opened the door to the client reaching out to us who normally we know that this population's vulnerable, that they haven't had the best interaction with authorities, that they may have had prior experiences through Children's Protective Services or bad experiences where they've been taken out of their home or put in foster care or their parents have been incarcerated. That's usually kind of a turn off to the system.</p> <p>By being able to have that connection with the defense attorney to open the door to the conversation, each year we've increased the identification of human trafficking victims. Last year, not last year, but this year to that date of August 30th, even though we had some 1,000 individuals charged with selling, we were able to reach out to them and so far had identified 264 victims. That's a significant increase over what the State Department suggests we're doing in the normal process, so we know that this modification in prosecutor procedure is allowing victims to not be prosecuted. We are equally as proud of that and the fact that we are able to dismiss a case and not convict an individual. Justice takes many forms and so we're proud that we've been able to identify that and lead that charge within Harris County.</p> <p>WOLF: Do they just say, "I'm a human trafficking victim" or what's the threshold?</p> <p>JOHNSON: Yeah. This is, I think, an interesting dilemma for many counties. One, because of what we've been able to do in Harris County, we are often asked to speak with other individuals and so I'll go to these meetings where it'll be state wide and people will say, "Oh, yeah. You guys in Houston, you have this issue, but we don't have this issue." I'll always say, "Well, do you have prostitution?" They'll say, "Yeah, well we have prostitution."</p> <p>My response is, "If you have prostitution, you have human trafficking. It's just a function of the type of commercial enterprise, that you've got to have some level of exploitation for individuals." I'll have people that'll say, "My client's not a victim of human trafficking." I'll say, "Well, how do you know?" They'll say, "I asked, 'Are you a victim of human trafficking?' And they'll say, 'No.'" There are many reasons they may say, "No." They may say, "No" because they know that they can't disclose that information because their pimp has told them that they can't, but they may also say "No" because they see the same public awareness that we do, which is usually the idea of a human trafficking victim is an international child who's being held in bondage and they think, "well, that's not me. I'm 22 and I have a college degree. Surely, I'm not a human trafficking victim."</p> <p>When we conduct our interviews, we are asking questions, not that straight forward of "Are you a human trafficking victim?" but we ask other questions that we know when they answer them and they disclose levels of force, threat, prod and coercion, that they don't realize that's what's happening. We then identify them as human trafficking victims. We also have the circumstance where the word can get out on the street and say, "Hey, just tell me you're a human trafficking victim and your case will get dismissed." We know that that happens as well. When we conduct our interviews, we're not just getting the information, but we were work to corroborate the information. We find independent sources that corroborate what the individual's telling us, as opposed to just having someone telling a version of events. We work very hard to identify, not only based on what the individual's telling us, but other secondary information that corroborates the validity behind that.</p> <p>WOLF: Sounds like you're doing amazing work and cutting edge work. I've been speaking with Ann Johnson, who is an Assistant District Attorney in the Harris County District Attorney's Office. She is also the Section Chief of Human Trafficking there and that's where they have developed this amazing model called the SAFE court, Survivors Acquiring Freedom and Empowerment. If you want to find out more about the SAFE court, you can visit the Association for Prosecuting Attorneys website, which is working with them on the Smart prosecution grant as well as the Center for Court Innovation's website I'm sure they can also visit your website, which is ...</p> <p>JOHNSON: Actually we are still working on our websites, but for those counties that are wanting to do this or looking for it, the key partnership is the judge and we are very fortunate to have Judge Pam Derbyshire and Justice Bill Boyce, who have taken this on. Judges are the key and as Doctor Muftic would say in the surveys that we do with our clients, "Everybody loves the judge." That's an important component. Judges have the ability to make this happen. The DA's Office is a critical component as well, but there are many judges out there that could start this initiative and they're kind of the tip of the spear to be able to combat the issue and treat individuals in this way.</p> <p>WOLF: There are some inspiring words there, judges. Thank you again for taking the time to talk with me.</p> <p>JOHNSON: Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF: I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Thank you for listening.</p> <p> </p>
Nov 09, 2016
Taking a Collaborative Approach to Addressing Racial and Ethnic Disparities in the Justice System
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Tshaka Barrows</a>, deputy director of the Burns Institute, discusses his organization's collaborative and community-centered approach to addressing and eliminating racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. Barrows spoke with Robert V. Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation, after participating in a panel on Race and Procedural Justice at<a href="" target="_blank"> Justice Innovations in Times of Change</a> on Sept. 30, 2016.</p><br /><p>TSHAKA BARROWS: We call it a system, but it really isn't a system. It's much more of a grouping of semi-autonomous agencies that have very little accountability to each other.</p> <p>ROB WOLF: Hi I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation and today I'm in North Haven, Connecticut at the Justice Innovation in Times of Change conference. Sitting down with me is TShaka Barrows who is Deputy Director of the W. Haywood Burns Institute, which works to address racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. The institute is based in Oakland, California. You've come a long way to attend the conference and participate and to sit and talk with me, thank you very much.</p> <p>BARROWS: I'm glad to be here.</p> <p>WOLF: Let's talk about the work of the Burns Institute and in particular, how you work with jurisdictions to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. You have a specific approach you take to looking at this issue and trying to address it. Maybe you could summarize for me what that approach is.</p> <p>BARROWS: At the Burns Institute, our approach is to build a collaborative of the different agencies that make up the justice system and I always tell people, I just told the group, we call it a system, but it really isn't a system. It's much more of a grouping of semi-autonomous agencies that have very little accountability to each other. The whole notion of trying to address disparities has to be done with that context in mind because much of one agencies decision bump into the next, bump into the next and the impact is felt by the individuals who are going through it and we see it in the disparity numbers. To really create a strategy to address it you have to have all those key players from each of those agencies as a part of your collaboration. We also fundamentally don't think that just having those kind of traditional stakeholders is enough. Our process requires that we engage meaningful participation from community stakeholders who've had experience with the justice system, who live in the neighborhoods that our data shows are the target neighborhoods, where more people are coming from, so that they can both bring that experience from having traveled through the system, though the various agencies, being passed from one to the other, but also what it's like living in the community that is targeted for higher involvement for various reasons, policies, policing policies, could be that there's a lack of resources, any number of conditional factors.</p> <p>This whole notion of creating more fair notion of procedural justice can't be done without accounting for that fact that certain neighborhoods are much more highly representative in the system, our process we really aim for participation with community stakeholders, which is very different. People are a little bit afraid of that. The idea that you're sitting in a meeting sharing data with people who are upset with the agency, who did not feel that they were treated fairly, who are angry about the realities that folks in their community face, is a threatening notion for most traditional stakeholders who already a conversation of race in this country, typically is a bit unnerving for people, it's not like that's a regular practice that we have.</p> <p>WOLF: And you literally bring everyone together in the same room? That's the process, it's like, "Let's all sit down together." What does that look like, how many people are actually sitting around a table or in a auditorium?</p> <p>BARROWS: That's a great question. We build a collaborative and it's a process to even build it. We don't try to just come in with a cookie cutter kind of prescription. We want to understand from the local players. Justice happens locally, there's culture. Who do they think are the key people they need to be there and how many? So sometimes we may get huge representation from one agency, where it's like, "You guys are kind of dominating the meeting." and we may need to adjust that so there's a need to attend to the actual formation. Typically it's, I'd say, between 10 to 20 stakeholders depending on the size of the jurisdiction. We work in very small rural places, they may not have a huge collaboration. I've worked in jurisdictions that have had up to 30 people who meet every month, but that becomes to be a challenge in and of itself because if everybody just introduced themselves that would take time. For us to have meaningful dialogue about certain issues in a meeting of that size, it can be a challenge and so we really want to look for a sweet spot that allows for equal representation across the agencies and doesn't leave behind any one particular group.</p> <p>WOLF: What happens then there, what's the process? You said every month, so it's an ongoing ... Are you trying to build a permanent infrastructure for dialogue or is it a time limited, let's meet for an x number of times to work on this?</p> <p>BARROWS: That's another great question. Our process would be monthly, we hope as we're setting the jurisdiction up to maintain the process without us. We do a whole orientation to really try to help everybody to fully participate. We don't people just sitting there and they're like, "I don't know what this is, I don't know what's going on,” acronyms are flying over their head. We spend time doing coach ups for the community stakeholders and we also orient the system folks to what the meeting would be like when they have community members there who might be more frustrated or going to ask lots of questions. Rarely, our systems stakeholder, is very good at telling the story of their institution and how they've got to this point. We have also started working with them, they're telling a story, you've got to own this. You didn't do all this, you don't have to apologize for the history but you need to own the fact that there were some practices that were not the best that we were doing and we've been working on trying to address, because that engenders a level of respect for the process and opens up the community to thinking that, "Okay, you really are serious about doing something different."</p> <p>WOLF: And when everyone sits down, have they already accepted the premise that there are racial and ethnic disparities -</p> <p>BARROWS: Yeah.</p> <p>WOLF: Or do you also need to establish that as the facts on the ground?</p> <p>BARROWS: We will likely re-visit, lot of times people will say, "Oh yeah, no we've all ... We understand we have a problem." And then it's like, "Let's talk about it." And then we start asking. "What do you think is contributing to the problem?" It's one thing to say, "Yeah our jail or our juvenile hall is full of people of color." It's another thing to say, "And we think we have a responsibility for that, we think we're contributing to that." When we ask the question, "What do you think drives this?" Everything but them usually is the response that we get which let's us know you probably don't realize what this is going to feel like and you're going to feel like, "Well why are you guys asking us about what our decisions are?" It's because you have control over that, you don't have control over external factors like Hollywood violence and movies, culture of violence in music, or just the fact that there is this history of segregation in the country. You can't just undo that in your collaborative, you don't quite have the power to say, "You know what, let's just change the zoning and all the ways that the neighborhoods are set up and let's go ahead and make it so that job discrimination doesn't happen anymore."</p> <p>It's like those things aren't really in the purview of that particular collaborative but their decision making practices are. You can control who you violate for probation, do you send out bench warrants before actually reaching out to people in their native language? Do you know if your court letters are landing on folks who couldn't understand it in the first place and so now you're putting a warrant out for someone who never fully engaged in the information in the beginning. So we then analyze each decision point by race, ethnicity, gender, geography, and offense. It's a way to understand that each decision point, what are we doing, what is the impact of our decisions, where are people going, what's happening?</p> <p>WOLF: How do you know what the impact on all those factors you just said at each decision point, meaning at arrest, or a decision to charge, or a decision to carry a case forward, or a decision to sentencing or to plea. All those things are decision points right? Do you just ask people, "What do you do?" Or you're looking at actual hard data and numbers?</p> <p>BARROWS: We first go to hard data and numbers if they have it, often times they don't. That is a huge problem. We're also not researchers, this isn't a research project. We're not trying to prove that our data that we've got is super accurate. Basically we use what you have to try to figure out a way forward. Understanding your data might not be perfect. One issue we see all the time is the issue of ethnicity around Latinos. Very few jurisdictions have a really great practice for capturing Latinos within their justice system. Typically they get captured as White, so it skews the White population up and it skews their Latino population down and it throws all the comparisons that we want to make off. There's a set of conditions that contribute to it because it's an ethnic group, people speak Spanish, maybe they don't. There's a lot of factors, they can be very light skin Latinos. One of the things we ask is, "Who decides? Is it your staff? Do you ask the person directly? What's the process for the collection of the data?"</p> <p>Typically once we start to analyze it and show it back to them in meetings, we'll start to get some pushback, "Where did you get these numbers, what is this? This is wrong." It's like, "These are your numbers, we got them from you. They may not be as accurate as they could be but this is what we have right now so let's get started." We don't want to be in the process of never ending cleaning of data, reviewing the data, and then getting into this adaeration of the questions and throwing this, "What else do we need to think about, what else?", versus "I think we know enough." There's a tribe on our ... We have a reservation in our county and 30% of the young people in our justice system or 30% of the adults are coming from that reservation, I think we can start there. Maybe we want a tribal affiliation and we need to go a bit deeper and those things are helpful but that's where we like to begin. Once we orient folks to the process, we'll do a history, talk about how this country started, how the justice systems are started, give everybody equal understanding of the playing field, and then what we like to do is start actually looking at data, looking at what they have.</p> <p>Like I said, we're not a bunch of researchers. We take people's dirty data and use it, we're not just going to say, " We can't go forward until this is pristine." It's like, "Well no, this is what you have right now." There's tiers, so the first tier is if you think it's not clean enough, what do you need to do to adjust it and we can try to help with some of that but really that needs to be owned by the jurisdiction. How do you analyze it? Is this a new practice? If it's new, they might become defensive when all of a sudden you're sitting in a meeting with your peers, other agency heads, looking at data that really shines a light on your staff's practice in terms of making decisions and feel like, "Well wait a minute, why is everyone looking at us?" There's a first group to get baited scrutiny, usually it's a little bit raw, because this is a whole new practice. They may not even look at this data regularly internally and so there's not a defense in place to explain away what's happening, there's this kind of nervousness. That's a process in and of itself.</p> <p>All of this takes time, none of this is fast. Our main goal is to get to the point where we can have the group establish a target population for racial and ethnic disparities that they want to move safely out of their system. We keep looking at the decision points, not going to pick the most politically challenging, we're not going to look at armed robbery, if you will. A lot of times people are not ready to say, "Yeah, let's move those folks out of the system safely." We're looking at bench warrants, violations of probations, offenses that aren't about overall safety at all but much more about administration of services, but totally contribute to disparities in real ways, so you can imagine.</p> <p>WOLF: So then you get consensus and you say, "We're going to target -"</p> <p>BARROWS: We're going to work on these target populations.</p> <p>WOLF: People who've violated probation or young people or something that -"</p> <p>BARROWS: We try to show it as a number per month. What I don't want to do is say, "Yeah, each year you have 500 violations of probation and 50% of those are Black male and from these two neighborhoods." Over the course of the whole year, how do you understand what your work is? What I like to say is, "Okay, and of that per year how many is that per month? What are we actually talking about on a monthly basis? Can we dig deeper to understand how these live?"</p> <p>Now we're looking at each month and maybe 25, 30 people were violated. Let's understand the nature of that, what are the probation officer's perspectives on this, what programs were they in? You want to then, we call it peeling back the onion, you get down to this target. Now you want a focus group, you want to bring line staff, you want to talk to people directly who have been in that experience and you're looking for not just a policy change but you're trying to understand what kind of innovation or intervention can we come up with to move this.</p> <p>WOLF: It sounds though like it's on a very ... I don't want to say small scale, but you have to target this group and that group in terms of making a difference. It's not like, "Here's a solution." And it ripples throughout the whole system and disparities.</p> <p>BARROWS: No, you have to monitor and track it. It's everything you said and you have to monitor and track - Literally we've come in and people said, "Yeah we have disparities. 81% of our inmates are African American." And it's like, "Okay, well what else do you know about it?" "Nothing."</p> <p>What could you do? You're just going to say, "Oh, let's just release 81% of the inmates and reduce the disparity." Nobody's going to do that. They get their hands tied. We have all this big picture data, annual shots, none of it helps people to know what to do to move forward. We've developed a strategy and approach that really breaks it down into workable pieces and we even have a slide that we go through that really shows people if it's a state law and that's the reason why this person is locked up, you can't change that. But if it's a policy that you just detain people for this because you feel strongly, well you can stop that tomorrow. That's just an internal office policy, that's not a state law. Understanding how these things play out is really crucial but it takes time, it takes that investigative work. You have to include the people who do the work on the day to day, the line staff not just the supervisors and managers, these are people that are trying to make it work.</p> <p>WOLF: I want to ask one more question but I think it's probably a complicated one that has a long answer. How do deal with the issue of implicit bias? Everything that you've described to me is something you could see on paper and go, "Oh, look at this number, look at this policy, you put these together and that equals a disproportionate or disparity." What about these things that are more intangible yet that we know impact at these decision points. Why someone, they decide to charge someone with ... Give someone a higher charge and someone not a higher charge. If there is bias involved and it's happening in the back of their heads and they don't even know it, how do you address that?</p> <p>BARROWS: Well because we can do case level analysis we can could show two similar situations and say, "Let's talk about ... How did you make this decision here? Why did you make this decision?" And not try to label someone and say, "We've caught you." We'd rather show them what they're doing and see if they themselves can see these patterns. We also bring in community people in the meeting you are going to naturally see those patterns because that's their experience. They'll ask the question very directly to say, "I don't think that that makes sense." You need that person who's not going to play so much by the rules to say, "Why do we do that? That doesn't seem to make sense." or "Why is that in this neighborhood?"</p> <p>I'll give you an example. In one city we worked in, in a particular area of town, any Latino kid with a marker was considered in a gang and was writing gang messages on the walls and creating potential shootings. It was a narrative that turned into an automatic hold for any Latino kid with a Sharpie. Somewhere there's bias loaded into that but if you just came in the door and said, "You guys are racists and you're picking on Latino males," you're going to run into a lot of opposition. It's another thing to start peeling it back to say, okay, well this is some of what we're hearing from your own staff, public defenders, certain judges see these kids with markers and they think gang membership. Everybody kind of follows suit but when we've actually looked at it, that's not the case. And try to come at it in a way where people are going to be able to listen and hear.</p> <p>WOLF: Absolutely fascinating, sounds like you're doing amazing work.</p> <p>BARROWS: Trying to, trying to.</p> <p>WOLF: They're very difficult and complicated issues.</p> <p>BARROWS: Yeah.</p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking with Tshaka Barrows who's the Deputy Director at the Burns Institute in Oakland, California which is working to address and diminish and eradicate racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me.</p> <p>BARROWS: Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF: I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation here at the Quinnipiac University School of Law for our Justice Conference and thank you very much for listening.</p>
Oct 25, 2016
The Potential for Bias in Risk-Assessment Tools: A Conversation
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, Reuben J. Miller, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, and his research collaborator Hazelette Crosby-Robinson discuss some of the criticisms that have been leveled against risk assessment tools. Those criticisms include placing too much emphasis on geography and criminal history, which can distort the actual risk for clients from neighborhoods that experience an above-average presence of policing and social services. "Geography is often a proxy for race," Miller says. Miller and Crosby-Robinson spoke with the Center for Court Innovation's Director of Communications Robert V. Wolf after they participated in a panel on the "The Risk-Needs-Responsivity Framework"  at <a href="" target="_blank">Justice Innovation in Times of Change</a>, a regional summit on Sept. 30, 2016 in North Haven, Conn.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-left"><img src="" alt="Reuben J. Miller, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, and his research collaborator Hazelette Crosby-Robinson participate in a panel at "Justice Innovation in Times of Change," a regional summit." title="Reuben J. Miller, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, and his research collaborator Hazelette Crosby-Robinson participate in a panel at "Justice Innovation in Times of Change," a regional summit." class="image image-img_assist_custom-521x291 " width="520" height="291" /><span class="caption" style="width: 518px;">Reuben J. Miller, assistant professor of social work at the University of Michigan, and his research collaborator Hazelette Crosby-Robinson participate in a panel at "Justice Innovation in Times of Change," a regional summit.</span></span></p> <p><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">WOLF: Hi, I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation and today with me at the Justice Innovation in Times of Change Conference here at the Quinnipiac School of Law in North Haven, Connecticut are two of the panelists who participated in a discussion about risk needs assessment tools. They are Professor Reuben Miller, who is an assistant professor of social work at the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan and his research assistant at the School of Social Work, Hazelette Crosby-Robinson.  Thank you so much for taking the time after your panel to sit down and talk with me.</span></p> <p>MILLER: Thank you for having us.</p> <p>WOLF: So, I wanted to just start off talking about the risk assessment tools and some of the criticisms that have been leveled against them because, as we heard on the panel from Sarah Fritsche, a colleague of mine at the Center for Court Innovation, their use has exploded and they've been embraced as a decision-making tool in the criminal justice setting.</p> <p>MILLER: Sure.</p> <p>WOLF: But you raised some potential concerns about them and some of their limitations and I wondered if you could share what some of those limitations are as you see them.</p> <p>MILLER: Sure, I'm happy to. So, Hazelette is my research associate and collaborator. She's super modest.</p> <p>So, I'd like to first preface this by saying, some scholars have suggested that we've really entered an actuarial age. So it's not just risk assessment in criminal justice, but a whole cost benefits calculus, a whole risk calculus that's based on actuarial models that try to predict future harm. So they try to predict, much like an insurance company would try to predict the future risk of a car accident. In a criminal justice setting, these risk needs assessments are trying to, one, gauge the needs of incarcerated individuals or people who have been convicted of a crime to try to figure out where they could shore up deficits in their skill sets or in their general stability. So for example, they might examine things like housing stability, or whether or not one was employed, or what kinds of service needs they may have. So for example, if one has a history of substance use and abuse, that would indicate that they need treatment or some sort of intervention based around these things.</p> <p>And at the same time, they're trying to gauge the risk of re-offense, so the risk that they will commit a crime. So there are a number of criticisms. The literature that engages this is fairly long. I tend to think about some of the movers and shakers in this field, Kelly Hannah-Moffat, Bernard Harcourt, Sonia Star, Faye Taxman. Faye Taxman's work is actually helping us to think about important ways that we can implement risk assessment that reduce some of the biases that are sort of baked into it, but just to talk about some of the critiques that have come from this literature and of course my own, on the one hand there are static factors like where one lives, so geography, their prior criminal history. These are things that they can't avoid. And the privileging of recidivism as an indicator of success. These are all problematic for the following reasons.</p> <p>So geography is often a proxy for race. We know that we live in a country that has a pattern of residential racial segregation. And we know that policing and criminal justice resources of all kinds are overwhelmingly distributed in areas where poor people of color tend to live. The problem is, people are now being arrested from, returned to, and even given programs designed to rehabilitate them all within low income communities. Very bounded geographic districts. And so what you get is, you get the overwhelming concentration of criminal justice resources, and you get a signaling of what that all means. So if the substance abuse treatment house is located in a neighborhood, then that tells me that there's substance abusers there. Right? And so that signals narcotics forces to the community. It says something about the community. Halfway houses are also overwhelmingly there. And so one must think about what the concentration of these things do. So now okay, as it relates to risk. Being in a neighborhood like this triggers a higher risk score. It is indeed one of the measures of risk, and so in that way it's a proxy for race. Sorry, I know I'm talking quite a bit, but -</p> <p>WOLF: No, and just to kind of summarize though, or to recap what you've said so far, the way risk assessment tools work, they place a high value on the location someone's from. They place a high value on their history with arrest.</p> <p>MILLER: That's absolutely right.</p> <p>WOLF: And so, if there's a preponderance of enforcement there, some people are more likely to have an arrest record or -</p> <p>MILLER: The study from Stop and Frisk made this abundantly clear. That even when people aren't doing anything wrong they're being overwhelmingly stopped if they're black or Latino. And so we know that criminal justice contact increases the likelihood that one will be arrested. And so anyway, this is a big problem of using prior arrest records for example and even prior conviction records, so now you've got a bunch of arrests. By the time you get to the prosecuting attorney, they’re going to say, Look, you've been arrested 14 times. "Well, I've been arrested 14 times but never charged." No, but you have a history of arrest, and so I'm going to now charge you because I see a pattern. This is how statistical discrimination might work, or does in fact work in practice. So now the prosecuting attorney sees a pattern. Sends it before the judge, who looks at this pattern and interprets it to make a decision about the length of the sentence when the conviction is read, as is a jury if it ever goes to trial. 97% of cases never go to trial, but when it goes to trial, juries are presented with the same evidence of patterns which have more to do with where the police are concentrated than what people are actually doing.</p> <p>WOLF: So what do you say to the notion that these instruments are validated? That they predict? This information, whether there's a potential bias incorporated into them, they still can predict six months to a year out whether someone is going to recommit a crime.</p> <p>MILLER: Yes, with great reliability. But it's a population being normed against itself. And so, overwhelmingly concentrate criminal justice resources in a particular neighborhood, which leads to more arrests, which leads to more convictions, which leads to more imprisonment. Then I look at those who were imprisoned, and I use that to validate my measures. So the problem, is this sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, this feedback loop, this is one problem.</p> <p>Another problem is that, and Kelly Hannah-Moffat points this out brilliantly, correlation and causation are very different things. It's like the standard social science response that any bench chair social scientist gives when they look at two relationships and people use that as some sort of cause, but likelihood that particular groups of people are more likely to commit a crime, doesn't mean that having committed a crime in the past means you actually will commit a crime. And so what we're doing is, we're treating relationship as if it's a cause, as if it's a fact. And so I will sentence you now based on my assumption of your future danger to commit a crime based on a set of assumptions that I use to justify the overwhelming concentration of police to begin with. Police aren't the culprits here. It's a rationality, it’s a way to approach problems, that I think must be critically investigated.</p> <p>WOLF: And you also pointed out in your presentation that perhaps the cultural context, the environment and the changing policy culture where for instance, marijuana arrest which were so vigorously pursued several years ago are now considered a low priority, or they're not even being done anymore. And yet, people have a record of those arrests and if history of arrest is a factor, someone in the audience also questioned this, should we drop those particular kind of arrests as a factor because we don't care about them anymore? Do they indicate further likelihood of going against the law or are they just something someone did because they like marijuana and that's it?</p> <p>MILLER: That's right. And this is a part of the rigidity of risk assessment. This is rigidity of risk categories. So to place one in a category, you are an offender. And in Michigan, where I've done a lot of research and where I've worked, habitual offenses ... and it's not like this in Michigan, but it's like this in many, many states, most states I would argue ... being a habitual offender means more time, greater risk, more punishment.</p> <p>CROSBY-ROBINSON: Up to life.</p> <p>MILLER: Absolutely. So what does it mean to habituate? What am I looking at? Well, if I'm not being careful about the criminal codes, if I'm not carefully examining what I considered a crime at a given moment in time, and adjusting my instrument for that. Which must happen, probably, annually. If I’m not adjusting my instrument for that, if not quarterly. If I'm not adjusting that for different understandings of what is right and wrong, then what I'll end up doing is habituating someone. Giving them longer sentences, giving them harsher treatment, deeper levels of punishment, or indicating they need deeper levels of intervention.</p> <p>WOLF: So tell me what recommendations you'd make. Because you also made a point in the panel that there are some good things about risk assessment. They do take away discretion form judges or people whose own bias might lead them to make the wrong decisions?</p> <p>MILLER: Absolutely. The benefit of risk assessment is to use it to avoid the criminal record to begin with. This one bit of it. So if you have low risk, low leverages, as my colleague pointed out earlier today, then you are not indicated for intervention of any kind. And it's better to just release these folks without intervention of any kind.</p> <p>WOLF: Right, and that's what the research supports.</p> <p>MILLER: The research supports it, absolutely. So what risk assessment allows ... the careful prosecutor, judge, public defender, et cetera to do is to remove some of the discretion, because much of the decisions that are being made are based on a gut feeling. So I am reading something in the defendant. They don't have remorse, or they haven't shown accountability for their actions, or they have, as one of the panelists raised, belligerent interactions, let's say with their parent or the prosecuting attorney or the defendant. And my assessment is happening divorced from what it means to actually be in court in that moment in time. How might a child, 17 years old, respond to facing 20 years in prison? How should they respond? Should they be depressed, sad, angry, avoidant? What are our expectations in this moment. And so risk assessment, what it allows us to do is say, Okay, let me take a step back, let me look at what actually happened. Let me get away from my intuition, let me think about a more objective way to assess how this defendant should be treated.</p> <p>An interesting note ... So here it is. We can use smart risk assessments to think carefully and critically about how we treat offenders, what level of intervention that we lay out whether that intervention be prison, or jail time, or a diversion program, or a treatment group. There's no perfect way to do this which is why constant reevaluation is necessary. You can't settle, this is the instrument for me. You can’t settle. It's not the instrument for you -</p> <p>CROSBY-ROBINSON: Continuous improvement.</p> <p>MILLER: Continuous improvement.</p> <p>WOLF: And maybe testing ... if I understood what Sarah Fritchey said, my colleague the researcher for the Center of Court Innovation, that you also can test these instruments within certain populations and see, are they producing more negative outcomes for an African-American population? And ask these questions that you're asking to weed out the bias that might be built into that.</p> <p>MILLER: Absolutely. The questions that we're raising are in some ways a set of philosophical questions but they're questions about the application, the use of, the embrace of, instruments to determine whether or not someone is a future danger. Perhaps this is just the wrong approach altogether. Not the risk assessment ... not that one doesn't need to think about ways that they can help predict behaviors of individuals. I think that's useful in some ways, but it certainly needs to be challenged, it needs to be questioned. What am I predicting? Who am I predicting this for? What are the possibilities for this person once these predictions are made? These are questions that need to be addressed.</p> <p>WOLF: So, Miss Crosby-Robinson, let me ask you, as we talk about these kinds of assessments, you bring to bear your own set of experiences with the correctional system as a researcher and you're own past history which you refer to on the panel as someone who had been formerly incarcerated. And I wonder what insights that had allowed you to bring to bear to this notion? Presumably a long time ago they didn't have these risk assessments, I don't know ... when you were initially had your first contact with the correctional system, the justice system. And now they do and you've had a lot of contact and opportunity to interview and spend time with people are incarcerated and I wonder where you come down on this issue?</p> <p>CROSBY-ROBINSON: Well, first of all, I think it's a good idea to have a risk assessment, as Ruben has said earlier, because it removes some of this pressure from judges and prosecutors to make these decisions based on their own personal bias or how they're feeling at the time. But what it does not account for are all of the little various innuendos that a person is going through when they come out. Family reunification can create a stressor. If somebody's coming out and they have to be paroled to a family address, a suitable relative for placement. So they're coming to this family address, but the family address that the parole officers decided that the person can parole to is not really the best environment, and sometimes the issues that they had that led to their incarceration stem from the family issues that they were having at the time. Or it's not in the right environment or they don't have really enough support from their family. And things happen because lives are fluid and things change.</p> <p>For instance, we interviewed a person who was 17 years old and she was pregnant. She had a mental illness, she'd been in the mental health system since she was 8 years old. She lived with her grandmother. We interviewed people three times, as soon as they were discharged and then 30 days after they'd been out. Then 60 days and 90 days. And so, following her, by the time we got to her third interview, her grandmother dies. She's living in her grandmother's house. This is the only stable person she's known in her life. Her grandmother has raised her since 9 years old. She just had a baby, the baby isn't even a year old yet. Now she's 18 years old, she has a mental illness, and she's relying on that system to become her support now where her grandmother was everything. Well, these are things that a risk assessment would just not pick up. Because you never know what's going to happen. So now what happens to this individual? We're at the end of the time that we follow this person for our study. But you know, the question is in our mind, what happens?</p> <p>And another thing that I find frustrating, is no matter what your risk assessment is and if you get it right or not, then when a person who gets out into the community, whatever the risk assessment decided that they need as a support or an intervention, there's no community resource for that.</p> <p>WOLF: The theme I'm hearing from both of you is that these risk needs assessment tools cannot be judged or effectively used apart from the environment, whether it's the environment that created the measurements of risk, or the needs. Because if you can identify the needs and say great, but if you don't have the resources in the community it's meaningless information.</p> <p>MILLER: So, Faye Taxman has a great paper. She finds that, on the need side of things, substance abuse treatment is indicated in about 90% of the folks who were justice involved, but the capacity to provide the treatment, either in prison or out. Something like 25% of folks in prison were able to actively engage in regular substance abuse treatment that needed it. And so what this does is it creates another deficiency that one might judge or regard as a part of the risk of this individual recidivate. Did you complete programming? What was programming available, either in prison or out?</p> <p>WOLF: Well, this had been a very vigorous and interesting conversation and I really appreciate you're both taking the time to speak to me about your work.</p> <p>MILLER: Yeah, thanks for having us.</p> <p>WOLF: So, I've been speaking with Professor Reuben Miller, assistant professor of social work at the School of Social Work at the University of Michigan and his research assistant and collaborator, Hazelette Crosby-Robinson and we're all here today in New Haven at Quinnipiac University school of law for the Conference of Justice Innovation in Times of Change, which is sponsored by the Center for Court Innovation and the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance and hosted by Quinnipiac University. You can find out more about risk needs assessment and criminal justice reform in general at our website, I'm Rob Wolf, thanks for listening. </p> <p> </p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Oct 19, 2016
Fairness, Procedural Justice, and Domestic Violence: A Conversation with Judge Jeffrey Kremers
<p>In this <em>New Thinking</em> podcast, Judge Jeffrey Kremers of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court brings procedural justice to bear on domestic violence. Sharing his insights from the bench, Judge Kremers talks about the importance of procedural justice for both defendants and survivors as well as their families, and discusses strategies for addressing the unique challenges posed by domestic violence cases.</p> <p><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"><!--break-->This podcast was supported by Grant No. </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">2015-TA-AX-K023 </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.</span></p><br /><p>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hello. You're listening to the New Thinking podcast. I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal from the Center for Court Innovation. Today, I'm joined by Judge Jeffrey Kremers. He is a judge of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court in Wisconsin, and we will be talking about the intersections of procedural justice and domestic violence. Judge Kremers, welcome.</p> <p>JUDGE JEFFREY KREMERS: Thank you. I'm glad to take part in this podcast this afternoon.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Let's start with procedural justice, which refers to the experiences of defendants, litigants, victims, and others within the justice system, and suggests that these experiences have a direct impact on justice. Procedural justice emphasizes the importance of good communication, clarity, respect, and objectivity or freedom from bias. Research has shown that when people believe that they were treated fairly, they're more likely to comply with court orders regardless of the outcome of their cases.</p> <p>So, Judge Kremers, why is procedural justice important to you, and in your experience as a judge, have you witnessed its impact on the people in cases who come through your court?</p> <p>KREMERS: Our mantra in the criminal courts in Milwaukee is that every interaction is an opportunity to reduce harm. If that's our goal, to not only do justice, but also more importantly in terms of your question, be perceived as doing justice, then I want to make sure that people have a voice, meaning they can be heard, that we understand each other, that is they understand what I am telling them, and I understand what they are telling me or asking me. That the court system is neutral in all respects, that's gender neutral, race neutral, wealth-based neutrality, and that everyone from defendants, victims, witnesses, staff, lawyers, the public, are all treated respectfully. Then, of course, I need to use the tenants of procedural justice.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Over the years, you have worked extensively with the issue of domestic violence and have presided over a specialized domestic violence court. What are the typical cases that you see?</p> <p>KREMERS: I preside in a criminal court, which means I handle any criminal case from a disorderly conduct up through attempt murder, where the parties involved have been in a domestic relationship, meaning they've either lived together or they have a child together, and the criminal act is between those two parties. They might be married, in which case there may be a parallel family court case going on, which seek to resolve the issues of custody or visitation or physical placement of the children. There might be a civil order of protection or an injunction in place, which will also be impacted by the criminal case. There very often are children involved, so children's court may be involved, the Bureau of Child Welfare may be involved.</p> <p>All of those other parts of the system may impact what we're doing, but in my court, the focus is on whether or not the State can prove the criminal allegations they've brought against the defendant. That also brings into play issues of no contact and the fact that, in many cases, the defendant is the bread winner in the family, so there are issues of financial support for the victim. There's emotional support. All of those things can come into play in the handling of a criminal case.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: How would you say procedural justice can apply to cases like this, especially when there are families and children involved, and safety is a primary concern?</p> <p>KREMERS: Safety is always the number one concern in any domestic violence case, but at the same time, we're dealing with a very complicated situation because in every other kind of criminal case, or almost every other kind of criminal case, the victim and the defendant are strangers or at least don't have the same dynamics as a domestic violence kind of case. But here, there are very mixed feelings that the victim comes in with, and sometimes they just want the violence to stop. They really don't want the defendant to go to prison or jail. They still love the person. They still want the person to be around for the children. So there are these kinds of mixed emotions on the part of victims.</p> <p>In addition, our system of justice gives out mixed messages. In family court, or even in children's court, the idea is how do we unify these two parties or this family? How do we get them back together? Whereas in a criminal case, the push is more towards how do we separate them safely? How do we get this victim to move on, or the defendant to move on, where the victim doesn't want to be in contact with the person anymore? So the messages are kind of mixed between what they might hear in family court, family unification, and what they hear in the criminal court, no contact. That is a difficult conversation to have and a difficult path to weave as you handle the case.</p> <p>It's all the more critical that we employ the really strong principles of procedural justice because it's how you say it and how you explain it that become so critical to both parties, the defendant and the victim, and anybody else who's connected to the case.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: When you're concerned about the safety of victims in your courtroom, how do you balance the victims against the defendants, particularly with the view of asserting your neutral position?</p> <p>KREMERS: The way I would respond to that is to say that I don't believe there's anything incompatible with the principles of procedural justice in addressing both victims' safety and defender accountability. I think we can do both if we focus on how we address the issues that are before the court, and keep in mind those principles that I stated before of voice, and neutrality, and understanding, and respect, and therefore, focus on how we do what we do in court and not so much on the what or the why. Those are important, obviously. Determining what somebody did, whether it amounts to a criminal violation or not, and why they did it, in terms of focusing on an appropriate sentence, are all obviously critical to the outcome of the case.</p> <p>But equally critical is how we go about doing that. The relationships that bring people to our court are almost never single incident cases, and you cannot address the event that's in front of you without an understanding of the relationship that brought the people to you. If you can't talk to people and get them to tell you what's going on in a way that they feel safe telling, they feel like they're being heard, then you really don't understand the context, and therefore, can't really address the situation no matter what the outcome of the case is.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Procedural justice is usually framed from the perspective of defendants, but with domestic violence cases, victims are extremely important to the case. What are some of the challenges that you think they face within the court system?</p> <p>KREMERS: One of the biggest challenges that victims face, for example, is the notion that "Why did she stay with him? Why did she dismiss a protection order? Why didn't she cooperate last time he was charged with beating her up? And why should we believe her now? Or why should the system help her now when she didn't give us an opportunity to help her before?" It's almost paternalistic, and it comes back to them in the form of prejudice or bias.</p> <p>If I've learned anything about procedural fairness, it is that it really applies to everyone who comes in contact with the court system, from victims, defendants, lawyers, witnesses, the public, the staff, everyone. We have to develop strategies that focus on the needs and the import of each of those individuals or groups of individuals, so that signage and how we treat people when they come in the building to primarily how our staff in the courts treats people.</p> <p>With respect to victims and their children, we have had problems. Certainly every court that I've been in has had problems with how victims get treated in the courts, and that's at the clerk's officer when they're filling out paperwork, and the district attorney's office, and the courts themselves when they check in. Whether it's the bailiff or the clerk of court or the court reporter, they all have to understand that their body language, their facial expressions, the way they answer questions, are all critical events in the life of that victim. The challenge for us in the system is to treat every single case as though it's the first one we've ever heard, but with the experience of all the cases we've ever heard behind us.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What about challenges to do with paperwork, technical language?</p> <p>KREMERS: Within our system, most of those issues are addressed because the district attorney's office has a very strong victim advocate program where every victim in a domestic violence case is assigned an advocate who helps them navigate the court system. So if there are papers that need to be filled out for victim compensation, for example, or if they want to get a restraining order or an injunction, there's another set of advocates. When they come to court, the victim advocate is there, and they have a separate waiting room where they can wait and not sit in the courtroom in the presence of the defendant or his family or friends or whatever the case may be. That kind of a support system for victims, I think is critical.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Do you come across victims who are also dealing with questions of immigration? How does that complicate domestic violence cases, and particularly the question of procedural justice?</p> <p>KREMERS: We deal with a number of victims and defendants who have immigration issues. It is a significant complicating issue in those cases. Victims are very reticent to participate or cooperate because they're afraid that they're going to be deported or held. And that's just the ones who we know about. There are lots of other instances of domestic violence where there are immigration issues, and the victim doesn't even report it to the police because they're afraid. And, of course, the victim plays on that, and I've seen it in court. I had a case last week where the victim indicated that the defendant was holding her papers and would not give them back unless she dropped the charges. So I had to address that by telling him that we were going to have a bail hearing, and if the victim doesn't have all of her papers back they then, I would consider that as an aggravating factor in determining his bail. So it's a complicating factor.</p> <p>I think more than and bigger than immigration issue is cultural competence. It's one thing to understand the immigration implications of what's going on, but it's even a bigger question for us to understand what the cultural issues are: Why do they act the way they do in court? Why do they come into the court the way they do? Why do they not come into court? What is their expectation? It's particularly heightened in those communities that are very close-knit and relatively compact. I think it's incumbent on judges and staff to be culturally competent and to see how those issues play out not only in the way they act in court, but also what our culture is and how we, therefore, interpret what they do, or how we see what they do, or how we hear what they say. Because if we're letting our culture get in the way of understanding their culture, then procedural justice just goes out the window.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: As faculty at the National Judicial Institute on Domestic Violence, you've been involved in efforts to train other judges. Can you talk about what you pass on to judges regarding domestic violence and procedural justice?</p> <p>KREMERS: I'd go back to my first answer about making sure they understand what the principles of procedural justice are in terms of neutrality, and voice, and respect, and understanding, and that judges understand the context of what's happening in front of them. That they learn how to listen and not assume. I think it's critical to understand that how you talk to a defendant or a victim has a lot of say, I believe, about whether they're going to come back in your court. We know that domestic violence is a learned behavior, so if they can learn it, they can unlearn it, and that starts with how they are treated in court. If I just call them a name and talk down to them, or be disrespectful to them, you can see it in their eyes. They just shut down.</p> <p>I watched a judge do a guilty plea one time, and if I gave you the transcript of the guilty plea, you'd say "That was perfect. He asked every question he should have asked, and he got a 'yes' and a 'no' answer every place he should." But I was sitting in that courtroom, and I watched the judge do it. He never once looked at the defendant. Never once. He was just on autopilot. When that defendant got up and walked past me, he didn't know I was a judge, he's just talking out of the courtroom with some family member, and he said, "That," using a profanity, "never looked at me, didn't pay any attention to me." That's a perfect example of an opportunity lost to try and make a connection with a defendant.</p> <p>So I always ask defendants, "Why do you think this happened? What do you think you need to do to change?" I then will talk to them about what they said to me, and why they did what they did, and what caused it. Now they're in a position where they're willing to listen and to talk about it. That's the kind of message that I try and give to the judges at the institute.</p> <p>The last one, I guess, that I say again and again is every interaction you have with the defendant and the victim is an opportunity to reduce harm in your community. Don't waste that opportunity.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: On that concluding note, Judge Kremers, thank you for sharing your experiences and insights on this very complex subject.</p> <p>KREMERS: Thank you. It's my pleasure.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: This is Avni Majithia-Sejpal, and you've been listening to the New Thinking podcast. To hear more of our podcasts, you can visit Thanks for joining us. </p> <p> </p>
Aug 30, 2016
Foundations Can Support Justice Reform, If You Know How to Ask: A Conversation with James Lewis
<p>Private foundations are an overlooked resource for innovative justice programs.  James H. Lewis, senior program officer and director of research and evaluation at the <a href="" target="_blank">Chicago Community Trust</a>, offers insight into how foundations make funding decisions and shares tips for attracting foundation investments in justice programs. The interview was conducted by the Center for Court Innovation's Director of Communications Robert V. Wolf at <a href="" target="_blank">Community Justice 2016</a>, where Lewis participated in a panel on "Funding Change."</p><br /><p>JAMES H. LEWIS: Individual foundations generally can be more flexible and creative in what they're doing than government can because you don't have, the accountability is to a much smaller group of people in a foundation who can make their own decisions, because it is private money and not taxpayer money.</p> <p>ROB WOLF: Hi. I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation and I am at Community Justice 2016 in Chicago, Illinois where over 400 people have gathered to talk about justice reform and are sharing strategies for how they can improve the justice system.</p> <p>Right now I'm sitting down with someone who participated in a break-out session that focused particularly on funding. James H. Lewis is the Senior Program Officer and Director of Research and Evaluation at the Chicago Community Trust. And, James, I thought maybe you could just briefly explain to listeners what the Chicago Community Trust is.</p> <p>LEWIS: The Chicago Community Trust is the Chicago region's community foundation and community foundations are an aggregation of different gifts from families and individuals that are made for the benefit of a specific place. And we take those together, we manage those funds, and then make grants from them just as any foundation would.</p> <p>It's distinctive because the corpus of our money does come from a lot of different families rather than from a single family, like the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation where it's a single family that gave. We are about 800 of those combined.</p> <p>But we make grants like anyone else. They do need to be for projects that are predominantly to the benefit of residents of Cook County here in Illinois.</p> <p>WOLF: You do in fact have a geographic focus, Cook County which is where Chicago is located and surrounding suburbs?</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah, yeah. Most community foundations are chartered that way, but a lot of family ones are too. Chicago has a lot of just what you would think of as conventional foundations that have in their mission that they serve residents of Chicago or residents of a particular suburb or wherever that family had value.</p> <p>WOLF: We're here at Community Justice 2016 so the word community, I don't think is a superficial nexus here, community justice programs often have a geographic focus as well. So I wonder, as programs that are activated by notions of community justice and they are focusing on particular neighborhoods, does it make sense for them to look and see if there is a community trust or a community foundation that might be servicing the same neighborhood? Is there a natural synchronicity there and might that be a potentially successful route for them to find funding?</p> <p>LEWIS: I think they should certainly look to see that. Community foundations in different communities really vary by how much discretionary giving they have. We're fortunate to have an awful lot of unrestricted money that we can use for projects of our own choosing. Many community foundations are much more donor driven, and so the donors have left instructions with the foundation on how to spend it and in those cases there is less room for creativity in what you're going to do. So while I think it's great for anybody with a project to look to their local community foundation, I certainly wouldn't limit myself to that. I would also investigate other foundations of any sort that had in their mission to serve that neighborhood, community, city, region as a priority.</p> <p>WOLF: Basically, you're a foundation like any foundation then. That's kind of what you were saying.</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah, from the grantee's point of view, from the applicant's point of view we look like any other. We have guidelines, we have applications, we make grant decisions periodically through the year. So from the outside we look like any other foundation.</p> <p>WOLF: And so do you have any advice or suggestions for community justice initiatives, many of them are government or court or maybe police or prosecutor lead programs. They might not necessarily be eligible to obtain grant money, but they may have partners, non-profit partners that are, and they may be less familiar with reaching out to a private foundation than they are perhaps reaching out to the government or the Department of Justice to apply for grants. So do you have any advice for them about approaching a foundation versus perhaps a government agency to obtain or apply for money?</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah. I think the main difference is that individual foundations generally can be more flexible and creative with what they're doing than government can because you don't have, the accountability is to a much smaller group of people in a foundation who can make their own decisions because it is private money and not taxpayer money. And so those individual foundations aren't bound by the same kinds of laws and rules and appropriations and budgets that governments are. The decisions within the foundation on which projects to make grants on aren't bound by generally a blind reading of the applications or a jury decision, those kinds of things that are typical of the way government RFPs are usually done.</p> <p>It's much more about whether in the view of a program officer or an executive director of that foundation whether something that's proposed makes sense to them, is something that they think is going to be impactful, something they think that their board of directors of their foundation will be proud to have their money on. So I think it's a place to take, my advice is to take your creative ideas, take the things that you don't think the government will fund, take the things that might be a little risky, those kinds of things are the things the foundations do best.</p> <p>WOLF: And it sounds like there's more of a human touch there you're saying, rather than there being a blind review process. You're more directly engaged. Would you perhaps visit a place before you give them a grant rather than just taking a paper application and making a decision based on a blind or anonymous information?</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah. I think that's a really important factor for anyone trying to understand foundations, in fact, is that very much so. And in most instances for somebody you're funding you will in fact meet with them, and in most instances with most foundations there's an opportunity to negotiate what you want to do with that program officer. And it's not like the typical government RFP where you send in the thing and it's adjudicated and you get one bite at that apple.</p> <p>With the foundation, if you send in a proposal and the foundation program officer finds it interesting, maybe it's not exactly what they were looking for but it's interesting, they'll call you up, you can have a phone conversation. You might have a meeting. You might go back and forth. You might actually negotiate what's done. They'll say we like this part but we don't like that. Maybe you could find another funder for component of this that we don't really do or aren't interested in.</p> <p>I've done this many times. This is really interesting concept. I know there's two other people who are interested in this too. If you would just bring all three of them to the table I think we could do something. If you could include this neighborhood, if you could include that school, so there's a lot more room to negotiate something with a foundation. That's why again it's good forum for raising money in a creative way, because you really can evolve it and work toward what you're trying to do.</p> <p>WOLF: And it sounds like because there's a community focus in it, and in a community foundation in particular and also in a community justice program there's also perhaps shared knowledge about, because they're both knowledgeable about the community, it sounds like that could be a very productive process where there's a meeting of the minds where the foundation is bringing their knowledge and concerns about the community priorities and needs and the community justice program which is looking at it through a justice lens, also is bringing knowledge and it sounds like there could be a catalyst there.</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah, I think that's very true. The working in a foundation is not a profession where you typically, where you go to school in it, you get a first job in it and then ... most people who are program officers and particularly the senior program officers are people who have long histories of their career working in that community in the fields in which they are funding.</p> <p>I myself was a professor at a local university. It was a commuter type university. It was very integrated into the community before coming. Before that, I was with the Urban League here for ten years, so I came from a position of being very grounded in the types of issues that the trust is interested in. And I think that's true of most of my colleagues across different foundations. That they had professional careers in that field before they became funders in it. And so they're very grounded in what the issues are and who the players are and what the specific neighborhood and community needs are.</p> <p>WOLF: And is criminal justice commonly an area of focus?  I know your trust, you described here, is interested in certain criminal justice related goals like reducing recidivism and disparities, racial disparities in the justice system. Are you seeing a trend there? There's a lot in the news about the criminal justice system.</p> <p>LEWIS: I would say so. The problem of urban violence, I guess it's been with us for a long time, but I think really caught the attention of a lot of people more in the 1990s, and then the cost of incarceration across the country has become a driving force, right? I think a lot more bipartisan, I don't want to overstate it, but there is more bipartisan interest now in getting people out of jail and prisons than there would have been 10, 20 and especially, you know 30 years ago. So I think there is a lot more interest on the part of foundations, and they do it in different ways.</p> <p>In the Midwest, the Joyce Foundation has a specific gun violence initiative that they do. MacArthur has been interested in various areas of restorative justice. The Woods Fund here in Chicago, restorative justice. We've been engaged in it, in violence reduction and equity issues. So different foundations have their own twist on it, but I would say in general there has been increased interest. I think it's a fairly fertile field right now.</p> <p>WOLF: So if you were to give justice practitioners interested in finding out about trusts that are community focused or just any kind of foundation and applying and succeeding with their application, are there some bullet points you could share about what they should keep in mind?</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah. Well, I think it does. Because there is so much variation across foundations, there isn't any single way to know what one wants or how they're taking applications. There really isn't any substitute for getting in the internet and checking out what they're individual initiatives and programs are, and what the application process is. And people can send things in that way.</p> <p>I would also really, really strongly support though taking the additional step of trying to seek out people like me in forums like this conference or in various kinds of neighborhood settings. A lot of us are going to those kinds of meetings, and we're on different commissions and task forces and committees of local government or community development, all of those kinds of things. Find those program officers and talk to them about what you're doing and equally important to find out what they are interested in. Because it's partly about what you want as someone creating a program but it's also about that program officer needs to take back to their board. And so you want to just enter into that conversation with them the best way you can.</p> <p>WOLF: So I suppose it also helps to have an elevator pitch, a short, concise description of what they're doing, but one that sounds like you're saying is customized to the particular foundation or program officer that they're speaking to.</p> <p>LEWIS: Yeah. It's certainly helpful to be clear in that way. On the other hand, I will give the other hand. That if you're at some conference, you find yourself sitting there at lunch, you find yourself sitting next to a program officer from a foundation that you think might be able to help you, that program officer does not like to be pitched there at that table with seven people sitting around where it's just not a good place.</p> <p>That's the place to just get to know the person, like you would to be able to start the relationship building. Don't pitch your idea unless it comes up in the conversation naturally. But just treat it as a relationship building opportunity, not as a sales opportunity because partly it's hard for the foundation person to negotiate something like that in front of others, and partly because they may not be able to tell you exactly what they're thinking about it when there are others around and when honesty is important in that negotiation. And, they want to eat lunch.</p> <p>WOLF: You mean they're human beings.</p> <p>LEWIS: Yes. So it's a good setting to make friends, but not necessarily the moment to make the actual pitch.</p> <p>WOLF: All right. Excellent advice. Thank you so much. I have been speaking with James Lewis, Senior Program Officer and the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Chicago Community Trust. He has been a panelist here at Community Justice 2016.</p> <p>You can find out more about what has gone on here at the conference and listen to other interviews of other participants and attendees on our website, I am Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Thanks very much for listening.</p> <p> </p>
Aug 19, 2016
Strengthening Ties Between Police and the Community: A Conversation about Restorative Justice in Madison, Wisconsin
<p>Joe Balles, who recently retired as a captain after a 30-year career with the Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, discusses restorative justice and police legitimacy with Robert V. Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. A mentee of Herman Goldstein, considered the father of problem-oriented policing, Balles was instrumental in the creation of the <a href="" target="_blank">Dane County Community Restorative Court</a>, a diversion program based on the Native American principles of peacemaking. The interview took place during <a href="" target="_blank">Community Justice 2016</a>.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-middle"><img src="" alt="A panel on Restorative Justice at Community Justice 2016 features, from left, moderator Erika Sasson of the Center for Court Innovation, Jose Egurbide of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Captain Joe Balles (retired) of the Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, and Judge Herman Sloan of the Atlanta (Georgia) Community Court." title="A panel on Restorative Justice at Community Justice 2016 features, from left, moderator Erika Sasson of the Center for Court Innovation, Jose Egurbide of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Captain Joe Balles (retired) of the Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, and Judge Herman Sloan of the Atlanta (Georgia) Community Court." class="image image-img_assist_custom-458x193 " width="458" height="193" /><span class="caption" style="width: 456px;">A panel on Restorative Justice at Community Justice 2016 features, from left, moderator Erika Sasson of the Center for Court Innovation, Jose Egurbide of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, Captain Joe Balles (retired) of the Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, and Judge Herman Sloan of the Atlanta (Georgia) Community Court.</span></span></p> <p>CAPTAIN JOE BALLES: One of the reasons I got trained as a peacemaker is because I'm trying to add even more legitimacy to this work, so that it actually becomes formalized and more ingrained and peer accepted.</p> <p>ROB WOLF: Hi I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. I am at Community Justice 2016, in Chicago, where hundreds of justice practitioners from various jurisdictions around the country and around the world, are gathering to talk about justice reform. With me right now is Captain Joe Balles, retired from the Madison Wisconsin Police Department. We've sat down to talk for a little bit about restorative justice. He participated in a panel here at Community Justice 2016, on restorative justice and he was very involved with that concept in his work in the Madison Police Department.</p> <p>You were involved in starting something called The Dane County Community Restorative Court. So why don't you explain what that is, and why you wanted to start something called a restorative court that has this word 'restorative' in it?</p> <p>BALLES: Sure Rob it would be a pleasure. In 2013 the NEKC foundation funded a study in Dane County, it was conducted by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. And that report, published in October 2013 really statistically laid out what was the state and the human condition of the African American population in Dane County. And their report in its breadth covered so many different measures across the spectrum that were just all jumped out and many in Dane County community, and Madison's the capital, Wisconsin, 500,000 is the county population, almost 250 is the city of Madison, and when you look at that it was really pretty telling, and everybody just accepted it as the base-line. There was really little argument about the data or anything, it was so overwhelming. One number in particular with regards to racial injustice was that Dane County African Americans represent about 4.8 % of the population, but when you look at the number of people that we send to prison every year, African American's in Dane County represent 44% of the people we send to prison.</p> <p>Based on that report a Dane County Board African American supervisor, Sheila Stubbs, who ironically I have known for many years, she brought forward a proposal in November 2013 to the County Board, and got it stuck in the 2014 budget to create a pilot Community Restorative Court in South Madison that would look a 17 and 25-year-olds and try to divert them. Those who have been arrested for misdemeanors, divert them from the formal traditional criminal justice system, to a Community Restorative Court predicated on the ideas of peacemaking in justice circles. And ...</p> <p>WOLF: And maybe we will just pause for a second. When we talk about restorative, we're talking about ... I know it's about restoring both the community, but also ...</p> <p>BALLES: Repairing harm to the victim, and the community.</p> <p>WOLF: And the offender to an extent---</p> <p>BALLES: And really doing an assessment of the offender because, you know Rob, when law enforcement issues citations, or we arrest young people, 17 to 25 year-olds. For a lot of times it's these kind of nuisance level types of crimes, if they be theft, criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct, obstructing an officer, there are other things that are going on there with that person at that point in time, that they happen to come on an officer’s radar screen. Because oftentimes when we make an arrest we are not out driving around looking for them, we get called by the 911 system because we are responding to something that we ultimately end up investigating, whether it be a fight in progress in a public place, or inside a private residence, we have to deal with what it is that we walk into. And this was a way to take. And instead of sticking that 17 -25 year-old in the formal system, where in Wisconsin, something that unlike a lot of states in the country, we have an online court system called CCAP, and once you get arrested and you then appear and make an initial appearance in Wisconsin Circuit Court, a record of you starts online on the internet in Wisconsin's Circuit Court database. It's totally publicly accessible, there's all sorts of warnings about how it's not supposed to be used for discriminatory purposes, or employment purposes etc. but everybody in Wisconsin knows about it and once you get something onto CCAP it's impossible to get it off, damn near impossible, I won't say it's impossible but it's damn near.</p> <p>We find these 17 to 25 year-olds, it hurts them for employment, it hurts them for schooling, hurts them for housing, many different things.</p> <p>WOLF: So the Community Restorative Court, they would be ... that's a total diversion, they wouldn't have a record in the system?</p> <p>BALLES: It's a total diversion. Right. And the way we have created the diversion is, in the spring of 2015 we worked, together with our Dane County District Attorney, Ishmael Ozanne, the head of our Dane County Department of Human Services, Lynn Green, Madison Police Chief, Mike Koval and our city Attorney Mike May, and myself I was involved in this. We created an MOU, and in the Memorandum of Understanding I outlined the parameters of what we were going to try to do in the pilot, and it was a 12 month MOU, it actually expires next month in May. Wel certainly expand it, continue on, but we definitely need to tweak, kind of what we are doing right now, to build some more caseload.</p> <p>But the important thing is that over the past year and a half now we have created another option for dealing with this behavior out in the neighborhoods, that both is victim rights focused, but at the same time focused on the needs of the offender, where we hired a Community Restorative Court coordinator. That's a funded position, not through a grant or something that we could possibly loose, but we actually created a new position within the human services budget for Dane County where this position lives. And that's really huge, because now we've got that position we don't have to fight for it every single year. And what we're trying to do is, our District Attorney's office has been very creative already, they've got 700 cases currently in different states of deferred prosecution. And what we are really hoping to do long term is to take a piece of that deferred prosecution case load that they have right now, and those cases that go to deferred prosecution are ready and ideal, many of them primed, for a peacemaking process.</p> <p>WOLF: And so peacemaking, as I understand, we have a program in Brooklyn, The Center for Court Innovation runs through the Red Hook Community Justice Center is based on traditional Native American practice, bringing people together in a circle, and people solving the problem and the issue collectively. So is that the model that you are using?</p> <p>BALLES: Yeah it is the model. And what happened was, is that after we were looking around in the spring, or in 2014, once we had that money funded to create the coordinator court, CRC coordinator position, we got a hold of the Center for Court Innovation.</p> <p>And they, and with the help of some BGA Technical Assistance money, they brought our team, seven of us, out to New York where we were up in Harlem at the Community Court up there, we went down met with Judge Calabrese in Red Hook and got to see the phenomenal work he's done. He is nothing short of an American Hero in terms of what he's done out there. And then lastly we went over Brownsville, where at the time we were there it hadn't started yet, but we talked with the folks and we looked at the building. I think it was an old catholic church if I'm not mistaken, or something to that effect, or maybe an old school that they were looking at setting up, but we were out there in Brownsville and talking to them too. So we left New York with a lot of great ideas that we brought back to Madison to figure out how we wanted to set this up.</p> <p> And we went to work, doing community meetings where we brought the community in and told them we were looking for volunteers. We worked with Johnathan Scharrer, a person I haven't mentioned enough. Johnathan Scharrer is a professor at DW Madison Law School that teaches the restorative justice training at the law school. And Johnathan was solicited by us to help us teach and train our peacemaker program, which is now a 16-hour class. We've got over 40 trained, and myself, just a few weeks ago I went through the two-day training myself.</p> <p>WOLF: And has it started, the restorative—</p> <p>BALLES: Yes. Last July we started actually making referrals from the south police district. Again we are just focused on my old district where a new captain is at right now, because I left in January. But we are going through every arrest that we make, and we make probably 60 some arrests every month, and we are looking for those cases that we can divert. But right now our MOU is focused on, really kind of looking at first offenders 17 to 25 of age, but what we are realizing and our challenge is, we need to get into more complex cases, because some of the things that we heard at this conference for instance, is that you don't want to be doing interventions on low risk populations, okay. And generally in our model that we have right now, those are our first offenders, they don't have a lot you know; the 21 year-old that gets drunk and stole a coffee cup at the convenience store at 2 o'clock in the morning, who is on his way to a graduate degree in engineering at Wisconsin, probably isn't the guy that really needs to go through the Restorative Court.</p> <p>And so we are now trying to look at really the more complicated cases and get some of those individuals offenders, respondents, as we call them, diverted to peacemaking.</p> <p>WOLF: So get me a little bit into your head as a police officer. Although there are police officers who've been involved in all kinds of innovative strategies, community policing and engaging the community. I think it's probably less common, this notion of restorative justice engaging the police. So what attracted you to this? Why were you drawn to this idea of restorative justice?</p> <p>BALLES: Great question Rob. For me it just was a logical extension of my journey and my career and 30 years in policing. I did my graduate work at Wisconsin in the early 80s, where I was able to have met great mentors like Professor Herman Goldstein, who is the godfather of problem oriented policing. And in the late 80s early 90s I happened to be part of some of the early efforts at defining what community policing is in this country. I was a neighborhood officer myself in the city of Madison, where we identified 13 kind of high crime little pockets in the city of Madison. And I was one of 13 neighborhood officers in the late 80s that went out into those neighborhoods and built relationships with people, and really tried to find alternatives to arrests, and other ways of dealing with crime and the crack dealing, and the gang behavior and things like that, that we had out in those neighborhoods.</p> <p>That to me was a very unbelievable moment in my career as a law enforcement officer, because it really defined me, and really set in place my core values in terms of the need for police in the community. It really had this very, very close partnership and understanding with the community that you were trying to police. Because policing isn't something that police do, but policing is something that we do collaboratively with the community, and the community shares a big part of that.</p> <p>So for me, when I look at restorative justice, quite honestly it's like a graduate school version of community policing as we knew it, but it brings more formality to it. And the peacemaking process, and just the respect and dignity of how everybody participates equally in the process, it's so different, it's so radically different than the traditional adversarial justice system as we know it today. It's really, what we are talking about here, is changing the culture of the justice system, and I think that restorative justice really hit. I am excited about it. I think we are just literally just scratching the surface and we get many, many, kind of, laboratories going on. Much like we experimented 20 plus years ago with community policing in Madison, now I see a lot of communities around the country experimenting with different models of community justice.</p> <p>One of the reasons that I got trained as a peacemaker, because I'm trying to add even more legitimacy to this word, so it actually becomes formalized and more ingrained and peer accepted. I don't want it just to be the tree-hugging people who are out there being trained as peacemakers that ....</p> <p>WOLF: The hippies.</p> <p>BALLES: The hippies, you know .... But here's a 30-year veteran of law enforcement, recently retired captain, very involved in this community through rotary, The United Way, coaching basketball, whatever it might be, but I also see that people like me also need to become peacemakers because we're part of the community, and we need to be part of that restorative justice process.</p> <p>WOLF: Well let me ask you just one final question. Which is, with all the concerns that everyone is aware of, their assisted police, a report about Chicago police released this week, there is a lot of concern that there's a culture among some police officers where there is antagonism between the community they serve. There is institutional racism, I mean there's all kinds of things, and you just spoke about a very personal journey that you took and, you know, 30 years down this road, although it didn't take you 30 years, but you evolved to a position where your eyes have been open and you've embraced new ways of doing things, and you’re talking about restorative justice. And I also know, you had mentioned before we started, that you have been advising someone who is working with the task force, the President’s task force, on 21st century policing. You are very involved nationally, now that you've retired, in helping police jurisdictions think differently. What advice or insight do you have into how maybe restorative justice or other tools can be used and how can you get police officers interested in them, who haven't walked in your shoes specifically?</p> <p>BALLES: Right, great question Rob. I mean I think we are at a ...with regards to policing I think we are at a kind of crossroads in this country very similar to where we were when UCR part one crime was at its highest in the early 1990s. I mean a lot of the initiatives that led to President Clinton's 100,000 officer initiative when he was first elected and the 1994 crime bill. I think today we are similarly situated. But interestingly we don't have the same amount of crime that we had back then, but how our police interact with our communities. And I think we're really struggling with this whole nature of the increasing diversity of our country, particularly in our larger urban areas. Any community 50,000 and over, okay you are really starting to see some very changing demographics.</p> <p>One of the areas that I am working in right now is out in King County, Seattle, and I happened over the past year meet Sue Rahr, who was a former King County Sheriff, that is now the executive director for the Criminal Justice Training Commission for the state of Washington, and she was on President Obama's 21st century policing task force. And Sue penned the piece that Harvard published a few years ago, questioning are we training our police officers to be guardians or warriors. And when you look at the President's task force report and what Sue and the colleagues that were on the task force, they identified six pillars that put forth a road map for police chiefs and communities all over the country, to really internally look at themselves to see and measure themselves to see how they are doing and where they could improve. And that first pillar is all about trust in legitimacy, and in that part of the report, and it's not a very long report, it's only 30 pages long, there's a lot of reference to procedural justice both internally and externally. Because one of the things we know, and we've found many years ago in Madison, is that you can't put police officers into an organization where good work is not recognized, where they have abusive supervisors, where there's no systems of accountability. When you have internal cultures like that you're going to get bad policing on the backside of it. There's just no way. You might get some good policing by accident, but if you've got inside those police organizations that are so dysfunctional, you can't expect any better result.</p> <p>Many years ago a guy name of David Couper, the police Chief of Madison at the time. He led Madison on a 20-year kind of culture revolution that transformed our department where he hired the first women. Today over 30% of officers in the Madison Police Department are women. 90% of us have, at least, a four-year degree, 20% of the department are people of color, for a 455 officer department in a community of 250,000 we are doing pretty dam good in terms of trying to at least recruit, retain individuals that we can take and put out there on the streets every day as police officers, and with the proper training and guidance. There is a lot of police departments in this country that, quite frankly, are really struggling to do that.</p> <p>I'll end Rob with something in terms of the need for police departments in communities to think futuristic about how they build police departments. Chief Cooper once said many years ago, "If you want to see what your community is going to look like 15 years from now, walk into a kindergarten classroom."</p> <p>WOLF: Makes sense.</p> <p>BALLES: Absolutely. And if you’re not trying to build and recruit and prepare your police department in terms of this diversity, to what that kindergarten classroom looks like today, your losing ground already. So I think we're at a unique opportunity here, I think restorative justice is quite frankly really the next evolution here of the conversation. We've got some tough problems that we are dealing with in this country, but I really feel optimistic. I think about the tools that we have, the evidence based practices, and a lot of great organizations like the Center for Court Innovation, that are helping agencies and police departments all around the country and justice systems, help is good there.</p> <p>WOLF: Well that's a very nice and positive note to end on. So thank you. I've been speaking to Captain Joe Balles who retired just this past January from the Madison Police Department, and is now very involved in a number of things both in Madison and nationally regarding innovations in policing. And we've been speaking this afternoon at Community Justice 2016, the international conference that's being held here in Chicago. I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. To find out more about restorative justice and about the conference and about the work the center does, visit our website at,, and thank you for listening.</p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Aug 09, 2016
A Second Chance Society: A Conversation about Justice Reform in Connecticut
<p>Mike Lawlor, Connecticut's under secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, discusses Governor Dannel P. Malloy's Second Chance Society, a series of justice reforms (including dramatic changes to bail and juvenile justice policies) that seek to reduce crime, lower spending on prisons, and help rebuild relationships between criminal justice professionals and the communities they serve. This New Thinking podcast was recorded in Chicago in April 2016 after Lawlor participated in a panel on "Jail Reduction and Public Safety" at <a href="" target="_blank">Community Justice 2016</a>.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-middle"><a href=""><img src="" alt="Mike Lawlor, second from left, who is Connecticut's under secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, participates in a panel on "Jail Reduction and Public Safety" at Community Justice 2016." title="Mike Lawlor, second from left, who is Connecticut's under secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, participates in a panel on "Jail Reduction and Public Safety" at Community Justice 2016." class="image image-img_assist_custom-537x173 " width="537" height="173" /></a><span class="caption" style="width: 535px;">Mike Lawlor, second from left, who is Connecticut's under secretary for Criminal Justice Policy and Planning, participates in a panel on "Jail Reduction and Public Safety" at Community Justice 2016.</span></span></p> <p>MIKE LAWLOR: People gradually buy into the fact that, after all, the whole point of the criminal justice system is to reduce crime, and if that's what's happening, everybody's doing a good job.</p> <p>ROB WOLF: This is Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation in Chicago at Community Justice 2016 where there's a lot going on, a lot of panels talking about justice reform, people from all around the country and even around the world sharing ideas. One of those people with some interesting and cutting edge ideas is with me right now. His name is Mike Lawlor. He is the Chief Criminal Justice Advisor to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy, and he just participated in a panel on jail reduction and public safety.</p> <p>A lot of interesting things are going on in Connecticut around justice reform, Mike, and I thought maybe you could explain a little bit about what the governor's agenda is. I understand it's something called the Second Chance Society.</p> <p>So what's it all about?</p> <p>LAWLOR: So yeah. My boss, Governor Malloy, talks extensively about his goals for what he refers to as a "Second Chance Society." And really that covers all of the ground of the criminal justice reform initiatives we're seeing around the country. He also articulates this with clear goals, and goal number one is to reduce crime. Goal number two is to reduce spending, and goal number three is to restore confidence in the criminal justice system, confidence among victims of crime who often come away thinking that they did not get justice, confidence among African Americans and Latinos who thinks the system is just not fair to them, and confidence among all citizens who see, every day, these examples of wrongful convictions or corruption or misconduct by police or prosecutors or probation officers or corrections officers or even judges sometimes even state legislators and governors, from time to time.</p> <p>All of this undermines confidence in the criminal justice system, so restoring people's confidence and at the same time reducing crime is our goal. And we think that by making a variety of changes across the board, we will continue to see a reduction in Connecticut's crime rate, which is at its lowest point in 48 years, and we'll see we won't have to spend as much money running prisons, because for the immediate past 20 years or so we've spent more money running prisons in Connecticut than we have running colleges, which is kind of crazy.</p> <p>Gradually we can rebuild these relationships, mainly between the criminal justice professionals and the community, and what you call community policing or something else. It's very important to build up that level of trust.</p> <p>WOLF: Well those are really ambitious goals. So what are the actual policies that are being proposed to achieve these goals to reduce crime, reduce spending on the criminal justice system, and build confidence in the justice system?</p> <p>LAWLOR: Okay, so let's start with what Governor Malloy has actually proposed this year, which is currently being considered by our state's legislature. It has two components. Number one is bail reform. Number two is raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction.</p> <p>On the bail reform initiative, a number of states, most recently New Jersey, New Mexico, the New York Supreme Court, have acknowledged that bail is a real problem. In other words, people sitting in jail because they can't afford to post what oftentimes are relatively low amounts of bail. The governor this year has proposed that we not have money bail for people charged only with a misdemeanor, with an exception for cases involving violence, for example family violence cases are often charged only as misdemeanors, but there is a very high risk that something bad is going to happen.</p> <p>He's asked our state sentencing commission to look at a comprehensive reform and report back next year so that potentially the legislature could enact comprehensive reform, as was the case in New Jersey and New Mexico, Connecticut has a state constitution that guarantees bail to all offenders.</p> <p>But many states, and the federal government have an option for what is know as preventive detention. So, if there is an evidentiary showing that someone actually is a danger to the community, they can be held without bail at all.</p> <p>In Connecticut, at the moment, the governor's concerned that the people who really should be locked up pre-trial are not. The high-risk, career criminal gang-banger types, bcause they have frequent flier points with the bail bondsmen and things like that, it's easy for them to get out if they get arrested, even if there's kind of a high bail.</p> <p>On the other hand of the spectrum are the people that don't need to be in jail, but they're sitting there for months on end, waiting for their cases to get resolved because they can't come up with, in some cases, a few hundred dollars to get out the door.</p> <p>So that's a big priority for us, and we think over time that will have a big impact on our jail population, but more importantly ...</p> <p>WOLF: What's the actual proposal?</p> <p>LAWLOR: So the proposal is no money bail for misdemeanors, and allowing all offenders who actually have a money bail that's been set for them, to have an option of posting 10% in cash that they would get back at the end of their case if they show up for all their court appearances and that is the case in many states.</p> <p>In Connecticut, it's actually an option that judges have pursuant to rules of court, but it's not in statute, and we think that by putting it into statute, it'll be used more extensively.</p> <p>Also, part of that proposal is that whatever money is accrued, because this cash will be sitting in a savings account while the court process plays out, all of that money that's earned through interest will go to our legal aid operations in the state. So it wouldn't be going to the state. It would be going to help fund legal assistance for the poor. And any money that is captured because people do not show up in court and we forfeit their money bail, that would also go to legal aid.</p> <p>So we're trying to create a system that has no incentive to have higher bail just to raise money, and at the same time, make it more of an option to actually get out, especially for people who are poor.</p> <p>WOLF: And you would presumably be saving money because fewer people would be held in jail unnecessarily pre-adjudication.</p> <p>LAWLOR: Right. We know about half the people in jail right now in Connecticut, because they can't post bail, are in there on relatively minor charges. So, now, obviously on a case-by-case basis, there may be very high risk factors involved, but, in general, there's way too many people being held just because they can't come up with enough money to post bail.</p> <p>And we'd like to get to the point where money bail is just not used at all. If you're really dangerous, prosecutors would have to put on an evidentiary showing, and you could potentially be held as a public safety measure, but the vast majority of cases that really don't meet those criteria would not sit in jail while their cases are pending.</p> <p>WOLF: What if someone repeatedly doesn't return to a court date?</p> <p>LAWLOR: Well, the proposal we have this year says that even if it's a misdemeanor where no money bail is allowed, if the new misdemeanor is in fact a failure to appear, that would allow for money bail to be set. But we know that, we've done a lot of deep dives into our data that we have and the rate at which people fail to appear is actually higher if a bail bondsman has posted bail for them.</p> <p>Connecticut is the only state in the country— Now, keep in mind we do not have any county courts, everything is run by the state. We have no county jails. We have no elected prosecutors. We have no elected judges, and all courts are state courts, so it's easier for us to make changes. But we have the only statewide accredited pre-trial services agency in the country. It's run in the judicial branch. It's very well staffed, and they are very good at sorting out offenders by risk and monitoring defendants in the community with non-financial conditions of release.</p> <p>So we have the infrastructure to really expand this a lot, and to the extent that we can save jail bed days, we can save a lot of money and at the same time get better outcomes, because all we know for sure is that putting somebody who's really a low-risk, high-needs person in jail, even for a short period of time, you're actually increasing the odds that they're going to recidivate once they get out. So we're trying to not do things that make it worse.</p> <p>WOLF: And it sounds like you have the infrastructure in place to do what bail supposedly does, which is to encourage someone to come back to court, but you have a non-bail, non-monetary means to monitor compliance with that. And so, what were some of the other ...</p> <p>LAWLOR: The juvenile ... so I think the more ambitious goal the governor has for this year is to raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction from what it is now, 18, up to 21. So, if we do it, we'll be the first state in this country to do it. Other places do it. For example, Germany, which the governor visited last year, you might have seen it on 60 Minutes. They did the piece a couple weeks ago.</p> <p>In Germany, if you're under 21 and you get arrested and go to court, the judge makes an immediate decision whether the case will be handled pursuant to juvenile rules or adult rules and apparently 80% or 90% of the cases are dealt with as a juvenile case, in effect.</p> <p>So, the governor said, "Since we have gotten some very good outcomes with our juvenile justice reforms that date back about 10 years, we've seen a dramatically reduced number of young people getting arrested. We have historically low number of juveniles in juvenile detention or in our juvenile prison-like facility, that if we're getting these good outcomes by the earlier reforms, maybe we can get those similar outcomes for 18, 19, and 20 year olds going forward."</p> <p>We're beginning a process where we'll gradually phase this in. We're also going to make changes in the way we handle offenders under the age of 25. So, we want to have specialized parole and probation supervision for people under 25 so that the officers involved, that's their specialty, dealing with younger people. We're going to have a special correctional facility just for offenders under 25. We already have one for offenders under 21. We want to have another one for the next age cohort there.</p> <p>WOLF: And the rationale is because they have different needs and are more amenable to rehabilitation?</p> <p>LAWLOR: Exactly. And on top of that, mixing a 21 year old kid whose got all sorts of problems that have landed him in jail with some 40 year old career criminal guy's probably not a good idea, and I think any person with common sense would understand that that's probably the case.</p> <p>I don't think it's done by design that all these people are mixed together in our prison system, but why not change it? We don't have to build a new prison, we just allocate one for the next age cohort and put in staff that specializes with that.</p> <p>All of this ... the recent developments in brain science has really informed criminal justice policy planners like myself. I think people now, for the first time, are realizing that you need to have a special approach to younger offenders, meaning under 25.</p> <p>If we are successful in getting some of these young people off this trajectory towards career criminal status or lengthy terms of incarceration, we'll need a lot fewer prison beds in this country.</p> <p>So, earlier I referred to our juvenile justice reforms that have already taken place in Connecticut. First and foremost, Connecticut was one of three states in the country that used to treat 16 year olds as adults all the time. So it was Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina. Back in 2007, the legislature voted to increase the jurisdictional age up to 18, but to do it gradually, in increments, and establish a very robust planning process to get there.</p> <p>So we spent two years figuring out how to do this. Starting on January 1, 2010, we went from 16 to 17. Then on July 1, 2012, went from 17 to 18, and added all of that to the juvenile courts and subtracted all of that from the adult courts.</p> <p>It would be fair to say, "So how did that turn out?" And now we know. It's 2016, we have all the data. First of all, people had predicted, when we did this, the juvenile courts would be overwhelmed with new cases, and actually today there are fewer cases coming into the juvenile court than there were before because there's are a lot fewer young people getting into trouble that lead them to court in the first place.</p> <p>Second, we know that we have an all-time low number of kids in juvenile detention, and that has to do with a lot of different policy changes, not just raising the age. But don't forget, it used to be that on your 16th birthday you were automatically an adult. You never could be in juvenile detention. Now we've added all 16 and 17 year olds, and even with that we've got a historic low.</p> <p>We have three juvenile detention facilities in our state. One of the three has closed. The other two are about one-third full, and we're probably going to close one of those two shortly. We're closing 150 bed juvenile prison-like facility altogether. We're just gonna close it. It's down to 40 kids right now.</p> <p>So all of this has to do with fewer younger people getting into trouble and getting arrested and ending up in court and ultimately incarcerated. We see that this effect is playing out now for already 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 years. It's like a trough moving through the arrest statistics.</p> <p>And for example, 17 year-olds ... the last year we have complete data for is 2014, there was 60%, six zero, 60% fewer arrests of 17 year-olds statewide in 2014 than there were in 2008, and it's dropped in equal increments every single year.</p> <p>In the adult system, we measure the number of kids in jail 18 to 21 years old who are actually incarcerated on a particular day. That number has dropped from 2062 on January 1, 2008, down to 960 on January 1, 2016.</p> <p>WOLF: You know the numbers right off the top of your head, don't you?</p> <p>LAWLOR: These are important numbers.</p> <p>WOLF: ... recite them a lot. But lowering the age, it sounds like it's easier to do because the population is smaller, but it didn't create fewer arrests. There are other factors.</p> <p>LAWLOR: Right. Definitely. So, it's the raising age, actually ... we went up to 18, now we're proposing to go to 21.</p> <p>See, juvenile court works differently and has a different triage mechanism for new cases coming in. Not everybody ends up in front of a judge, and don't have all the formal proceedings with mandatory court dates, et cetera, which kind of sets up people for failure. You get charged with failure to appear if you don't show up on time, and go to your probation officers ... there's a lot of chutes and ladders that kind of get you into trouble.</p> <p>The juvenile system is much less formal. Much focused on needs-assessment and hooking people up with appropriate interventions without an overlay of let's say, court appearances, a guilty plea, a probation officer. We are convinced that approaching young people differently will get you better outcomes.</p> <p>The reason I'm citing these statistics is, 10 years ago, when we first started talking about this stuff people said, "If you make these changes, you'll get these outcomes." So here we are, fast forward ten years. We're getting those outcomes. Maybe it's a complete coincidence, but I don't think so.</p> <p>Other examples of changes have been in school systems themselves. We know now that there's a very high correlation between suspensions and expulsions, even in younger grades, and ending up in prison down the road.</p> <p>There's an extensive study in the state of Texas, which actually has very good data going back a long time, for every single kid in their public school system, and that's clearly shown that schools with the exact same type of kids and type of issues which tend to suspend and expel a lot of kids, versus schools which are very similar but suspend very few kids, it's the high suspension schools that end up with the high incarceration rate down the road.</p> <p>So, there's something about not ostracizing, jettisoning, younger people but trying to deal with their issues up front that means that they'll be much less likely to end up in the criminal justice system down the road. So it's this kind of thinking, which is really a complete re-thinking of schools, justice, service provision, everything else that gets us to where we are today and sustains the momentum we hope to continue for the next few years.</p> <p>The goal at the end of the day is reducing crime. If crime's going down, that's good. If crime is going up, something is wrong.</p> <p>WOLF: And you said this, you thought, was the bigger task. The more challenging component to implement of the Second Chance Society, the raising the age is this requiring how you have to persuade the legislature. Are they on board?</p> <p>LAWLOR: Well, it's a lot easier to talk to legislators and ordinary citizens, even journalists, editorial boards, about why we think this would be successful because we can cite the success of earlier, similar initiatives.</p> <p>And the process that the governor has recommended is gradual and incremental with a lot of planning built into the front end. It's really more about re-allocating resources, because everything you add to the juvenile system, you subtract from the adult system, so we think it's very workable.</p> <p>But people, appropriately, are apprehensive, skeptical, because it's new. It's a completely different approach to this. It's worth noting that we are making provisions to ... it wouldn't be 100% of the people under 21 go to juvenile court. Obviously, murders and very serious crimes, very high-risk kids of kids, there would be an option, with discretion, informed by specific standards or findings that need to be made, to deal with a case in adult court.</p> <p>So it's not one-size-fits-all, at all. It's very focused on risk assessment, needs assessment, with the stated goal up front of reducing crime, reducing recidivism among kids who are actually coming in to court.</p> <p>We think, based on our experience, that just talking about these things as the actual goals, talking about the fact that we now have the capability to measure all this data, make it very transparent so everybody can see what's going on, that affects behavior of everyone on the front lines: the cops, the prosecutors, probation parole, corrections, everybody. They know what the goal is, they know that you're able to figure this stuff out, and I think people gradually buy into the fact that, after all, the whole point of the criminal justice system, one would think, is to reduce crime. And if that's what's happening, everybody's doing a good job.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, thanks for explaining all that, and good luck with all your exciting stuff going on in Connecticut.</p> <p>LAWLOR: Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking with Mike Lawlor, who is Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy's Chief of Criminal Justice, well, the Chief Advisor to the governor, right?</p> <p>LAWLOR: Policy stuff.</p> <p>WOLF: Your exact title is, Undersecretary, Criminal Justice Policy and Planning Division.</p> <p>LAWLOR: That's the job. I'm a bureaucrat.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, we need bureaucrats to get this done, right?</p> <p>LAWLOR: There you go.</p> <p>WOLF: I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation, and Mike and I have been speaking outside of the rooms where Community Justice 2016 is occurring here at the Hilton in Chicago, where for two and a half days, people from around the country and even a few visitors internationally have been discussing justice reform. To find out more about the Center for Court Innovation and about justice reform, and about community justice, visit our website, Thanks for listening.</p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Jul 12, 2016
‘An Open and Inviting Court’: Judge Joe Perez of the Orange County Community Court Talks Procedural Justice
<p>Joe Perez, the presiding judge of the <u><a href="">Orange County Community Court</a></u>, discusses how the principles of <u><a href="">procedural justice</a></u> inform both design and process in his courthouse. Perez is a lifelong resident of Orange County whose father was the first Spanish-speaking attorney and judge in the county. The interview with Robert V. Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation, took place while Judge Perez was in Chicago to speak at <a href="" target="_blank">Community Justice 2016</a>. Wolf interviewed Judge Perez’s predecessor and the founding judge of the Orange County Community Court, <u><a href="">Wendy Lindley</a></u>, in 2008.</p> <p><span class="inline inline-left"><img src="" alt="Judge Joe Perez speaks during a panel on race and legitimacy at Community Justice 2016." title="Judge Joe Perez speaks during a panel on race and legitimacy at Community Justice 2016." class="image image-preview " width="640" height="426" /><span class="caption" style="width: 638px;">Judge Joe Perez speaks during a panel on race and legitimacy at Community Justice 2016.</span></span></p><br /><p><strong style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"><em>The following is a transcript.</em></strong></p> <p>JUDGE JOSEPH PEREZ:    The words, "I'm proud of you," go so far with this population because no on in the criminal justice system has ever said that.</p> <p>ROB WOLF:         I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at Center for Court Innovation here in Chicago at Community Justice 2016 where people from all around the country and even around the world have come to learn and discuss justice reform, new strategies, new ideas, new programs, and research.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> Lots of topics have been discussed and are being discussed during this two and a half day conference. With me right now is someone who presented and also practices community justice, Judge Joseph Perez, who is the presiding judge of the Orange County Community Court. He has presided there for the last two years, but he's in fact been a judge for the last nine years.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> Today we were going to talk a little bit about procedural justice. PEREZ, could you tell me a little bit about what procedural justice looks like at the Orange Country Community Court?</span></p> <p>PEREZ:  Well, to start with, we're unique in that we are a standalone court in the middle of Santa Ana where what we've tried to do is have a one-stop shop where people who don't even have to be charged with crimes can come in to get services. Who do we have there? We have the Healthcare Agency of Orange County, which can provide healthcare services.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">  Once a month during our homeless courts, we bring in a nurse practitioner with a line of nurses to assess and treat the homeless. We have Social Services Agency of Orange County there which also provides assistance. Food stamps, cash aid if they qualify to assist them in that regard. We also have vocational rehab from the state to assist people in getting jobs.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">  We have the Veteran's Administration there and they are there because unfortunately in my county, Orange County, California we have a large population of homeless that's in fact there was a study that was recently done that specifically targeted Orange County, which is a fairly high socio-economic status county, and it came out and it said virtually every veteran that is discharged into the county of Orange would have been homeless by for family or friends.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> It's an extraordinary issue. We have Veteran's Administration Office there. We also have legal aid that comes in several times a week that can assist people with civil legal actions. We have a place where people can bring their children to be watched while they go into court or seek out these services.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> All of those kids get to go home with a book. This is an extraordinary opening and inviting court. We have a sandwich board outside that says, "Visitors are welcome. This is not just for people that are charged with crimes."</span></p> <p>WOLF:   That's a key tenet of procedural justice that you are open and welcoming, and I suppose transparent about the services you offer, and make it easy for people to come and go. I suppose it's not a confusing place as someone comes in and they aren't there particularly for a court purpose, but they want assistance in one of the areas you've just described. That's easily accessible.</p> <p>PEREZ:  Yeah. The whole environment of our collaborative court is to defuse and deescalate the intensity of the criminal justice system, frankly. We have pews in my courtroom instead of seats. I can't take credit for it. My predecessor, Judge Lindy Linley, she built that place from the ground up.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">  You walk into our court, we get people from all over the United States, all over the world, come into our court and say, "Wow, this is an extraordinary place." This is not like you would think of a courtroom. It's an inviting place. It looks like a church for crying out loud with really nice chandeliers.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> It's a beautiful place. With an open area, we don't have bars that separate our inmates. We have a glass panel and the reason why she did it, it's brilliant. So they can see out. They feel a little bit close and connected to those that are not in custody and they can also see visually and hear auditorily what these folks are doing to stay out of trouble.</span></p> <p>WOLF:   This is in the courtrooms?</p> <p>PEREZ:  This is in the courtroom.</p> <p>WOLF:   That is in the courtroom where they have access or they can hear everything that's going on.</p> <p>PEREZ:  Yeah, and they can see everything that's going on. We don't try to separate them like many do. We want them to be able to see and hear what we're doing for those that are in custody because it's a learning experience. A lot of what we do in our court is teach and provide the services necessary to keep them from coming back. <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Procedural justice, in my opinion, making people feel comfortable, and making them feel like they're heard. When a judge cares and they see it, and they feel it, and I do care very much, and my caring is to keep them from ever coming back. To stay out of the system, to provide them whatever services are necessary that we can provide and keep them from coming back.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> Really celebrating with them as they move theirselves along. The fact that you care and if they see that, it's an extraordinary thing because all of a sudden, they want to be able to tell you, and impress you, and say, "Look, I'm doing this, judge. Take a look at what I'm doing." The words, "I'm proud of you," go so far with this population because no one in the criminal justice system has ever said that when you think about it.</span></p> <p>WOLF:   In fact, it's probably a lot of judges or it's in the traditional mode the way people thing of judges, they don't think of a judge saying to a defendant, "I'm proud of you." It's not like that's something you do naturally. It also has been substantiated by research that one of the components of procedural justice is in fact the relationship between the judge and the defendant.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> It's allowing them to have the voice, the understanding of the procedures, a sense that they're being treated fairly. In fact, speaking that way to a defendant embodies those principles that research has shown have had positive results/impacts on defendant compliance and acceptance of sentences, and long-term success.</span></p> <p>PEREZ:  It has to be sincere. The interesting thing, and this is mentioned this week, that the personality of the judge is pervasive throughout the court. The staff, the bailiffs, everybody in my courthouse really comes back to you. I'm a second generation judge. <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">My father, he was the first Spanish-speaking attorney in Orange County and then from there, he became the first Spanish-speaking judge. I remember being a toddler running around my father's court and there was this sense of peace. I don't know how to explain it, but it started with my dad. He was a very generous, kind, caring judge, and it had a heck of an impact on me.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">  I remember lawyers coming in and saying, "That's your father?" "Yes." "Let me just tell you something. We love coming to this court because we are all treated so fairly. Everyone's listened to." There is not a person that walked into that court that wasn't treated with respect. I don't care whatever you were charged with and that's the way it should be.</span></p> <p>WOLF:   That's remarkable. It's interesting because you talked about somebody being handcuffed, but being treated nicely. Procedural justice doesn't mean that the court is in any way abdicating security. There's metal detectors and there's accountability. None of those things are being abdicated when when you do engage in procedural justice.</p> <p>PEREZ:  Not at all. It's how you do it as far as I'm concerned. You make reasonable boundaries. Everything we do in our court, and I say this to defendants all the time, "Everything we do is geared for one reason and that's to graduate you and see that you never come back." Look around.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> I have them look around and I say, "Look at everyone here including the prosecutor. All of us want you to succeed." Have you ever heard that in any other courtroom? The answer is no. The prosecutor wants to send you away and there's this adversarial environment where people are arguing. Our is not that way at all. Quite the opposite.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> Setting up these courts is another issue and I've talked about it. There is a lot of abrasiveness in setting these courts up. I've mentioned previously that my predecessor, she was told, "You continue on this path, someone challenges you on election, we may not support you," and she said, "I'm doing it." I've had people call me the Clappy Court. Perez's Court is the Clappy Court.</span></p> <p>WOLF:   Because you applaud?</p> <p>PEREZ:  Yeah, exactly. Social worker with a robe I mentioned.</p> <p>WOLF:   A hundred times.</p> <p>PEREZ:  I've had probation officers say, "So you're going to hug a thug?" The interesting thing is those folks that make those statements have never been a collaborative court and they certainly have never been in mine. There has not been one person that has walked into my court and has seen what we do and walked out and said, "This is a waste of money or time." <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">In fact, we're saving money. Since 1995, we got a yearly report that goes out talking about our statistics. Since 1995, when the court began, the number is somewhere around 110 million dollars that we have saved in costs for jail. When I go in front of the legislature, I go in front of those that want to shut us down, it's not necessarily legislature, but when I try to speak about what we do, all I do is I say, "We're saving lives and money."</span></p> <p>WOLF:   Very expensive.</p> <p>PEREZ:  Does anybody have a problem with it? Seriously, we have the data to back it up. These people are not coming back. Some do of course, but the recidivism rate has basically been turned upside down. I've told the legislature that, "I wish you guys had a camera in our court to see what we do. After you watch and you see what we're doing here and you have a problem with it, then talk to me, but don't throw stones from outside without knowing what we do."</p> <p>WOLF:   I just want to ask you one more thing and it's something that you mentioned when you participated in the panel yesterday on race, legitimacy, and community justice. You said something to the effect that it was, "Important for a judge to look like the people in the community the courthouse is serving." I wonder if you could just say a little bit more about that. Explain why you think that.</p> <p>PEREZ:  Well, I think what they need to do is understand the community that they're in and if possible, come from that community. Like I said, my father grew up blocks from where we were. It's heavily Hispanic and you can see when people come in, they see the last name of Perez and they think, "Oh, this is someone that may understand what I've gone through."</p> <p>WOLF:   Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me and sharing with me some of the work you've been doing at the Orange Country Community Court.</p> <p>PEREZ:  It's been a pleasure. Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF:   I've been talking to Judge Joseph Perez of the Orange County Community Court, and we are both here at Community Justice 2016 in Chicago. If you want to find out more about what happened at the conference on The Center for Court Information website at and you can listen to more podcasts, including one I did a few years ago with Jude Linley, who founded the court. Thank you very much for listening.</p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Jun 15, 2016
Jails as Psychiatric Facilities: Addressing Mental Illness in the Justice System with Judge Steve Leifman
<p>Judge Steve Leifman, associate administrative judge of the Miami-Dade County Court Criminal Division and presiding judge of its <a href="" target="_blank">Criminal Mental Health Project</a>, has worked at the intersection of mental health and the criminal justice system in Miami-Date County for decades. <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">In this podcast, he outlines the challenges of addressing the high occurence of mental illness in Miami's courts and prisons, the fraught history of incarcerating those with mental health needs, and ways in which the justice system can change its response to those living with mental illness.</span></p><br /><p>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hello and welcome to the New Thinking podcast. This is Avni Majithia- Sejpal from the Center for Court Innovations. Today, I'm joined by Judge Steve Leifman who is the Associate Administrative Judge at the Miami-Dade County court in Florida and the presiding judge of Miami's Criminal Mental Health Project. Welcome to our podcast, Judge Leifman.</p> <p>JUDGE STEVE LEIFMAN: Thank you very much.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I wanted to start by talking about Miami. The statistics say that Miami has a very large population of people dealing with mental illness, almost 10%, which is more than any other urban community in the U.S. You have said that the county jail serves as the largest psychiatric facility in the state of Florida. Why do you say that?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: Miami-Dade County has a very high prevalence of mental illness, as you've stated, with any urban area in the United States. That really comes from a couple factors. One, we start with our own norm of mental illness such as probably 3 to 5%. Then we pick-up a couple percent from our weather. A lot of times family members or people with mental illnesses, they don't want to be in Chicago or New York during the cold winters and so they end up coming out to south Florida to escape the bad weather.</p> <p>Then also during the Mariel Boatlift in the '80s, Castro literally emptied all the psychiatric facilities onto the boats, so the people that were actually fleeing for political freedom from Cuba. Between the other factors and our own norm, it's a very, very high prevalence. Unfortunately, Florida also is very poor in its funding of mental health issues depending on the data anywhere from 48 to 50th per capita in mental health funding.</p> <p>Only about 1% of the people in the county who actually need services get access to the services that they need and so there's a large unmet need. Many people, unfortunately, will end up in the acute systems of care which sometimes means the Dade County jail.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: When we say mental illness, what are we talking about?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: We are not talking about sociopaths. We are talking about people that have been diagnosed with an organic brain illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Then I wanted to ask you about the 11th Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project which you helped to establish in the year 2000. What's the history behind it, why was it created, and what does it do?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: It actually started as a result of a case that I had in 2000 where I had a defendant who turned out to be a Harvard educated psychiatrist who had an onset of schizophrenia and had become homeless, and was recycling through the criminal justice system. It was really pretty traumatic for all of us involved in the case. He had a full blown psychotic episode in my courtroom and it was an eye-opener into how inadequate our community mental health system was as well as the court's response for people with mental illnesses.</p> <p>If you had a serious mental illness and you were arrested on a low-level misdemeanor charge, the court on the vast majority of cases, we were just releasing people back to the street telling them to go see a psychiatrist for competency restoration. We are putting people who are very ill back out on the street without any access to treatment and so I was able to bring together a meeting of all the traditional and non-traditional stakeholders. We literally mapped out how our criminal justice system intersected with our community mental health system and frankly it didn't.</p> <p>I think once we had mapped it out and realized how poor of a response we had, we had an obligation and a responsibility to make some significant change. It was for everybody's sake to improve public safety, to spend our tax dollars more efficiently, and equally important to help people who have illnesses have access to recovery.</p> <p>We decided we needed a two-part approach. We needed to stem the flow of people coming into the system that were coming in unnecessarily and we also needed to have an approach where people that did penetrate the criminal justice system so that we could get them out if it was an appropriate thing to do. We created a very expansive, what's called, Crisis Intervention Team Police Program.</p> <p>Over the years, we have actually trained over 4700 police officers including every single agency in Miami-Dade County and it has made a startling difference. Between 2010 and 2015, we handled 48,669 mental health calls and only made 109 arrests. It had a significant impact on the reduction of our jail. It actually helped us close one of our jails.</p> <p>We also realized that we also needed to set-up post arrest diversion program. We initially set-up a misdemeanor diversion program whereby any individual with a serious mental illness who's arrested for a misdemeanor, if they meet criteria for involuntary hospitalization, generally within 3 days, we have them diverted from our jail into one of our community crisis stabilization units.</p> <p>We reset the case for a couple weeks. During that period, A, we allow them to become more stable, but at the same time my team is working on lining up their benefits, finding them housing, getting all these supports in place that people need for recovery and it's been phenomenally successful. Our recidivism rate dropped from over 70% to about 20% today. Our state attorney allowed us to expand it to our non-violent felony cases.</p> <p>We put into play about five years ago, a felony diversion program and that program has a recidivism rate of only about 6% for those that complete the program which is about 70%. The program alone has saved the county between 35 and 40 years of jail bed days. When we set-up the third program, that diverts people from competency restoration hospitals and keeps them in a local facility. Instead of just [inaudible] on the restoring competency, we actually focus on reintegrating them back into the community.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Would you say that deincarceration is the way forward?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: I think jail should be the last resort for people with mental illnesses. It shouldn't be the first entry point for people with mental illness, which it has become. Our jails have become the de facto mental health facilities all around the country and it's really not fair. Most of these individuals have serious trauma issues and arrest often re-traumatizes them.</p> <p>Their lives are generally so fragile to begin with that even a day in jail can help further the stigma against them, sever ties from employment, from housing, from family, and make it even that much more difficult for them to reintegrate. Now there are some people that do commit crimes that are offensive enough or dangerous enough that need to be in bars, so the program really is about identifying the people that don't need to be in jail and making sure that we get them out.</p> <p>One of the things that we do now is we use a risk assessment tool. We evaluate everybody that comes to our program and line-up the right services for each individual. The key is to really understanding what the individual needs, doing our best to line-up the right services for that particular individual, and then help reintegrate, reassociate them back into the community. If you do that with all the supports and services that they need, this population can do very well.</p> <p>In fact, what most people don't understand is that, number one is, people with mental illnesses are no more dangerous than the general population and on medication they're actually have a much lower propensity for any violent crimes than people without mental illness. Sadly, they're much more likely to be victims of violent crimes than perpetrators.</p> <p>The other thing I don't think people understand is that most people with mental illnesses have much better recovery rates than actually people with diabetes and heart disease. The key to these illnesses just like most illnesses is identifying them early and treating people early. I think the problem arises when we ignore the problem and we see people who have been sick for many years, and have had many psychotic episodes.</p> <p>What we're trying to do in our community as well is working with our school system now to educate all of our teachers so that they can do a better job identifying kids that are showing signs and symptoms of mental illness so that we don't wait for them to grow-up in our system to try to get them access to treatment at a much earlier stage. We look at this as not as a court problem or a court solution, but really a community problem that requires a community solution.</p> <p>It really requires a community to come together and to make the structural changes that are necessary that help access treatment for people.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Within the courtroom, how do you balance responding to the treatment needs of defendants with the need for public safety?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: If somebody commits a violent offense, now that is not someone that's probably a good candidate for our program. The people that we accept in our program are, A, generally charged with committing low-level non-violent offenses nor do they have histories of committing violent offenses. There are very good risk assessment tools on whether or not that they're going to commit further crimes in the future and so we do use those.</p> <p>It may sound counterintuitive, but the people that are scoring moderate to high risk are the ones that we want in the program because those are the ones you want to wrap your arms around, get them the right services, follow them more closely and monitor them so that they're not picking up new offenses. The people with low-risk don't need that kind of court supervision. They're going to be absolutely fine back in the community and the chances of them reoffending are very, very, very low.</p> <p>I think as communities look to set-up these programs, the key is to take the moderate and higher risk people who are going to get out of jail anyway, and make sure that we're appropriately monitoring them, and helping them change their ways, getting them housing, getting them case management, getting them peer specialists so that we know that they are going to stay out of trouble and stop committing offenses.</p> <p>By doing that, you get better outcomes, you spend your dollars more wisely, and you have a bigger, better impact on improving our public safety.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: In your experience in dealing with mental illness in the justice system over the decades, have you seen a change in the justice system response to mental illness?</p> <p> </p> <p>LEIFMAN: That's a great question. Yes. There have been [inaudible] in how the courts are beginning to approach and deal with people with mental illnesses. There's a lot of initiatives that are going on and particularly since prevalence is just so high in the criminal justice system.</p> <p>We started several years ago, an organization called the Judge's Leadership Initiative and we created a parallel group called the Psychiatric Leadership Group. We now go around the country training judges on how to identify people with mental illnesses, how to respond better in court, and how the judge can be the community facilitator to bring people together to make the structural changes that are necessary to have a better improved response.</p> <p>There's a national movement going on right now. We've begun this initiative called Stepping Up. More than 250 counties in the United States representing more than a third of the American population have passed these resolutions agreeing to step up to reduce the over representation of people with mental illnesses.</p> <p>The jails are now spending almost $70 billion a year to partially deal with this problem and it's enormously expensive. It cuts into infrastructure projects, it affects our tax base, and it's such an unnecessary waste of money because we don't get good outcomes from what we do today.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I also wanted to talk to you about a very interesting book called Crazy by the reporter, Pete Early, which was personal, but also investigative look at mental illness in the justice system. He got access to the Miami-Dade County Jail for research. Were you involved in that decision? Was it an easy decision to give him access or were there reservations about it?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: Yes. I felt that it was incredibly important for someone to tell the story. While the focus was on the Miami-Dade County Jail and some of the horrors that went on there, we could have been any jail in the United States. He did a brilliant job documenting what goes on and I think it really was illuminating for a lot of people in the country, and helped us take a critical look at our own system. We've been able to almost use his book as a blueprint on how to improve our system.</p> <p>The difference between today and when he wrote that book are night and day. We closed down the horrible 9th floor that he highlights in his book. We opened up 2 jail floors that are just for people with mental illnesses. Instead of sticking our heads in the dirt and resisting what was going wrong, we fixed it.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Would you say that opening up the jail to scrutiny from a reporter has actually benefited Miami?</p> <p>LEIFMAN: There is no doubt. It wasn't just Pete. We also opened it up to our local CBS affiliate. Inevitably the Justice Department came in and took a hard look at our jail, and all those things helped. Since that day, we have special training for our corrections officers. There has been a significant reduction in violence on those floors since we've made those changes and we're getting people out of the system, and not keeping them so long, so it's less of a burden on the justice system and the jail system to begin with.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I wanted to ask you about the state of mental illness in the justice system today, what you think the challenges are, and what the future can perhaps look like.</p> <p>LEIFMAN: I think we're turning a corner. We have a long way to go, but we have finally acknowledged and recognized that we have a problem. It's also interestingly pleasantly enough one of the only non-partisan issues that we have seen in my legislature as well as in congress. Part of the problem that we have today is, aside from inadequate community resources to handle some of these and the capacity to handle some of these problems, all of the laws regarding both treatment and financing for mental health were really written 40 and 50 years ago.</p> <p>These laws were all written at a time when most people with serious mental illnesses were still in state hospital. It really requires a modernization of the laws so that they better reflect the science, research, and medicine of psychiatry and mental health. As we begin to do that, I think we'll start to see this great change.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: On that note, I think we will conclude this podcast. Thank you so much for your time, Judge Leifman.</p> <p>LEIFMAN: Sure. Thank you for doing this.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal and you've been listening to the New Thinking podcast. To hear more of our podcast, visit our website at Thanks so much for listening.</p> <p> </p>
Jun 14, 2016
'My Partner, My Enemy': New York State Judge John Leventhal
<p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Judge John Leventhal is the author of “</span><a href=""><span>My Partner, My Enemy</span></a><span>,” a book chronicling his experiences presiding over the </span><a href=""><span>Brooklyn Domestic Violence Court</span></a><span>, the first felony domestic violence court in the nation. In this </span><span>New Thinking</span><span> podcast, Judge Leventhal discusses memorable cases from his tenure, the domestic violence court model, and why he felt it was important to write a book about domestic violence. Judge Leventhal presided over the Brooklyn Domestic Violence Court from its opening in June 1996 until 2008. Since 2008, he has served as an associate justice of the New York State Supreme Court in the second department of the appellate division.</span></p><br /><p>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi, this is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. In today's podcast, we're joined by New York judge, John Leventhal of the Second Judicial Department, Appellate Division in Brooklyn. From 1996 to 2008, Judge Leventhal presided over the nation's first Felony Domestic Violence court, based in Brooklyn's Supreme Court. He has chronicled this experience in a new book, My Partner, My Enemy, from Rowman and Littlefield. My Partner, My Enemy presents vignettes of some memorable cases Leventhal heard in Domestic Violence court, as well as Leventhal's reflections on how the justice system can best serve victims of domestic violence. Judge Leventhal, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</p> <p>JUDGE JOHN LEVENTHAL: Thank you. It's my pleasure to participate in this podcast on a very important subject.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Why did you write this book?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: Well, I was taken by all of the cases that I had and there were some that stuck out to me as very, very unusual, which was emblematic of the types of cases that judges and people experience in their lives. I thought that it would be helpful, not only to talk about the cases, but to bring it to dramatic attention, but also to make suggestions as to how to better protect the victims, the scope of the problem, how the problem has somewhat abated since the court was established in 1995, and also why we should have specialized courts to deal with domestic violence issues.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Can you describe to our audience, some of whom may not be familiar with the concept of a domestic violence court, how that court operates?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: We started out as a pilot project in the aftermath of a very celebrated domestic violence case, the Galina Komar case and, after that, this was really the project of former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, who was really the innovator and mother of all problem-solving courts in New York and the Center for Court Innovation who came up with all these good ideas and protocols for problem-solving courts.</p> <p>What we learned at the very beginning is that people continually come back in domestic violence situations and we were trying to pretty much break the mold and we started the domestic violence court as a pilot project. It eventually became a model court where the justice department was sending judges and administrators from all over the country to come watch our court and, eventually the state department was sending judges, administrators and lawyers from all over the world to watch the court.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What happens in domestic violence court?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: Well, one judge handles the case from the arraignment, on the indictment, to motions, to pleas, to either trial and sentencing. What happened was that, one of the things that I learned when I visited Quincy, Massachusetts when I first started, in Quincy, misdemeanors are punishable up to 2-1/2 years for a misdemeanor and the judge had great power over them. What I was struck by that there was a great violation of probation calendar.</p> <p>What I sought to do was to reduce the violation of probation calendar. I would bring my probationers back. Those who were lucky to get six months in jail plus five years' probation and they didn't get state prison time, I would bring them back every two or three months for a year, year and a half, and what we discovered is that the violation rate was less than half of the general probation population, which is remarkable when these people were so intimately involved and knew one another.</p> <p>What had happened was, that even those who I sentenced to state jail time, when they came out of jail, parole saw the success that we were accomplishing with probation and they asked me to bring the parolees back when they were released from jail within one month, so that I would read them the Order of Protection, the conditions of parole, and reinforce that the judge is still watching them. That's why this was such a successful court because the judge was involved. There was intensive judicial monitoring and the defendants were always reminded that the judge is watching them.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: You've taken a very unique approach in this book with each chapter, a vignette, based around a character or two characters. How did you select these stories out of all the cases that came before you?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: When I decided to write the book, I went back to my notes. I didn't actually ask for the transcripts of the pleas or the trials or the hearings, but I went back to my notes on the number of cases and I picked the cases that were emblematic of the types of situations, attorneys, prosecutors, and judges would see. I picked two cases on same-sex violence and each case had another aspect of domestic violence in it. Of course, there was heterosexual violence as well, the prototypical domestic violence situation. I tried to pick out cases which would add to the dialogue, which would add to the discussion, and to bring more awareness to the problem.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Why did you select this approach?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: Because I thought that, after OJ Simpson, after Galina Komar, and even after Ray Rice and these celebrated cases, they go back into the background and I didn't want domestic violence to be the flavor of the month, the fad of the day, and I didn't want it to disappear. I figured if I wrote this book, that it would be out there, people would read it and realize that, number one, this problem existed before OJ Simpson. This problem continues to exist and this is a problem that started out and was only brought to the attention, first by the Women's Movement and then it went from a private matter to a women's issue to a societal issue and that we should keep it in the forefront and remember it and it shouldn't be forgotten just because it's not a celebrated or a case that gathers the public attention.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: I think there's so many heart-wrenching stories in the book. I was particularly affected by the story of someone you called Deadly Dave. I know these are pseudonyms but, who was Deadly Dave?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: He was a fellow who was actually the head of a domestic violence accountability group, or Batterer's Intervention Program, who would actually be in charge of the men and he would come in every week and report to the court, but the thing which was so interesting about Dave is that he would tell me that, "Oh, these knuckleheads don't get it." If anyone could talk the talk it was Dave and I thought if anyone could walk the walk, it was Dave.</p> <p>Then the program really wasn't doing well, so I stopped dealing with that program about a year or two before but then, when I read on Christmastime two years following that he had killed his girlfriend and her boyfriend, I was shocked that it was him. What made this more outrageous, they were looking for him, and that he went to a precinct and told the police, "I'm the one you're looking for," and right in front of the police, he shot himself in the head.</p> <p>It was a real eye opener for me. It really reinforced that domestic violence cuts across all strata of society. You can't have any true assumption that someone is not going to be a batterer, no matter who they are.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Domestic violence cases are so complicated and I think the title of your book alludes to that. The perpetrator is also the partner of the victim. How can the justice system protect victims of domestic violence?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: The police are never in the home, but there are certain aspects where we can do. For example, in England and in New Zealand, they have a procedure where you can call the police and find out if your boyfriend has been convicted of a domestic violence crime. I think that would really be a wonderful, wonderful thing. A suggestion that I made years ago, when I was starting out with this through the police department has been effectuated, where they have digital cameras in the police cars, where they can take pictures of the victim immediately, so when the woman says, "I wasn't hit," or, "It wasn't that bad," and then you show the pictures at the arraignment, would be a big deal.</p> <p>I envision also improvements where the judge can have access to the emergency room records at the arraignment, whereby we would know, number one, it would result in more pleas. Judges are in the position of convicting people but, if you eliminate the cases that shouldn't be dismissed, which are dismissed in domestic violence cases, then you can concentrate and have trials on the cases that should be trialed. Also, you would have more discovery both for the prosecution and for the defense at an earlier stage in the proceeding.</p> <p>Other things that we can do, we can have, every college campus should have an orientation about sexual violence and harassment. We should have programs on teen dating violence in high schools. There are many things that we can do. Another thing that we can do, we can make sure that shelters, which are needed, if a woman is to leave her abusive boyfriend or spouse, we should make shelters more available to the women and not preclude women who have adolescent, teenage male children. A lot of the shelters do not allow them into those shelters. The woman is then faced with the choice of either staying with her abusive husband or giving up her teenage child, which you shouldn't have to do.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Any final thoughts?</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: My final thought is that, anyone who thinks they know everything about this problem is clearly mistaken. We're not interested in just processing the cases. We're interested in protecting the complainant while the case is pending and even after it is over. We're interested in forming a partnership by all of the agencies, including the defense bar. We are interested in having a coordinated community response so that everyone's on board. The only way a judge can participate in this is if they get the defense bar on board. Success for this court should be measured that any of the defendants who appear before a judge in the domestic violence court should never commit another violent crime in the future. That's how I judge the success, which is pretty much unobtainable, but that's the only way I can judge success.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.</p> <p>JUDGE LEVENTHAL: It was – I always think that dealing and speaking on domestic violence issues is really a duty. You're very welcome.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation and I've been speaking with Judge John Leventhal about his new book, My Partner, My Enemy, now available on Amazon. For more information about the Center for Court Innovation, visit</p> <p> </p>
Jun 07, 2016
10 Years of Community Justice in Melbourne, Australia: An Interview with Kerry Walker
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, Kerry Walker, director of the <a href="">Neighbourhood Justice Centre</a> in Melbourne, Australia, describes some of the ways the Justice Centre engages the community, all with the long-term goal of promoting the rule of law and a “civil, caring society.” She reflects on lessons learned as the Justice Centre approaches its 10<sup>th</sup> anniversary, including, “Never act alone [but] only … in partnership.” The podcast concludes with a discussion of ways the Justice Centre is using technology to promote safety and make the court more user-friendly.  The interview took place while Walker was in Chicago to attend <a href="" target="_blank">Community Justice 2016</a>.</p> <p><span class="inline inline-"><img src=" (15).JPG" alt="Kerry Walker of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Melbourne, Australia, discusses best practices for community justice during a session at Community Justice 2016." title="Kerry Walker of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Melbourne, Australia, discusses best practices for community justice during a session at Community Justice 2016." class="image image-preview " width="550" height="367" /><span class="caption" style="width: 548px;">Kerry Walker of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in Melbourne, Australia, discusses best practices for community justice during a session at Community Justice 2016.</span></span></p><br /><p> </p> <p><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p>KERRY WALKER:   Allow for the unintended consequence, because it's often stronger than your first program idea.</p> <p>ROB WOLF:  Hi, this is Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. I'm at Community Justice 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. It's an international summit that's brought together over 400 people interested in court reform. With me right now is Kerry Walker, who is the director of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre in the city of Yarra, which is part of the city of Melbourne, Australia. Hi Kerry.</p> <p>WALKER:   Hello Robert.</p> <p>WOLF:   I thought it would be interesting to talk to you today about the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, because you are shortly going to celebrate your tenth anniversary.</p> <p>WALKER:  We are.</p> <p>WOLF:   Congratulations.</p> <p>WALKER:  Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF:   I thought we could talk about the Justice Centre generally, and also focus in on community engagement, which is something that is an important part of community courts and community justice centers, and something that I know you guys are particularly good at doing. Why don't we start with that. Let's talk about community engagement. Maybe you can just define the term for me, because I think for people unfamiliar with community courts, they might say, "Why is a court of any kind engaging with the community? A court is supposed to remain apart from the community, above the community." Maybe you could explain to me what community engagement means.</p> <p>WALKER:   Community engagement for us is premised on the principle that ordinary citizens have a right to understand the law. They have a right to feel justice in their communities, and they have the right to be part of that relationship between the law and themselves and their neighbours. I think it's a new way of looking at the rule of law, and to say that justice must play an active role in a community. If we are serious that what we want to do via courts and via the rule of law, is to have a civil caring society where there is strong stewardship and tolerance and fairness, then we must play a part in that.</p> <p>WOLF:   Let's talk a little bit about that. You have neighbourhood in your name, and community justice, which is the approach you're speaking of, has the word community in it, so that means that there's a very local element, you're working in a particular neighbourhood. How exactly do you let the community initiate things? How do you communicate or open that communication?</p> <p>WALKER:  I can give you some examples of the type of activity we do. For instance, if there is to be a local festival, we will ring and say, "We would love to be a part of that, and we would love to come to the festival, but in order to come to the festival, we want to help either take the minutes or do the photocopying or help put up the tents. We want to do something, we want to be really active. We don't want to just turn up on the day with our trestle table and our books and say, 'Hi, aren't we lovely and wonderful, come and talk to us and we'll tell you what we do.'" We, I think, show by example about putting our shoulder to the wheel, and show that we are really serious in participating, and therefore getting to know people.</p> <p>WOLF:   Where's the intersection of justice? If you're involved in a community activity, how does that intersect with what you're actually doing in the court?</p> <p>WALKER:   We have quite a different legal system to the American system, and it is, in some ways, more monolithic and more difficult to have that participatory interaction at the court phase. However, what we have done is the community work part of what we do, is very carefully chosen.</p> <p>WOLF:   What do you mean? Community work can mean like a restitution project, which a defendant might be sentenced to as part of their sentence?</p> <p>WALKER:    Yes.</p> <p>WOLF:   I see. Does the community help you identify areas where crime and safety issues, where the court can focus on certain safety issues, whether it's street corners or types of offending that the community's concerned about?</p> <p>WALKER:   Yes. We are part of a number of local safety committees that we have been invited to be members of that. Again, we wait to be invited. We don't say, "We're the Justice Center, we should be a part of this." What we say is, "If there is ever an opportunity where you think we could be helpful, we would love to take that up." Invariably we do get invited. We also are invited to a number of resident-led types of meetings and committees. We always have the voice of the community. The other part is that there are lots of groups in the community who use our building to meet. We'll ask, at times, that they would like one of us to come and talk to them about a particular issue, or might just grab us as we're there. It's both informal and formal, but we try to embed ourselves in what is resident-led.</p> <p>We're always also trying to leverage off the talents and the strengths of the community. We've just been involved in this big project of street art, and it's really an anti-graffiti project. They wanted some money from us, and I said, "Yeah, I'm happy to do that, because I think it's really worthwhile and I can see that it's a crime-prevention activity." I said, "But, you are really popular with young people, so what I want is for you to mentor and teach some young people how to do some stencil art, but on our back wall so that they will come into the center and that they will have a confidence about what it means."</p> <p>WOLF:   I see, and the young people aren't necessarily involved in the justice system.</p> <p>WALKER:   No.</p> <p>WOLF:   They're just young people from the community.</p> <p>WALKER:  Yeah.</p> <p>WOLF:   I suppose the impact that you've had on community perceptions or attitudes towards the justice system, is that something ... That would be hard to measure. Do you have, apart from anecdotally, a sense of how you perhaps, over the last ten years, have, through your engagement, affected community attitudes towards the justice system?</p> <p>WALKER:  Well, what we know is that the police tell us that their relationship with the community has improved, they say, a thousandfold, because of their relationship with us. People trust them much more because of us. We know that the Aboriginal community feels much safer with justice than they have felt before we came, because they tell us that, and we know that when we first came, very rarely would an Aboriginal person turn up for their court case. We have done a lot of work over the years about encouraging that confidence, and now we have a turn up rate between 85 and 95%. But we have done things like have a specific day for Aboriginal people where we put on a kangaroo barbecue, and we invite their families and their support as well as local agencies. It becomes much more than just, "Oh yes, you're here to be processed." It is actually a way of saying, "No, no. This building, this place, is a part of the community, and you are always welcome here."</p> <p>WOLF:   Tell me, in January you're going to turn ten, the Neighbourhood Justice Center's going to turn ten. Do you have any lessons you can share for people who are interested in community justice, in community courts, and just interested in building better relationships between the justice system and their communities?</p> <p>WALKER:   I think some of the lessons we've learned ... One of the big lessons we've learned was that we got it right when we said, "We will never act alone, we will only ever act in partnership." That, I think, has worked, in that it's stopped us getting too cocky and it means if I think I've got a good idea, then I actually have to go outside and find someone else who thinks it's a good idea, or it's not going to happen. I have hung onto what I think are good ideas, sometimes for years, until I can find someone who will say yes.</p> <p>WOLF:   Someone in the community per se? Or could be another agency?</p> <p>WALKER:   In the community or it could be another agency. But for instance, I have been attending a community meeting now for ten years, and at that meeting, I, maybe every third or fourth meeting, I talk about the Baltimore Community Conferencing Center. "Wouldn't it be great if we did something like that?" And everyone just says, "Moving along now. It's a next agenda item."</p> <p>WOLF:   That's where you bring together various members of a community where there's perhaps been some kind of dispute or a difference to problem-solve together, collectively?</p> <p>WALKER:   That's right. Two years ago, again, I raised it, so this is me having done this for nearly eight years, and someone said, "I saw it on the television, I saw it about those kids. Yeah. And a local chef came down and he baked a big cake for them and it was just great, and now they've got a football tent. We should do that." I thought, "I don't believe this. For eight years I've tried to explain this, but it meant ... All I had to do was just wait for it to come on the television."</p> <p>WOLF:   It's not real until it's on TV.</p> <p>WALKER:  That's right. Now what we're doing is opening up a portal that will be based on the practice of the Baltimore Community Conference Center, which I'm going to visit during this trip.</p> <p>WOLF:   Fantastic, wow. Any other lessons?</p> <p>WALKER:   The other is I think about ... Allow for the unintended consequence, because it's often stronger than your first program idea. What we have found is that often when we've had an idea and we've gone through with that, the outcomes, in fact, are things we never expected them to be. They are very powerful, because they arise out of the relationships that are made, rather than anything that we have actually tried to drive. I think the third is about ... Messy is okay. You can't know every step that you're going to take. That's what innovation is about. If you always know what the endgame is, well, it's not true innovation.</p> <p>WOLF:   You have been doing new things all the time, I'm always hearing about new ideas that you guys are up to with technology, you're doing some things.</p> <p>WALKER:   One of the things we're doing and it's in the area of family violence is we're trying to give more confidence to the citizen. Family violence is gendered, in the main, it's women who apply for domestic violence orders. What tends to happen is that women in crisis are treated much more as children. "No, let me help you do that and here's ... No you'll need to sit down with me to fill out the form." They lose their agency essentially, and we thought, "What would happen if we changed the 18 page form, took out all the legal things, put emotional intelligence into the form, and put the risk factors in, and did it in a way that the women really felt they were able to tell their story." Didn't have to come to court to do that, and sit with a stranger and perhaps cry through it and be upset, but be able to sit with friends, or sit the library, or do it at work, wherever they felt safest. By not having to come to court it means you don't have to lie about where you're going, you don't have to take a day off work, you don't have to organize childcare. This you can fill it in over a month period, so you can come in and out of it, and it's got all sorts of safety features.</p> <p>WOLF:   Doing it online that way?</p> <p>WALKER:    Mm-hmm (affirmative). The revolution about this is not so much the form, which people are really focused on, but it is about ... What this will do is it will help change culture in the mainstream courts, because what this does is say ... When that automated application comes through, the court then has to contact the applicant. They will know very quickly whether or not they've responded well, because the applicant has the right to then say, "Uh-uh. I'm not coming to your court, I want to go to somebody else's court who's going to treat me well." It really is putting in accountability onto courts that they've not seen before. The other digital project we're working on is that when you go to court, you're told, "Get there at 9:00 in the morning," and it could be at ten to four in the afternoon that you find out your case is adjourned. It's like going to the airport and there's no arrival and departure sign.</p> <p>WOLF:   Interesting metaphor. Yeah. Wow.</p> <p>WALKER:     What we've done is we've developed, it's a co-design with a local company, where everyone who has an involvement with a case will know what is going on, including the person who is going before the court. They will be able to download an app on their phone that will show them, "Oh, yeah, my lawyer is now seeing the prosecutor. Oh, I was supposed to go and do something. I better go and organize that. Everyone's waiting on a report to come from the psychiatrist. Okay, I'll get that." They'll be able to see, in real time, on a commercial grade board outside the court where their case is in the order for the day, so that they can make decisions about, "Hmm, I might stay here, I might go away, I might ask the court to send me a text half an hour before my case is going to come up."</p> <p>WOLF:   Wow.</p> <p>WALKER:   There'll be much more power for everyone in knowing what's going on. We think that this will, again, give a real confidence. What we're doing is we're building in the analytics so that over time we're hoping that we can help courts discover the granularity of time, and be able to better organize themselves. It's the last bastion of utter disorganization.</p> <p>WOLF:   Clearly this is stuff you weren't thinking about ten years ago when you got started, so that's just a sign of how you are continuing to evolve and stay innovative and on the cutting edge. Thank you very much Kerry Walker for taking the time-</p> <p>WALKER:   Thank you Robert.</p> <p>WOLF:   Here at Community Justice 2016 to talk with me. Kerry is the director of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre, in the city of Yarra, which is in the city of Melbourne, in Australia. I am Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Thank you very much for listening.</p> <p> </p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Jun 02, 2016
'Invest in Your Participants': Deborah Barrows of Community Partners in Action
<p>On any given day, the <u><a href="">Hartford Community Court</a></u> sentences 35 to 40 people to perform community restitution as part of their sentences. Deborah Barrows has helped create the court's robust community service program by harnessing relationships developed during her long career, including 28 years with the Hartford Police Department. In this New Thinking podcast, which was recorded at <u><a href="">Community Justice 2016</a></u>, Barrows discusses how to build community partnerships, the importance of treating program participants with respect, and how she helped launch "Footwear with Care," an initiative that provides free shoes to participants in need.</p> <p><span class="inline inline-"><img src=" 4 14 (8).img_assist_custom-550x367.JPG" alt="Deborah Barrows, program manager of Community Partners in Action, talks about strategies for building community partnerships during a panel on community service at Community Justice 2016." title="Deborah Barrows, program manager of Community Partners in Action, talks about strategies for building community partnerships during a panel on community service at Community Justice 2016." class="image image-img_assist_custom-550x367 " width="550" height="367" /><span class="caption" style="width: 548px;">Deborah Barrows, program manager of Community Partners in Action, talks about strategies for building community partnerships during a panel on community service at Community Justice 2016.</span></span></p><br /><p>DEBORAH BARROWS: You want real community service? Invest in your participants, listen to them, value them. People don't want to be there but I thank you for coming. What? Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate you being here.</p> <p>ROB WOLF: Hi, I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation and I am in Chicago at Community Justice 2016, where there are over 400 people from dozens of states, 6 countries, I think over 100 jurisdictions, who are here to learn and talk about different aspects of community justice and court reform. Right now I'm speaking with one of the invited speakers and also an attendee at the conference, Deborah Barrows, who is the program manager of Community Partners in Action, which is an organization that's been contracted by Hartford Community Court to provide the community service which is an essential component of the Hartford Community Court and of many community courts. So, Deborah, I wanted to start off asking you maybe you could actually explain Community Partners in Action? What is your relationship to the court as a community based organization?</p> <p>BARROWS: Thank you, and thank you so much for this opportunity. It's exciting to be here. This is wonderful. I've learned so very much. Community Partners in Action as a non-profit agency has been around over 100 years and we work with individuals that have been involved in a criminal justice system to help them get re-integrated into the community and doing so, under that umbrella, there are re-entry services. There is a program that deals with women that have been incarcerated and help get them back into the society. There's a component of basic need, so there's a lot of different programs under that umbrella.</p> <p>WOLF: Your particular role there is to work with the court and provide kinds of community restitution or community service projects that defendants are sentenced to?</p> <p>BARROWS: That is correct. Once an individual, it has been determined that an individual will serve community service, that is where we take over and I oversee the community service component. I have a staff of 7 individuals, 5 of which are in the field as supervisors, and we take our participants out on a daily basis.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, so tell me about some of the work you do because you guys put out a newsletter and the descriptions of the kinds of community service you do, the range of it, the number of different things that you do is kind of unusual. You've really been successful in terms of being creative with your community service. I know you, in addition to a community garden, you're involved in some environmental restoration projects along the river. You work with a Jewish cemetery to help them maintain the cemetery. A lot of interesting things, so maybe you could explain and give some examples of the kind of community service you're doing, and maybe offer some insight into how you've developed such a robust program?</p> <p>BARROWS: I think what I need to step back at is for 28 years I wore a hat with law enforcement, with the City of Hartford police department, so I was a police officer operating a police cruiser and I managed to have some supervisory roles. It became very evident then that we needed to do things differently. We needed to develop partnerships and collaborations with all of the different entities, all of the different organizations within the community. So, when I was fortunate enough to be offered this position as program manager of community service, my predecessor was gone so I had no one to really show me the ropes. So, I reflected back on those partnerships and back on those collaborations, and thought, my goodness, what a great idea to reach out to those individuals and say, "Hey, remember me. Here I am. I now have individuals who I want to have become re-energized and re-invested in the community. I still have my police associations, my clergy and all the different agencies, so let's develop this collaboration and really do what we can to make Hartford the beautiful place that we want it to be.” I attend community meetings. I stay involved in the community. We have neighborhood revitalization zone meetings. In doing so, I'm going to individuals, I'm saying, "Listen. On any given day I have between 35 and 40 people who are mandated to give back, so let's really make this work." I find myself meeting with individuals, representatives, from the Jewish cemetery who say, "Hey. We need help." Absolutely. I find myself meeting with Riverfront Recapture. We have presence along the river. We have presence in many of Hartford's beautiful parks.</p> <p>WOLF: So, what kind of- give some examples of what it is the defendants are then doing in this scenario?</p> <p>BARROWS: We are doing at Ebony Horse Women which is a therapeutic equestrian center. We are working with horses. It's also an educational component of course. We're doing some gardening. We are working along the riverfront and just cleaning the river, getting it ready for the Dragon Races and cleaning out the trails, doing some gardening there. We have a presence in the parks. We were just cleaning out the playgrounds and making it beautiful. Of course we have a presence on the streets. So, just these collaborations and for me, it's being able to say, "Listen. I don't have all the answers and until we come together and have this conversation about how all of us can fit in, how all of us contribute and value the people that are involved, that's when we make the real difference."</p> <p>WOLF: Have you had resistance when you approach someone and say, "Oh, I've got some defendants here. They can help." Are some people, "Well, I don't know. Is that safe?" I mean, I imagine people in addition to the union issue, I imagine there's a whole range of questions or concerns that might come up depending on the kind of work you're talking about.</p> <p>BARROWS: Absolutely it is, and we sit down and work though that. I think dialogue and communication is key, and letting people know what we bring to the table. We are here to do this. This is what we're offering. Ultimately, everyone wants people to get reconnected. This is part of their community also. They may be offenders. They may be drug dealers. They may be prostitutes but for people they deserve the right to be valued, to be respected and they are part of our community.</p> <p>WOLF: I imagine, as you said, it's educational in some context. Some of the defendants perhaps have never-</p> <p>BARROWS: Oh my goodness, yes.</p> <p>WOLF: Interacted with a horse before, or been aware that the river is an environmental concern and that it's polluted or there's trash along the river and that it makes a difference to clean it up.</p> <p>BARROWS: Hartford is such a rich, rich, diverse city in its history, so each time our participants go out to these sites, there is an individual to sit and talk with them about the meaningfulness of their work, and validating them as people so when they go up to the riverfront there's someone to talk about the river and its connection. When you go to the Jewish cemetery there's someone to talk about the richness in the cemetery. It's one of the oldest, most beautiful cemeteries around. Just getting that education, a lot of people have not gone anywhere other than their little front door, so they really don't know. Being able to do some of these things under this non-profit organization that's helped people get back into society is just amazing.</p> <p> </p> <p>WOLF: It sounds like your experience, formally as a police officer and at the police department, gives you a unique perspective. I mean, you spoke of the relationships that you'd already had in the community and the ideas that you'd already developed in your career as a police officer. I imagine that gives you a different kind of stature or credibility. When you're approaching people they feel, well she's not putting us in danger. I mean, she's someone who's very knowledgeable about the law and justice, and accountability.</p> <p>BARROWS: As a police officer or as an in any field, you're only as good as your listening. If you're an active listener and you can really tune into what people's needs are and what the community's needs are, then that can just enhance you in your role in whatever it is that you want to do. Being a police officer, I was not the one who had all the answers. I was the one that was generally able to listen. I was looking at intervention and prevention years before it was taught, because I knew that we had arrested everyone. It just didn't work. I would sit in my cruiser on the corner and I would have made an arrest of someone, and by the time I'm sitting here doing my paper the person would come by, "Hey, Officer Brown." I'm like whoa. To me, I wasn't finished with my paper.</p> <p>WOLF:   Meaning they were already released from –</p> <p>BARROWS: Yes, they were already released. It was not working. There was something else. The individuals that were standing on the corner. The answer was not to arrest them. Why are they standing on the corner? What can we do? Do I need to collaborate with employment agencies? Is it a mental health issue? Who do I need to collaborate with? I took those things and I'm doing the same thing as a program manager overseeing community service. The individuals that work under me- I'm no nonsense. I believe in treating people the way that they deserve to be treated because that's when you really get your value, you get your work. Community service is only as good as the individuals that are involved in it, so if you don't engage and invest them in the work, you're not getting anything. You want real community service? Invest in your participants, listen to them, value them. People don't want to be there but I thank them. Thank you for coming. What? Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate you being here. This is going to be a great experience. People are coming in that are homeless. If you look down and someone needs some shoes, offer them a pair of shoes. You see someone has tattered clothing, offer them some clothing. Take them aside, treat them with dignity and respect. Someone comes to the window and says they're hungry, okay I understand the importance of community service but you have a food pantry. It's okay to go get them a cup of coffee, a little bit of water and something to eat. Let them know that you care about them as a person and you value them as a person. That's what Community Partners in Action does so very well.</p> <p>WOLF: I know you started something related to a program specifically about footwear because many clients don't have adequate shoes. Maybe you wanted to share a little bit about that program as well?</p> <p>BARROWS: It's funny. I talk about it and the tears flow down my eyes because I think about where it started. Individuals come in and they don't have adequate footwear. We want to hold them accountable. We want them to perform community service but we've got to address their needs. Their needs have got to be addressed. If it's sub-zero degree weather, they can't go out without a coat. They can't go out without adequate footwear. So, we had a small contingent of shoes and footwear there. In trying to look at better ways, we're always looking at how to cultivate relationships, how to do things better. An individual, there is a police officer that is housed at city hall and he works with individuals- the shelters release everybody early in the morning and the individuals, they meander around all day long. There is an individual who works for another organization who works with people released from the shelter and he goes under the bridges and tries to get people from living under the bridges to come and get the services they need. So, somehow we all talk, and we all communicate. I'm thinking small and that's another thing. Whatever your vision and your dreams are don't think small, think big because big becomes reality. I'm thinking small. I'm saying, you know what? I can use a few pair of shoes. I can use a resource card that people can wear where they can get a hot meal, a shower. So, I happen to talk with the officer. I happen to talk with the other individual. We convene a meeting. I call the chief of police who's a friend of mine. Chief Rovella, why don't you come in for a minute. Let's talk about this footwear thing and thus, we have a couple of volunteers that came in and now we have something called Footwear with Care. Started last week where the Hartford Police Department provided two cruisers, two officers, one of them the city hall officer, and the individual who owns a sneaker store in West Hartford. She was able to secure donations from several different vendors, The Northface, Sockanese, New Balance, and all of these sneakers were stuffed into these police cars. In addition, a second piece of it was utilizing the media. For this particular day, people were allowed to come down, you take a picture of the cruiser, you take a picture with the officer, but bring a pair of gently worn sneakers. Clothing is always available. Footwear is not. So, we have another hundred and something pairs of sneakers that were donated. People that came by that didn't bring sneakers wanted to make donations, so it's that collaboration. It's the police. It's the shelters. It's the hospital, the podiatrists. It's just great. It's the churches.</p> <p>WOLF: It's amazing what you can do when you bring a few-</p> <p>BARROWS: It is amazing.</p> <p>WOLF: Caring people together to focus, concentrate on a problem or issue and the solutions you come up with.</p> <p>BARROWS: It's amazing the number of individuals who want to make a difference. There are a lot of people out there who we don't tap into their energy who want to make a difference, that want to do something and are just waiting on being asked.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, sounds like there's some good advice there for anyone who wants to replicate what you're doing. Think big. Don't have small dreams.</p> <p>BARROWS: Don't have small dreams.</p> <p>WOLF:   Go out and ask people who maybe want to help.</p> <p>BARROWS: And care. We had a situation a few weeks back where an individual came in. He was in a shelter. He had ended up going and using the bathroom at a private facility and ended up getting arrested. He came to court and he was nodding. He was obviously under the influence of something and he's nodding back and forth. I'm at the window at that particular time and I'm talking to him, and I'm talking to him. "Well, I got this ticket, and this and that." I validated his feelings. "I hear that you should have not gotten a ticket. However, you were someplace where you should not have been." "Well, you know, nobody cares. I have this problem. I'm using 10 bags a day." I said, "We have services here. There's some resources here." I said, "They're immediate." I said, "I have a social worker here. I have individuals here that will talk to you. I could get you some help. If you want a bed, they will get you a bed immediately." We're talking and of course they're crying and they're nodding, and you know, we talked for about 20, 25 minutes and then they leave. Came back 2 weeks later. "Where's Ms. B?" So, they come and get me. How you doing Sir? How are you? "Well, I'm not too good. I OD’d." I said, "What do you mean?" "They had to give me Narcan. I almost died." So, I said, "Well tell me about that. Let's go get some coffee. Let's talk about that." At that point I'm not a social worker, but I don't have time to go grab the social worker because I have this conversation. I have this dialogue.</p> <p>WOLF: That's the listening you were talking about?</p> <p>BARROWS: Yes, yes. The immediate thing is of course, go get the social- but I can't. I have him right now. "Well, tell me about that experience?" "Well, you know, they tell me they had to resuscitate me and you know ... " I let him talk and he went on, and, "I'm ready. I know I need to get some help but I can't go today. I just can't go today." "Tell me more."</p> <p>WOLF:   Wow.</p> <p>BARROWS: Talk for another 15 minutes. Left. Came back a week later, "Where's Ms. B?" Thank goodness I was there. "I'm ready now. I'm ready now." It was just wonderful.</p> <p>WOLF: Well, that is remarkable.</p> <p>BARROWS: To make a difference.</p> <p>WOLF: There's a lot in that story.</p> <p>BARROWS: Just something so small, just listening.</p> <p>WOLF: Being patient, and letting people on their own schedule in this instance.</p> <p>BARROWS: Each one of us can make a difference. Each one of us can save a life and there are lives to be saved. I don't have all the answers.</p> <p>WOLF: Well thank you very much for taking the time to share your experience.</p> <p>BARROWS: Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF:   I've been speaking with Deborah Barrows, the program manager of Community Partners in Action, which provides the community service component at the Hartford, Connecticut Community Court and we've been chatting together at Community Justice 2016, the international summit on community justice here in Chicago. (music) I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. You can find out more about the conference. You can find out more about Hartford Community Court. We'll also provide a link to Community Partners in Action on our website, and thank you very much for listening.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p><div class="image-clear"></div>
May 23, 2016
Prosecutors Explore New Solutions to Public Safety Concerns: A Conversation about the 'Smart Prosecution Initiative'
<p>The Bureau of Justice Assistance at U.S. Department of Justice created the <a href="" target="_blank">Smart Prosecution Initiative</a> to encourage prosecutors to explore new solutions to public safety problems. Grant recipients work with researchers to document outcomes and develop effective, economical, and innovative responses to crime. In this podcast, Denise O'Donnell, the director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, sits down with Jose Egurbide of the <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles City Attorney's Office</a> and Mark Kammerer of the <a href="" target="_blank">Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office</a> to talk about their Smart Prosecution programs, which use risk assessment tools to divert low-level offenders from court. The conversation took place while the three were in Chicago to attend <a href="" target="_blank">Community Justice 2016</a>.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-middle"><img src="" alt="At Community Justice 2016: Above, Denise O'Donnell, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, delivers her keynote address. Below left, Jose Egurbide of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office participates in a panel on Restorative Justice. Right, Mark Kammerer of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office discusses Risk/Needs Assessments on a panel." title="At Community Justice 2016: Above, Denise O'Donnell, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, delivers her keynote address. Below left, Jose Egurbide of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office participates in a panel on Restorative Justice. Right, Mark Kammerer of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office discusses Risk/Needs Assessments on a panel." class="image image-img_assist_custom-531x354 " width="531" height="354" /><span class="caption" style="width: 529px;">At Community Justice 2016: Above, Denise O'Donnell, director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance, delivers her keynote address. Below left, Jose Egurbide of the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office participates in a panel on Restorative Justice. Right, Mark Kammerer of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office discusses Risk/Needs Assessments on a panel.</span></span></p> <p><span class="inline inline-middle"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="image image-img_assist_custom-535x233 " width="491" height="214" /></span></p> <p> </p> <p>ROB WOLF: Hi. This is Rob Wolf, director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. We are at Community Justice 2016 where 400 people have gathered in Chicago for 3 days to share ideas about justice reform. With me are 3 people who are leaders of efforts to improve justice systems both locally and nationally: Denise O'Donnell is the director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice; Mark Kammerer is the Supervisor of Alternative Prosecution and the Sentencing Unit at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office; and Jose Egurbide is the Supervising Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office.</p> <p>Something you all have in common is a grant program supported by the Bureau of Justice Assistance called the Smart Prosecution Initiative. Denise O'Donnell, I thought maybe you could explain what the Smart Prosecution Initiative is and how the Bureau is using it to support innovation and test new ideas.</p> <p>DENISE O’DONNELL: Sure. I'm a former prosecutor, and when I came to BJA I felt we really didn't have enough focus on prosecutors and the role prosecutors can play in justice reform. We had a great program called Smart Policing that had been operating for a number of years that actually funded police practitioner partnerships- research partnerships to look at innovative approaches and collect data, analyze them and assess the outcomes of the program.</p> <p>We brainstormed a little about that and thought it was a great model for prosecutors as well. So prosecutors can innovate. They can try new approaches. They can work with a researcher, collect data and work on programs like diversion programs, like community justice centers, and so many other initiatives.</p> <p>It's now part of a smart suite of programs at BJA. We now have 9 programs working in this model to really promote criminal justice innovation.</p> <p>WOLF: Mark and Jose, now both of you have grants under the Smart Prosecution Initiative. They're similar in that they're both helping divert offenders from more traditional sentences. Let me ask you both, why would a prosecutor's office be interested in diverting people from punishments that would get them more deeply involved in the justice system?</p> <p>Mark, do you want to go first?</p> <p>MARK KAMMERER: Sure. We've actually been involved in diversion for decades. When I came to the office in 2000, there was a drug diversion program that had been around since the 70's, but one of the things we found with a lot of our alternative sentencing, basically treatment courts, is that people had engaged in significant criminal activity before they got to treatment court.</p> <p>What we wanted to do was possibly intervene with people at an earlier stage, with the hope being we could interrupt the cycle before they got to the point where they had significant background that would warrant being in an intensive 24 month probation program. Our office has been, especially in the last 4 or 5 years, very involved in diverting people out of the system as early as possible. We've implemented a medical model that people are diverted at the earliest point with the least amount of intervention possible, knowing that we have a whole system- a whole continuum that we could advance to another level if needs be.</p> <p>The Smart Prosecution process, the grant that we received with that, was to ... We were able to involve risk assessment in our process. One of my experiences from working in healthcare is you really need to objectify things as much as possible so we know who it is that we're working with, and why we're working with them, and what would be the best interventions. That was one of the gaps in our system, was we did not have sufficient risk assessment involvement. That was a cornerstone of the proposal that we made to BJA that was funded.</p> <p>WOLF: I know, Jose, your initiative as well, you're diverting people and you're also doing risk assessment. Let me just ask you, I thought prosecutors classically are interested in guilt and innocence. What does a risk assessment tool, like both your programs use, do for you?</p> <p>JOSE EGURBIDE: Thanks, Rob. We're very excited to be here. Of course we're very grateful for BJA's leadership and the opportunities that that's creating as well as the CCI risk and needs assessment tool. What that's doing for us is, it's giving us an alternative to an already congested court system where we can focus more on rehabilitation and, as Mark said, looking at it at the front end.</p> <p>You often see a lot of rehabilitation happening upon reentry.  We also believe that when you talk about alternative prosecution, when you talk about restorative justice, you need to restore the victim, you need to restore the community, but you also need to restore the offender to a position where they'll be a more productive member of society going forward.</p> <p>WOLF: Let's talk a little bit specifically about what a risk assessment tool is. You both use a similar tool that the Center for Court Innovation developed with Bureau of Justice Assistance support. It's evidence based, it's been tested, but tell me how it actually functions. What does it tell you and what does it allow you to do?</p> <p>EGURBIDE: A needs and risk assessment tool ... and now there are some tools that are just risk assessment. The Center for Court Innovation tool that we use was selected specifically because it also focuses on a needs assessment. So again, when you talk about restorative justice, our program, the Neighborhood Justice Program, intercepts those individuals at the pre-filing stage, before a case- a criminal case is ever filed against them.  That allows us to take a look at needs responsivity, take a look at what are some of the dynamic risk factors that this individual exhibits and be able to fashion out either resources or obligations that will address those needs and that risk.</p> <p>I think when you're talking about, as Denise was mentioning, Smart Prosecution, this is an evidence based approach that will lead to better outcomes. It will lead to a lower level of recidivism.</p> <p>WOLF: So Mark, what do you do? You get the results of the assessment and then what kinds of sentences, or I guess they're not formal sentences because it's diversion, but what kind of services are you linking the offenders to?</p> <p>KAMMERER: One of the things that we were able to do with our Smart Prosecution grant program was to give specific types of interventions to people based on the level of their risk. What had happened in the past, we had a misdemeanor diversion program without risk assessment and everybody that was eligible for other reasons, all received the exact same intervention with the exact same expectations.</p> <p>Now with this program, we divide- the CCI tool divides people into low, medium and high risk levels and so we have a different expectation of people, what they need to do in order to have their case dismissed based on the level of their risk. What we do is, people at the lowest levels have an intervention and maybe an assessment and a referral to services; at the high end, are required to be engaged in a cognitive behavioral therapy program. We're looking at changing criminogenic thinking for people that are higher risk.</p> <p>A side benefit for us has been the ability... is to show that people with a higher level of risk can be just as successful in a program like this as the people with a low level of risk. We've actually been able to expand our eligibility criteria in terms of charging within the time period that we've been with this grant funding. People who would not have been eligible when we started this program, now are eligible because we've been able to show people with a little higher risk are not really a higher risk, they just need a different intervention.</p> <p>WOLF: Just for people who are listening who might not be familiar with the risk needs responsivity theory, which is what this whole model is based on, that a response or treatment in order for it to be effective, it needs to match the offenders risk of re-offending. Someone at a higher risk of re-offending should have a higher intensity intervention.</p> <p>KAMMERER: I'm sorry to interrupt, but that's exactly what we designed. People with a higher level of risk have a higher expectation. You're exactly right.</p> <p>O’DONNELL: You know, I just want to add from BJA's perspective, risk needs assessment tools have been around for a long time, but what CCI did was develop a tool specifically for low level and misdemeanor offenses which tailors the kind of response to fit the offense since individuals might normally face a couple days in jail or a week or two in jail, so do the interventions or the alternatives match that level of accountability. Referrals to services instead of spending 2 days in jail hopefully has a much better return on our investment.</p> <p>WOLF: Let me ask you, Denise O'Donnell, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, as you said, this program links the prosecutors also with a research [partners 00:10:29] and you're encouraging prosecutors and other justice practitioners to use evidence based tools. Obviously, there's a theme here that using evidence based strategies is important. Maybe you could talk a little bit about why it's important and you think, obviously these guys here and their offices have gotten that message, but is that message getting out as far and as wide as you'd like it to get out to prosecutors and courts and such?</p> <p>O’DONNELL: Well, it's always a struggle to reach everyone, but I think this conference is a good example. 400 people here participating in community justice programs. We had a recent grant solicitation for community justice programs and had 70 different jurisdictions want to establish those programs. We can only fund 10 of them. The demand is certainly increasing but what we see in Smart On Crime solutions is that you have to really have pilot programs. Like we see, beyond pilot programs, but you have to have programs that you evaluate and look at the outcomes. I think that is what convinces people that a) we can expand the model because we have some really good results or other jurisdictions become interested in trying to replicate what has been successfully done in Los Angeles or here in Cook County.</p> <p>WOLF: Jose, you wanted to say something?</p> <p>EGURBIDE: I just wanted to say that, just to echo Denise's comments, that through our City Attorney, Mike Feuer, who really embraces restorative justice and transformational as opposed to transactional approach to addressing these offenses, I think that we're really changing the way that our traditional criminal justice system works. We're alleviating an already congested system, but we're doing it in a way where, as Mark said, we're able to fashion out specific engagement strategies for each individual because we're using Smart Prosecution, because we're using a risk and needs assessment tools that's specifically designed for low level offenders. I think it's great and I think that the tool, for those listeners that may not be familiar with it, allows you to identify either housing issues, education issues or other challenges that an individual might have and be able to link them to those services. At the end, what you have is a person who's being held accountable but also comes out of the process a little bit better without the negative consequences of a conviction or something that's going to hinder them from going forward in a positive way.</p> <p>WOLF: I think that nicely summarizes what the Smart Prosecution Initiative is all about. I want to thank you, all 3 of you, for taking the time out from the Community Justice 2016 to speak with me.</p> <p>EGURBIDE: Thank you, Rob.</p> <p>O’DONNELL: Thank you.</p> <p>KAMMERER: Thanks for asking us.</p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking with Denise O'Donnell who's the Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at the Department of Justice, Mark Kammerer, Supervisor of Alternative Prosecution and the Sentencing Unit at the Cook County State's Attorney's office here in Chicago and Jose Egurbide who is the Supervising Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney's office. I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Count Innovation. Thanks for listening.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p><div class="image-clear"></div>
Apr 28, 2016
Reducing Violence Through Media Training and Cultural Awareness
<p>This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the <a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative</a>. One of these demonstrations sites is <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">the Stand Up Participate program in Hennepin County, Minnesota, an initiative led by the community-based organization Asian Media Access, Inc. in partnership with local public health, law enforcement agencies, and other community-based groups that <span>seeks to reduce youth violence by </span></span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">helping young people acquire skills for self-sufficiency, improve self-esteem, and develop cultural pride.</span></p> <p><span>Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access,  and Tyree Lawrence, executive director of the community-based LVY Foundation,</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> joined this week's podcast to discuss the philosphy behind Stand Up Participate's curriculum, which includes </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">audio/visual technology training, culturally based family engagement programming, health education, and organized activities with police and community members that seek to improve communication and mutual understanding.</span></p><br /><p>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of the series we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at-risk minority youth as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. The Initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the US Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community-based groups.</p> <p>Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the 9 demonstration sites that have received funding under the program. This week, we're looking at the Stand Up, Participate Program in Hennepin County Minnesota. Stand Up, Participate is an initiative led by the community-based organization, Asian in Media Access in partnership with local public health and law enforcement agencies as well as other community-based groups like the LVY Foundation. Stand Up, Participate seeks to prevent youth violence by helping young people acquire skills for self-sufficiency, improve self-esteem, and develop cultural pride.</p> <p>I'm speaking today with Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access, and Tyree Lawrence, executive director of the LVY Foundation. Ange, Tyree, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</p> <p>HWANG: Thank you.</p> <p>LAWRENCE: Thank you.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: For starters, can you describe Stand Up, Participate?</p> <p>HWANG: Sure. This is Ange from Asian Media Access. Stand Up, Participate has been focusing to use bi-cultural healthy living as a concept to encourage particularly Asian American community and African American community so we will hope is by working through cultural pride and really giving you there a control sometimes. Sometimes that will be something they'd be proud of so they will be more willing to participate and to change their behaviors. So they would decrease the at-risk behaviors and really be able to participate back to the communities.</p> <p>We are doing that through couple different venues. In Asian Media Access focusing on multimedia training so the youth will build on self-esteem. We focusing on the cultural classes such as Asian dances so the youth can be able to regain the culture pride. Tyree will do a little bit different than us and I will have him to talk a little bit more.</p> <p>LAWRENCE: Yes, our part of the Stand Up and Participate movement really focuses on entrepreneurship and economic development. A lot of the young men, the African American young men in particular, are often challenged with some of the caveats they face in society and certain stigmas, if you will. We leverage the ability for them to tap into their own personal potential and their talents and then take it to another level by allowing them to explore those talents in a way that ends up in a form of business or some type of trade or skill set so that they can really find alternatives to whatever lifestyle may be prohibiting them from just living life in general and just being, quote unquote, normal.</p> <p>HWANG: Yeah. I think Tyree's strategy is touching a very important part is to really giving youth a choice, giving them a power to choose some of the skills they like to acquire such as entrepreneurship and such as multimedia. After they do that, they're really building their own team to get away from other negative influence around them to really be able to focus and really starting to become a contributing citizen. Then we bring in our partners, particularly at the public health and the police departments, to providing such as mentorship such as talking about how we can improve relationship together with the police department and also having them to even just take them to shop. We have one activity, back to school shopping with the cops. The cops pick up 30 at-risk youth and then we got Target Foundation to support. Each youth has $100 spending money so the cop guide them through Target to purchase all the school equipment. By doing this type of activity and empower the youth to have a choices and power and control, they feel they can choose a better route for themself. I feel this strategy is very effective.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: How is funding from the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative enable Stand Up, Participate to work with its target population and expand services?</p> <p>HWANG: The funding for us has been so helpful particularly being able to do a lot of trainings and recruiting support groups with this youth and we can do a lot of creative and innovative outreach. I would like to particularly emphasizing that by culture healthy living, we have been utilizing, as a central theme, for all the activities particularly, for example, our Asian youth. We try to encourage them to exercise more, so Asian dances and martial arts. That's really tied them back to their culture roots. We really attract more youth to the program with this type of activity instead of trying to utilizing mainstream activities. We design the project with that bi-cultural activity in mind. That would help more and more of those at-risk youth of color would be willing to come into the program because it's coming from their culture and it's built on their strengths. This funding source is so important. Tyree, want to add more?</p> <p>LAWRENCE: Definitely. We will also parallel. It's a huge mechanism that's been able to help us as far as promoting the abilities and the talents of these individuals who may not, otherwise, be on a platform. For instance, being able to get in front of a corporation like 3M and show the many attributes that parallel what they're currently teaching their employees has been phenomenal. We wouldn't have been able to develop this type of platform had it not been for the funding.</p> <p>HWANG: Yeah. I think, particularly I would really want to piggy back what Tyree had said. If not had the funding, we won't be able to develop. I think this is really the key because a lot of times we see a lot of funding, maybe supporting a police academy and police academy to outreach to other youth and then recruit. But we do actually opposite way. We starting with the community. We have the community build that support group. Then outreach back to the police, back to the public health in seeking for support, seeking for training, and seeking to improve that relationship.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: How have the youth been responding to the programming so far?</p> <p>LAWRENCE: The youth have been actually responding quite positively to what we're trying to do as far as encouraging a more self-initiated healthier lifestyle. We're taking strife in the youth group that I deal with and are they ready to sit down across from police officers and have these wholehearted discussions? I would say we haven't reached that point just yet but what they are open to are more creative and innovative ways of having their side be understood, per se, by police officers so that there can be a more creative dialogue and hopefully we progress to something like that in the near future. Our attempts have been, I don't want to say difficult, but not as easy as I had anticipated when starting this project.</p> <p> </p> <p>HWANG: But that is exactly we need to hear, Tyree, because we are dealing with at-risk youth who has a distrust to the police. We having this baggage in our community for a long time and if not coming from the community, sometimes it's very hard for this group of at-risk youth to be able to accept this type of activities. Why bother to communicate with the police? We are doing just fine. So that's a lot of that type of thinking coming from our youth. That's why we doing this from community perspective that the community feel the police really want to reach out. They really would like to build that bridge between both.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: How are you measuring outcomes?</p> <p>HWANG: We have a very dedicated evaluator working with us from the University of Minnesota has been helping us to do two major data collecting efforts. One is doing the youth survey, pre- and post-. We really focusing a lot on those relationship and we got a lot of high mark. For example, the question we ask is "Do you always feel there's a caring adult in the program?" We'll always have more than 95%, pre- and post-, have a very high comparison. We do well on that area.</p> <p>The other part is the teacher survey because we want to prove our methods work particularly at the academic outcome level. We have all the youth to take survey back to their teacher, have their teacher directly mail to us in talking about, "Did you feel this youth change in their behavior? Do they turn in the homework now? Do they participate at the class? Do they be able to work well with the classmates in the school?" All these are very positive feedback. We just conclude our first year's evaluations and we come back was 85-90% all the mark from the teacher regarding ... We have about 170 survey back so regarding those 170 youth we serve, they are hitting the high mark and teacher give them a lot of improvement particularly they notice throughout the year.</p> <p>LAWRENCE: I'd also like to add the very unique part of that survey, it was very interesting when we started out as a team. We were very intentional about our efforts to reach out to the youth that we, quote unquote, were using at-risk so that they understand what do they feel are great outcomes of this. It wasn't just what society or even what we thought was a good outcome and measuring that against also what the teachers are saying but we wanted to know for them, what would be success in your eyes? That is a very special part of the survey that has been, in my opinion, very innovative in the ability for them to voice on the survey we're producing our own business. We are acquiring trade skills toward having the job opportunities. We are meeting CEOs and executive where we normally wouldn't have been exposed to this types of thing. Those are massively impressive outputs to these youths in so many different facets and that's just a small component of the survey but in their mind, it's the main thing.</p> <p>HWANG: Definitely. This really tie back into that relationship evaluation, the evaluation is designed really talking about how we can utilizing relationship, building this relationship to motivate the youth to change. It's not just to say you come to our program, you learn the skills. But the skill is part of their life, can change their life to better so we will be able to have the skills so that youth can earn more money for their family, for example, or to even just simple Asian dance. One of my at-risk male dancers won the first place this year at the Hmong New Year’s and they've been so proud of themself and used to become acting with the Hmong gang. Now they are out there on the stage with 20,000 people cheering for them to get this first place at the Hmong Dance Competition. It means so much to them. They're really also pointing out a different direction so in the evaluation, they would say they love dance. They love the opportunity we create for them particularly improve the point.</p> <p>If we can build the relationship with these youth, we will be able to really encourage them to choose to use different arts to relieve their anger, to express themself on the stage, to be proud of themself, to speak up, then we can have some alternative. Then we hope those messages will be able to create a long-term impact to create a better system for us.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Well thank you so much.</p> <p>LAWRENCE: Thank you.</p> <p>HWANG: Thank you so much.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: This has been Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation and I've been speaking with Ange Hwang, executive director of Asian Media Access, Tyree Lawrence, executive of the LVY Foundation. For more information for on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Apr 28, 2016
Sustainability Strategies for Youth Advisory Boards: A Podcast on Youth Engagement
<p>This podcast presents highlights from <a href="" target="_blank">Sustainable Strategies</a>, a one-day event organized by the Center for Court Innovation and Coro New York Leadership Center in September 2015. Representatives from 11 organizations discussed successes, challenges, and strategies used to meaningfully engage young people and elevate their voices in policy discussions through youth advisory boards. Members of youth justice boards also shared their experiences and insights with the group. </p><br /><p> </p> <p>MARY WALLE: This is Mary Walle from the Center for Court Innovation, and you're listening to the New Thinking podcast. Today's conversation comes from Sustainable Strategies for Effective Youth Advisory Boards, a day-long convening of youth advisory board practitioners, held by the Center for Court Innovation and Coro New York Leadership Center thanks to the generous funding of the WB Clement and Jesse V. Stone Foundation.</p> <p>What are youth advisory boards? They are small programs run by nonprofit organizations and government agencies that bring the voices of young people into policy work. Sustainable Strategies brought together youth advisory board practitioners from across New York City to discuss their work to bring young people's voices and ideas into meaningful policy change.</p> <p>In this podcast, you will first hear from four experienced youth advisory board practitioners about how their programs operate, the challenges they face, questions they grapple with, and best practices to keep in mind when designing and facilitating a youth advisory board program. Then, four youth advisory board program alumni will share their experiences in these programs and the impact that membership has had on their lives.</p> <p>We'll start by hearing from Brooke Richie-Babbage, the founder and executive director of the Resilience Advocacy Project. Here, she discusses the mission, structure, and challenges of Resilience Advocacy Project's youth advisory board work.</p> <p>BROOKE RICHIE-BABBAGE: Our mission is to empower youth to become leaders in the fight against poverty. We train young people in these spaces to identify social justice issues that they are passionate about in their communities, and then to develop concrete community impact initiatives in response to those problems. They spend a year becoming an expert on their campaign topic, and then every campaign culminates in an event. The event is designed to bring youth and adult leaders into the same space to discuss and develop recommendations to push for change.</p> <p>WALLE: Brooke also discussed the challenges and tensions organizations may face when the youth participants, not adult staff, are by design in charge of the direction and the work of the program.</p> <p>RICHIE-BABBAGE: This level of youth leadership makes me uncomfortable. I believe in it, right? I started this organization. But the messiness of it, and not knowing before the citywide town hall meetings what is going to happen at the end can make it difficult both for me personally and as an executive director to identify funding and resources and to know where our partnerships and work are going to go, because I am not the one picking the topic. How do you build a structure and build on successes when you're not in charge of that aspect of guiding the ship?</p> <p>On the flip side, I think that the work is much more diverse in ways that I don't know that our staff who are deeply committed to youth leadership, and, quite frankly, better at it than me, would even have paid attention to it.</p> <p>It was really our youth leaders who were out there doing the recruitment that said, "We also need to pay attention to things like age." The dynamic of a room where everybody's a senior except for two people matters. That changes things in how we do work. We need to pay attention to the fact that a lot of young people have to work after school. If, in order to be involved, you actually need to be here two days a week, who are we then saying can't be involved without actually saying that? That voice and that perspective came from our young people, so the fact that they guide our recruitment and the way that the body itself is formed, I think is very powerful.</p> <p>WALLE: Brooke went on to explore the challenges her organization faces in running a youth advisory board.</p> <p>RICHIE-BABBAGE: I just want to highlight a couple of the tensions or questions, really, that have come out of this youth leadership work and the youth council in particular, again, against a backdrop of an organization that believes in leadership but practices it in different ways.</p> <p>The first is, how does this group fit into our larger organizational programmatic and policy advocacy structure? There's a real tension between remaining nimble and responsive to what they say they are interested in, and also running an organization and having a program that is accountable for outcomes to funders.</p> <p>Second is infrastructure. If we want them to have a real system impact, how do we have a program that has a beginning and an end, that has some kind of structure that is measurable and that allows the participants to feel like they are achieving something and yet is also acknowledging of the fact that if we're serious about them having a system impact that takes longer than a year.</p> <p>Rep's board has identified five core social justice issues around which we want to have an impact. What do we do if young people want to focus on something that's not on that list, and how do we guide their choice without making it not a meaningful choice?</p> <p>Finally, who decides and enforces the rules of the group? Group work, for those of you who do it, is hard. It's messy. Striking the right balance between being adult experts and facilitators in a room and also allowing the young people to grapple with the messiness of becoming true leaders is difficult.</p> <p>WALLE: Next, we'll hear from Linda Baird, associate director of youth justice programs at the Center for Court Innovation and former Youth Justice Board program coordinator. The Center founded the Youth Justice Board in response to the realization that the young people the Center worked with did not have a voice at the table where decisions were being made that would affect their lives. Linda discusses the program's goals and its challenges.</p> <p>LINDA BAIRD: The goal of the program is to bring the voices of young people into policymaking and have them be able to give their input on issues that affect them. We really try to caution young people this isn't just a program where you say, "I found all this stuff is wrong. That's too bad." Then we ask them to take the next step, "And what can you do about it as a young person? What are your ideas to fix it?” – because adults don't often hear these.</p> <p>WALLE: Building on Brooke's earlier comments, Linda talked about how the program faced the realities of changing policy.</p> <p>BAIRD: As everybody in this room probably is aware, the timeline for policy change ... Unfortunately, I have not figured out how to make it align with the school calendar. We have thought about, in our implementation phase, what we can do so that young people can have a few really credible, meaty projects that come out of that period. Even with adding a full extra year on the topic of study, we at the Center realize that that doesn't necessarily mean the issue is wrapped up and that our work is done.</p> <p>WALLE: Brooke and Linda brought up many important questions to consider while designing and facilitating youth advisory board programs. Up next, Laura Jankstrom, Youth Action NYC program coordinator, from the Citizens' Committee for Children, discusses how its youth programs are structured in response to similar questions.</p> <p>LAURA JANKSTROM: The Youth Action Community Leadership course is the point of entry into the Youth Action program for interested students. At the end of the ten-week course, the students are eligible to become Youth Action members. This is the real youth-led piece of what we do. These guys meet every week for a couple of hours on Wednesdays for the duration of the school year, and they pick the topics that they want to work on, and they pick the types of projects that they want to do.</p> <p>For some of their projects, they want to stick to the traditional "We want to research this issue, we want to create policy recommendations, and we want to meet with elected officials to educate them on what we found." They want to feel an impact immediately. They don't want to wait for the policy change to be made a year, two years, three years down the line. It's a lot of times difficult to follow an issue if it's not something that the news is really covering a lot, and so kids aren't seeing movement on them. I can't just send them an article and say, "Hey, see what's happening with the issue that we're working on." A lot of that is really done behind the scenes.</p> <p>An example I have, one semester, we were doing teen mental health, and one of the recommendations that our group brought was that there should be a teen suicide awareness day in New York City. The following year, councilmember Steve Levin introduced a bill that would make September Teen Suicide Awareness Month for the entire state and credited the Youth Action meeting that he took with pushing him to introduce that bill. By that time, a lot of those kids were moving on to greener pastures, but I did my best to reach out to them and say, "Hey, congratuations, you made a difference."</p> <p>The final arm of our three-pronged Youth Action program is peer trainers. Kids go through the training course. If they want to, they become Youth Action members. Then, from that group, I pick about four students every year to become peer trainers. They develop and facilitate workshops for other programs that are interested in civic engagement, advocacy, leadership, New York City government.</p> <p>WALLE: The final adult practitioner we'll hear from is Chris Neal, senior director of youth programs and initiatives from Coro New York Leadership Center. He discusses the pillars and breadth of Coro's youth programming and the importance of youth-adult partnerships.</p> <p>CHRIS NEAL: One of the major pillars of our work is this notion of youth-adult partnership, which you've heard talked about today a little bit, and that's the idea or the work of young people working in partnership and collaboration with adults on common issues.</p> <p>I believe in youth voice, I love youth voice, but I'm also very clear about the role that we have as adults in the room, and that is to create the hooks for young people to hang their ideas on. They have a number of ideas, lots of wonderful things they'd like to do, and our role, sitting in the back, but leading from behind, as Obama would say, is to provide those hooks. "Well, maybe you might think about doing this," or "Have you ever thought about doing that?"</p> <p>The other pillar of our program is probably youth in policy in practice. What does that mean? Youth in policy in practice means that over the course of our work, which is the last ten years, in working with youth councils both in schools and across the city, we found that the area where young people have the greatest impact is on how policies are shaped, the decision making process, and then how they are implemented. We rely and we spend a great deal of our time building the capacity of our young people to go out, collect data, collect the authentic voice and experiences of their peers, and bring those back in a meaningful way so they can contribute to the decision making process or the implementation process of policy. That is a fundamental of our work.</p> <p>Three years ago, Coro had one youth program and about 24 young people. Now we have three youth programs and two initiatives and about 200 young people. One of the biggest tensions, which you spoke to a little bit, Brooke, is organizationally realizing that rather we want to think about it this way or not, we are a de facto youth development organization. Now we need to begin to think about what that means organizationally.</p> <p>WALLE: A common theme identified by the practitioners was the challenge of convincing the youth advisory board host organization of the value of youth voice, and figuring out how to integrate young people's ideas. Here's how Chris described that challenge.</p> <p>NEAL: Something I think we may have all run into is this notion of managing up. The folks that are above you may not always understand the importance of youth programs and having youth councils in your agency. You might have to do a little bit of managing up, I call it. "This is the benefit of this program. This is why we need to have this. This is how it's going to improve our work. This is how it's going to make us have a greater impact." Adultism is real, and a lot of adults do not think that young people have a place in policy, practice, and implementation. What are young people going to do? What are they going to do for this organization? How can we utilize them?</p> <p>WALLE: Now we will hear from young people on their experience as youth advisory board members. BERNADETTE, Stephanie, Alex, and Levi are alumni of youth advisory board programs at the Center for Court Innovation and Coro New York Leadership Center. They first discuss how the program affected their growth as young leaders and then offer their advice on how to lead and recruit for youth advisory board programs. Last, they share how the experience impacted their lives.</p> <p>ALEX: I'm Alex.  The Youth Justice Board exposed me to a whole other world I never really about. [inaudible 00:11:37] Coro allowed me have unique access to the mayor's office and city government, which I think every youth should have some sort of access to. I think that's really eye opening and really an enlightening experience.</p> <p>BERNADETTE: My name is Bernadette. YJB really influenced me in understanding a lot about policy and how it was developed and how it affects young people. It definitely affected me. I thought that it just affected adults, adults would just tell me what to do and I would listen. YJB really opened a door to see how everything comes down from the top and it trickles down to the bottom.</p> <p>I always thought a leader was the one who was at the forefront of everything. I'm a shy person. Being in Coro, exploring leadership there, I really find myself as a leader because of the fact that I can collaborate and communicate with different people.</p> <p>STEPHANIE: My name is Stephanie. One main point for me would be having to write recommendations and actually being accomplished at the end of the year. Another highlight was the presentation at Pace University. I felt like such an adult. It really exposed me to a world of people that I don't think I would have been talking to with the confidence I have now.</p> <p>WALLE: One of the topics the youth discussed was the qualities adult partners and program leaders should possess.</p> <p>BERNADETTE: The relationship should not be, "I'm the program facilitator and you're the program participant." It's more like, "Okay, so we're working together on this same issue," and so understanding that that type of dynamic works best with young people, because a lot of people look at adults as authority figures, not as people who I can be equal with.</p> <p>ALEX: My facilitators would oftentimes step back, and they would say, "Our job is to be a facilitator. It's not to be someone who is governing over the situation that is happening at the moment." Oftentimes they left the room to let us sort of engage each other and not just speak to the adult in the room, which I think does naturally happen because we're used to a classroom environment where we just respond to a teacher.</p> <p>The facilitator is there to facilitate, but also to step back, but also to help us have access to them and to the multiple resources that they can provide us as adults.</p> <p>STEPHANIE: Not only do we just focus on the program, but we always have check ins with our facilitators.</p> <p>BERNADETTE: I think what worked best is that the program itself is not based in a classroom style. Both YJB and Coro's Leadership, it's a circle, so everybody can see each other, everybody get to talk to one another, and it's discussion-based. It's not a lecture.</p> <p>WALLE: Youth Advisory Program alumni continued sharing advice about these programs, including how to recruit for them, during the question and answer segment.</p> <p>LEVI: I think that if you relate it back to current events and link the program to how it's affecting society today, I think they can definitely make people more interested.</p> <p>BERNADETTE: They could also talk about skills that they will do well in.</p> <p>ALEX: I think maybe going in into schools and recruiting people through the discussion of issues that are relating back to them would allow them to engage.</p> <p>STEPHANIE: I would just say get the message out to them that what they're doing is going to be beneficial not only for them, but for future generations.</p> <p>JANKSTROM: What is one thing that really surprised you about your experience in these programs? Is there something you think differently now than you thought when you started?</p> <p>LEVI: Before I joined Youth Justice Board, I never knew much about policy or criminal justice or police-community relationships. It gave me the opportunity to learn about it, and not only to learn about it, to be an active member and do it. To be involved and try to change it.</p> <p>ALEX: I joined the YJB in 9th grade, and that was very early for me, but it allowed me to enter high school in a completely different perspective, in the sense that I was able to ... Instead of just having this feeling that I needed to keep my head down and do my work and do all these different things, I felt like I could understand the people that were in society that I walked by every day and took the subway with, and I felt like I had a closer connection to a community that wasn't my school. I think that's really important, because yeah, we could all be class president or anything, but it's important to engage in the community, especially in a community as large as New York City.</p> <p>RICHIE-BABBAGE: In retrospect, how do you feel this work has impacted your life beyond the work in your council? How has it helped you in school or with your peers? Can you speak to anything, one thing that really resonated with you that you've been able to take away and apply it in other areas of your life?</p> <p>BERNADETTE: For me, two things. One, I am a founder of a new club called DP, which is basically Diversity Project. The main focus of DP is to include people who you really don't hear about or backgrounds you don't really hear about. For me, the second thing would be dynamics and how I was perceived the world and how other people would perceive the world, and things that I would do or my tendencies. I think what it allowed me in school is how to navigate with different people, because you have the loud people and you have the shy people, and so how do I connect with them to make sure that the work is done.</p> <p>ALEX: Well, the Youth Justice Board taught me, it helps practical fields like time management, note-taking skills, and it also teaches you responsibility, which is important. I think I became more responsible throughout the program.</p> <p>STEPHANIE: It also helps you connect to the real world. For example, we did a lot of interviews last year with stakeholders and a lot of these important people, but when we actually asked teams to go out to the real world and to apply for a job and get the interview, it helps us in that sort of way because now we are better at our speaking skills and communication skills.</p> <p>WALLE: This has been Mary Walle with the Center for Court Innovation. You've been listening to advice and best practices from youth advisory board practitioners and youth participants from Sustainable Strategies for Effective Youth Advisory Boards.</p> <p>For more information on the Youth Justice Board and the Center for Court Innovation, you can visit</p> <p>For more information about the Coro New York Leadership Center, you can visit</p> <p>Thank you to the W. Clement and Jesse. B. Stone Foundation for their generous funding that made this event and podcast possible. To hear more New Thinking podcasts, you can visit</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Apr 27, 2016
A Trauma-informed Approach to Reducing Youth Violence
<p>This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the <a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative</a>. One of these demonstrations sites is t<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">he Children in Trauma Intervention, or CITI, program in Cincinnati, an anti-violence initiative led by the Cincinnati Police Department’s Youth Services Unit in partnership with the Cincinnati Health Department, Cincinnati Public Schools, and Hamilton County Juvenile Court that seeks to reduce violence and youth involvement in the juvenile justice system through a mentorship program that pairs police officers with youth. </span></p> <p><span><span>Nancy Wagner, who oversees grants and grant information for the Cincinnati Police Department and Lieutenant Jay Johnstone, of the department’s Youth Services Unit, joined this week's podcast to discuss CITI's unique curriculum, parent-engagement strategy, and trauma-informed approach.</span></span></p><br /><p><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN:          Hi, this is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at risk minority youth, as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. The initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the US Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies and community based groups. Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the nine demonstration sites that have received funding under the program. In this week's podcast, we're exploring the Children in Trauma Intervention program, or CITI in Cincinnati, OH. CITI is spearheaded by the Cincinnati police department's Youth Services Unit in partnership with the Cincinnati Health Department, Cincinnati public schools and Hamilton County Juvenile Court.<span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> The program seeks to reduce violence and youth involvement in the juvenile justice system through a mentorship system that pairs police officers with youth. This podcast focuses on CITI'S approach to trauma and the philosophy behind CITI's unique parent engagement strategy, which includes requiring parents of youth to participate along with their children in the program.</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">    I'm joined by Nancy Wagner, who oversees grants and grant information for the Cincinnati Police Department, and Lieutenant Jay Johnstone of the department's Youth Services Unit. Nancy, Lieutenant Johnstone, thank you for being here today, and welcome.</span></p> <p>NANCY WAGNER:            Thank you.</p> <p>JAY JOHNSTONE :             Thank you for having us.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             So, can you describe to me how CITI functions?</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     Well, we run three separate sessions a year and we invite 40 kids between the age of 11 and 14 to attend each of the sessions. And what we're looking for are kids who are kind of on the borderline of having discipline problems or attendance problems or struggling with their grades at school. So those are the youth that we reach out to and that's who we're looking for.</p> <p>                It starts off with an interview process where we interview the youth. We also interview the parents of the youth because the parents are ... a large component of our program, is the Parent to Parent Program. So the parents and the youth are equally involved through the program which runs 10 weeks. The parents meet weekly for 90 minutes and their presence is actually required as part of the program for the kids, in order to graduate. The parents also inevitably graduate. So the parents are required to attend and the parents then meet with a certified therapist at the meeting.</p> <p>                So, what we do is they start off talking as a group together and they address issues that everybody is experiencing with their youth and then they break off into smaller groups and talk in a little more intimate setting. And then towards the end of the session, they come back together and discuss the various ideas that they've learned, the different characteristics that they actually share with the other [inaudible 03:18] parents.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             This approach is I think unique among the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Programs. Why do you feel that it's so important to have parents involved?</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     We think the parents help to reinforce these lessons that we're trying to teach. The lessons of leadership and the lessons of conflict resolution. Also, just the idea of respect. So, these are the lessons that we're teaching the kids and we found a strong correlation that the better attendance and stronger buy in that we have from the parents then the better buy in and the better attendance that we have from the youth that participated in the program. So that way when the youth go home, their parents are able to reinforce the lessons that are being taught.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             Where does law enforcement fit into the program specifically?</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     What we're trying to do is bridge that gap between the youth and law enforcement and improve those relationships and we feel that by having the direct contact that we have with the youth in our program, we are able to help lower those barriers and break some of the stereotypes that some of the youth might have toward the police officers. So the police officers, is they help run the Parent to Parent. They run the daily operation of the camp itself. The officers, they organize the lesson plan. They teach physical training and also military drills. So it's designed by officers and run by officers.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             Can you tell me a little bit more about the curriculum that the youth follow? I know that it's pretty structured. I think they wear uniforms.</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     Yes, the youth wear uniforms and we try to have a pretty structured setting. Probably particularly come on a little bit stronger at the beginning and then kind of lighten up and that's when you find that the bond really starts forming with the officers and the youth. And then we do teach an enrichment portion throughout the entire 10 weeks and we use the GREAT curriculum, which is a Gang Resistance Education Training curriculum. And then we also introduce that same curriculum to the Parent to Parent.</p> <p>WAGNER:            We also have like the physical PT training. We have military drills. We have an officer that teaches...</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     Martial arts.</p> <p>WAGNER:            Martial arts. And then our sex education program - we have someone from the Health Department come over to teach a class on that.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             And what is the response from the youth?</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     Tremendous. And that's probably the most rewarding portion of the program is watching the transition from the beginning all the way to the end and we end it with a graduation ceremony. And just watching the pride that the kids experience and then watching the pride of the parents for completing the program. Even during the graduation ceremony we have the youth actually give the parent awards out themselves. And it's just a really gratifying moment. So, the youth are very thankful of it. They show that through officers that follow up. As WAGNER talked about before, there's follow up and there's mentorship. We make sure that there's consistent follow up so that we're always monitoring their progress even after the camp. So, we don't want it just to be a temporary, 10 week fix. We're looking more towards permanent where we're going to follow them all the way up to the point of college and beyond.</p> <p>WAGNER:            And also a lot of the officers are school resource officers. So, they'll see these kids at the school so they can keep in contact with them to see how things are going. And a lot of the kids form that bond and if things are happening with them, at home or whatever, they'll go to that officer for advice. And then we'll also have parents calling afterward just saying what a change in the kids. Or if they're having a problem with the kid, they'll call afterwards and then an officer will go out to talk to the kid and see how he or she can help.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             You mentioned earlier that you have a trauma specialist to work with the youth. What is trauma informed care mean to you at CITI?</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     I think we're trying to look at from the vantage point of the youth themselves and the various traumas they might be experiencing through a variety of stressors in their lives. So that's where the trauma specialist comes in because she's able to speak with not only the children but the parents ... most of us understand there's going to be two vantage points when you're talking with two different parts of a relationship. So, the trauma specialist is able to help bridge that relationship and bring the parents and the youth closer together.</p> <p>                One of the highlights of the program is when we have a one on one session and that's when midway through the program we have the child and the parent sit down together. It's actually quite moving because at this point a lot of feelings and concerns start to come to the surface and we're able to work with the families and help work through some of these issues that have been causing problems in the past.</p> <p>WAGNER:            And also at the beginning each student is given an Adverse Childhood Experience, or ACE Questionnaire, and that assesses the risk of increase health issues associated with maltreatment or other adverse childhood experiences. So then the trauma expert will go over all this and then work with the student or the parent to see if she can help resolve some of their issues.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             Stepping back a bit, can you describe what support from the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative has enabled you to do?</p> <p>WAGNER:            Actually it's been able to keep the program going because there's a lot of money involved. A lot of it goes for overtime for the officers because the city is down in their [inaudible 09:14] in officers so they wouldn't be able to put the program on during the work period and due to contractual issues, we can't have officers volunteering their time. And then, the food to feed the kids involved, the trauma specialists. We also have University of Cincinnati is our evaluator, so we need to pay them. We also have incentives which is big for the kids that's provided by the grant. So, it gives them a goal to reach not only to be a better person, but a lot of people know that if you kind of put that carrot out there, they're going to try a whole lot harder.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             And what are those incentives?</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     Well, we have weekly incentives where we recognize like the top students, the top leaders, ones who do well on the weekly spelling test, ones that do well on the physical fitness test. We kind of toggle it back and forth between like 5 dollar Subway card or 5 dollar BW3 Wings card. We also offer for attendance for the parents we offer 2 increments, anywhere between 10 and up to 25 dollars depending on how long they maintain their presence throughout the program, as well. And then ultimately if the kid shows perfect attendance and shows good progress they eventually can earn a tablet.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             The kids must get very excited for that.</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     Absolutely.</p> <p>WAGNER:            (laughs)</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     (laughs) That's something that you'll see where they strive and work very hard because they realize that it's very attainable.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me today.</p> <p>WAGNER:            Thank you.</p> <p>JOHNSTONE :     All right.  Thank you, Raphael.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN:             This has been Raphael Pope-Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation speaking with Nancy Wagner and Lieutenant Jay Johnstone. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation visit</p>
Apr 20, 2016
Breaking the Cycle of Violence By Reaching Youth At School
<p>This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the <a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative</a>. One of these demonstrations sites is <span>Youth Intercept, a hospital-based violence-prevention program in Chatham County, Georgia, that aims to break the cycle of youth violence and retaliation by providing educational services and referrals to public health services to at-risk minority youth.</span></p> <p><span><span>Sheryl Sams, director of Youth Intercept, joined </span>this week's podcast to discuss how Youth Intercept has adapted the hospital-based violence intervention model to meet the needs of Chatham County, including the program's development of a school-based element to serve youth in the Chatham County Public Schools</span></p> <p> </p><br /><p> </p> <p><strong><em>The following is a transcript.</em></strong></p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi, this is Rafael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at-risk minority youth as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. The initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority Health at the US Department of Health and Human Services, and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community-based groups. Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the nine demonstration sites that have received funding under the program.</p> <p>In today's podcast, I'm speaking with Sheryl Sams, director of the Youth Intercept Program, an anti-violence program in Chatham Country, Georgia, operated by the Chatham County district attorney's office in partnership with Memorial Health University Medical Center, the Chatham County Public Schools, and other local justice system agencies. Youth Intercept provides educational services and referrals to public health services to at-risk youth, particularly black males between the ages of 10 to 18. This podcast focuses on how Youth Intercept has adapted the hospital-based violence intervention model to meet the needs of Chatham County, including the program's development of a school-based element to serve youth in the Chatham County Public Schools.</p> <p>Sheryl, thank you for speaking with me today, and welcome. What is Youth Intercept?</p> <p>SAMS: Youth Intercept is basically a violence intervention program. We work first to assist individuals who actually come in the hospital between the ages of 12 and 25 to break the cycle of violence first, to encourage positive interactions in the community, to assist in decreasing the amount of retaliation in our community, as well as re-offenses and re-admissions to the hospital. The other aspect of that is the prevention piece, where we are working with individuals in our school systems, kids in our school systems between the ages of 12 and 20 who are having behavioral issues or truancy issues, or any of those things that may be a concern to the school system as far as teachers or social workers as well as parents that may be alarming to them that there's a possibility of those children actually committing crimes or getting into trouble. We work with them to actually develop positive self-esteem and give them other avenues of engagement in the community that are positive.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: The Youth Intercept Program has received funding under the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, which is really focused on partnerships between law enforcement and public health. I was wondering if you could talk about how that model fits into the work that is being done at Youth Intercept.</p> <p>SAMS: We are, with the district attorney office of course, it is a law enforcement entity. What we do is, instead of trying to put people behind bars, we're trying to keep them out, particularly with our youth, just being able to work together to change the way that our young people think about law enforcement. Typically, as they're growing, they get this negative impression of law enforcement, and they think that we're there to harm them. However, with this partnership, we're able to create healthy relationships between the two. It really works well.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Your program is based on the hospital-based violence intervention model that was created by Youth Alive in Oakland. I was wondering if we could talk about how the model works at Youth Intercept, and how you've adapted it for your jurisdiction.</p> <p>SAMS: Really, it works hand in hand, pretty much the same. We are at a hospital, we're at Memorial University Medical Center. We have a collaboration with them, and we are able to work directly in the hospital. Our office is located 100 feet away from the ER, which allows us to respond immediately to victims of violence and intentional injuries. They allow us to have pagers, so we have pagers on us at all time. At that point, any time a victim of a violent intentional injury actually is seem in the ED, we get a page letting us know that that person is there. It gives specific information on the age and race of the individual as well as the type of injury. We're able to respond immediately.</p> <p>In addition to that, we work with the medical staff, the trauma staff, which actually contacts us as well. We're able to work with them immediately within a 24-hour period, just depending on the type of injury they have. We also work with their family members if there's a situation where the injured party cannot talk at that time. We are at the hospital waiting to talk to family members to get pertinent information so that we're able to move forward with that client.</p> <p>Once we have contact with the client or family member, we basically offer them what we call Georgia Crimes Compensation, which allows them an opportunity to have their hospital bills paid up to $15,000 as well as counseling. If the person is working, it allows them economic support for reimbursement of $10,000, and in the event that that person [expires 00:06:15], Georgia Crimes Compensation can actually pay up to $6,000. We inform either the family member or the injured party about the resources that are available to assist, and then we inform them about our Youth Intercept Program, and what services we can provide. Upon leaving the hospital, we set up an appointment with them to then work with them on a case management plan.<br /><br />POPE-SUSSMAN: In the original Youth Alive model, there was not a school-based component, and I know that's something the district attorney she brought in when she came into office. I'm wondering how your office thinks that fits into the model?</p> <p>SAMS: Well, I would say that with the data that we collected over the years with the hospital-based portion of the program, we saw that there was a lot of the victims that have some of the same background information such as truancy issues and school, and the reason why they actually dropped out of school. There were certain risk factors that we saw that lead us to the school system. We felt there was a need to reach out to the schools and say hey, let's get this program started so that we can prevent other youth from coming into the hospital if we work on the side of eliminating the issues that they have on the front end so that they don't end up in the hospital or perhaps deceased.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What are the results you've seen?</p> <p>SAMS: I would say definitely we're having a huge success rate in the sense that we actually had about 1% of the individuals that we're working with who actually commit a re-offense. However, we're seeing that there is an increase in their education levels as well as their truancy rates, so they're staying in school, they're enrolled into positive after-school activities, and are able to increase their academic scores. We're seeing that that has been a positive thing.<br /><br />POPE-SUSSMAN: I'm wondering how you're measuring outcomes.<br /><br />SAMS: With our school-based program, we measure the individual at intake, so we're looking at their grades at intake, and we compare it to their exit, as well as a midpoint of achievement. Also, looking at their truancy rate, how many days they actually missed, when they entered our program, where were they at, and where are they now? We document changes in behavior as well as during life skills, we do pre and post exams to determine if they are actually learning from the life skills that we're teaching. With the hospital-based program, we measure whether those individuals have actually received certain services like mental health counseling and if they actually did not have a job, and now they have a job. Or if they weren't enrolled in school, and now they are enrolled in school. Those are some of the things that we look at. Also, if there has been a re-offence or a re-injury, also looking at mental health.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Have you partnered with any sort of research organization?<br /><br />SAMS: We are actually working with Georgia Southern University; I think it's the criminal justice department that will actually work directly with us to gather data to be able to do it in a research-based form.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Fantastic. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.</p> <p>SAMS: Thank you, I certainly appreciate it. It's been delightful.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: This has been Rafael Pope-Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation, and I've been speaking with Sheryl Sams, the director of Youth Intercept. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</p>
Feb 28, 2016
The Strengths and Limitations of Risk Assessment: Professor Susan Turner of the University of California-Irvine
<p><span>In this podcast recorded at the </span><a href="">Courts, Community Engagement, and Innovative Practices in a Changing Landscape</a><span> symposium held in Anaheim in December 2015, </span>Susan Turner, p<span>rofessor in the department of Criminology, Law & Society at the University of California-Irvine, explains how risk assessment tools are developed and discusses the strengths and limitations of risk assessment. </span></p><br /><p>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: This is Raphael Pope Sussman, with the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series of dispatches from the Court's Community Engagement and Innovative Practices in a Changing Landscape Symposium held in Anaheim in December 2015. The conference focused on justice reforms, including recent developments in California, public safety realignment and Proposition 47. Public safety realignment refers to changes brought about by 2011 legislation that shifted responsibility for certain populations of offenders from the State to the county level. Proposition 47, a ballot initiative passed by referendum in 2014 reclassified certain low level felonies as misdemeanors. I hope you enjoy listening.</p> <p>Hi, this is Raphael Pope Sussman, with the Center for Court Innovation, and I'm here today at the Court's Community Engagement and Innovative Practices in a Changing Landscape Conference in Anaheim. Right now I'm sitting with Susan Turner, professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at University of California, Irvine. Susan, thank you for speaking with me today.</p> <p>SUSAN TURNER: Glad to be here.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What's the process for developing a new risk assessment tool?</p> <p>TURNER: Well, risk assessment tools can be developed by an organization. There are also ones that are available that have been developed by others, so some of the first decisions that jurisdictions make is whether to do it home grown or whether or not to buy something that's been developed and is available for purchase, or is perhaps free. If you're interested in developing a risk tool for your jurisdiction, one of first things you need to decide is what are you interested in predicting? Most jurisdictions in risk assessment are interested in predicting some kind of recidivism behavior, such as arrest or incarceration or conviction. Then we generally use a set of variables that are related to an offender's prior record, age or gender, and then some other factors that may be related to their drug use, mental health status, their association with criminal peers. You basically need to make sure that you have the data for your left hand and your right hand side of the equation.</p> <p>You gather the information on an individual level, so for every person you're interested in, you gather information on whatever outcome and then their record, their variables such as their gender, their age, and their prior record. You want to have a sample that's large enough. You put them generally in a regression equation, where you try to figure out whether or not these factors are predictive. You're able to gather weights for the variables based on these mocks. For example, if you're predicting whether somebody would be convicted, you might have age and you'd have a weight of 5, gender you'd have a weight of 3, different prior record variables would have various weights. You can just imagine sort of scoring everybody up, and the higher the scores, generally the more likely someone will recidivate. Once you do that on one half of your sample, you build your model. Then you do something called validation on a separate set of data that you haven't looked at before and that tells you whether or not what you've developed on your first sample validates or is predictive on your second sample. That's basically a kind of simplistic view, but the overall gist is that you have data available, you develop your instrument on one half of the sample and test it on the second.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What are the limitations of these tools?</p> <p>TURNER: Well, there's a lot of good things about the tools and there are, of course, always limitations with any kind of tool. Risk assessment for recidivism is, like many other risk tools, we have risk tools in our regular lives. You think of your car insurance premiums that you pay are based on risk assessment tools. Risk assessments tools are only as good as the data that are behind them, number one. Another limitation to risk assessments tools that we all need to be aware of is that they're never 100% accurate, and probably will never be 100% accurate. They generally are what's referred to as a moderately good predictor, but because of the nature of human behavior and variables that we don't know why people do the things we do, we can never gain 100% accuracy, which sometimes gets us into trouble with say politicians who have very high standards for whether or not you want to use an instrument. Sometimes so high that they're really not practical.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What are the great strengths?</p> <p>TURNER: Great strengths are that we normally discuss risk assessments tools contrasted with what we refer to clinical judgment, or some people call it gut. The research has shown that actuarial tools or risk prediction instruments are more accurate than gut or clinical experience. Many people don't like to believe that because they're often trained in a clinical background, or you can imagine a parole agent with 30 years of experience is sometimes looking askew at risk assessments tool, but they're more accurate. They can also result in decision making that's more consistent, because you can imagine the great variability if everyone follows their own gut. You have lots of different ways the same person might be scored, so there's consistency. There's also, with some risk assessments tools the advantage of time. Some of them are automated so for large numbers of people they can be scored pretty quickly, allowing an agency to be able to get actuarial tool on a number of offenders without the resources that may be required for, say, 45 or 50 minute instruments that are collected individually.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What roles do you see for risk assessments tools in the larger project of decarceration?</p> <p>TURNER: One of the things we've talked about here today was the use of risk assessment and one of the things I mentioned was that risk assessment's been around for a long time. It's got a resurgence nowadays, I think partly because we're trying to reduce the current populations that we have incarcerated and we don't have enough money to be able to keep everyone locked up. Money is driving a lot of decisions and one of them I think actually may be risk assessment. We need to decide who are the highest risk people, the ones that we need to devote our resources to, our public safety resources, and to not spend the resources on the ones who are the lower risk.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: How do we ensure that risk tools don't show bias against individuals and communities that may have disproportionate rates of established risk factors, like housing or employment or disability?</p> <p>TURNER: Very good question. I think there are a number of people who are concerned with risk assessments tools based on dimensions that may impact certain groups unfairly. Many risk assessments tools use an offender's prior record as a major variable in their recidivism outcomes. Then there's obviously the question, if prior records are somehow biased in their very creation within communities of color, what does that mean in terms of risk assessments tools. It's a very valid question. One of the ways that we help address this is when we develop tools, we take a look at and see how well the tools works with the different populations of interest.</p> <p>For example, when we developed a tool for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, we were particularly concerned about whether the tool predicted for females as well as males, because there's a lot of work suggesting that some of the risk factors for women are different and for men. Also, we were concerned about whether the risk tool worked equally well for blacks and Hispanics and whites and other groups. What we do with those is that we separate the samples into the groups of interest and check to see whether the tool is as predictive in each of the groups. If you find a tool that doesn't work very well in one of the segments that you're interested in, then you need to go back to the drawing board.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: I've heard that misdemeanor populations are particularly difficult to assess. Why is that?</p> <p>TURNER: Well, the discussion of misdemeanor risk assessments has really come into the light here in California with proposition 47. Traditionally, most of us deal with risk assessments in the felony world. All the risk assessments tools I've done are pretty much predicting felony recidivism. There is a question, are these tools good for misdemeanors. There are tools out there that have been developed for misdemeanors. There's a tool for misdemeanor DUIs and some tools that are developed by the University of Cincinnati team have established one that's for misdemeanors. They basically work the same as the felony tools. They're predicting a different kind of an outcome, which is maybe a lower level of behavior. What we find with our risk tools is that these tools can be very robust to different populations and different kind of outcomes.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Do you have any big vision going forward, the next step for risk assessment?</p> <p>TURNER: Well, one of the risk assessment has always been used pretrial for a long time. It's been used the last 20 or 30 years at the probation stage. I think more recently it's being considered at the sentencing stage, which I think in many ways has a little more ethical issues, whether or not in sentencing actually considering risk as opposed to the sentence type.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: What do you mean by ethical issues?</p> <p>TURNER: I mean, what's the purpose of sentencing and some people say the purpose of sentencing is that it should be proportionate to the crime that was committed and that our statutes are based, sentences are based on perceived severity of violent offences being more serious that property offenses and you reserve the highest sentence lengths for the more violent. If you move to a risk based system and you say, well as we found in our research, people convicted of violent crimes are not necessarily the most likely to re-offend, so you basically a conflict going with what is the justice based, in terms of the offense, versus a risk based, which is about future behavior. That's sort of conflict that you've got to figure out how you're going to deal with. In our own development of the risk tool for the State, in our training and discussion of the tool, we've come across people who are very perplexed by our findings that show that people who have convictions for violent offenses, there's actually what we refer to as negative weights on that, so that people with violent offenses are actually less likely to have recidivism than those that don't, which is very counter-intuitive.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: I guess that would also get to people's ideas about what the justice system is supposed to do. Is it supposed to be punitive? Is it supposed to be rehabilitative? Is it supposed to be utilitarian?</p> <p>TURNER: Yeah, I think, as I teach my students, a couple things you have to remember. If you remember a couple of things, you go out after school it'll be very helpful. One of the them is to remember always the different purposes of punishment. One is deterrence, and that's what we we think risk based decision making is based on. But there's retribution, incapacitation. Yeah, there's many philosophies of what the goal of punishment is. I think risk prediction sets you straight in the cross hairs of some of the other theories of punishment.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: Well, thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.</p> <p>TURNER: Thank you very much for the opportunity.</p> <p>POPE-SUSSMAN: This is Raphael Pope Sussman, of the Center for Court Innovation, and I've been speaking with Susan Turner, Professor in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society at the University of California, Irvine. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</p> <p> </p>
Feb 10, 2016
'Evidence-based Practices for Community Corrections': San Diego County Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins
<p><span>In this podcast recorded at the </span><a href="">Courts, Community Engagement, and Innovative Practices in a Changing Landscape</a><span> symposium held in Anaheim in December 2015, San Diego County Chief Probation Office Mack Jenkins discusses the importance of risk assessment and how his department uses evidence-based practices to tailor its responses to offenders on probation.</span></p><br /><p><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em>.</strong></p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: This is Raphael Pope-Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series of dispatches from the Courts, Community Engagement, and Innovative Practices in a Changing Landscape symposium held in Anaheim in December 2015. The conference focused on justice reforms including recent developments in California, public safety realignment, and proposition 47. Public safety realignment refers to changes brought about by 2011 legislation that shifted responsibility for certain populations of offenders from the state to the county level. Proposition 47, a ballot initiative passed by referendum in 2014, reclassified certain low level felonies as misdemeanors.</p> <p>Today I'm speaking with chief Mack Jenkins, chief probation officer San Diego County. Mack, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</p> <div></div> <p><strong style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Jenkins</strong><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">: Thank you for having me. I look forward to the conversation.</span></p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: After proposition 47, what's the role of the probation department? How has your job changed and how is the job of individual probation officers changed?</p> <p><strong>Jenkins</strong>: With 47, what happens is a number of individuals that we're responsible for supervising may be eligible to be re-sentenced. If they're re-sentenced, some of them might actually leave our workload as it were. In that sense, we really don't have a role. Part of what we do right now in San Diego County as a state actually as well, is going through the process of trying to identify individuals who are eligible to be re-sentenced under prop 47. We cooperate with the court, with the public defenders office, and with the district attorney's office in trying to identify individuals who again may be eligible to be re-sentenced.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: Can you talk about your work on community supervision? I know you've worked on supervision programs for DV offenders, sex offenders, substance offenders.</p> <p><strong>Jenkins</strong>: Sure, happy to. The great role that the probation department plays in the criminal justice system is a community supervision role. What that means is I actually think we are very key players and sometimes understated players because folks don't really have general public and sometimes even other system stakeholders, don't have a great awareness of what we do. What we do is critical because when you think about the American criminal justice system, law enforcement is very well known. The courts are really well known, but law enforcement's role really ends at arrest. The court's role in the traditional system ends at this position. Those individuals who are in the juvenile justice system, probation is the most common judicial sanction in this country in the criminal justice system.</p> <p>What that means is individuals who've committed crimes get arrested and are adjudicated come to probation. Our role there is to work with those individuals, hold them accountable for orders that the court may have imposed on them, then this is the most important part of our role. Our role is to help them make changes in their behavior so that they can leave system better than how they came to it. That's what we do. We, probation as an entity, as community corrections practitioners I think are critical in recidivism reductions and keeping our public safe and restoring troubled lives.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: How do you deal with maybe some of those particularly challenging demographics?</p> <p><strong>Jenkins</strong>: Again, that's a good question. I appreciate that you ask it because what we are learning in 2013, 2015 is that in order to really deal with individuals that come into the system, we shouldn't look at them by the crime that they were convicted of. What we have to do is look at them to see who they are as an individual. See what has been their history both in the criminal justice system but also outside of it. What have been their efforts at prior treatment, other things in their lives so that we can have a better understanding of how that person got to where they are today. Then craft an intervention, a case plan that addresses deficits that may have been in their life, and try and engage them in a positive case plan or treatment plan to make changes.</p> <p>That's how we deal with them. It's not to say that folks that have been convicted of domestic violence offenses are the same as everybody else because they are many times there are things related to individuals who and I'm just using domestic violence as an example. Many times individuals who are domestic violence offenders do have some common traits. One of them being alcohol. Alcohol is very, very common in domestic violence offenses. Again, we know that what we want to do with individuals like that is focus on alcohol services, but at the same time maybe anger management and things like that.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: Something that I've been reading about in this field of community supervision and I'm wondering your perspective is, how would you respond to concerns that expanded community supervision makes it easier or more palatable to keep individuals under some form of correctional authority?</p> <p><strong>Jenkins: </strong>Again, I think it's a good question. Here's my thought, is part of what we do is we do use in my field right now the term evidence-based practices. I always say evidence-based practices for community corrections. Some of the tenets of the evidence-based practices, in other words, some of the basic tenets of using practices that show research, by research that they're effective. One of the tenets is recognizing who you need to spend time with and who you don't. Not everybody that comes into the criminal justice system is at the same risk or has the same likelihood of staying in it, or has the same likelihood of continuing their behavior.</p> <p>In terms of questions about community corrections keeps people under correctional supervision, what we actually know is that even if somebody comes into the criminal justice system doesn't want doesn't mean they need to stay there. Basically what I'm describing is the tenet of risk-based supervision. What we do is we employ tools to help us identify who's who. We try to identify those folks who are most in need of intensive supervision. At the same time identify those folks who don't need it. Those folks who don't need it, we call them low risk offenders. They might well be on probation, but they might be on an unsupervised probation, because they don't need intervention. That's how I respond to it. We don't treat everybody the same.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: Where would you like to see probation in your jurisdiction in 10 years?</p> <p><strong>Jenkins</strong>: What I'd really like to see is the rank and file officers becoming in addition to as a part of being an impactful and effective deputy probation officer, behavioral specialists. What I tell my staff now is that they are criminal justice [behavioralists 00:07:17]. What that means is I think that the profession, the vocation, deputy probation officers can have a higher level of competency of knowing more about what are some of the behavioral factors that or some of the factors that influence behavior of the individuals that they work with, and can be across the board better prepared and better skilled at engaging with those individuals and helping them change their behavior.</p> <p>Sometimes it happens right now an experienced officer might learn some of those things, I won't say intuitively because it's from experience, it's not intuition, it's from experience and so they do that already. There's a way for us to teach it. There's a way for us to teach those skills, to teach very specific interventions, to teach engagement techniques, that's what I'd really like to see and I think can happen. I'm retiring now so I won't continue that effort in my role as chief, but I do hope to continue where to try and take the vocation to that level across the board.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: Is there an idea of maybe of some sort of formal professional development in that area?</p> <p><strong>Jenkins</strong>: I think so. I think we're already and a lot of individuals that become probation officers come with academic backgrounds in criminal justice, but as many may come from academic backgrounds of social work or psychology and things like that. That just makes the point that what a probation officer is is somebody who works with another person, who works with people. One of the efforts that I'm already involved in is working on a way of changing criminal justice curriculum for criminal justice schools around the country, to make sure that it includes a curriculum that better prepares future probation officers to be behavioralists as it were.</p> <p>That involves things like teaching motivational interviewing skills so that criminal justice graduates I think should come out of the school with if not a level of competence in motivational interviewing, a level of understanding about what it is, and so they may later can get training to hone the skill. Again the effort is to really change criminal justice degrees around the country so that we can take advantage of I'll even use the word science of behavior change. The individuals that are being educated right now are better educated and then later can be better skilled to employ some of the practices that the research is very clear show is effective in behavior change.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: Those are all my questions. I really appreciate you taking out the time to speak to me.</p> <p><strong>Jenkins</strong>: Thank you and good questions.</p> <p><strong>Pope-Sussman</strong>: This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation and I've been speaking with Mack Jenkins, chief probation officer for San Diego County. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation visit</p> <p> </p>
Feb 03, 2016
New Approaches in Indigent Defense
<p>At <em><a href="" target="_blank">Reinvesting in Justice</a></em>, Wesley Shackleford, deputy director of the <a href="" target="_blank">Texas Indigent Defense Commission</a>, talks about indigent defense, procedural justice, and improving access to legal services for those who cannot afford it.</p><br /><p>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hi. This is Avni Majithia-Sejpal and you're listening to the New Thinking Podcast. I'm at the Dallas City Hall with Wesley Shackelford, Deputy Director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission in Austin. We're both here at Reinvesting in Justice, a conference that brings together a wide range of criminal justice practitioners to discuss challenges and highlight innovative work being done in the field of Criminal Justice today. Wesley is speaking on a panel about procedural justice a little bit later today, specifically as procedural justice intersects with thinking about racial disparity within the justice system. Wesley, welcome to the New Thinking Podcast.</p> <p>WESLEY SHACKELFORD: Thanks, Avni.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Today's big topic is Reinvesting in Justice. How do you interpret that?</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: Coming at it from the indigent defense world, we're looking to find new innovative ways to provide required indigent defense services in working with partners in county government who are interested in trying new approaches.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: For the benefit of our listeners, can you summarize what your panel is going to be about and also what you specifically will be talking about?</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: Sure. It's a diverse panel, the Chief of Police for Dallas and he's going to be talking I think about community relations with the police department especially with communities of color in Dallas. We also have panelists from my parent organization, the Office of Court Administration also based in Austin and he's going to be talking about procedural justice in the court system directly. I'll be addressing indigent defense systems and innovative programs that my agency's been involved in creating.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can you tell us a little bit about that?</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: My organization provides grant funding to counties to help support the provision of legal services to poor people charged with crimes. I'm going to be talking in particular about our discretionary grant programs where we're partnering with counties who are interested in advancing their own systems through partnerships. Really moving in new directions from what I'll call the legacy system of court-appointed counsel systems, which is still the by far predominant form of provision of indigent defense services in Texas. Some of the programs that we've been working on are what we call managed assigned counsel programs. This is in communities where the courts who by statute are the ones in charge in Texas of determining who is going to be appointed to represent indigent defendants. They make the assignments on individual cases to specific attorneys.</p> <p>They in some places have decided that that's not something they want to do. We've been supporting them in developing this new system. It really started back in 2009 in Lubbock County. The judges there took the initiative to essentially spin off the management of the appointment list and the assignment of counsel to a non-profit Bar-led organization. They started it with a subset of cases, mental health defendants and with some case workers to support the attorneys in that work. After a couple of years in learning the new system and what the issues were, they expanded it to the entire criminal court system. At this point in Lubbock all of the appointments are managed by this Bar-led organization. The courts have nothing to do with the selection of counsel. The Bar panels with the Chief Defender reviews all requests for support services like investigators, expert witnesses. They also review and approve all the fee vouchers which is another of the powers that is given to the judges in this state.</p> <p>That was such a success that Travis County in Austin has also now launched the same system. As of this year the criminal court appointment system is managed by a non-profit Bar Association with Chief Defender, two Deputy Defenders, an investigator and so forth. This has been a big sea change and we see it as an opportunity for counties around the state who may not be ready to take over the entire system through the creation of, say, a public defender’s office where you have staff attorneys managing the provision of counsel. These are still private attorneys but it provides a lot of independence from the courts and it also provides an opportunity for more direct oversight and quality control which are things that judges aren't really in a position to do.</p> <p>Chief Defenders who manage the system are. They help staff cases if need be. They provide mentoring services and then they annually review performance and provide pointers and training opportunities for all of the private assigned counsel attorneys in the jurisdiction.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: That's really interesting. You talked about the success of the reform initiatives in Lubbock County. Can you elaborate on that? What kinds of results are you really seeing?</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: I think it is the same attorneys but I would say the quality is better. They've created mentoring programs both in Lubbock and now in Travis County which I think has the effect of enhancing the quality of representation, bringing up the new generation. I think Lubbock, one of the challenges they faced was an aging criminal defense attorney population retiring. It wasn't really a process without a public defender's office to mentor and train young attorneys who wanted to go into the defense world. The old model of starting in a prosecutor's office, it wasn't really attractive to a lot of young attorneys so they've been able to establish a full-scale mentoring program under the auspices of the Managed Assigned Counsel program. I think that's probably one of the biggest enhancements.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Why is procedural justice important according to you, and how can it really speak to addressing issues that minorities face within the criminal justice system?</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: For the criminal justice system to have credibility in the community or at large, there has to be justice perceived. It's both the appearance and the actuality of fairness in the proceedings. Really that's what the initiatives that we've been undertaking are trying to enhance. The court-appointed counsel system can at least lead to the appearance that the defendant's attorney may not have their interests aligned with the defendant. You speak to defense attorneys and they'll talk about the difficulties in establishing a good relationship with their client when they may feel like the attorney was foisted on them and works for the judge. Even the prosecutor when in fact, the prosecutor doesn't have anything to do with it but there's still that perception. The procedure, if you will, of having the court assign it can lead to that and that undermines really the whole justice system and really is at the root of the second initiative that I wanted to speak about.</p> <p>That's a client choice initiative that's underway in Comal County which is New Braunsfels. It's a small to mid-size community between San Antonio and Austin. They are for the first time in the United States have implemented a system whereby the clients, the defendants who've been charged with a crime, get to select the attorney who will represent them. This is the system that's in place in common law countries across the world, England, Scotland, Australia. It has been for many, many years but has never really been tried here. We got the idea from a Cato Institute report, Free Market Principles from 2010 and Norman Lefstein which is one of the thought leaders in Indigent Offense nationally from the Indiana University School of Law, has partnered with us to create the program.</p> <p>There was a very large stakeholder committee with a national oversight board to develop the model and it began operation just at the beginning of this year. There's going to be a full evaluation of course, but the main concept behind it is that the interests of the clients are going to be aligned with their defense attorney rather than the defense attorney's interests are aligned with the client. The only way they're going to get appointments in the system is if a client chooses to have them represent them. It piggybacks on the court appointed system. These are attorneys who have already been qualified and screened by the judges, which is the system we have, as being qualified, have the requisite training and experience to provide representation. From that pool, that relatively large list, basically all the criminal defense attorneys in the community, the clients can choose.</p> <p>We found so far that about three-quarters of them do elect to choose their own attorney. If they don't maybe they don't have any knowledge, they will be assigned an attorney off the wheel as they always have been. It turns out that attorneys do have reputations in the community and defendants can get information to make an informed decision. It's really no different than anyone else who need to buy a service be it hiring a plumber or an accountant or anything else. You gather the information and you make a choice about who you think is going to provide you the best service.</p> <p>The attorneys at least initially, have already reported that it's much easier to establish a trusting relationship with their client because they feel vested in the choice. This was the attorney they in fact chose to represent them. It's going to be really interesting to see what the results are. Does it improve the quality? What are the perceptions of the clients in the community? What do the defense attorneys report? There's a robust evaluation by the Justice Management Institute that's going to take a look at this and we'll have a full report in 2016.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What are some of the challenges facing indigent defense today, particularly as it intersects with procedural justice and issues of disparity?</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: The overarching issue and it may always be issue is inadequate resources. In public defender programs and assigned counsel systems, if there isn't enough funding to provide meaningful representation, then it's very hard to have procedural justice. You can have a system of attorneys who are there in name only who stand up with the defendant while they plead guilty to the crime they've been charged with and accept the offer that the prosecutor makes. We do have a system that's based largely on guilty pleas. The challenge is when the defense attorneys don't have adequate time and resources to properly investigate the cases that you can undermine the belief that the system is fair. If you're in the defense community, if your attorney doesn't have time to actually track down the witness that may be able to attest to your defense, then you're not going to have any trust in the system. I think that's probably the overarching consideration.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Thanks for talking to me today.</p> <p>SHACKELFORD: Thanks for having me.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal and I've been talking to Wesley Shackelford at Reinvesting in Justice. To listen to more New Thinking Podcasts or to learn more about our work, you can visit our website at Thanks for listening.</p>
Jan 27, 2016
Innovations in Pretrial Justice: The View from Denver
<p>At <em><a href="" target="_blank">Reinvesting in Justice</a></em>, Aubree Cote, smart pretrial site coordinator for Denver, talks about the city's reform efforts and what different states and jurisdictions can learn from each other regarding pretrial justice.</p><br /><p>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hello and welcome to the New Thinking Podcast. This is Avni Majithia-Sejpal, and I am here in Dallas today talking to Aubree Cote at the Reinvesting In Justice conference. Aubree is the Denver site coordinator for the Bureau of Justice Assistance Smart Pretrial Demonstration Initiative. Welcome, Aubree.</p> <p>AUBREE COTE: Hi, thank you.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: You just participated in a panel that was very interesting. For the benefit of our listeners at home, can you tell us what that panel was about and what you specifically were talking about there?</p> <p>COTE: Sure. The panel was around pretrial practices, and I was able to talk about the Smart Pretrial, which is a demonstration initiative that Denver is participating in as one of three sites. The other two sites are the state of Delaware and Yakima County, which is in Washington State. The Smart Pretrial is a program that is allowing all three of those jurisdictions to look at front end processes within their criminal justice systems. The work is divided in three different phases. Phase one of the grant is around planning, which has really been about system analysis and looking at system processes, system mapping, gaps within our pretrial system, and evaluating that so that we can, in phase two, implement some opportunities we may have to make improvements in that system. The third phase, which would be the third year of the program, is sustainability. That's where hopefully the successful practices we put in place in phase two, we can sustain as well as working as a site for other jurisdictions who may be looking at pretrial reform.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Speaking of Denver and pretrial practices, what is the Smart Pretrial grant attempting to address?</p> <p>COTE: Denver is very fortunate in that we have a pretrial services program that has been around for a very long time. We started doing some pretty significant pretrial reform work about 7 years ago in Denver. Some of that was around the implementation of risk assessment. Colorado uses a risk assessment specific to a Colorado population. Denver implemented that in 2012. Additionally, in 2013, the bail statute in Colorado was essentially rewritten, which really changed how bail was set. Smart Pretrial has really helped us to focus in on some of the changes that we've already made, and, as a system, really look at what other opportunities that we have now that we know more about some of the changes that were made a few years ago.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can we break down what pretrial practices are?</p> <p>COTE: Pretrial... The system itself is really the time where a defendant, between the time of arrest all the way until disposition in a case. What we've found is that many defendants are in custody during that period, and oftentimes are in custody held on a financial bail. If they're not able to post that, they remain in custody until disposition. Pretrial reform really looks at using risk assessment to determine whether those defendants should be released or detained. Generally, most defendants are low-risk and can be released. Supervision practices can be used for moderate risk-level defendants who, with some case management, specifically around appearance and not committing new crimes, can be successful during that pretrial period.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Why is pretrial reform so urgent today?</p> <p>COTE: I think it's interesting that there has been a concentration on looking at the front end of the system that, 10 years ago, you didn't hear much about. Most of nationally, jail populations, or around 60% of the jail populations, are pretrial defendants. Obviously, that's having a huge impact on those that are in custody and haven't even been found guilty and are not serving a sentence. A second piece to that is that, historically, bail has been around financial means. I think in looking at jail, we're seeing that, oftentimes, defendants are buying their way out of custody, leaving poorer defendants to remain in custody.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can you talk about some specific pretrial practices that help to reduce incarceration?</p> <p>COTE: Yes. I would definitely go back to risk assessment. I think that has been very important in Denver, and nationally also. I think changing the culture where judges and court personnel are making decisions based on either detention or release, instead of a financial amount that they think may or may not ensure that the defendant returns. Risk assessment has really helped us change how we look at a defendant that is arrested, and also the need to be arrested. Is it necessary for a defendant to go into the jail, or can we somehow look at risk on the front end and determine that they don't even need to take up a jail bed day. We know the research is telling us that defendants who are in custody even for 2 or 3 days can be very negatively impacted by that.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: In Denver, what are some of the key causes of incarceration?</p> <p>COTE: Denver is an interesting jurisdiction because we are a city and a county. There are multiple layers within our system. We have municipal cases, which are very low level ordinance nuisance type crimes, and then we have misdemeanors and we have felonies. Because of that, we have a jail that has a variety of populations. What we've found is that, when we apply risk, it doesn't always correlate to charge type. In the past, felonies obviously would have higher financial bonds. We can't now assume that, just because they have a felony, that they're higher or lower risk. That risk assessment has really allowed us to look through a different lens to see who should be in our jail. Ideally, we would have a jail that is high-risk defendants, and all of our low-risk, which would be most of them, are released, and the medium-risk population is released with some type of pretrial supervision.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Are there any strategies that you can share with us regarding implementing successful alternatives to pretrial detention without compromising public safety?</p> <p>COTE: I think that making decisions around supervision based on risk. One of the things that we're looking at in Denver is our pretrial supervision. We have several levels of pretrial supervision. Our outcomes are very positive for defendants who are on that supervision. One of the things that we'd really like to look more deeply into is specifically what type of supervision works well for different risk levels of defendants. Right now, the research in the field doesn't get very specific about what we know works with certain levels of defendants. One of the things that we want to look at in Denver is really specifically what part of our supervision is working well and for which defendants.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I wanted to return to your panel for a moment. Given a variety of stakeholders involved coming from different parts of the country, I imagine it generated some interesting conversations and insights.</p> <p>COTE: One of the benefits of forums like this, where different jurisdictions are able to sit down and talk, is it's always so interesting that we all work in very different systems. However, there was definitely a conversation within that panel that there is a large pretrial jail population, and what different jurisdictions can do. It's interesting. The judge on our panel from New York statutorily has different limitations than we may have in Colorado. Yet, they are instituting a program around pretrial release. That's very similar to what we're doing in Colorado and is being done in other states. I think that part is always very beneficial.</p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Thanks so much for talking to me. That was an instructive conversation. I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal, and I have been talking to Aubree Cote at Reinvesting In Justice. To listen to more New Thinking Podcasts, or to learn more about our work, you can visit our website at Thanks so much for listening.</p> <p> </p>
Jan 20, 2016
Race, Data, and Procedural Justice: A Conversation with David Slayton
<p>At <em><a href=" " target="_blank">Reinvesting in Justice</a></em>, David Slayton, executive director of the Texas Office of Court Administration, talks about using data to implement procedural justice and address racial disparities in the justice system.</p><br /><p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hello, this is Avni Majithia-Sejpal, and you're listening to the New Thinking Podcast. Today I'm at the Dallas City Hall with David Slayton, who is the administrative director of the Texas Office of Court Administration in Austin. We're both here at Reinvesting in Justice, a conference that brings together a wide range of criminal justice practitioners to discuss challenges and highlight innovative work being done in the field of criminal justice across the state of Texas and elsewhere. David is speaking on a panel about procedural justice in a little while here. Specifically, how procedural justice intersects with thinking about racial disparity in the justice system. David, welcome to the New Thinking Podcast.</p> <p dir="ltr">DAVID SLAYTON: It's great to be here.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Today's big subject is "Reinvesting in Justice." From where you sit, what does reinvesting in justice even look like, and why is it so important right now.</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: Right now, we face really challenging times, and making sure that the dollars and the efforts that we put into criminal justice are being effective at what we want them to do. The outcomes are important. It’s not just about inputs and outputs anymore, whereas maybe in the past that was a huge focus, how many cases can we get done, or how many are we having filed. Focusing on, are we actually making an impact with the efforts that we're putting in? I think that's an exciting thing to be able to focus on as we do our work.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: For the benefit of those who are not here today, can you summarize what your panel is going to be about, and what you specifically will be talking about?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: We have the Dallas City Police Chief on the panel, which will be really interesting to hear his perspective on law enforcement's interaction with the public. We're going to have the deputy director of the Texas Indigent Defense Commission, whose focus is upon court-appointed counsel, and of course, making sure that there's a feeling of fairness in that system. I'm particularly focusing on procedural fairness, and the work that we're doing in the state to try to make sure that people, not only are being treated fairly, but that they feel that they're being treated fairly in the court system. Obviously, that feeling is as important as the reality.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can you talk about procedural fairness?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: Sure. One of the key things with procedural fairness is we want to make sure that when people enter the court system, that they know what to do and that they understand what's going on. The court system has been around for centuries and it’s built for attorneys who are very learned in the system and understand exactly how it works, it’s built for judges. Sometimes the language that's used and the procedures that's used in the courts are not as easily understandable to the public and sometimes that leads to confusion, leads to a feeling of unfairness. So, making sure that people not only are treated fairly, but that they understand what's going on, that they are able to understand those procedures and the forms and the languages that's going on is really important. Then, obviously, at the end of the day, making sure that people are, indeed, treated fairly based upon the situation in their case, and that outcomes are similar for all different groups, no matter what their background is.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: There is a lot of discussion across the spectrum about racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and outside of it. Can you talk about how maybe procedural fairness actually addresses that, or can possibly address that?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: Yeah. I think one of the real key things that's important ... I'm going to be talking about this on my panel today ... is the need for us to really take hard look at that with data. There are different communities that are involved in our criminal justice system who are over-represented. We know that for a fact, we see it. Oftentimes, I'm not sure that we have, in the past, been willing to take a hard look at the data to see--what are those degrees of over-representation?</p> <p dir="ltr">What I see happening today, at least in the judiciary in Texas, is, really, a willingness to really peel back the layers and see: what does the data show, as far as the effect on different groups, and the disparities that are there? And what can we do about it? Whether it be in the child protective system, child welfare system, we've been looking at that, the truancy system, the children involved in the juvenile justice system, all the way up to the criminal justice system. I think it’s really important for us to take a look at that. And making sure that people are being treated from the beginning of their involvement in this system, all the way to the end is important. I think procedural fairness plays a big part in that.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What is the data telling us?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: I think the data is revealing what we know, which we know anecdotally, there is indeed over-representation of certain groups. I look, in particular, to a study that was done a few years ago, that has had tremendous impact in our state, which was a report called "Breaking Schools Rules." It was done by the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the Public Policy Research Institute from Texas A&M. It looked at about a million kids in our school system in the state, and what their involvement was in the school ticketing for minor offences.</p> <p dir="ltr">What the report found is that, number one, there was over-representation of minorities, but even disparity in the treatment of those minorities for similar offences. With all other factors equalized, the educational background of the parents, to the income, to school district, to even school campus level; if we equalized all those things, the factor that still showed as a differentiation in the way they were treated was race. Besides race, we also saw an issue with individuals who had disabilities being overrepresented and the treatment being different. What that led to was really a real focus, and a real effort to try to reform and put in place reforms that would address that. It’s a really excting thing to be able to see the data show that, and then to take action based upon that.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Are there specific practices of procedural fairness that can actually address some of these disparities that we are talking about?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: You know, one of the things that's really important is the training that we have been in ... I want to talk about this today too ... is the training that we have been doing with judges on implicit bias. We know it exists. We know, as humans, we have our biases. I think it’s sort of like the step one of AA, admitting we have a problem is sometimes the number one. I think, a lot of times, just for judges and court staff and prosecutors and defense attorneys to realize that they have implicit bias is an important factor. Then, controlling that with tools, to make sure they can overcome those natural biases that exist. I think that's number one, the training behind that is really important.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then number two, really trying to overcome that by making sure that we have things like community courts and drug courts. Making sure that the people who are on the bench and in the courtroom look and act like we do, that speak the same language as we do. All those types of things, I think, are really important to making sure that people really do feel that the system is fair and that they are not going against someone who is very different than them, speaks a different language from them, and therefore, they don't feel they are getting treated as fairly as they should.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Are there any interesting initiatives in the state of Texas that you can talk about?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: One of the things that I am going to talk about today, when I was court administrator in Lubbock County, which is a medium-sized county in west Texas ... The judges there really felt like it was important to ask the people who were coming before them, how they felt about the job the judges were doing. In fact they labeled it "Judge the Judges." So, everyone who went before the judges was asked to answer a survey about their interactions with the judges that day.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Some of the questions that they asked were, first of all, "Was finding the courthouse easy? Did I have forms that I needed? Did I feel safe? Was I able to do my business in a reasonable amount of time?" and "Were the hours that the court was open, did that make it easy to conduct my business?" Because oftentimes that can be an issue. Then it went a step further, and for those individuals who actually appeared before a judge, it asked them the following questions. They were asked to grade on these statements:  "The judge listened to my side of the story before the decision was made”; “The judge had information necessary to make a good decision”; “I was treated as everyone else": and "As I leave I know what to do next."</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span> </span><span>What we did was, we asked everyone who was leaving the courthouse that had been before the judge, "How do you feel about this?" And we got some really great feedback. We asked information on the survey about demographics, and what type of case it was, and which court level they went before. We really started to get some information that allowed to drill down into the feelings of different individuals who were coming before the courts. It gave the judges valuable feedback as to how they could address the issues that might be a concern for the public. So, that's one example. We've seen some other courts in the state also replicate that survey. I think that it’s really just helping us to use that information to make positive changes within the court system.</span></p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: When it comes to procedural fairness there are sometimes skeptics who suggest that perceptions of fairness have very little to do with actually adjudicating, and also take up a lot of time that judges and others don't necessarily have. Are there ways you address the skepticism?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: You know, I am going to say this today, and I think, in this day and age, it’s really true that the public sees the court system through the lens of the entire criminal justice system. So, if you have police brutality, or you have a wrongful conviction, or you have an issue in the defense side or the prosecution side, it’s all the court system, in people’s eyes. So, I think you have to think about this with our partners and the criminal justice system, as a system-wide issue that we have to address. And if we don't do that I'm not sure we really make a real difference. I think that's the key, is really looking at that from the system-wide perspective and then making changes based upon that.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What are some of the most urgent challenges facing procedural justice, particularly as it pertains to dealing with some of the racial disparities that we are seeing across various platforms and institutions in the country right now?</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: I'm gonna talk about this today. One of the real issues that I see is the whole issue of community engagement. I've been talking at the state level with the chief justice and others about the need for us to really do a better job of engaging with the community. In the past when we looked at judges doing community engagement, it’s been going to the Rotary or going to the bar assar association and speaking. I'm not sure that's exactly that type of community engagement that is most beneficial, and we need to figure out a way to get into different communities across our state and our local communities and have discussions about, how do you feel about the court system? What do you think the challenges are? How can we better connect? I think that is one of the biggest things.</p> <p dir="ltr">The second thing, in my mind, that we can do better is to be more transparent. We are doing our best to be transparent, but there is even more we can do. For instance, we have limitations in our data. If someone asks me for racial disparity data, I have limitations in what I can say. So, we are doing some work at the state level to try to get more data, that is more granular that we can begin to really take a look and study these issues a little bit better.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then, the last thing I would say, is really opening up our records from a perspective so that anybody can see what is going on. You mentioned earlier, "Is this a real issue, is this a perception issue." It doesn't really matter at the end of the day. Perception is reality. So, I think making sure that people can actually validate or not, their assumption, is really important, and so, that transparency, I think, is really key.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Great. David, thanks so much!</p> <p dir="ltr">SLAYTON: Thank you for having me today.</p> <p dir="ltr">MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal and I've been talking to David Slayton at Reinvesting in Justice about racial disparity and the need for procedural fairness. To listen to more New Thinking podcasts, or to learn more about our work, you can visit our website at<a href=""></a>. Thanks so much for listening.</p> <div></div> <p> </p>
Jan 13, 2016
Improving Outcomes for Individuals with Co-occurring Disorders
<p>At <em><a href="" target="_blank">Reinvesting in Justice</a></em>, Michael Young, chief public defender of Bexar County in Texas, talks about innovative programs to assist defendants with mental health challenges.</p><br /><p><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL:</strong> Hello and welcome to the New Thinking podcast. This is Avni Majithia-Sejpal and I'm here in Dallas talking to Michael Young at the Reinvesting in Justice conference. Michael is the Chief Public Defender for Bexar County in Texas. Welcome Michael.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MICHAEL YOUNG:</strong> Good afternoon Avni.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Can you talk about your panel today which just concluded and particularly your own contribution to it?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG:</strong> This afternoon we participated in a panel for dealing with persons in the criminal justice system who have a co-occurring disorder. A co-occurring disorder means you're charged with a crime, but at the same time you're going through the criminal justice system, you're suffering from a mental illness or an addiction or some other condition attendant to that criminal justice situation. Basically, the gist of the panel was myself, also Stephen Bush from Shelby, Tennessee, Shelby County, Tennessee, and Judge Marcia Hirsch out of New York. Each of them deal with the mentally ill in the criminal justice system through different programs.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: </strong>What are some of the various challenges facing practitioners who are working with defendants who have co-occurring conditions?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG:</strong> There are a lot of different considerations you have to think about. Obviously, if you're dealing with someone who has a mental illness as a criminal defense attorney, one of your first considerations is: is this person competent to proceed? Do they understand the proceedings against them? Sometimes that's a fine line when you have someone who's suffering from a mental illness. Now, obviously, if you do have a mental illness, that doesn't mean per se that you're incompetent, but it's certainly one thing that you have to be looking at. Another thing is I think you need to be prepared for a great deal of client contact because a lot of representing those who are mentally ill is developing trust. You will probably spend 10, 15 times the amount of time dealing with a client who has a mental illness over one who doesn't because there are so many issues of trust, of explaining the process to them. It's very time intensive.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I understand that you work specifically with indigent defendants dealing with <span>mental illness. Is that correct?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: Yes. We have a mental illness defense team. They're attorneys who represent persons who have a mental illness but are also charged with an offense. We're also working at the jail during the initial booking process to represent those persons who have come into the criminal justice system but have a mental illness.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Can you tell us more about the program itself?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: It's the first of its kind in the state of Texas. Right now, you are entitled to an attorney if you're indigent, if you cannot afford to pay for one. The difference is: when do you get to see that attorney? It may be several days after your arrest before you actually are able to visit with your attorney. The program that we've initiated, we actually have public defenders at the jail, so immediately when you walk in the jail, if you're identified as a person with mental illness, that public defender is your attorney from that moment forward. We determine if you have a mental illness through several different mechanisms. Law enforcement will talk to them and ask them questions about their mental health background. There's also an ability to do what's called a CCQ which is a Continuity of Care Query. There's a database for people who've ever had a mental illness that's maintained, and if we find that they have already a diagnosis for mental illness, we'll begin representing them right then.</p> <p dir="ltr">That's especially critical because these people are already in crisis. They've just been arrested. They're going to see a judge. We want to make sure they don't say anything that's going to damage their case, and the primary focus of what we're trying to do is find some type of community based treatment to send them to in lieu of them being booked into jail. It could be a homeless shelter if that's their primary problem. It could be drug treatment if that's a problem. It could be counseling. Basically, we try to connect that person with treatment in the community, and then we present it to the judge that, "Judge, if you give this person a bond, they are not going to go to jail, but <span>they're going to comply with this treatment that we've setup for them."</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: You mentioned it's the first such program in Texas. How long has it been up?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: The program was actually supported by the Texas Indigent Defense Commission. That's the entity in Texas that was created as part of the Fair Defense Act which oversees indigent defense. They fund indigent defense through either discretionary spending or through grants if we have an innovative program, so we presented this as a grant proposal. It was funded effective October 1, so we're very new into the program.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Wow. Was there a history there? Were you finding that in Bexar County there was a need specifically to work with defendants who are dealing with mental health issues?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: That's a great question Avni. The Council of State Governments is really a national organization that's focused on criminal justice reform. They did a study for Bexar County from April 2014 through February 2015. During that time period, there were 55,000 people who were booked into Bexar County Jail. They were able to determine that approximately 11,656 of those persons had a mental disorder attendant to their arrest, so that's a large population that was not being diverted from the jail even though the county had setup programs, and there were a lot of community based programs available. During the time period of the study, only 125 of the approximately 11,000 were diverted from the jail. The goal of the program, obviously, is to increase the number of people we divert from the jail to these community based treatment.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Right. I know it's early, but have you been seeing any preliminary results?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: Everything in criminal justice right now is being driven by evidence based methods. In other words, data collection is critical to whatever we're doing, so we are collecting data to prove the viability of this program. Obviously, anecdotally we have a lot of stories.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I'd love to hear some.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: We have one young lady who came in, and when the judge evaluates someone for bond, generally, they only look at the criminal history and the current charge. The judge basically told us before we presented the case, "This person's not a candidate. I'm not going to give them a PR bond" even though she was suffering from a major depressive disorder. Upon evaluation, we found out that the reason she had this depressive disorder is because she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, only four months to live. After verifying that with her oncologist, presenting that to the judge, obviously, the judge changed their mind, and I think that was a great victory. This lady only had four months to live, and she was probably going to spend several months of those in jail if we hadn't of gotten her out.</p> <p dir="ltr">Also, people actually come to court. That's what we've been noticing. Before, if people got out on a commercial bond with no treatment, we had a big problem with them failing to appear. At least in the last 30 days, we're seeing people show up. We're seeing them complying with coming to court, and I think that has a lot to do with the arrestee feeling like they have an advocate. They have somebody who's working for them, somebody that's believing in them. Because a lot of the times what has happened, people at this point in their life have strained most of their relationships, and nobody really believes that they're going to do what they say anymore. Our public defenders work hard to build a relationship with them there at the jail and say, "Now come on. You're going to come to court. You're going to go do this treatment." I just think that connection really impacts them actually, ultimately showing up for court.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Speaking of community, do you find that linking defendants with community services has an impact on recidivism rates?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: We are going to be looking at that. We believe that if we treat the co-occurring disorder, if we get them into some kind of community based treatment facility, that it is going to have a great impact on recidivism. Again, anecdotally it's easy to see. We've had a young man who is a serial criminal trespasser. He routinely trespasses at a bus stop, and every time he gets picked up, he spends 20 days in jail, and then he's released credit for time served. He spend 20 days in jail, and the reason he's doing this is he's homeless, so the last time he got arrested, we were able to connect him with Haven for Hope which is a local homeless shelter. The idea being he's not going to be coming back through the system because we've addressed the base cause of his repeated criminal trespassing.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Right. Based on your panel and the other conversations happening here today, it sounds like there are a lot of new and fairly innovative programs dealing with mental health in the state of Texas or just nationally.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: Certainly in Texas, we're not unique. We being Bexar County in that we are trying to use provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedures, specifically 17.032, to get these mental health bonds. What's unique about our program is when we're doing it. We're doing it when they first walk in the jail, but Collin County in McKinney, Texas very near here in Dallas, they have a similar program where they're trying to connect the defender with the arrestee as quickly as possible to get them out into treatment. I think there's a lot of different counties in Texas that are looking at it. Houston, Harris County is doing something similar, but nationally, Stephen Bush, talking about the Jericho Project, a great project out of Tennessee where they've been working with getting people into treatment instead of a conviction or keeping them in a criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: What do you think are the most urgent needs for supporting defendants with co-occurring conditions?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>YOUNG</strong>: That's an excellent question. A lot of our problem right now is, again, the misperception of the public that these are inherently violent people because they have a mental illness. Obviously, that is not the case, but we need to ensure that the public understands that what we are doing is actually going to maximize their protections. For example, if someone commits a crime and they're given a commercial bond, if they can somehow pull together $200 or $500, they're going to get out, and they're not going to be seen by the system for several months until they actually come to court. Under what we're proposing, the person who's going to get out, it's not going to cost them anything, but they're going to be required to go to weekly treatment, report to pretrial officer once a week, and if they step out of line, either don't go to treatment or don't report, that's going to immediately be reported back to the judge. It's actually a program that's going to maximize public safety.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Thank you so much for talking to me. It was a really instructive conversation. I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal and I have been talking to Michael Young at Reinvesting in Justice. To listen to more New Thinking podcasts or to learn more about our work, you can visit our website at Thanks so much for listening.</p> <div></div> <p> </p>
Jan 07, 2016
'Hammers Don't Work': Alameda County Chief Public Defender Brendon Woods
<p><span>In this podcast recorded at the </span><a href="">Courts, Community Engagement, and Innovative Practices in a Changing Landscape</a><span> symposium held in Anaheim in December 2015, Alameda County Chief Public Defender Brendon Woods discusses diversion and the importance of giving low-level offenders the opportunity to avoid a criminal record.</span></p><br /><p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: This is Raphael Pope-Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series of dispatches from the court's Community Engagement and Innovative Practices In a Changing Landscape symposium, held in Anaheim in December 2015. The conference focused on justice reforms, including recent developments in California, Public Safety Realignment, and Proposition 47.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Public Safety Realignment refers to changes brought about by 2011 legislation that shifted responsibility for certain populations of offenders from the state to the county level. Proposition 47, a ballot initiative passed by referendum in 2014, reclassified certain low-level felonies as misdemeanors. I hope you enjoy listening.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Hi, this is Raphael Pope-Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation. I'm sitting here with Brendon Woods, Chief Public Defender for Alameda County. Brendon, thank you for speaking with me today.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>BRENDON WOODS</strong>: Sure. Thank you.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Can you talk a little bit about how your office works with the DA's office?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: Yeah, I guess it depends on what we're talking about with regards to working together. We collaborate on many issues. Probably our biggest one is our Clean Slate Program, where we collaborate together with regards to getting our clients' cases reduced to misdemeanors, or getting them dismissed completely off their record.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Another one of our big collaborations was, about a year and a half ago, two years ago, we started our Veterans Treatment Court. That took a real collaborative effort between the DA, public defense, and probation, sheriff's office, and the courts.That's really a great program we started.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><span> </span></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: How do you balance those partnerships with the need to obviously represent the interests of your clients?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: I think always at the forefront and at the very beginning is a zealous advocacy that never goes away, and that's always the case. Where we collaborate is where we can see there will be a benefit for our clients, but a lot of that collaboration takes place every day, takes place during pre-trial conferences, takes place with regards to resolving cases.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Once we get past that, and we know we're going to be litigating a case and trial, it's all about advocacy. Even with the collaboration it's all about advocacy. We're always putting our clients first.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: How do you talk to your clients about opportunities for diversion?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: I think that's great. Any time we have a client where they can hopefully avoid having a criminal conviction on their record by completing a program, or doing some some sort of diversion, we completely advocate for that, because once you get that conviction on your record it turns into this horrible cycle. Once you get that conviction with probation, it turns into a horrible cycle, so if we can get our client some sort of diversion or treatment program, and they avoid having a felony record, it's critical.        </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>At least in Alameda County, probation is in some ways, I don't like to call it this, but a real set up, because once you go down that path, once you're on probation, you don't have the same rights you do as if you weren't. You have the search clauses. You don't have the right to a trial when you violate. It's just such a terrible downfall, so we really try to avoid that if we can, especially with a diversion opportunity.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Are there situations where there are options for maybe a low-level diversion as opposed to a few days in jail, where you might be concerned that the diversion opportunity is going to maybe be more onerous than the alternative, or that the alternative might be just that they're going to just let your client off entirely?  </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: No, there aren't many diversion programs where I would say I'm concerned about that, but if there's a diversion program and they're talking about some sort of considerable amount of jail time if my client fails a diversion program then I'm not going to agree to that. That's a problem. We've got to stop going towards that model where if a client does not complete this program they will be hammered. Hammers don't work, especially now in the criminal justice system. They just don't work.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Do you think a lot of that comes from public fear?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: It's public fear, and it's the old school way of thinking, and we've got to stop thinking that way. It's all about rehabilitation and incentives, as opposed to hammers.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Where do public defenders fit into this national conversation about justice reform?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: I think it's incumbent upon us as public defenders to direct and drive the conversation, because we're the ones who are advocating and representing our clients. We should be the loudest voice at the table.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Have you seen particular changes after Prop 47 in California? How has it changed the way your office works, and the kinds of outcomes you're seeing for your clients?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>WOODS</strong>: Primarily with my office, we do a lot of focus on Prop 47 with regards to the record remedies, and getting our clients into court, getting their cases reduced to misdemeanors, and getting them dismissed. That's the biggest spoke that we focus on right now. A lot of people talk about Prop 47, and it's going to add to the increasing crime, or putting all these dangerous criminals out, and that's just not the case.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>That's not the case at all. I haven't seen any evidence of that. We're talking about low-level offenders who have drug possession being treated as misdemeanors, and then low-level theft offenses. That population should never have seen a prison in the first place.   </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><span> </span></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation, and I've been speaking with Brendon D. Woods, Chief Public Defender for Alameda County. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</span></p>
Dec 30, 2015
The Neuroscience of Addiction and Pharmacological Treatment
<p>At <em><a href="">Reinvesting in Justice</a></em>, Dr. Bryon Adinoff, D<span>istinguished Professor of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Research at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the <span>Director of Research in Mental Health at the VA North Texas Health Care System, talks about the latest research on addiction and pharmacological or medication-assisted treatment, as well as how they can impact the criminal justice system.</span></span></p><br /><p><span> </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hello, and welcome to the New Thinking Podcast. This is MAJITHIA-SEJPALejpal. Today, we are at Reinvesting in Justice at the Dallas City Hall,l where I'm in conversation with Dr. Bryon Adinoff, the Distinguished Professor of Drug and Alcohol Abuse at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the director of research in mental health at the V.A. North Texas Healthcare System.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Dr. Adinoff, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>BRYON ADINOFF: Good to be here.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: You just gave a very interesting talk about the neuroscience of addiction. For the benefit of our listeners at home, can you walk us through the highlights?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF:The key thing about the neuroscience of addiction, it is a brain disease. It's a chronic medical illness just like other medical illnesses whether it's cardiovascular disease or pulmonary disease or epilepsy or schizophrenia or bipolar disease. There are many similar characteristics in that it's due to both specific genes that put you at risk, environments that put you at risk and in the case of substances of course, the use of substances often for a long time that develop the brain disease.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: More and more it seems that prosecutors and courts are seeking to link defendants with substance abuse issues to treatment programs. What is the latest research telling us? What do we know now about the addicted brain?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: It appears that what happens over time in the addicted brain is that the whole even though the drugs may be hitting particular parts of the brain involved in pleasure and reward, the whole brain becomes hijacked by this reward system. So that all of the parts of the brain particularly the prefrontal cortex that's involved in who we are, the way we plan things, the way we think about things. This part of the brain is hijacked by the reward system. We see many differences in people with addiction in their brain. We can certainly tell that, for instance, the brain is far more reactive to certain cues that remind them about using. That there's memories of use of things that they associate with using, whether it's a bottle of beer or a cocaine pipe or joint that become hardwired into the brain of people with addiction. It can be very difficult to put these memories away or make them quiet.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We found networks that work in the brain. All of our brains, we have networks of brain regions that talk to one another and that there's impairments, for instance, in these networks in the addicted brain. For instance the brain areas just at rest called the default mode network. These brain regions are active when we're not doing anything, we're just lying there thinking. This activity in people with addiction in this default mode network appear to be hyperactive. Maybe there's a loop of craving that they're not even aware of that is hyper-activated in addicts. Maybe they're scanning the environment without even thinking about it for addiction-related cues.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: You mentioned in your talk pharmacological treatment? One buzzword seems to be medication-assisted treatment. Are those two the same things?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: They are the same thing. I prefer not to use the term medication-assisted. We do not talk about insulin being medication-assisted treatment for diabetes even though the diabetic in addition to taking insulin needs to be watching their diet and exercise and also some other things, losing weight but they're all essential parts of treatment. Schizophrenia we don't talk about medication-assisted treatment when they're taking anti-psychotic. I think in the same way, for addiction disorders, we have medications that's very useful. We have talk therapies that are very useful. We have 12-step support groups that are very useful. They're all important treatments or interventions.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>It can be very successfully used in the treatment of addiction. The pharmacologic approaches are medications that are helpful for the treatment of addiction.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can you expand on pharmacological treatments?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: There are many different good medications now for addictive disorders. For opiate disorders when opiates are drugs like heroin or Percocet or codeine, Oxycontin, Vicodin. These substances all hit opiate receptors in the brain. There's two major pharmacologic approaches. One is to use what's called an opiate agonist, where it replaces the effects of these other drugs on the brain. So instead of taking heroin in you would take methadone or suboxone or buprenorphine. What these medications do, they're also opiates and they hit the opiate receptor in the same way, that say, heroin might that replaces it, so the brain is no longer crying out demanding that it gets heroin. It's been satisfied or satiated with this other opiate agonist like suboxone or methadone.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Even though they're opiates and if you stop them suddenly you'd have withdrawal symptoms. They're legal. They take them once a day and they last for the full day and they take them by mouth so they can actually go on and function with regular life so they don't get in trouble with the law. They're not using needles. There's doctors I know who are on suboxone. There's a wide range of people that do very well on these medications.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Another approach is blocking the opiate receptors and there's a shot called Vivitrol and it has a drug in it called naltrexone that blocks these receptors for a month. Once you get that shot you no longer can use. If you use, say heroin, you won't get high. You're throwing your money down the drain and it's all that work to get the heroin for nothing. What that month does, it seems to get people the opportunity then to do their treatments so they have a whole month ahead of them for that treatment to kick in, and then they just have to make a commitment once a month to get that shot.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>For alcohol, we have several other medications that hit different brain receptors or brain neurons that people that take these medications do better than people that take a placebo or don't take a medication at all.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: You would say that these are effective?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: They are. There's substantial literature on these medications. They're not cure-alls. They're not magic pills. We certainly always recommend that somebody taking these medications get their other therapy as well, but they do help.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: As someone who has done such extensive research on the subject, how do you address skepticism of pharmacological treatment that suggests that it merely replaces one drug for another?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: Well, in the case of the opiate agonist I mentioned like methadone and buprenorphine, they're opiate replacement therapy. They do in fact replace one drug with another. The difference is you're not getting high and that all the symptoms of addiction, the craving, the lost control, the consequences of use, the compulsive use, all those things if you take it every day as prescribed, they go away. So you don't have all the symptoms that make up an addiction. They work. I understand the philosophy of not wanting to replace one drug with another but in this position my goal is to help people get better. Other medications like I mentioned, the Vivitrol, are just medications. They don't replace the drug in the sense that we usually think about it. All other diseases that we think of, we use medications. It's not all we use but most diseases they're physiologic illnesses and we use medications with great success. Addictions are just another disease. They're chronic. They're marked by relapse. Again, just like all other chronic diseases, so it makes sense. Again, the biggest thing is people do better on them--and that's the ultimate goal.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: There was an interesting question that came up from an audience member in your talk about affordability and I was wondering whether you could talk about that a little bit. How accessible is pharmacological treatment to the average person?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: It's a great question and it certainly one concern in the addiction field as well as all other fields, whether it's chemotherapy or medication for schizophrenia or depression. The newer drugs are always way more expensive. The methadone is very inexpensive. It can be a pain to get. You have to go to special clinics but that's been around a long time and it's not expensive. Vivitrol is a shot and it is expensive. My understanding is the company that makes Vivitrol has actually given grants or given a lot of free Vivitrol to people that are in court systems. There's ways around it. For alcohol dependence, many of the medications are really old medications and are not that expensive.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>When you consider how much an addiction, even if you're drinking, it really adds up very quickly and people put that money into getting the medication and other treatment--they probably come way out ahead in the long run.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: How can some of the research that you've been doing and citing inform and change the way the criminal justice system adjudicates addiction?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: I don't know that it can change it because I think the reasons for the drug laws that we presently have are political, social, cultural decisions that people have made and the government has made. Many of our laws for better or worse are not necessarily based on the science and it can take a long time for laws on the books to respond to the science. As a emotional issue, even though I believe, and I think many people now believe, addiction is a brain disease. There's something about people seemingly voluntarily taking drugs that is hard for us to really think of as a brain disease. I think that's changing is more and more people come out and say, "You know I've been addicted." I think gradually we're changing but it's very slow and not only in the community but in the field of medicine. Doctors are sometimes extremely slow to prescribe these medications that we were talking about.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>It will take a while. As I mentioned in my talk in DSM IV--DSM is our psychiatric bible--legal problems was one of the ways we use to diagnose a substance disorder order, an addiction. And that was taken out for DSM V because they found being arrested for a substance use justice disorder had more to do with your race and your economic standing and your social standing than it did whether you were using or not. It really wasn't very good at helping you diagnose--it wouldn't good at all at helping you diagnose somebody with addiction or not. The laws that we've been using have not been effective in treating people with addiction or in decreasing the amount of use. We’ve certainly spent a lot of money on this country on the drug war. Again, it was understandable because these drugs can cause a great deal of harm to people and societies, but they haven't been effective. So this conference, it’s been great in trying to look at better ways to approach these problems other than incarcerating people.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: That brings us to the end of our conversation. Dr. Adinoff, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ADINOFF: It's been my pleasure.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I'm MAJITHIA-SEJPALejpal and you've been listening to Dr. Bryon Adinoff about the latest research in the neuroscience of addiction and what it means for prosecuting drug crimes. To listen to more New Thinking Podcasts or to learn more about our work, you can visit our website at Thanks for listening.</span></p> <p></p>
Dec 16, 2015
With an Evidence-based Curriculum, Improving Outcomes for Minority Male Youth
<p><span> </span></p> <p>This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the <a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative</a>. One of these demonstrations sites is Cabarrus Students Taking a Right Stand (STARS), a school-based male youth leadership program based in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, that seeks to create a healthy, positive school community through mentorship and positive role modeling.</p> <p><span><span><span>Katie Dight and Rolanda Patrick, program managers at Cabarrus STARS, and Sue Yates, chief financial officer for the Cabarrus Health Alliance, joined this week's podcast to discuss Cabarrus STARS' evidence-based curriculum and program results, and why STARS believes strong male role models are critical for program participants.</span></span></span></p> <p> </p><br /><p> </p> <p><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em> </em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of series we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at-risk minority youth as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. The Initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community-based groups. Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the nine demonstration sites that have received funding under the program.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>In this week's podcasts, we're looking at Cabarrus Students Taking a Right Stand or STARS in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. STARS is a school-based youth leadership program for males aimed at creating a healthy, positive school community through mentorship and positive role modeling. Key activities for this initiative include youth development, academic enrichment activities, service learning, tutoring, case management, and in-home parent resources. Through Cabarrus STARS’ partnership with local law enforcement, the police department's student resource officers serve as mentors and assist with youth programming.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>We're focusing this podcast on the specialized curriculum Cabarrus STARS uses with its youth, as well as the program’s use of a range of evidence-based tools.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. In today's podcast we're looking at the Cabarrus STARS, or Students Taking a Right Stand, program in Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Joining us today are Katie Dight and Rolanda Patrick, program managers at Cabarrus STARS, and Sue Yates, chief financial officer for the Cabarrus Health Alliance. Katie, Rolanda, and Sue, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ALL: Thank you.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: It's great to have you here. To start out, can you describe how Cabarrus STARS works?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KATIE DIGHT: This is Katie Dight. We are a three-tiered program. We have tier one, which is systems level training and change within the schools. Tier two, which is our positive youth development piece of it where we have a group-level intervention. Then tier three, where we have intensive individual services both for the students, and then a parental engagement piece.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: The program partners with four schools. Can you talk me through those partnerships a bit? I know you focus on school climate and bullying as part of that.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: Yes, sir. In regards to the four schools that we currently work with, two are located in Kannapolis City, so we actually work with two different school systems. The first being Kannapolis City and the second being Cabarrus County Schools. The schools in general are Kannapolis Middle School and A.L. Brown High School, both in Kannapolis, and Concord High School and Concord Middle School in Cabarrus County. We're able to work with a minimum of 15 students, 15 to 17 students, at each school for 15 weeks. We begin in September, our first session will end in January. Our second semester will begin in January and end in May. During that time, we're able to implement an evidence-based curriculum called Too Good for Violence at the middle school level and Too Good for Drugs and Violence on the high school level. At every school, we're able to work with them for 15 weeks, a minimum of two hours.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Our other partners include our local law enforcement agencies, so that would be Kannapolis City Police Department, as well as the Cabarrus County Police Department. We also have partnerships with the Youth Educational Services Society in Charlotte. They actually serve as our facilitators for our program. We also have a facilitator that comes from the Boys and Girls Club.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: In addition to that, each of the four schools also receives case management services. I'm sorry, this is Katie Dight. They are given to about eight students per year at each of the four sites. Those students are selected from our group and they might receive something like an interactive journaling program, some of them get a mentor. We try to team them up with mentors who are either connected to their school or local public servants, either firefighters or police officers. This year we expanded our mentoring program a little bit. We now work with more teachers and coaches than we did last year.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: We have a total of 13 mentors.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: I'd love to hear a little bit more about interactive journaling and the mechanism behind that part of the curriculum.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: Sure. This is Katie Dight and I oversee the case manager who uses the interactive journaling program. It's called Keep It Direct and Simple, or KIDS for short. It's a series that's divided up into different needs that the student might identify. We first meet with the student before we select a journal. Once we kind of get to know them, talk about what they see as some of their biggest challenges, we help them select a journal that might be most useful. For instance, a lot of our students select the one that is called Anger and Other Feelings, other students opt for the one called Personal Relationships. It's really a great system that walks the student through each of these problems that are really in-depth but in an easy to understand way.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Our middle and high schoolers both use it. We've seen some pretty good results. There's a pre- and post-test for each of the journals. They ask things--for instance, for the Anger and Other Feelings, they'll ask students to name five major feelings that they've experienced. For a lot of our students, it's difficult to name anything other than maybe angry or sad when we first start, but by the end of it they're able to identify other ones such as grief or shame or guilt, which just helps the students really expand their vocabulary and put words to what they're feeling rather than just always resorting back to anger as their number one. We really aim to have each student who's in case management complete one journal at least. Most of them I can at least get onto the second one and like we said, we let the students kind of guide which one they're interested in, which one they think will benefit the most.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>In addition to the KIDS series, we have another one we pull a few different extra assignments from. They're totally up to the student but we find that they kind of complement one another. It's aimed towards an older crowd, particularly a crowd that might be in the juvenile justice system. Most of our kids don't have that involvement but we do find that some of those different activities have been helpful for the students to kind of go over in depth with our case manager.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Are there other evidence-based tools that you have in use right now or that you plan to use?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: This is Rolanda. For the program, yes. Again, the evidence-based curriculum that we utilize for the group-level component of our program, Too Good for Drugs and Too Good for Drugs and </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Violence. They were both created by the Mendez Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: How do those operate?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: Each curriculum has ten weeks of sessions. The topics include: conflict resolution, healthy relationships, goal setting, decision making, identifying and managing emotions, bullying, peer violence, dating, drugs, media, and influence. Each curriculum activity lasts about 55 minutes in general. Immediately following our curriculum lesson, we conduct positive development-type activities with our youth that reflect team building and respect with a local partner, Capstone Climbing and Adventure. That guides the young men through activities like low ropes course, working together, and making the right decisions. We also include positive youth development activities as hip-hop workshops as well as inviting local law enforcement officers in to talk to the youth about current events.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: So the facilitators are all black men and the population of youth, they're all young men. I'm curious about the philosophy behind that.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: This is Rolanda. In regards to your question, we believe that our participants will respond best by identifying with a person that looks like them. So in regards to our facilitators, we do have three African-American male facilitators. While the young men do work well with myself and Ms. Katie Dight, when it comes to personal topics and just sharing what it means to be a young man, what it means to be a young man in America, how to conquer some of the challenges that males face, it's easier for them to build this relationship and have that dialogue with a male facilitator versus a female facilitator.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: This is Katie Dight. In addition to the facilitators, we also have all of our mentors. It is a requirement that all the mentors are male. They don't have to be specifically men of color but we do, like Rolanda mentioned, find it most helpful when the students can see in either the facilitators or the mentors a positive male role model.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: How do young people respond to that?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: This is Rolanda. They absolutely love it. In regards to our attendance, we have about a 93 percent retention rate throughout all 15 weeks. I would say that our young men are actually enjoying the program and they are actually suggesting that their friends request to participate in the upcoming semesters.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: I'm wondering if you might have a story of a young man who came into the program and the outcome for him when he came out of the program.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: This is Rolanda. Last year it was brought to our attention that a young man, he was a 7th grader at one of our middle schools, he did not respect teachers, he did not respect the administration. He received about 15 disciplinary write-ups last year. This year he's in our STARS program at one of our middle schools. This young man shared about two weeks ago that he did not like the police. He did not like police officers. It didn't matter whether they were male, if they were female, regardless of their race or ethnicity. We also have an activity called Pizza with Police that we host at our four schools. This young man, he participated. He didn't say anything but he was definitely observing what was going on. Immediately following that session, he shared with myself that he was interested in receiving a mentor and that he wanted the mentor to be a police officer. That just goes to show how our activities are actually able to change the mindset of some of our participants.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: On a more macro scale, I'm wondering how you're measuring outcomes across the program.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: Sure, this is Katie. We have a couple different ways that we've been measuring it. First of all, we do without group-level individuals, we do a pre- and post-test. The very first day of the program they receive two different evaluations. One is focusing on student knowledge and that could be about bullying behavior, that could be about substance abuse. Then the other one is student attitudes and that's just towards their general attitudes on violence in general. They take that on the first day of the program and then they complete the same two surveys on the last day of the program. So they have a semester of learning between the two. We contract with an evaluator from UNC Charlotte. He'll help us determine if there's significant differences in between those two pre- and post-.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>In addition to that, we have a group of control students at each of our four schools, so that's about 15 students, who have been matched with the STARS participants in terms of age, race, and their different behaviors at school. Some of them have actually then gone on to be referred for their program for the second semester. They are also given the pre- and post- test at the start and end of the semester. We compare whether or not the intervention group has improved in comparison to the control group. So that's one set that we do.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Another one is a school climate survey. That's conducted in April. We did one last April, we'll do one in 2016, and we'll do one more in 2017. We do that at our four target sites as well as two control schools. They have schools that have been matched in terms of just general demographics, poverty levels in regards to free and reduced lunch, the different ethnic makeup of the schools. We try to match them as closely as possible. They receive a school climate survey that's about 60 questions. We've added a few additional ones in terms of their relation with their police departments in their neighborhood to gauge how students and staff are feeling on that. Then 10 percent of the school takes that. So it's not just one grade, but rather all four grades in high school they're asked to take it or both of the grades in the middle school has to take it. That way we get a wide representation about what school climate is in regards to "Is my school a safe place? Is my school clean? Do I feel welcomed?" Then staff is asked to take a very similar school climate. Then we compare our target schools with our control schools to see how school climate as a whole is being impacted.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Do you have some of those earlier results?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: We do. We have our first semester. We did see improvements, particularly within our intervention groups in terms of their student attitude and student knowledge prior to the start of the program compared to the end of it. The school climate, since it was a baseline, we don't have any real data about how we're doing in terms of improving that. When we started, our control schools were actually doing well in terms of their school climate as compared to our intervention schools. So there's definitely room for improvement but we did see a lot of positive feedback from the staff and students in terms of what areas they'd like to see improved upon.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: What's next?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: We are working on this second semester, we have three more ... I'm sorry, this is Katie again. We have three more semesters following this so the spring, then the next year will be fall 2016 and spring 2017. We'll continue to monitor school climate for the next two spring surveys. We'll continue to work with three more groups of students. Right now we're just focused on the students that we have, both in our group-level intervention as well as case management. We'll start to think a little bit about our summer enrichment activities. Over the next few weeks those ideas will really start to come together as we plan for the summer.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: This is Rolanda. Also, building on our tutoring program at our middle schools, increasing the number of mentors that we have, as well as the number of programs and participation that our local law enforcement agencies provide.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Wonderful. Do you have anything else to add?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: This is Rolanda. I would like to add that it is a pleasure working with our four schools. We've had the opportunity to reach over 120 students thus far. Katie and I are definitely looking forward to the upcoming semesters as well as the summer. It's a pleasure to work with the parents, the teachers, the administrators of course as we're building and encouraging our young men to be as successful as possible.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Well, thank you so much for taking the time out to speak with me today.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATRICK: It's our pleasure.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DIGHT: Absolutely.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: This has been Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. We've been speaking with Katie Dight and Rolanda Patrick, program managers at Cabarrus STARS, and Sue Yates, Chief Financial Officer for the Cabarrus Health Alliance. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</span></p> <p> </p>
Dec 10, 2015
Working With Unlikely Allies: A Conversation With Marc Levin
<p>At <em><a href="" target="_blank">Reinvesting in Justice</a></em>, <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Marc Levin, policy director of the Texas-based conservative group <a href="" target="_blank">Right on Crime</a></span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">, talks about the need to work towards criminal justice reform with stakeholders from across the ideological spectrum, both in Texas and nationwide. </span></p>
Dec 02, 2015
A Policing Approach That Improves Health and Wellness of Youth
<p><span>This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the </span><a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative</a><span>. One of these demonstrations sites is Policing Approach Through Health, Wellness and Youth (PATHWAY) in West Palm Beach, Fla.,<span><span><span><span> an initiative led by the City of West Palm Beach that seeks to promote healthy adolescent development, discourage harmful and violent behavior, and provide youth with opportunities for positive social involvement. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Reed Daniel, campus manager for the Youth Empowerment Division of the City of West Palm Beach Department of Recreation & Strategic Innovations and Special Agent James Lewis and Assistant Chief Sarah Mooney of the West Palm Beach Police Department joined this week's podcast to discuss the role of law enforcement in PATHWAY, which includes offering critical mentorship and role modeling for program participants and creating meaningful diversion opportunities for low-level youth offenders.</span></p> <p><span> </span></p> <div><span><br /></span></div> <p> </p><br /><p><span> </span></p><p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: </span><em>Hi. This is Raphael Pope-­Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at-risk minority youth, as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention initiative. The initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community-based groups.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the nine demonstration sites that have received funding under the program. Policing Approach Through Health, Wellness, and Youth, or PATHWAY, is an initiative led by the city of West Palm Beach that seeks to promote healthy adolescent development, discourage harmful and violent behavior, and provide youth with opportunities for positive social involvement. Through the program, police officers serve as mentors and instructors, and work alongside participants in community service projects.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>In October, I spoke with R. Reed Daniel, Campus Manager for the Youth Empowerment Division of the City of West Palm Beach, Department of Recreation and Strategic Innovations, Special Agent James Lewis of the West Palm Beach Police Department, and Assistant Chief Sarah Mooney, of the West Palm Beach Police Department. Our conversation focused on the role of law enforcement in PATHWAY, which includes critical mentorship and role modeling for program participants, and offering meaningful diversion to low level youth offenders.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Hi, I'm Raphael Pope-­Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation. Today we're speaking with R. Reed Daniel, Campus Manager, Youth Empowerment Division for the City of West Palm Beach, Department of Recreation and Strategic Innovations, Agent Lewis of the West Palm Beach Police Department and Assistant Chief Sarah Mooney of the West Palm Beach Police Department. Reed, Agent Lewis, and Assistant Chief Mooney, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ALL: Thank you.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: First of all, can you describe the PATHWAY program?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>REED DANIEL: My name is Reed Daniel. I'm the manager of the Youth Empowerment Center here in West Palm Beach. The PATHWAY Program came about about a year ago from a grant that we were seeking from the US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health and the Department of Justice COPS office, through which we implemented the city's Policing Approach Through Health, Wellness, and Youth--PATHWAY.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PATHWAY expanded the city's current crime prevention based programs and activities which include diversion and restorative justice efforts to integrate health and wellness education and services.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Can you talk about what that looks like specifically?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DANIEL: We've formed a number of relationships with what we call key partners. On the health side we have the Board of Department of Health, Palm Beach County, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County, Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, and on the crime prevention side, our key partner is the City of West Palm Beach Police Department. We integrate all those resources together in an effort to combat crime, and specifically juvenile crime, which really targets and focuses on juvenile crime involving black males.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: What kind of activities are involved?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DANIEL: The program sends a lot of activities. All these programs are umbrellaed at the Youth Empowerment Center. We have programs in restorative justice, we have programs in crime prevention, we have programs in health and wellness, we have nutrition programs. All of these programs are joined together at the Youth Empowerment Center and offered to our teenagers, our youth who attend here, free of charge.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: What is the role of law enforcement in these programs?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DANIEL: The police department actually is the component that drives the crime prevention initiative. West Palm Beach Police works closely with the Youth Empowerment Center and other key partners to find solutions that will divert our youth away from the criminal justice system.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: The police in the program work with the youth in what context?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>AGENT LEWIS: Basically it would be the law enforcement part of it. We do have an officer that works at the Youth Empowerment Center during the hours of the day and then also basically provides mentoring, give the kids an opportunity to have someone that they can talk to, with a law enforcement background. Some of the other programs we also offer as Reed mentioned earlier is the NAB--Neighborhood Accountability Board.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>The county itself has been experiencing an increase in juvenile that are entering the criminal justice system for misdemeanor crimes. In efforts to reduce the number of juveniles going into the systems for crimes that are not felonies, we created the Neighborhood Accountability Board and that gives our first time juvenile the opportunity to be diverted from the juvenile justice system at the program where they can basically take responsibility for their actions or the crime that they committed, but also it provides the community an opportunity to address the issue together. It instills some community feelings to these kids so they understand the impact of crimes that they’ve committed.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We also have a great program that's for gang prevention that's offered here at the Youth Empowerment Center and that gives kids-- middle school and elementary kids--the opportunity to learn and gang prevention before they get to into high school where they are kind of susceptible to be brought into gangs. We also have our Operation Youth Violence, which addresses issue with offenders between the ages of 14 to 24 who committed a felony crimes within a certain area in our city. That program, when kids commit a crime, we have a task force including members of our Youth Empowerment Center, the Urban League of Palm Beach County, and some other partners that we have.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We give these kids an opportunity to basically take ownership of what they did. It’s a voluntary program but when it’s time to go to court, as long as they’ve successfully completed one of these programs offered here at the Youth Empowerment Center, we’ll go in on their behalf and let the judge know that while they were awaiting trial they did some positive stuff, whether it’s obtaining a GED, coming here for tutoring, or participating in one of the other programs we</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Assistant Chief Mooney, do you have anything to add to that?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ASSISTANT CHIEF MOONEY: I would say, we've gone into the second year of this grant. We have an opportunity to kind of expand what we did last year. Last year the officers definitely had more presence at the Youth Empowerment Center, but this year we're going to have the opportunity to have some of the officers that come in typically present some of their own types of programs that they want to initiate. </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We're trying to encourage the start up of a couple of different initiatives that haven't been laid out yet, that if we give the officer some time and have some autonomy to develop things that they are already good at, whether it's a sports program, it might be some sort of hobby that they have that they could teach to the kids who come out to the center.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Something that's totally different, outside of the typical police interaction with the youth. They let the kids see that the officers aren't just officers. They are just like everybody else. This year, that's going to be our goal. To expand what we did last year instead of just having a presence and just interacting, that we actually develop new programs that will be specific to officer-initiated type of events.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Do you have a sense of any specific programs that you have in mind?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ASSISTANT CHIEF MOONEY: We were talking about even having like maybe a basketball three-on-three competition where you have some officers come in, play against the kids or play with the kids. They have a tennis court and we have a couple of officers that are tennis players. We're going to try and initiate something with that this year. We also are involved in doing kids-and-cops meetings where basically some can sit down, sort of a chat session where you have a couple of officers come in and the kids have the opportunity to ask any questions they want and have a one-on one or a group setting so that they have access to the officers and get a feel for where we're coming from and we get a feel for where they're coming from too.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: What has been their response?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ASSISTANT CHIEF MOONEY: I'll leave that to you.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DANIEL: It's been phenomenal. We have officers who actually come here and I want to say they become like a surrogate parent in a way. They really attach and bond to some of these kids. Many of our kids who come to our center come from low-income, at-risk homes. Single parent homes, where the mom is working most likely, in most cases, the dad’s away.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>These kids come here and we provide to them that community culture of safety, first of all, but we also, through these officers, are able to provide mentoring and really those relationships that start to grow beyond the Youth Empowerment Center and into the community. We're excited about that. I've seen that happen and it's a tremendous way of impacting a child's life when you see these officers and these kids engage in different activities and conversations. I think that's one of the greatest opportunities we provide here at the Youth Empowerment Program.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>AGENT LEWIS: When Reed first approached us with the grant, he mentioned that there was a health component and policing. Myself, Detective Mooney, and Sergeant Neely, we basically did not understand where the health part and the police came into play, but after we sat down and we realized that the health part includes mental health, we saw a true definition, a true connection between the police department and the Youth Empowerment Center.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Because a lot of our offenders, a lot of crimes that they commit are crimes that at the end of it you realize that there's a mental aspect to it, whether it's the behavioral part or it's some issues that are deep embedded in the youth that we're dealing with. Before, we brought out this kids saying, "We can get you a job. We can get you a GED," but then, we don't realize there's a lot more that they're going through. Whether it's broken homes, just needing someone to talk to. Mental health folks that we have as partners, have really been instrumental in helping these kids with some of the things that they need or that they have. So this grant has worked great for us. We're seeing reduction in crimes that are being committed by some of our youth because now they have an avenue, they someone they can talk to. If they have some anger issues, they know they can call over at the Youth Empowerment Center or the staff members and they can get to talk with some of our partners on the mental health side.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Do you have any plans to measure results, whether it's community survey …</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DANIEL: Of course during the first year of the grant, the Center for Court Innovation provided what they call a process evaluation. We've just been in touch with our local criminal justice commission and they will probably do our outcome evaluation over the three years. Document registrations, document assessments, pre-assessments, post assessments, document how many kids come in the program, where they go. We're going to track these kids up to six months after they even leave our program to just see how it's going and what the results are.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: On the police department side?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>AGENT LEWIS: On the police department side, the kids who went through our program we also keep track of them, especially those who went through Operation Youth Violence--reduction, prevention, and intervention. Those kids that go through this program who have an active court case, we document them or observe them throughout the process. After they complete our program, we do a six months evaluation and we stay in contact with them and also the providers, the service providers, that they reached out to.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>For the NAB, we've got to do a six months evaluation basically to make sure that they're still using the principles of restorative justice and then a one year assessment to see where they are in live to make sure they are still on track. Also, one thing that we do give all our participants, they have all our contact information so they can during the course of six months or a year they have any issues or any obstacles, we encourage them to give us a call so that we can help them along the way.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Great. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ALL: You're welcome.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: This is Raphael Pope-­Sussman and I've been speaking with Reed Daniel, Campus Manager for the Youth Empowerment division of the City of West Palm Beach, Department of Recreation and Strategic Innovations, Agent James Lewis of the West Palm Beach Police Department, and Assistant Chief Sarah Mooney of the West Palm Beach Police Department. For more information about the Center for Court Innovation visit</span></p> <p></p>
Nov 18, 2015
“They’re Not Talking About Me”: Race, Cultural Responsivity, and Domestic Violence
<p>In this <em>New Thinking</em> podcast, Dr. Oliver Williams brings questions of race, faith, and incarceration into a conversation on domestic violence. Drawing on his work with both victims and perpetrators from African-American, Latina, and other immigrant and diasporic communities, Dr. Williams examines the import of cultural responsivity in the justice system’s response to domestic violence.  <u></u><u></u></p> <div></div> <p>This product was supported by Grant No. 2013-TA-AX-K042 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in this podcast are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.</p><br /><p dir="ltr"><strong><em><strong>The following is a transcript. </strong></em><br /></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL:</strong> Hello, this is Avni Majithia-Sejpal at the Center for Court Innovation. You're listening to the New Thinking podcast. I'm here today with Dr. Oliver Williams. Dr. Williams has been working in the field of domestic violence for over 30 years. He is a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Social Work and the Executive Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community. In addition to authoring numerous research papers and a book on the subject, he was invited to the National Advisory Council on Domestic Violence in 2000 and has provided technical assistance and trainings on the subject, both in the US and internationally. Dr. Williams, welcome.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>DR. OLIVER WILLIAMS</strong>: Thank you for having me, Avni.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>:You have written extensively about the need to understand domestic violence through the lens of race. Can you explain why race is significant?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: When I started working in the movements, you didn't see a lot of men of color coming into batterers’ intervention programs. You didn't see much outreach to get them to come into the programs. When we were beginning to talk about domestic violence, largely they were talking about mainstream populations, but also the way that we talked about solving the problems. Early studies talked about the disproportionate rates of domestic violence in African-American communities. Dr. Lettie Lockhart and Dr. Robert Hampton and Dr. Richard Gelles ended up redoing some of the studies and found out the rates were still challenging with regard to the African-American community.</p> <p dir="ltr">If you go about doing the work without hearing the challenges that exist within different communities, you miss something. I think that you also see a reluctance to participate or what I've heard people say over the years, "They're not talking about me. It's not my voice in the discussion," or, "That's not the way that I experience it."</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: What are some of the challenges that people from minority communities face when they go through the domestic violence court process?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: That's an interesting question. We did a project for the Office on Violence Against Women that looked at that. We did focus groups with Latinas, that were both national and immigrant-refugee. We also had African-American women and then we had African women. For the African-American women, they felt that there was little empathy for their experience. They had some concerns with how the judge made decisions. They felt like some more of the challenges, in terms of dealing with things, were put on their shoulders. The thing that was interesting with Latinas was the fact that sometimes what the court would do, particularly if their partner could go to the country of origin, if the judges could get them out of the courtroom, then they felt like justice was served. The women tended to feel as though that gave him an upper-hand because he can sneak in the country or he could go back home and then harm family members. There was a lot of discomfort associated with that.</p> <p dir="ltr">The other thing too was the fact that they wanted to see justice served to the person that had done the harm and they felt like there was a challenge in terms of making that happen. I think there's also issues with regard to language. Is somebody translating things accurately? Those are some things that courts need to be informed about.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: This project that you're referring to is the cultural responsiveness project that you did in collaboration with the Office of Violence Against Women and the Center for Court Innovation. Can you tell us a little bit about that project?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: We went to the Latina shelter program and they helped us to organize a group of Latinas to have a conversation with. The people who were the interviewers were fluent in Spanish, and the women spoke in English and in Spanish. It was very powerful because the women were very emotional about their experiences. The same thing with African women, were expressing the challenges that they were experiencing in the court and how difficult it could be for them, the injustices that they experienced, same thing with the African-American women. That's where we started. Next, we ended up doing data analysis on the responses. Next, we ended up going to judges who represented various cultural communities. Some were African-American, some were Asian, in particular Korean, and the others were Latino, and had a chance to pick their brain in terms of the things that they saw and what they thought they could do and that the court systems could do generally, in terms of improving those circumstances.</p> <p dir="ltr">They reported on the fact that there were judges whose intentions were good, but were uninformed, and so they also offered recommendations on what to do and how they could become more culturally responsive. Then we put those things together. We asked each group to come up with stories about what they experienced and we put those things into scripts and we had it acted out and then what we tried to do is to come up with alternative responses. What could a judge do differently? What could they do in terms of thinking about the challenges of the population? What could create a better outcome where justice is served, but at the same time where you don't subject the woman that comes to you to a situation where she has to deal with such injustice? We were able to pull together the stories of the women, the judges’ recommendations, but also key informants from each one of the communities. That will be on Vimeo.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: What does it mean to be culturally competent?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: How I think about it is that you're informed enough about the community to know what things you need to confront, but also what things that you need to respond to. You have to hear the stories of the community that you're serving. If it's LGBT communities that deal with different challenges around violence, if you're dealing with Asian or South Asian communities, to hear stories of Native American women who have challenges both in the Native American court but also in mainstream courts in the United States. Each one has a set of challenges.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: You have worked with both victims and perpetrators. How does it differ?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: In working with men, the voice of the victim is always in the back of my head. When I see issues with regard to victims, I just wonder a few things. One is the trauma that she goes through, but also and I've heard this from women over the years, is they really want to know how to heal. They want to figure out how they can move beyond these experiences to a level of balance and peace.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I want to talk now about the Safe Return Initiative. As I understand it, the initiative addresses the challenges faced by African-American men returning to their families after incarceration with the aim of preventing domestic violence and strengthening the family. Can you tell us a little bit about the need to work with men returning from prison?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: Between one-third to one-half of the men going to prison had some experience with domestic violence in their life. We broadened it, not to just focus on men that went to prison because of domestic violence, there were men that went to prison for a range of issues and they come out. Some of the men, we know, who have been violent and abusive, won't change, but we know that some men can. The other portion of that was we weren't clear that battered women's organizations knew the narratives of the women whose partners or former partners went to jail and what their challenges and what their experiences were. Another area was really understanding her story and trying to figure out how do you end up supporting her if he comes out, whether she wants to be with him or whether she doesn't want to be with him? What we tried to do is come up with a range of issues to take a look at. One, most prison programs didn't really have any focus on batterer's intervention. They had what they call "victim impact statements." Victim impact statements were not a program to talk to them about changing their violent behavior.</p> <p dir="ltr">Secondly, we realized that even if you did have a prison program, it didn't mean that people had a connection in the community that they were returning to. For women who were in relationships with these men, they didn't have a connection to battered women's programs, they didn't have insight about whether or not they would even identify themselves as a victim of abuse, but also exploring questions to challenge what it means to be in a violence-free relationship.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I'm also interested in the intersections of domestic violence and religion. You have said that the black church is a crucial space through which domestic violence interventions can happen. Can you elaborate on that for us?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: One of the things that needs to occur is that we need to have primary and secondary prevention in communities, but not law enforcement as the only consideration. What we ended up doing was making connections with churches that did programming around the issues of domestic violence. They can provide proper guidance to men about the way that they should behave, but they also should be able to respond to women who have a crisis of faith as a consequence of their victimization. We found churches that have a rape crisis line at the church, a shelter program that they're connected with. They'll work with men who batter and then the men come back and start working with you. We've also tried to have a conversation with imams and so Islam is another part of our effort to speak with faith communities.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: In your view, what are the most urgent concerns of the field of domestic violence today and what do you think the next steps should be?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: One thing, I think, is to understand from the perspective of people who represent those communities. I think more research by people who come from the various communities and then more discussion about that. I think that cultural diversity in different communities also are evolving and so what will be useful for them in terms of the way that they see the world and engage in our community? The question becomes, has our knowledge and the way that we look at serving them expanded? I think recognition that knowledge isn't static, that it's evolving.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Thank you so much. That has been a very instructive conversation.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAMS</strong>: I hope so.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal and I've been talking to Dr. Oliver Williams about the field of domestic violence and the need to address the concerns of minority communities. To learn more about our various projects and those of Dr. Williams, you can visit our website at Thanks so much for listening.</p> <p> </p>
Nov 10, 2015
Red Hook Community Justice Center 15th Anniversary
<p>This podcast covers the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, with highlights including speeches from New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, and honoree Stuart Gold, of Cravath, Swain, and Moore. </p><br /><p><span><br /></span></p><p dir="ltr"><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation. Tonight we are here at the Brooklyn Museum, celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. The Justice Center has been documented to reduce crime, increase public safety, and improve public trust in justice. Judge Alex Calabrese, who has presided over the courtroom at Red Hook since the Justice Center opened in 2000, said defendants who come to the Justice Center know this is a special place from the moment they walk in the door.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>JUDGE ALEX CALABRESE: Justice starts at our front door. Our clerks and court officers treat everyone who comes through our doors and throughout the building with respect. Our community feels welcome to come to the Justice Center, and they feel it's their Justice Center due to their efforts. They know they're in a different place.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: New York 1 anchor Errol Louis, who emceed the event, said that for him, the work of the Justice Center means something personal.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>ERROL LOUIS: I live here in Brooklyn, and one of the things that I've learned is the importance of neighborhood trust, and events like this are what I think of as the making of the glue that holds our communities together. At the end of the day, neighborhood trust is what makes us safe.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: The event honored Stu Gold, of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, for his long-time support of the Center for Court innovation and the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Gold, who first got involved with the Center for Court Innovation through his work with the Midtown Community Court, was an instrumental member of the planning team that launched the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Gold spoke about the key role the Justice Center plays in the community in Red Hook.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>STUART GOLD: I grew up in Brooklyn, and as many teenagers do, I got into trouble from time to time. I remember I had an array of adults, my parents, my teachers, to help me figure out how to rehabilitate myself and get on a better trajectory. Many teenagers and young adults, for a variety of reasons, don't have those support structures ready at hand. The Red Hook Community Justice Center now supplies that support for a significant part of its community. For that, it deserves to be lauded, and I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to help.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Pauline Nevins, a former client of the Justice Center, was also honored.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>PAULINE NEVINS: I struggled with addiction for more than a decade of my life. Throughout that time, I cycled in and out of the system, appearing before countless judges in countless courtrooms, where I was just a number: a criminal charge, a docket number, a body that had to be moved swiftly through the system so they could make room for the next one.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>But in 2010, I was fortunate enough to end up at the Justice Center in Red Hook. Coming to the Justice Center was a whole new experience. When I went before the judge I expected what I was used to: a quick interaction, a bail or a short jail sentence. But instead, Judge Calabrese wanted to know why I was there and if I wanted help.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman offered a call to arms.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>CHIEF JUDGE JONATHAN LIPPMAN: It is easy in a justice system as large as we have in New York, to just count the cases coming through, one in, one out. But that's not enough. Every single case we hear is a test of the system. A test of our commitment to equal justice. It doesn't matter who is standing before the judge--young or old, rich or poor, black or white--justice is equal justice.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>You see this kind of justice in action when you visit the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Judge Alex Calabrese doesn't sit up on a bench at Red Hook, high above everybody else. He sits on the same level as everyone else in the courtroom. He listens to the people who come before him. He explains the procedures and the protocols. Each person is treated as an individual, each case given equal importance. This is the justice we aspire to, and this is the justice that works.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Kings County District Attorney Ken Thompson praised the Justice Center for building ties between the community in Red Hook and the justice system. He also spoke about the need to bring the principles of the Justice Center to other neighborhoods in Brooklyn, particularly Brownsville.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DA KENNETH THOMPSON: We need to make sure that the people of Brownsville see that we're invested in their safety. We must show them that we're there to keep them safe and that we're determined to do justice in partnership with them. I'm determined to make sure that we get all the great things that we've done in Red Hook, that we take it to the people of Brownsville.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Nevins, who spoke last, left the audience with some powerful words.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>NEVINS: The judge always tells me that I did all the work, and I did. But I would not be here today if I had never been given the opportunities, the encouragement, and the support that I needed. That is what the Justice Center did for me.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: This is Raphael Pope-Sussman for the Center for Court Innovation. For more information about the Center for Court Innovation, visit</span></p> <p></p>
Nov 04, 2015
Hospital-based Violence Intervention and a New Approach to Trauma
<p>This podcast is part of a series highlighting innovative approaches to reducing violence and improving health outcomes among at-risk minority youth at the nine demonstration sites of the <a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative</a>. One of these demonstrations sites is the <a href="">Youth ALIVE!</a> anti-violence program in Oakland, Calif. <span>Rafael Vasquez of </span>Youth ALIVE!'s hospital-based violence intervention program, Caught in the Crossfire, joins the Center in this podcast to discuss Caught in the Crossfire and Youth ALIVE!'s novel approach to treating trauma.</p><br /><p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN : Hi, this is Raphael Pope-Sussman for the Center for Court Innovation. This podcast is part of a series we are doing with people seeking to curb violence and improve access to public health for at-risk minority youth as part of the Minority Youth Violence Prevention initiative. The initiative is a partnership of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice that encourages collaboration among public health organizations, law enforcement agencies, and community-based groups.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Our podcast series highlights innovative approaches at the nine demonstration sites that have received funding under the program. Youth ALIVE!, which is based in Oakland, is an anti-violence program that serves youth injured by violence or exposed to violence, youth who have a close relationship with murder victims, and formerly incarcerated youth. In August, I spoke with Rafael Vasquez, program coordinator at Youth ALIVE!'s "Caught in the Crossfire" hospital-based violence intervention program, about "Caught in the Crossfire" and Youth ALIVE!'s new trauma screening tool: The Screening Tool for Awareness and Relief of Trauma, also known as START. This interview was recorded at Youth ALIVE! headquarters.</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi, I'm Raphael Pope-Sussman and today we're speaking with Rafael Vasquez, program coordinator at "Caught in the Crossfire" at the Youth ALIVE! program. Rafael, thank you for speaking with me.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>RAFAEL VASQUEZ: You're welcome. Thank you.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : So …  "Caught in the Crossfire."</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: "Caught in the Crossfire" is a hospital-based intervention program. It's been around for over 20 years. It was started at Highland Hospital. We service young men who have been victims of crime. We provide wraparound management services and we meet them at the hospital, which we believe, it's a crucial place to meet them at. We try to build the trust and a relationship with them, so that we can follow them out once they are discharged from the hospital.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Can you talk about how that happens logistically?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: If someone comes into the hospital, we have an injury prevention coordinator at the hospital, she works for the hospital. She is the actually first interviewer of the client. She tells them a little bit about the program. She lets them know what sort of services we provide. She will then make a referral out to the program manager and then I actually go and meet with the client, in person, at the hospital. From there on, we match them up with an interventions specialist.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Can you tell me a little bit about the first visit?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: The first visit can go in a lot of different ways. Generally, what should happen is you go in, make introductions, you introduce the program yourself, explain the program, you also let them know, depending on the severity of the injury, what sort of things they can expect from the doctors, what questions they may have. You can sometimes answer some of those questions for them, give them advice in terms of what they can do to feel better. Sometimes they're in a lot of pain and the interactions that they're having are not necessarily positive at that time. They're scared, so you try to gain as much information as you can. Do they have legal problems, or that kind of thing? Are they okay at home? Do they have children? Are the kids okay? Are there any safety issues where they're going?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Often times, we've had to move families out of where they're at just for their own safety. That's what tends to happen in the first visit. That's what you want to do. The idea is that you want to make sure they're not going to retaliate, go after somebody. Make sure that they're safe once they exit the hospital and someone isn't going to come after them or their family members.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : You're coming in at an incredibly sensitive time.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: Mm-hmm (affirmative).</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : How do you build trust?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: It depends a lot on the individual. You have to be genuine and actually talk about things, so that they get a sense for you and they know that you understand. You don't want to necessarily self-divulge personal things, but the idea is that most of us have overcome violence in our own lives. We have experienced, whether it's a family loss, or a friend. You talk on that level with them. You also show them that their concern goes beyond, "Hey, you're going to be okay. We're going to ship you out and that'll be it. We're going to track you. We're going to be with you. We're going to be there to support you. Anything you may need, give us a call. We may not be able to do it, but we'll never lie to you. We'll tell you what we can and can't do." We try to meet them where they're at.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>A lot of times, it may not be the first time you get there. By the time they have a feel for you ... By the time their visit is over, they have a feel for you that you're actually in their corner. That's what you want to try to establish with them.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : What is the rule of law enforcement?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: We let them know if ... for example, you're my client and you have a warrant. You're on probation, so we let them know, "We'll support you. Is there anyone we can contact? Do you have a PO? That kind of thing." We also let them know that any time that there's law enforcement contact, you're always going to know first. It's something that you're going to request for us to do. We're never going to go behind your back, do something, and talk to law enforcement without your knowledge. Everything is confidential in that, for the most part, any conversation that happens with law enforcement is on their behalf and for their benefit.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Is there apprehension sometimes when you are coming in about whether you're representing more of an institutional angle?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: Always. That's the thing that we always try to address from the beginning. "We're actually here for you. We're in your corner and we're going to help you navigate through all these different systems." We like to make sure that they understand that even though we are at the hospital, we're not the hospital. Sometimes, unfortunately, they have negative interactions with hospital staff, so we want to separate that. "Hey, we're going to try to broker a better relationship between you and the nurse, between you and the doctors, whatever is going on, and we're working for you." The idea is that we're not going to place judgement on the client because we don't actually know what the full story is.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>There are often times where you have medical staff who do place judgments, or they have their own ideas about why a certain person is in there, whether they way they speak, or the way they look, whatever the case may be. We try to advocate on their end that there could've been a number of historical things that led up to that shooting. That doesn't necessarily, or shouldn't necessarily make a difference on what kind of treatment they receive at the hospital.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Have you seen changes with your partners in terms of how they do treat the people who are coming in?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: Yeah, there are some wonderful staff people at Highland. Over the years, I have seen they've grown more empathetic, I would say, towards young people and there's still a lot of hold-outs that are like, “Something's wrong with the parenting, these kids didn't get enough parenting, or their behavior,” or whatever the case may be that they will point the finger or the blame. I'm not saying that all youth are completely innocent from why they're there, but we're there to provide medical care for them. The word "care" needs to be in there. It's not about placing judgement, or making someone feel like, "You're in here because it's your fault. You need to shape up, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and get over it."</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Can you talk me through a case that you felt was a successful outcome?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: Success can have many faces. Success can be simply not retaliating and not putting another body in the hospital or the morgue. It can also mean that the client, himself or herself, continues to move on and have a positive life, they have a family going, get jobs, go to college, or whatever their journey is. That's the ideal. Many times, depending on how severe the injury is, you can have a kid who ends up in a wheelchair. Getting him through not giving up on his own life, moving through, functioning somehow in society, and that sort of thing can also be a success. That's why we say, "We meet them where they're at," because you don't actually know where they're going to end up at, depending on how severe the injury is.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>If they're already bringing a lot of historical factors that affect them, you want to see if you can get them the help, one--if you do get them around a whole stigma of getting mental health services, they actually sign up to mental health services, you move them past that, and they get something from the mental health, that's also a type of success. Success can vary, depending on what you're looking for.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : If you can, tell me a recent story that sticks in your mind.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: Let’s see. One of the recent stories is two sisters that were shot together, in front of their home, trying to stop a fight. They apparently got into a fight over the dogs with the neighbors. The neighbors called somebody up and said, "I have a problem with my neighbor. Come over here." Things escalated, they ended up shot. They have to go back into their neighborhood, into that same house. Luckily, we partnered with another agency that was able to get them safety relocation and got them out of the immediate area for a few days. Part of their other program is to come in and make peace between different people having different kinds of issues and we were able to calm things down through that.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Now, we're still working with both of the sisters. They're going to be moving out and being relocated. They have kids in their home, so we, for the most part, stopped the violence. We're ensuring that it doesn't keep going. The idea is that once they exit the immediate area where they're at, that danger will be gone for both sides. That's one that sticks out in my mind.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : What is the follow-up there?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: The follow-up would be making sure they're all right because they're still freshly out of the hospital. The danger is that they get re-injured, they're back in the hospital, now the injury is worse, or they can be killed, depending how serious it gets. The follow-up is that once you get them out of there, now you've focused them on getting the medical attention, then getting mental health, if the kids ... there's a total of four kids in the home, little kids. If they need assistance, getting them the assistance that they need, and then moving them past as a unit because there's two families that are being affected, then seeing where they end up in support. It could be getting them jobs wherever they're going to move to, making sure that they're okay, and they have some support group. Whether it's another agency, family members, churches, whatever it is that we need to hook them up with once they are wherever area they end up at.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>That's the follow-up and then we just track them to see what kind of things come up as they go.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : What is the role that this new trauma screening tool is playing?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: The START program ... The cool thing about the START program for the kids, the really nice thing, is that they actually get techniques that really help them deal with the stress from day to day. The questions that are already there help them to open up, to talk about it, so they don't feel like when they're coming in, "Oh, somebody's going to lay me down on the couch and they're going to want me to talk about my feelings." Most of the young men we deal with don't react well to that. The major role that it's playing is that it's opening the kids up and prepping them for actually meeting one-on-one with their therapists. Knowing that the therapy is ... The way that we do it here is make sure that it's about your current injury and not about all your historic ... They can do that, too. Once they get a feel for the therapists and the trust is there, they tend to open up even more. That's the main impact that I've had.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Wonderful.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>VASQUEZ: No, you got me before coffee. I hope I did all right.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>POPE-SUSSMAN : Fantastic. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman, speaking with Raphael Vasquez, program coordinator at Youth ALIVE. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</span></p> <p> </p>
Oct 22, 2015
Coming Home to Harlem: Understanding the Impact of a Reentry Court
<p>Lama Hassoun Ayoub, researcher and co-author of <em><a href="" target="_blank">Coming Home to Harlem</a></em>, discusses the impact of the <a href="" target="_blank">Harlem Parole Reentry Court</a> on the lives of parolees returning to Harlem after incarceration. </p><br /><p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hi. I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal, Senior Writer at the Center for Court Innovation. In today's New Thinking podcast we're talking about reentry courts, specifically, the Harlem Parole Reentry Court in New York City operated by the Harlem Community Justice Center. Researchers from the  Center for Court Innovation recently completed a comprehensive study that explores the reentry court's impact on the lives of its participants, comparing their experiences and outcomes to those of individuals on traditional parole. Their report, titled "Coming Home to Harlem," has yielded some interesting results and can be accessed at Here with me today is one of the report's authors, Lama Hassoun Ayoub, Senior Research Associate with the Center. Welcome, Lama.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>LAMA HASSOUN AYOUB: It's great to be here.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: My first question is what is a reentry court and what does it do?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: Reentry courts are specialized courts that work to reduce the recidivism of ex-offenders and improve public safety. They work with people coming home, usually from prison, to help them reintegrate into society. They're considered to be a problem-solving court and they're really built off the drug court model that we know is successful.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: For the record, what recidivism entail?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: Recidivism is the rate at which people who have returned home from prison after incarceration re-offend. We measure recidivism by looking at a variety of different factors. We look at rearrest, reconviction, and what we call revocations. Revocations are returns to prisons, usually related to violating parole. Of the people who are released nationally, we know that about two-thirds of them will be rearrested within five years of their release. Over half of them will be returned to prison on a new conviction or a violation within five years of their release.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I see. When people return home from prison, what kinds of challenges do they face as they attempt to transition back into their communities?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: There are a lot of challenges associated with reentry. One of the biggest ones is employment. It's very hard to find a job after you come home from prison, especially with a record, a criminal record. Another challenges is housing. People have trouble finding stable housing, and research shows that housing is actually really important to be successful in your reentry. There are also many other challenges such as substance use, getting appropriate services and treatment, and reintegrating with families and children.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can you talk a little bit about the Harlem Parole Reentry Court. How does it work?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: The Harlem Parole Reentry Court works specifically with parolees. Those are people who are coming home from prison to be supervised in the community by parole officers. For a typical parolee, they interact with the staff from the reentry court even before their release. They receive pre-release services that often involve risk and needs assessment and some planning. Sometimes that risk and needs assessment occurs once they’re released. The first thing that really happens with them is that they report to the reentry court, they see their parole officer, they see a dedicated case manager, and they also meet the reentry court judge for the first time.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>That's the real center of the reentry court that makes it very different from parole, the fact that they have to report regularly to a judge and have judicial oversight during the time that they're there. The reentry court team works closely together; the judge, the parole officer, the case manager, and other staff to coordinate support services for the client. They also use a schedule of rewards or sanctions, so that means that people get sanctioned based on their behavior, and they also get rewards based on positive behavior. Those are really the elements that are central to the operations of the reentry court.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Who are the participants that go through this court and what kinds of offenses are we talking about here?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: The reentry court works with clients who have felony offenses, for the most part. About half of them were in prison for violent offense and another half were in prison for drug offenses. There are also small percentages of property offenses. Most of the reentry court participants have been in prison for quite some time. They were in state prison, which means they've served at least one year. For many of them, it been many, many years since they were home in Harlem. The reentry court does exclude a few people. They exclude sex offenders, arsonists, and people with diagnosed Axis I mental health issues. Just so you know, this population is predominantly male, it's only about two or three percent female, and it's mostly black or Hispanic. Around 97 percent of the population identifies as either black or Hispanic, or both.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Let's turn our attention to the study that you recently completed: "Coming Home to Harlem."How do you go about your research?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: The study had four major components. The first component was what we call a randomized control trial. That basically involves randomly assigning parolees to either Harlem Reentry Court or traditional parole. The second component was looking at the official records of those randomly assigned parolees. The third component was in-depth interviews with a subset of the parolees that were randomly assigned. The fourth component was interviews with the reentry court judges. We were actually able to interview six reentry court judges who served on the court over the last ten years.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Based on your research, what kind of impact does the Harlem Parole Reentry Court have on recidivism rates? Can you break down the numbers for us.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: Sure. When we looked at recidivism we looked at rearrest, reconviction, and revocation. By revocation, I mean, returns to prison that are associated with violations of parole, specifically, not necessarily new arrest. With rearrest we really didn't see a big difference. About half of the population of the reentry court and half of the parolees are regular parole were rearrested within 18 months of their release. We believe that we didn't see a big difference because this population has a high exposure to arrest. They live in Harlem and they're a minority community.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>However, when we looked at reconviction and revocation we did see significant differences. Reentry court parolees were significantly less likely than the control group to be reconvicted within 18 months and we saw a 22 percent reduction in reconviction. When we looked specifically at felony reconviction, we saw a 60 percent reduction in felonies. We also looked at revocations. It's important to know that the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision has been working to reduce revocations, generally, so even the parolees on regular parole had lower revocations than they would've had historically. But then we also saw a statistically significant difference, in fact, there was a 45 percent reduction in revocations when we compared the reentry court group to the traditional parole group.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What about the impact on other aspects of the parolees lives?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: By doing the in-depth interviews we were able to explore the other aspects of their lives because it's hard to get official data on things like education or family relationships. Our interviews really provided us with information we wouldn't have gotten elsewhere. We saw significant differences when we looked at employment. The reentry court parolees were more likely to report being in school or having a job at one year after their release. In fact, 75 percent of them said they were in school or had a job compared to only 45 percent of the parolees on regular parole. They also had higher quality jobs. By that, I mean, jobs that give you paid days off or provide you with health insurance. They also worked more hours per week than the parolees on regular parole and they also worked more months in the past year. Because they worked more hours they also had a slightly higher income than the parolees on regular parole.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Were there any other differences that you found between the experiences of participants of the reentry program and those that had a more traditional experience of parole?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: We saw some big differences when it came to their supervision experiences. We asked people in interviews about how many times they saw their parole officer, but we also asked them about their perceptions of the criminal justice system, an area that we call procedural justice. In that, we saw statistically significant differences. The reentry court parolees had much more positive perceptions of the criminal justice system. They also had more positive attitudes about the judge that they last interacted with. They also even had better attitudes toward their parole officer. Those were statistically significant differences that we think may also be connected recidivism. I also want to add that the reentry court parolees were also more likely to receive a reward during their parole and less likely to receive a sanction, so only 30 percent of them said they had received any kind of sanction or consequence to their bad behavior compared to nearly 70 percent of the regular parolees.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: By reward, you mean?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: Reward could be something as simple as praise from your parole officer, like getting a pat on the back, but could also mean things like gift cards or actual gifts.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: To conclude, what are some of the challenges that the court faces today, and what are the next steps for the Harlem Parole Reentry Court?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: The evaluation showed that reentry court model, as implemented in Harlem, is successful. They were successfully able to reduce recidivism and have an impact of the lives of parolees. Many of their challenges today are associated with things like sustainability and expanding the court, making sure that the lessons we've learned from this evaluation and from the work they've done can be used in other areas, and that they can continue to sustain this work and help parolees coming home to Harlem.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Lama, thanks for sitting down with me today.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HASSOUN AYOUB: Thank you, I appreciate it. It's really important for us to share the findings of this evaluation.</span></p> <p>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal, and I've been talking to Lama Hassoun Ayoub about the Center for Court Innovation’s report "Coming Home to Harlem," which examines the impact of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court on the lives of participants who are returning home from prison. To read and download the report, go to <a href="">research</a> on Thanks for joining us today.</p> <p> </p>
Oct 02, 2015
'An Obligation To Solve Problems in the Community': A Conversation With Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm
<p>John Chisholm, district attorney of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, joins the <em>New Thinking </em>podcast to discuss community prosecution, diversion, and <a href="">his work to reduce mass incarceration and racial inequities in the justice system</a>.</p>
Sep 24, 2015
A Hospital-based Approach to Stopping Youth Violence
<p>In this podcast, Anne Marks, executive director of the <a href="">Youth ALIVE!</a> hospital-based anti-violence program in Oakland, discusses the history and mission of Youth ALIVE!, its partnerships with local public health and law enforcement agencies, and how funding under the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative is increasing the organization's capacity to serve high-risk minority youth.</p><br /><p><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p><strong>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Hi, this is Raphael Pope-Sussman with the Center for Court Innovation. Today we're speaking with Anne Marks, executive director of Youth ALIVE!, and training director for the National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs. Anne, thank you for speaking with us today, and welcome.</p> <p><strong>ANNE MARKS</strong>: Thanks.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Tell me a bit about Youth Alive.</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Youth ALIVE! is an almost 25-year-old violence prevention intervention and youth leadership organization. We are a home-grown organization. We began with a group of students 25 years ago in East Oakland who were dealing with violence in and around their school, and in their community who wanted to do something about it, and they developed a series of workshops, which they peer lead to this day, to talk to young people about gang, gun, family, and dating violence and what people can do to make themselves safer and to make choices that are healthier.</p> <p>Starting with those young people is how we began. We incorporated it to support their vision and their work. They also do a number of community engagement and organizing and advocacy activities, and from there, we actually had a staff person working in that program, who founded our Caught in the Crossfire program.</p> <p>Sherman Spears was, as a young man, a victim of violence. He was a gunshot victim and found that that moment was pivotal in his life, and he wanted to make sure that he was there for people who dealt with that in the future. Whereas his options at the time were to retaliate or to just die, he wanted to find another way out, and so he found a way to start working in violence prevention, so he started the Caught in the Crossfire program to help respond immediately after a young person has experienced trauma, gunshot, stabbing, assault, to help them get on a different path with a peer who can relate to them to support them.</p> <p>That program then later incorporated not just people who had been recently assaulted, but also people who had recently experienced the trauma of incarceration, so we've been working with youth and young adults for some time through that program. That program has actually been replicated in dozens of communities, and we support those programs through our National Network of Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs.</p> <p>The last thing that we do at Youth ALIVE! is, we work not just with young people who have been injured, but we work with the families and friends left behind when someone has been killed by violence. We respond to every single homicide in the city of Oakland to provide the family and friends with support. We do that work in the memory of Khadafy Washington, who was the murdered son of the founder of that project, the Khadafy Washington project.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: A lot of your work really focuses on trauma and responding to trauma.</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Absolutely.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Can you tell me a bit about the Screening Tool for Awareness and Relief of Trauma, and what the origin of that is?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: So START, we call it the Screening Tool for Awareness and Relief of Trauma. It's really just that. It's a start for addressing trauma. The metaphor that we think to look at this is that, trauma is something that hurts, and START is not a cure. START is aspirin that helps relieve the pain of trauma. It doesn't make it go away. It's not the same thing as engaging in long-term therapy or other support, but it's something that can help people feel better and get some relief. How it works is we do a brief screening with someone around different symptoms of trauma, how it may actually be affecting their life. What their actual experiences of trauma are are actually irrelevant to how we do this, so we don't need to know the details of what happened to them to be able to say, "are these things affecting your life?"</p> <p>For example, issues with focusing, issues with sleep, things that can really impact how you live. Then, based on how the respondent answers these questions, we give them a series of one to three different tools that are brief. We can usually get through this interview in 10-25 minutes, and give them tools they can walk away with, things they can take home. Maybe it's a plan on how to sleep better, maybe it's a relaxation exercise they didn't have before, so when they leave, they'll have something that will make their lives better.</p> <p>The goal with START is two things. One, give people some relief, but the other is that when they have this relief, either they will go home, and because they have some relief, they'll be able to kick in their own resilience and their own coping skills and strategies, and turn their life into a better direction. And, the second thing is, maybe the experience of something actually being beneficial to them, that positive experience will actually make them want to continue to get care and believe that change and improvement is possible in their lives.</p> <p>There have been a lot of tools out there that address trauma, and trauma is something that, historically there have been three groups that have been treated for trauma: veterans of wars, refugees, and survivors of domestic violence. What is in fact true right here, in America, and particularly here in Oakland, is that the vast majority of people who are affected by violence are actually young men of color who are affected by street violence. They are overwhelmingly the victims of street violence, community violence, and yet none of these tools have ever been developed with their needs in mind, and none of them had ever been developed understanding that, given the poor treatment they had had at the hands of a lot of institutions that are set up to "care for them," that the likelihood of someone attaching to long-term services was not necessarily something you could count on. <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">So, how to give someone something when you, maybe this might be the only time you interact with them that can actually help them, was really important to us.</span></p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: What's the strategy for evaluating the efficacy of this tool?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: This tool we use internally, and then we have a couple community partners that use it as well. Because there's a screen that is part of the tool, what we're able to do is, 30-45 days after we've given them the tool, we can do follow-up phone calls where we ask them again, questions about their symptoms that they're having and then also ask them questions about qualitatively, have they used any of the tools since then and has it helped them in any way.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Are there plans to study that on a larger level?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Yes, we're working right now with a couple of clinics. One operated by Kaiser Permanente Vallejo and another operated by the county Alameda Health System in East Oakland, as sites to do a randomized control trial to compare and show the efficacy of this, not just sort of in people's symptoms but potentially how it affects their other health concerns. We think that will be important for the science for how this goes down. So we can really show the effectiveness of it. I will say, internally it's been very surprisingly dramatic just the responses that we've gotten from individuals who have received this. We developed this over two years through a series of focus groups with young men who were gunshot victims, and then a series of 69 structured interviews with young men who we didn't know, who came in just from all parts of Oakland to do an interview, and it was profound, the impact it had.</p> <p>We feel very hopeful that this is going to be something that we can publish and show the efficacy of so that other people can use it, but we have lots of partners who are involved in the development of it who are going to use it right now.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: So, Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative. Can you talk about how that is allowing you to expand the work that you do?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Yeah, absolutely. Minority Youth Violence Prevention was a way for us to do two things. One, pay for a community health advocate who can then do County Alameda Health System interviews, so use this Screening Tool for Awareness and Relief of Trauma with young people that we work with, and then it also helps pay for mental health services. For a long time, all of our services that we offered were peer-based, and all of our intervention specialists were community members that didn't have clinical training, and we would always refer to mental health services when needed.</p> <p>What we found was that people didn't stick. But when a mental health therapist was introduced as a counselor, or someone you might want to talk to, and came along with them in the car, to someone's house, to someone's school, spent time with them in a more casual setting, that people were able to feel more comfortable with starting to engage in mental health services.</p> <p>In any case, in the process of doing the County Alameda Health System interviews, some people are going to be flagged, because they present as needing an assessment for PTSD, right? Trauma can affect your life, and it can make your life unpleasant even without a full-blown PTSD diagnosis. We believe that people deserve help no matter where they are, but some people will actually have severe symptoms that require an assessment and it would be helpful to do, so that's also why we brought mental health services on through this grant.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: What are your hopes for START?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Our hopes for START is that it has a catalytic effect on how people in our community talk about trauma, and in the process of doing that, changes how the institutions that are incorporating START into their settings treat these young men. We have a culture that treats young men of color as if they are potential perpetrators when in fact, a young man of color is much more likely to be a victim.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: What are the biggest challenges that you think Youth ALIVE! is facing right now?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: I guess I would say the biggest challenges that Youth ALIVE! faces are the same challenges that the people we serve face. Locally, that can mean the challenges of gentrification and equity. Largely, it means the challenges of the systems that interact with our young people that are also the systems we have to interact with. We pride ourselves on having worked a great deal with institutional partners that have not always best served the interests of our young people, from probation to police to health care systems, to the school district, but these are large systems, and helping these systems move along is always going to be a challenge.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Where do you see your relationship with law enforcement right now?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Youth ALIVE! has an excellent relationship for example, with the police department. Our work with homicide victims we could not do without a strong partnership with the Oakland Police Department, who pass along next-of-kin notification to us, so we can reach out to these families. It works out really well because for them, having us work with the family actually de-escalates the tension that that family is dealing with, so that we're able to make them more calm and ready to deal with whatever the next steps are. They might have to deal with law enforcement, and it works out for us, obviously, because we get access to these families and can give them help. And it wasn't quick, but we're at a point now where the police never ask us for information about any of the incidents that led to the violence that we're dealing with, so that's been a great thing for us. I think for them it's been a really excellent relationship.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: And the DA?</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Well we work a lot with the DA because we work with Victims of Crime. So we have a relationship with Victims of Crime that's such that they will let us know, for example, if a family of a homicide victim is coming in to the office, in case we haven't gotten the notification yet that the family has contacted them. We're able to actually meet them there in the office. They'll bring us in to actually meet with the family with them to help explain what the VOC process is. With that, we've had an excellent relationship with the DA.<br />Our board president for Youth ALIVE! is actually a deputy district attorney. I guess I would say this, I think one of the things that's unique about, for example, our board president, Mike Nieto, and our relationship with police and with the district attorney's office is that, given the work that we do, and given how the cycle of violence works, it is not helpful to draw a line between victim and perpetrator. That distinction makes a lot of sense in certain settings, like the criminal justice setting, but it makes no sense in the lives of the people that we work with.</p> <p>Helping people think about breaking cycles of violence, helping people understand that someone may be in a system as a perpetrator but their actual history of trauma is much different than that is something that we've had some real traction in doing here, and I think that before the concept, the word of trauma-informed was out there, that was something that we've been working on here locally for some time--is helping really look at violent incidents and not as, who did what, but as, how do we respond to this eruption in way that helps all the parties not further hurt themselves or anyone else.</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Wonderful. That's it.</p> <p><strong>MARKS</strong>: Thanks!</p> <p><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: I am Raphael Pope-Sussman, of the Center for Court Innovation, and I've been speaking with Anne Marks, executive director of Youth ALIVE! For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</p> <div></div> <p> </p>
Aug 25, 2015
Safer Tomorrows: The Grand Forks Defending Childhood Initiative
<p>In this podcast, Kari Kerr and Kristi Hall-Jiran talk about <a href="" target="_blank">Safer Tomorrows</a>, <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Grand Forks, North Dakota's Defending Childhood Initiative. Safer Tomorrows </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">implemented universal violence prevention programming in public, private, and rural schools across Grand Forks County, beginning with pre-kindergarten and extending to high school. The initative is part of the Department of Justice's <em><a href="" target="_blank">Defending Childhood Demonstration Program</a></em>, which funded eight sites across the country to  respond to the problem of children's exposure to violence. The Center for Court Innovation has produced a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> on Safer Tomorrows, a <a href="" target="_blank">series of reports</a> on five other sites, and a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> that condenses lessons learned across the sites.</span></p><br /><p><strong>Resources mentioned in this podcast:</strong></p> <p><a href="">Safer Tomorrows</a></p> <p><a href="">The Community Violence Intervention Center</a></p> <p><a href="">Al's Pals</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Friendships at Work</a></p> <p><a href="">Lessons from Literature</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Digital Citizenship</a></p> <p><a href="">Coaching Boys into Men</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Lutheran Social Services Restorative Justice</a></p> <p><a href="" target="_blank">Healthy Families</a></p> <p><a href="">The Fourth R</a></p> <p><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Hi. I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal, senior writer at the Center for Court Innovation. Welcome to another episode of our New Thinking Podcast. Today, we're here to talk about Safer Tomorrows. Safer Tomorrows was established in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, as part of the Department of Justice-funded Defending Childhood Demonstration Project, which was designed to address children's exposure to violence through eight demonstration sites across the country.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We, at the Center for Court Innovation, have just released individual process evaluation reports on six of these eight sites, as well as a multi-site report that condenses the lessons learned through our research. Today, from Safer Tomorrows, we are talking to: Kari Kerr, director of community innovations at the Community Violence Intervention Center and leadership team member of the Safer Tomorrows project, amongst others; and Kristi Hall-Jiran, executive director of the Community Violence Intervention Center. Kari and Kristi, welcome to our podcast.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KARI KERR: Thank you for having us.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KRISTI HALL-JIRAN: Thanks. We're glad to be here.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</span>: Let's begin by talking a little bit about the project itself. Safer Tomorrows aimed to implement universal prevention programming in Grand Forks County. My question is, what made you decide to focus on school-based prevention programming?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: I think there are a couple of factors that went into our decision. The main one was, our state had just actually passed anti-bullying laws requiring schools to develop some type of a policy or a response, and so the timing was really good in terms of approaching the school system.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Then, we also know that, obviously, for our school system, we can have a wide reach of youth that are attending school. Certainly, from kindergarten all the way up to 12th grade, and we went beyond that and looked at some of the pre-schools in our community as well.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: I think just to add to that, too. We also had really spent some time developing a good, strong working relationship with the schools in several years before the project. We really felt like we already had the leadership of the school system on board, the superintendent served on our agency's board of directors, and so really felt that the timing was right. We already have the collaborative relationship and so the natural outcome was to focus on that way.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: When we talk about violence, what are some of the forms of violence, specifically pertaining to children and teenagers, that need to be addressed urgently in your county?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: When we first developed our Safer Tomorrows project, we, of course, wanted to be very inclusive of all types of violence and really make sure that we were addressing anything that could affect the child, and we also wanted to look at how to prevent violence and not just to intervene. We did want to also look at the things that were most impacting our children. What we did before we even started developing our programming was really to do a needs assessment as to what the most prevalent forms of violence were.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>As we looked at existing statistics and then gathered additional data, what we found was that the kinds of violence that we saw the most in our county was pertaining mostly to bullying in the school system, or just anywhere, and then also children exposed to domestic violence at home. Though we had pure statistics on dating violence, we heard from a lot of our stakeholders that they felt that that was a pretty primary issue as well.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Though we tried to address all of the issues, those are the areas that we're really focusing on.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Can you talk to us a little bit about the different features or highlights of the project?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: We've looked at it in three different areas. We designed the program around intervention effort, so any child age 0 to 17 that is being impacted in some way by violence, we wanted to make sure we were finding a way to intervene. Then, we also looked at prevention. How could we start building the kind of programming in our community that would prevent this type of violence from happening so that two generations from now we don't even have to have these conversations anymore?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Then, the third piece, we really tried to build a very strong data and evaluation component because we really wanted to base our decisions on available data and then ongoing evaluation so that we could treat what we implemented as we found out if that was working or not, or as different types of violence change and, hopefully, if we were seeing good results we could start making some of those adjustments.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>As far as specific things that are under each of those areas, maybe I'll have Kari talk about that a little bit.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: Sure. We were able to implement a variety of different prevention programs, many of which are evidence-based. Some of those included Al's Pals, which is for our youngest population, that's bullying prevention program. We also implemented “The Fourth R” for health classes, Friendships at Work, which is a positive friendship curriculum.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>A couple of different programs looking at some of the online issues that can happen with students, that would be Digital Citizenship. Then, we also have one of our schools implement Lessons from Literature. Then we did Coaching Boys into Men.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We really had a variety of prevention programming starting from, again the early years all the way up to 12th grade. As Kristi mentioned, we had a lot of intervention services offered as far as specialized therapy services and the Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota has provided restorative justice programming and Healthy Families. We've also been able to work with some of our families ...</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL:</span><span><span> </span></span><span>Given that you're targeting children and teenagers in such a wide age range, from 0 through 17, how did you adapt your methods to different ages and specifically to the youngest children?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: You're right. That's a very wide age range for, not just prevention, but also for area of intervention as well. As Kari mentioned, for the youngest kid, we implemented Al's Pals. It's a puppet program. It's basically working with kids as they're playing, so we really try to adapt to what would be age-appropriate.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>As we got more into elementary school, the curriculum focuses more on respect and being kind to each other and all those kinds of things. Then as we moved in the middle school age, we looked a little bit more at anti-bullying and respectful friendship, and what would healthy friendship look like, how do we treat each other, those kinds of things. Then, of course, as we got to the high school level, we looked more at dating violence and healthy relationships.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Really just trying to adapt the programming that we picked to really sit with these age groups and what would be most primary for that group.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: How did you adapt evidence-based and promising practices and tools, especially given that your target audience spans such a wide age range?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: I think one of the ones that we ended up having to adapt a little bit the most was our Friendships at Work curriculum, which is more of a promising practice. It was initially designed for seventh grade classes. As we were implementing, we were receiving feedback from some of the teachers, for a variety of reasons that they felt it would be better suited for fifth grade.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>Again, the author of that curriculum went back in to adjust some of the language that we used as we're teaching it, some of the videos that she used, some of the examples that she would give just to adjust that down to fifth grade level because, again, you're going down three levels from what it was initially designed for. We're finding that it's working really well in the fifth grade right now.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: One of the other adjustments that we made was Lessons from Literature. That was something that we were originally going to do in our high school English classes, but the curriculum was just designed in Canada and the literature that they used in Canada was not going to work for our high schools here in Grand Forks. We basically did some research and decided to implement “The Fourth R” in our health classes rather than Lessons from Literature.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>It was just some of the speed bumps along the way, just look at what else you can do instead and just always try to adapt to your population.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: That's really interesting. What were some of the challenges you encountered as you went about implementing your various programs?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: I think anytime you are involved in a whole county of people, which involves seven different school districts and thousands of kids, it's really hard to just make sure that it's all being well-taught uniformly. We know that all the curriculum that we implemented is only as good as it actually is at the level of the teacher implementing it or the staff person implementing it. I think it's always a challenge just to make sure that everybody is doing it and doing it in a consistent way.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: I would just add to that, as Kari mentioned, just when you've got seven different initiatives that are all trying to implement on a whole spectrum of ages 0 to 17, all the way from intervention through prevention, you have got a lot of moving parts and I think you absolutely cannot over-communicate at that point. Just trying to make sure everybody knew what each other was doing and that we were all keeping that common vision in front of us was really a constant challenge.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What are some of the lessons learned that you can pass on to other counties that might be interested in implementing prevention programming that is similar to yours.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: I think one of the biggest lessons that we learned is to just plan for more time than you think you're going to need. I think, especially if it is involving federal funds, it's really important to have adequate time to have the review process that you need in place for different publications and things like that. That was one of the things that sometimes the schools have found a little bit.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: I think in addition to that, just having good communication that's ongoing with your collaborative partners is important. We had lots of committees that we've set up to make sure that everyone stayed on top of what was happening in our project. We did that through actual face-to-face meetings, as well as email and phone conversations, and then being flexible as the project continues to make adaptations as they're needed.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: What are some of the results that you have been witnessing.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>HALL-JIRAN: We will be continuing to monitor this on an ongoing basis. Some of the most exciting results that we've seen thus far is that, at the elementary level, we've seen 42 percent fewer fourth and fifth grade students who are reporting being bullied. We've also had 46 percent fewer high school students who have reported that during the past six months someone has forced them to do something sexual that they did not want to do. We've had 28 percent fewer fourth through 12th grade students reporting that they witnessed violence in their home.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We're very excited about the preliminary results and really are interested to see where this will go in the future.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: Wonderful! Thanks so much for speaking to me. That was really interesting.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>KERR: Thank you so much. We really appreciate it.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal from the Center of Court Innovation and I've been speaking to Kari Kerr and Kristi Hall-Jiran about the Grand Forks, North Dakota Defending Childhood Initiative, Safer Tomorrows. Visit our website at to download other podcasts and reports on Defending Childhood Demonstration project. Thanks so much for listening.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span> </span></p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p> <p> </p>
Jul 23, 2015
The Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initiative
<p>Jill Smialek and Dr. Jeff Kretschmar discuss the <a href="" target="_blank">Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initative</a>, which  seeks to address violence against children in one of the country's most violent areas - Cuyahoga County, Ohio. <span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">Their unique approach includes the creation of an</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> integrated, </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">county-wide screening, assessment, and service system for children ages 0-18 who have experienced violence and trauma. <span>The initative is part of the Department of Justice's </span><em><a href="" target="_blank">Defending Childhood Demonstration Program</a></em><span>, which funded eight sites across the country to  respond to the problem of children's exposure to violence. </span>T</span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">he Center for Court Innovation has produced a <a href="" target="_blank">report</a> on the Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initative, a<span> </span><a href="" target="_blank">series of reports</a> on five other sites, and </span><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">a </span><a style="word-spacing: 0.04em; background-color: white;" href="" target="_blank">report</a><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;"> that condenses lessons learned across the sites. </span></p> <div></div><br /><p><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p><strong>AVNI MAJITHIA-SEJPAL:</strong> Hi, I'm Avni Majithia-SejpaL, senior writer at the Center for Court Innovation. Welcome to another episode of our New Thinking Podcast. Today, we're here to talk about the Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initiative. Cuyahoga County, in Ohio, which includes the Cleveland Metropolitan Area, was one of eight sites across the country to be funded by the Department of Justice to address and raise awareness about children's exposure to violence. We, at the Center for Court Innovation, have just released our process evaluation on six of those sites, which includes individual reports on each site and a report that condenses lessons learned across them. Today, from Cuyahoga County, we're talking to Jill Smialek, manager of the Family Justice Center and of the Witness Victim's Service Center, and to Dr. Jeff Kretschmar, research assistant professor at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, and senior research developer at the Gun Center for Violence Prevention, Research, and Education. Jill and Jeff, welcome to our podcast.</p> <p><strong>DR. JEFF KRETSCHMAR</strong>: Thanks, Avni.</p> <p><strong>JILL SMIALEK</strong>: Thank you.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I want to start by talking about violence. I understand that the county, and Cleveland in particular, has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country. What kinds of violence are kids exposed to?</p> <p><strong>KRETSCHMAR</strong>: You're right that the kids in Cuyahoga County witness and experience pretty high rates of violence. The kinds of violence they're experiencing or witnessing are similar to other kids in other communities. We have a lot of kids saying that they are hit and attacked. They witness a lot of shootings. There's lots of verbal abuse, physical abuse. Our kids report high rates of bullying. I will say that of the kids who have been in our Defending Childhood system and who have been assessed for violence exposure, 96% of those kids report at least one past year victimization and 87% report as least two past year victimizations. Those numbers are really, really high.</p> <p><strong>SMIALEK</strong>: We also know that a lot of children who are coming through the Defending Childhood system have witnessed domestic violence in their homes. From our most recent report, it looks like about 50% of our cases are kids who are dealing with domestic violence in the home.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: The Defending Childhood initiative created a streamlined county-wide screening assessment and service system up to the age of eighteen who have exhibited symptoms of exposure to violence or trauma. Can you walk us through that process?</p> <p><strong>SMIALEK</strong>: When we were first starting the Defending Childhood initiative, we wanted to make sure that we were implementing something that was not a new program, not a standalone program, but rather something that was embedded within the very robust social service menu, or environment that we have here in Cuyahoga County. We made the determination that we would work with our agencies and organizations that were already serving a large proportion of kids who were exposed to violence but at the same time, not necessarily focusing on that as the number one issue. We determined that we would work with our Children and Family Services, Juvenile Court, and a number of our community based mental health service providers. We worked with Jeff and others to develop a screening tool. We used that screening tool in those existing agencies. They screen very quickly for trauma symptoms and trauma behaviors. Then, once they reach a specific threshold, they move on to a central intake and assessment agency where they receive a full blown, roughly four-hour mental health assessment.</p> <p>From there, the mental health professional makes the determination as to any diagnoses that may apply and also makes a decision as to an appropriate therapeutic intervention. From there, the child is referred into services.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: Jeff, do you want to talk about the tool that you developed?</p> <p><strong>KRETSCHMAR</strong>: Sure. Very early on in the process, when we were first awarded the grant, one of the things that we quickly discovered that while there was some screening going on for violence exposure and trauma in our child-serving systems, it wasn't consistent, it wasn't uniform, and a lot of times, when kids were screened, nothing happened as a result of those scores or that information. They knew that kids were exposed but they didn't really have much unique services to put these kids into. What we thought was it would be really beneficial if our entire system used the same screening tool and had some training on how to use it. Then, that tool, the results of the information from that tool, could then be used to refer children to fuller assessments and then if necessary, into trauma-focused CBT or other trauma informed services designed specifically for cases like this.</p> <p>We first thought to use an existing tool that would look at trauma and violence exposure but confine any that were really short and free and that would span kids from zero to eighteen. We created our own. We came up with two screeners. One's for the younger kids, zero to seven. One is for the older kids, eight and older. We ask them or their caregiver about what kind of violence they've seen and what trauma symptoms are also co-occurring at that time. If kids score a certain level in that screener, they are referred in for a fuller assessment, to really get a handle on what they're experiencing and if that's had some mental health consequences for them.</p> <p>The worker who's administering the screening, regardless of the score on the screener, can also decide to refer that child for additional assessment if they feel like they need it.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I understand that research was integral to the initiative from the very beginning of the planning process. How did you and your colleagues go about this research? What were some of your insights?</p> <p><strong>KRETSCHMAR</strong>: The most important thing we learned in the beginning was that there was just a lack of uniform screening for childhood exposure to violence and trauma. We put a lot of effort into the development of the screener. We took information from existing screeners, took data that we had collected previously on thousands and thousands of kids who have been exposed to violence and trauma, and identified the questions that we could ask that best predicted how kids would answer a much longer assessment. We were able to create these very short screeners. There are about fifteen questions, they take on average four, five minutes, and essentially what we're finding out is that these screeners are really good at predicting who really has seen a lot of violence, who is experiencing trauma associated with that violence. I think we're probably close, at this point, to twenty thousand kids who have been screened since July of 2012.</p> <p>A lot of our research effort has focused on understanding what the kids in our community were seeing and experiencing, figuring out how best to measure that in a consistent and uniform way, and then understanding after the screening what needs to happen. What does a full assessment need to look like? What are the best treatments for these kids? These kids, as you said, we're talking about zero to eighteen. What might work in terms of a therapy for an eight year old might not be appropriate for a seventeen year old.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: That leads me to another question. Given that you address the needs of children and teenagers in such a wide age range, zero through eighteen, how did you adapt your methods to different age groups, and specifically to the youngest children?</p> <p><strong>SMIALEK</strong>: I think in addition to the screening methods that we use, we made sure when we were selecting the various evidence-based treatment modalities, that we were encompassing some or selecting some that were appropriate for younger children. One of those that we selected was PCIT, the Parent-Child Interactive Therapy, which we know is especially effective for younger children, and we also are able to use trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy for younger children.</p> <p>We also recognize that this is a really tough area. It's hard to find an appropriate way to intervene with children who are so young, because of the age that they're in in development. Here in Cuyahoga County, in addition to Defending Childhood, we have a number of social service agencies and initiatives at the large scale level that deal with child well-being. One of those is an initiative that's dedicated to early childhood mental health. We do have the ability to refer into one of the early childhood mental health services, which are separate and apart from Defending Childhood but again, I think it kind of illustrates how we have fit Defending Childhood into the existing system and the existing infrastructure that we have in Cuyahoga County so that if we come across a child who we can't fit into PCIT or TFCBT, we know that we have this additional referral source that we can tap into.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: How did you adapt and make use of evidence-based and promising practice into--</p> <p><strong>SMIALEK</strong>: we worked a lot with a number of community based partners who have far more expertise than I do and that anybody in my office has. When we were planning for the Defending Childhood initiative, there was a sub-committee that was put together to specifically look at various services or various trauma modalities that would be appropriate for Defending Childhood. We tapped into their brain power, their experience, their expertise, in order to come up with some options that really made sense. We reviewed a number of different programs. We looked at not just therapies, but also some community based group interventions, like the Families and Schools Together program, to make sure that we were making smart decisions that would lead to good outcomes for us.</p> <p><strong>KRETSCHMAR</strong>: In terms of the tools, we did a lot of work in establishing the screeners. Then, in the assessment process, we're using validated assessments, using validated and previously used questionnaires like the Child Behavior Checklist, the Trauma Symptom Checklist for Children, to make sure we're really measuring what we need to measure to best be able to then refer kids into the appropriate services for them.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: In addition to providing direct services, you also focused on creating an infrastructure that would span the entire county. Can you talk a little bit about that?</p> <p><strong>SMIALEK</strong>: What we wanted to do was ensure that whatever we started was first of all, taken to scale, because as you said earlier, we have a lot of crime in Cuyahoga County, and particularly in the city of Cleveland. I think that we are very well aware of the number of kids who are exposed to violence. We want to be able to make a difference for as many of those children as possible. If we're going to take it to scale given the resources that we have, we knew that we had to work with what's already in place. It just made sense, as we were thinking through how to make the biggest impact with the amount of resources that we had, how exactly would we do that. The answer to that was to build on top of what we already have so that we can sustain it long term and make the biggest difference possible.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: What are some of the lessons for other counties that want to make changes on the level of infrastructure?</p> <p><strong>SMIALEK</strong>: I think there are several that kind Cuyahoga County can bring to the table. The first is just to make sure that you take your time and do a thoughtful and thorough planning process. I think that starts with doing a full environmental scan of the groups that are already in the neighborhood or in the county or in the community, both groups who are interested in this issue, and who have the desire to be at the table, and bringing them in and making sure that they have a relevant and meaningful role to play while they're engaged with the process.</p> <p>I also think probably one of the most important lessons that we learned here locally is that planning takes time and over time, things change. You have to make a promise to one another that you will be flexible because the plan you write today, you may need to implement it a little differently tomorrow when you're finally ready to implement.</p> <p><strong>KRETSCHMAR</strong>: Something else that we knew but was confirmed is that while you can have service providers and county employees and research folks at the table, we're talking about a program for and about kids. You need to have the involvement of the kids. You need to understand what they're experiencing, what their comfort level is with what we're planning. If you don't have it, we can have a really, really great plan but if it's not something that kids and families are comfortable with, then it's not going to work. Having that level of consumer involvement in the planning process is really important. Also important is from day one, planning for sustainability of whatever it is you want to implement, so thinking out a year or two years or three years ahead and say, "How are we going to make this sustainable?" Which goes back to an earlier question around why we also focused on system issues in our project is because if we can change the system, that's a sustainable change. It doesn't necessarily cost anything to change the system like we've started to change it, but it can be really lasting.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: That's really interesting. Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me.</p> <p><strong>KRETSCHMAR</strong>: Sure.</p> <p><strong>MAJITHIA-SEJPAL</strong>: I'm Avni Majithia-Sejpal, from the Center for Court Innovation and I've been speaking to Jill Smialek and Dr. Jeff Kretschmar about The Cuyahoga County Defending Childhood Initiative. To read our report on the initiative, as well as our multi-site report, you can visit our website at Thanks very much for listening.</p> <div></div> <p> </p>
Jul 16, 2015
The Defending Childhood Demonstration Project
<p><span>In this podcast, Center for Court Innovation </span><span>researchers Rachel Swaner, Lama Ayoub, and Elise Jensen discuss their National Institute of Justice funded report on the United States Department of Justice's <em>Defending Childhood Demonstration Program</em>. The program, which began in 2010, funded eight pilot sites across the country to address children's exposure to violence. The Center produced a <a href="" target="_blank">series of reports</a> on six of the eight sites, as well as a <a href="">report</a> that condenses lessons learned across the sites. </span></p>
Jun 26, 2015
Supervised Visitation: The New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Unique Approach
<p>Katheryn Lotsos and Stephen Forrester from the <a href="">New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children</a> discuss their organization’s approach to supervised visitation. Supervised visitation is frequently required by courts in child welfare or domestic violence cases and allows children to meet with non-custodial parents in a secure and controlled environment. The Society's therapeutic model includes safety planning, parent education classes, special training for the professionals supervising the visits, and close collaboration with the courts.</p>
Jun 12, 2015
Using Evidence-Based Assessment To Create Problem-Solving Interventions
<p>Center for Court Innovation researcher Sarah Picard-Fritsche discusses the risk-need-responsivity model for working with offenders and the Center's efforts to develop a screening tool for misdemeanor offenders.</p><br /><p dir="ltr"><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><em> </em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Raphael: Hi. I'm Raphael Pope-Sussman at the Center for Court Innovation and in today's podcast, we're looking at risk-need assessment tools for offenders. Our guest is Sarah Fritsche, associate director of research here at the Center. Sarah, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</p> <p dir="ltr">SARAH FRITSCHE: Thanks. Happy to be here.</p> <p dir="ltr">RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: Wonderful. What is risk-need?</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE:  Well, risk-need-responsivity theory is essentially a theory of crime prevention which has three core components. The risk principle, which suggests that courts and treatment programs that are interested in reducing the risk of offenders should focus on those individuals coming through the system who are at the highest risk for re-offense--as opposed to what we sometimes see happening, which is lower risk offenders, we focus our resources on them based on an idea that they deserve a second chance or that the higher risk offender is a lost cause.</p> <p dir="ltr">All of those ideas are quite intuitive but actually research evidence shows us that when we focus our resources on treating and intervening with and supervising the higher risk group, that is when we achieve risk reductions and when we are able to get people out of the revolving door where they keep coming through the jails over and over again.</p> <p dir="ltr"><span>When we focus our resources on lower risk offenders, ironically enough or perhaps it's not really an irony, I don't know, but unfortunately when we do that, what happens is that we sometimes increase risk because we put folks who have pro-social networks and not very serious drug problems who just were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We put them into intensive treatment and that exposes them to anti-social networks, that takes them away from their job, that takes them away from their family, and this increases their risk for future offense and future involvement in the justice system.</span></p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: What's the origin of this theory?</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE:  The theory originates with two Canadian psychologists in the late '80s, early '90s, James Bonta and his partner's name was Andrews. They were actually developing an assessment tool which is now one of the longest-used assessment tools in the field, called the “Level of Services Inventory.” Their theories of criminal conduct are essentially psychological. Individual theories of criminal conduct were what undergirded the assessment tool that they created. They came up with a theory-- the main and most tested principle in the theory is the risk principle, but there's also two other components. One is the need principle, which tells us that we should try to understand the specific needs of each individual person coming through the justice system in order to give them the correct targeted treatment. It's that part that is intuitive.</p> <p dir="ltr">But without the correct assessment tools, we can't figure out what that is. The third component is responsivity, which means that we should develop treatment programs or therapeutic intervention programs that respond to people's learning styles and some clinical needs that might interfere with their ability to recover, such as mental illness or trauma.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Can you talk a little bit about what you're working on in the Center and what is the Center's focus right now in terms of risk-need assessment?</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE: Sure. I started working in this area about five years ago and my interest in it grew out of one of the first studies that I did here at the Center, which was a study of Brooklyn's program, which they call the Universal Screening for Drug Court, for people in the criminal court who might have the need for drug treatment. They were trying to find as many people as they could and send them into drug court as an alternative to maybe a short-term jail sentence that they might get. They had a screening system that was effectively just based on present charge. I guess my response to the system was that it was well intentioned but that based on the research that I did that they probably needed a little more information to identify the individuals that were most appropriate for drug court programming. A little more clinical information, maybe a little more criminal history information.</p> <p dir="ltr">I started looking around to see if anybody else had had that idea and that's where I ran into risk-need-responsivity theory. One of our first projects here that's really about this theory is testing the LSI-R, which I just described to you as one of the earliest tools in ...</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Just for listeners who aren't so savvy, what does LSI-R stand for?</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE: Oh, it stands for the Level of Services Inventory and it's just a 54-item assessment tool that they developed to assess individual offenders along the areas that we know may be related to re-offense. We wrote a proposal to the National Institute of Justice to do a randomized controlled trial where we looked at whether ... we're looking, we're actually now analyzing and writing up the data, at whether the treatment plans and outcomes of a drug court participant that was assessed using the LSI-R would be any different than those where they didn't get a standardized or RNR-based assessment. That was our first project that began in 2010 and is ongoing and will be reported on soon.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then shortly following that project, the world of evidence-based assessment, evidence-based practice just however coincidentally really exploded and a lot of the federal government agencies that we worked with and other non-profit organizations that work in the justice system became very interested in some of these concepts-- whether we could use evidence-based validated assessments to learn more about what keeps offenders caught in this revolving door of being incarcerated and re-offending very quickly. And whether we could then use that information or evidence to develop better programs that are therapeutic interventions. The Center has a long history of trying to create therapeutic or problem-solving interventions for offenders. This foray into this field was very natural for us.</p> <p dir="ltr">Since the evidence-based assessment research in the drug court started, we have picked up several new projects that are in this area. At the moment, we are looking at a different assessment tool that's similar to the LSI-R called the COMPAS. Don't ask me what that stands for because nobody really knows, but it's a similar tool and we're looking at that specifically in a sub-population of mentally ill offenders because there's a lot of questions in the field as to whether these validated assessments that have been historically used to predict outcomes for general felony populations will work in some of the sub-populations that are important in the justice system, mentally ill offenders being one of them.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then the other project that's very important in this field that we're doing right now began specifically from misdemeanor offenders, which is another important and understudied subgroup. We have, nationally in our justice system, about 10 million individuals per year that come through our criminal courts on misdemeanor charges. We have a very underdeveloped understanding or comprehension of what the clinical and social service needs and criminal risk of these individuals is. That gap in the research is what brought us to develop and seek funding for the Misdemeanor Assessment Project, which is a two-part project. First, to develop an assessment tool that can accurately give us a profile of the risk and needs of misdemeanor offenders rooted in risk-need-responsivity theory, and secondly to develop an intervention that we hope will effectively reduce risk for re-arrest in this population. Because the misdemeanor population is also quite tricky in terms of therapeutic intervention because they may have very high needs. They may have very serious drug problems. They may have mental illness. They may be traumatized. They may have long rap sheets. Their current charge will not allow you to put them in a two-year drug treatment program such as a drug court no matter how badly they may need it. We have to maintain legal proportionality.</p> <p dir="ltr">The second part of the Misdemeanor Assessment Project is specifically to develop short-term interventions including evidence-based cognitive behavioral treatments for this population that we hope will at least advance the ball for them somewhat in terms of reducing the clinical and social structural factors that cause them to come back into the system so quickly.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Are there specific projects that we’re rolling out?</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE:Yes. The Misdemeanor Assessment Project is a specific project. We're at a stage now where we have developed a short screening tool that we feel is feasible for people in criminal courts here in New York City and nationally to try to get an idea of what the profile of their low-level offender population is in terms of risk and needs. This short screening tool is currently being used in Cook County, which is essentially Chicago, with a pilot test of a program they have for misdemeanor offenders who have been diverted from jail from traditional processing, court processing, and are given some level of treatment. Based on our screening tool, they're going to make an assessment of whether to give them a high level of treatment because they're high risk, or something a little less if they're a moderate risk, or basically just refer them to services if they're low risk. In Cook County, we're using this tool as a test of the risk principle, basically.</p> <p dir="ltr">The same short assessment tool is being rolled out in New York City, in Brooklyn and Manhattan criminal courts as a part of a larger research study to re-validate whether the items and domains that we think are predicting re-arrest in this population in New York City … we're going to test them again. We tested them once last year and we're going to test them again. That's one product that we have that we're refining but we're also giving to the field to use and test and then at the same time, we're developing a short-term intervention for misdemeanor offenders that we're going to pilot test in the community courts in Manhattan, the Bronx, and Brooklyn over the next six months.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Great. Longer term on the horizon, are there any further plans?</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE: Yes. I think it's sometimes a little hard to see past the next six months especially for those of us who do research because we're oftentimes quite reticent to make claims. I think that there's definitely a demand on the ground for concrete tools, curriculums, assessment instruments that can help people move the needle from their default response to a lot of criminal behavior and overloaded criminal dockets--which is to put people into short-term stays and detention--to having more evidence-based responses to this kind of crime that have the potential to reduce risk.</p> <p dir="ltr">I think that it's a very timely field not just for practitioners but politically and especially socially here in the United States, that there's currently a public debate about whether incarceration is an effective response to crime, especially low-level crime. I think that our focus on these issues is really going to become ... I hope it will become a part of practical solutions and a part of the national conversation on alternatives to incarceration.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: That's very exciting. Well, thank you so much for talking to me today. I'm Raphael Pope-Sussman. I've been speaking with Sarah Fritsche, associate director of research at the Center for Court Innovation about risk/need assessment tools. To learn more about the Center for Court Innovation, please visit Thank you for listening.</p> <p dir="ltr">FRITSCHE: Thanks.</p>
Apr 17, 2015
Babies in the Child Welfare System to Get More Help in the Bronx, Along with Their Families
<p>Dr. Susan Chinitz, a psychologist with specialties in the areas of infant mental health and developmental disabilities in infancy and early childhood, and a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, discusses the new Strong Starts Court Initiative, which will enhance the capacity of Family Court to bring positive changes to court-involved babies and their families. (April 2015)</p><br /><p dir="ltr"><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SARAH SCHWEIG</strong>: Hi, I'm Sarah Schweig of the Center for Court Innovation and today I'm speaking with Dr. Susan Chinitz, a psychologist with specialties in the areas of infant mental health and developmental disabilities in infancy and early childhood. Professor of clinical pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of</p> <p dir="ltr">Medicine here in New York, she has extensive experience in child and infant mental health and recently she teamed up with the Center for Court Innovation to craft what's called the Bronx Infant Court, which aims to enhance the capacity of Family Court to bring positive changes to court-involved babies and their families. Thanks for speaking with me today and welcome.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SUSAN CHINITZ</strong>: Thank you, Sarah. Thank you.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: First off, you're a psychologist and an expert in infancy studies. What made you start thinking about the justice system and infants? Can you talk a bit about what drove you to look at how court cases handle infants--cases involving infants or families with infants.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: I direct a center up at Einstein, as you said. It's a therapy program for children under five years of age and many of the children that we work with, a very large proportion of them are child welfare system involved. Children come to attention at such a young age when something pretty significant or dramatic has happened to them and, certainly, that's the story of young children in the child welfare system. Our clinical population at Einstein has always had a very robust number of children who have had allegations of neglect or abuse, who are in foster care, or otherwise under court supervision. I've just had lots and lots of day-to-day experience with these children and their birth parents and their foster parents.</p> <p dir="ltr">Though the children struggle in their home environments, which I guess by definition is true when they're child welfare system involved, it also seemed that the courts and the foster care agencies could be more protective of these children if they knew more about babies. Sometimes in the absence of that knowledge, and totally inadvertently of course, the courts or the child welfare system can inflict more harm on the children. So it seemed very important while we were working with the children clinically, to also bring expertise to the systems that are making decisions about them every day.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: Of course Family Court sees children of all ages. Could you talk a little bit about what makes cases involving infants particularly different or difficult for courts to handle?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: A lot of things--hard to know even where to start but I'll start with the fact that brain development is happening very, very rapidly during these early stages of development, and we've learned through recent developmental neuroscience that children's brains’ development is very influenced by the environment and the context in which they live. In fact, in the field we say that the brain recruits experience into its developing architecture. Children who have been removed from their parents lose the biggest protection that children have; that bond with a committed and available caregiver. And we know that that loss of a primary caregiver brings with it all kinds of risks to brain development.</p> <p dir="ltr">It's really out of nurture and security and engagement of a committed caregiver that we see the brain develops. These children are struggling with attachment disruptions. Sometimes they're struggling with attachment disorders. If the interaction has been problematic, then they're subject to exposure to violence very often, instability in their care-giving as they move from caregiver to caregiver. There are just many, many things that go on in the life of a young child during the stage of development of critical capacities; mediated by brain development. It's also a very important time for the consolidation of a secure attachment, so the whole process of removing babies and moving them around in care is very detrimental to their development.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: Maybe you can describe the traditional options available for the court and dealing with cases involving infants and then how this new project is aiming to fill the gaps.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: Very interestingly, despite the fact that most children become known to the courts because of abuse or neglect, or exposure to violence, there's often very little recommendation for relational parent-infant repair work. The typical interventions available through the courts have been parenting classes, which means the parents attend a series of lectures about child development. But we’re not identifying what went wrong in this particular dyad. Was it maternal depression? Was the child just so difficult to manage that a parent just didn't have enough support?</p> <p dir="ltr">We have to really understand what was the cause of the need to intervene with child welfare system intervention and then try to remediate that, or even if we can't remediate all of it, help the parent develop more safe and nurturing parenting skills and help them learn to be with each other in ways that are healing to the child. We remove children but we don't do the critical work to repair what exactly went wrong. We're trying to do that. We're trying to evaluate babies and parents and their relationship through this new project, so that the interventions that are court-mandated will address the particular problems.</p> <p dir="ltr">Not every family becomes child welfare involved for the same reason, yet we've had one intervention of parenting classes. We want to tailor the interventions to much better meet the needs of the babies and the parents. We have to help monitor these babies; there's a very high level of developmental delay and disability in children known to the foster care system and the courts haven't always known how to perform developmental surveillance, watching children's development. What systems are available to remediate that. You have to bring all kinds of expertise to the court in order for the court to be a therapeutic agent that we think it can be through its authority and its involvement with the kids and families.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: Wonderful. I hear you saying that we're moving towards looking at the individual relationships between the infant and the parent, instead of just a catch-all approach.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: Right, exactly. Even babies have their own parenting load. There are some easy babies and there are some very, very hard babies. We have to help identify what the baby brings into the interaction in addition to what the parent does.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: Right. Maybe you could talk a little bit about the mechanism that's being introduced here to Family Court and how that's going to work.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: The referrals are going to, at least at the beginning until we are really up and running and see how this all works, the referrals are going to come just through the particular judge who's been selected through her usual intake process. As she picks up new cases, we will look for the babies under three. In this project we're going to target children under three. We've been asked by our various stakeholders to work with babies who are in foster care but also babies who have not been removed from their parents but are under court supervision due to concerns. We will be looking for children under three whether or not they're still home with their parents.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then, we're going to have an Infant Court team coordinator. A full-time infant practitioner who's going to work in the Family Court in partnership with the judge. So there will then be already in-house expertise full-time on infant development. This clinician or practitioner will help with the assessments of the babies and the parents, and I should use this opportunity to say that we have very two generational focus in this project. We're looking to help the life trajectory and life outcomes of the parents as well as the children because children will only do as well as their parents are able to do.</p> <p dir="ltr">The infant practitioner will help with the evaluation of the parent and the child and will assist the other people planning on the case; the foster agency case worker, and others who do some planning in recommending particular interventions that the court and child welfare system may not be as cognizant of as infant practitioners are. As examples, we have early Head Sart programs that are very, very rich in child development resources. We have home visiting programs, which we know improve the life trajectory of vulnerable children, yet we don't see courts or foster agencies getting children involved in a early Head Start or involved in home visiting, but an infant practitioner will have a broader array of the knowledge of what's out there for babies.</p> <p dir="ltr">The infant coordinator will help with assessment. She will help with referrals. Then we hope to have very frequent team conferences about these children and families that will include the lawyers but will also include the community providers that were working with the families. We're hoping to get everybody together on a monthly basis to help monitor progress; particularly, to help solve problems so that families are really getting what they need to get. There are no barriers to their getting what they get. That we can keep a close eye on the case and hopefully move a little bit more quickly than usual towards permanency because we're really front-loading services and we're giving a lot of attention to the cases early on.</p> <p dir="ltr">We're hoping, also, to develop a more collaborative approach and to try to leave some of the adversarial approach behind as everybody puts their heads together to think about how to better serve babies and their families.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: As a last takeaway, what would you hope to see a few years down the line with this project? Would you like to see it replicated, would you like to see it expanded outside of the Bronx? What's your vision?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: Babies are such a large presence in the child welfare system and in the courts. In 2013, which is the last year that we've got numbers for, there was 711 just in the Bronx alone; babies under two, just in the Bronx alone. That's a lot of children who are living in very vulnerable situations. Young children remain the largest cohort of kids who become court-involved every year. Yeah, we'd like to see infant expertise in all of the Family Courts. It's a system that does intervene every day in the life of these children and they should be imbued with expertise.</p> <p dir="ltr">It should be a place where judges have access to the best information they can have about babies. Yeah, my dream is that we're in every borough of the city bringing infant expertise to judges and helping evaluate babies so that they get the right service. Like we said, keeping a close eye on cases, moving children to permanency as quickly as possible. That's really important. A child has to have security with at least one ongoing primary caregiver. We see enormous pain and suffering when children are in limbo. Year after year if they start to have behavior problems, they can't catch up with their learning problems, we need to bring permanency and security.</p> <p dir="ltr">Those things; bringing expertise, so decisions are good decisions. Bringing resources to these families as soon as the case becomes identified, so the court can be an agent in positive change and resolving the permanency as early as possible.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: Wonderful. Well, thanks so much for speaking with me today.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>CHINITZ</strong>: Thank you.</p> <p><strong>SCHWEIG</strong>: I'm Sarah Schweig of the Center for Court Innovation, and I've been speaking with Dr. Susan Chinitz about the complexities of infancy and infants who become involved in family court cases. To learn more about the Bronx Infant Court or the Center for Court Innovation, visit Thanks for listening.</p> <p dir="ltr"> </p>
Apr 03, 2015
How Electronic Records Are Transforming The Justice System
<p>New York University Law School Professor James Jacobs, author of "<a href="">The Eternal Criminal Record</a>" (Harvard University Press), discusses the proliferation of electronic criminal records and the challenges they pose for a free society. (March 2015)</p><br /><p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN: Hi, I'm Raphael Pope ­Sussman of the Center for Court Innovation, and today I am speaking with James Jacobs, professor of criminal law at New York University and the director of NYU Center for Research in Crime and Justice. Jacobs is the author of the new book, "The Eternal Criminal Record," which examines the public nature of criminal records and the impact they can have on everything from voting rights to employability for 16 million Americans.</p> <p dir="ltr">Professor Jacobs, thank you for speaking with me today and welcome.</p> <p dir="ltr">JAMES JACOBS: Thank you. It's my pleasure.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: So starting out, why do you write this book now?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: I got interested in criminal records really in the early 2000s when I was working on a book about gun control and the Brady Law and the creation of the national instant check system, which enables federally licensed firearms dealers to determine instantaneously whether a prospective firearms purchaser has a criminal record. So I came at this from that kind of law enforcement perspective thinking that was truly an amazing accomplishment. Most people that work on criminal records come at it out of concern about collateral consequences. I too am concerned about collateral consequences. I deal with that in my courses and in some writing, but that was not my first impulse, and the book itself is not a book about collateral consequences. It's a book about the information infrastructure of the criminal justice system.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Let's talk about the 60 million Americans with criminal records. What does that include?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: What triggers a criminal record is dependent upon the law of each state, and so states differ to some extent on the lowest level crimes. Here in New York we have a lot of crimes that have been redefined as violations and not all of those end up on your criminal record. Traffic offenses do not. Juvenile offenses also differ from one state to another. But a very interesting question is whether a criminal record includes arrests as well as convictions, and the general answer to that is, "Yes," because our criminal records system is arrest-based. So once you are fingerprinted and booked, that establishes an arrest record and it is not normally erased even if you are not convicted.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Something that really stood out to me in the book is the difference between the American justice system, in which the right to know is privileged above all else, and the European system, where there's more of a focus on the right to privacy. Can you talk about that?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: Well, it's a great example of American exceptionalism. I don't think there are many if any other countries in the world in which criminal records are as public as they are in the United States, and I think that brings out our commitment to both free speech and to the transparency of governmental operations. Our court records have always been open to the public, to anyone who wants to see them.</p> <p dir="ltr">In European countries, that's not the case. You have to have a reason and convince the court you have a reason to look at a court record. Our police records are not open to anyone who wants to see them, but our state legislatures have passed many laws which give permission, authorization, to various industries and businesses and voluntary associations to obtain police records. There's a big difference. In Europe they consider a criminal record to be personal information. Here we consider it to be quintessentially public information.</p> <p dir="ltr">These are two different systems with different values. I don't want to say one is right. There is a value to an open society. There is a value to open courts. But that also means that there's negatives, and people are stigmatized by their criminal records, and they can't be kept confidential.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Do you believe in a right to be forgotten?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: I don't really believe in a right to be forgotten. I don't like the idea of changing history. To me it conjures up one of those movies about Eastern European dictatorships, and people going in and changing the historical record, and was this guy ever arrested or was he ever convicted for corruption. People have a right to know.</p> <p dir="ltr">In general, I believe that we are better off with more information rather than less information. I'm one of these old fashioned guys who really has a strong commitment to First Amendment rights. I believe people have a right to speak and to convey information that they have. It’s also very difficult in the information age that we live in now to bury information.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Here in New York, low-level offenders are theoretically eligible to apply for a certification of rehabilitation, which pending completion of a sentence restores a range of rights and removes for example, legal barriers to employment. Why do you prefer this policy to the expungement or sealing of records?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: Well, I think I do prefer certifications of rehabilitation to expungement. I don't like changing history. There's all kinds of confusions about changing history. A libel suit could come up. A newspaper could say this person now running for office, or such and such was once convicted of a crime. The person could sue the newspaper and say, "I've never been convicted of a crime because it was expunged; therefore it doesn't exist." You know, it doesn't change.</p> <p dir="ltr">We shouldn't be thinking of changing history. History is what it is. I have no objection, in fact, I think it's a sensible idea to try to help people overcome the bad and dangerous things they've done in their past. People do change. They can demonstrate that change. So maybe we should have more information rather than less, and this certification of rehabilitation is a step in the right direction. If the state recognizes that you have acted honorably and credibly and in a law abiding way since the time of your conviction, giving you the certificate to recognize that, I think is a very sound policy.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: Homing in on the employability of former offenders. What is “Ban the Box”?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: “Ban the Box” is a movement that started out in California, maybe a decade or more ago. A group of activists were lobbying to have the city of, I believe it was in San Francisco or Oakland, to stop putting on their employment applications, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" They said, "Eliminate that question because it screens out people to early in the employment process.” It can be used as an automatic screen so that anyone who puts, “Yes, I have been convicted” isn't even considered regardless of the circumstances.</p> <p dir="ltr">But the way that it was, and this isn't always understood, the way that it was lobbied for in the beginning, anyway, and the way that it's been enacted in many, many cities now and some states, is that it doesn't mean that you're never asked. It means that you're not asked in the initial employment application, and so it gives the public employer a chance to look at you as an individual, and if they get to the point where they're ready to make an offer, or you get fairly far down in the hiring process, then they ask the question, and they get the answer, and they're looking at the answer in the context of someone for whom they've already developed a positive impression. So that arguably should be helpful.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: You worry about the proliferation of intelligence databases that track persons who have not committed criminal acts, but are identified as likely offenders. Those labeled dangerously mentally ill or alleged gang members. What does it mean for American democracy that we're becoming more and more reliant on these kinds of deterministic tools?</p> <p dir="ltr">JACOBS: Well, part of this is the information revolution washing right across policing and law enforcement and courts. So we have the capacity to keep and create far more records than ever in our history. We can compile all kinds of databases and those databases can have all kinds of consequences. So if we keep a database, as I talk about in the book, on gang membership for example, there is some legitimacy to that. But people don't get a hearing on whether they're in the gang. They wouldn't know whether they're in the gang database.</p> <p dir="ltr">We don't know who has access to the gang database. For a gang database to make sense it has to be available to a lot of police officers who may come into contact with someone and have some legitimate reason to be interested in whether they are a member of a gang or not, as well as prosecutors. But that kind of information could be very detrimental to somebody, and it could also be inaccurate.</p> <p dir="ltr">You know, it's not all that clear what it means to be a gang member. So I mean we have to be very careful about putting those kinds of labels on people, and then doubly careful about who has access to that information. Because we don't even know how accurate it is, and in fact as I talk about in the book and in some articles I've written, these gang databases have proliferated all over the place. So I mean, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people are listed as gang members. It's very hard to get off these databases once you're in them. So I worry about that.</p> <p dir="ltr">The issue of the dangerous mentally ill is very interesting because after the Sandy Hooks and some of the other mass shootings, there's been a lot of calls for getting better intelligence databases on people who are mentally ill and dangerous so that they cannot purchase a firearm. Right? We don't want people who are dangerous to have--so we create databases. Once we create a database and we insert somebody's name and we populate the database with people's names, we are labeling them as “mentally ill and dangerous.” Well, if I was an employer and, you know, the government has you on a list as “mentally ill and dangerous.” You know, and they won't sell you a firearm, I'm not so thrilled about inviting you into my organization when there are hundreds of people who are applying for these jobs who are not mentally ill and dangerous.</p> <p dir="ltr">Most people, the vast majority of people who have mental illness in their history are not dangerous. So if you can label people, whimsically label them, and they get onto databases as “mentally ill and dangerous’ without a hearing, without a way off, without knowing how they got on, I think that's something to be very concerned about. And interestingly enough a lot of people in the mental health community have resisted cooperating with the government's efforts to compile lists of people who are mentally ill and dangerous.</p> <p dir="ltr">So now we have two groups competing. We have the people concerned about mass killings. They say, "What's wrong with you? You should be giving us all this information so that we can prevent the next mass killing." And then you have people in the mental health community saying, "This is so unlikely to prevent a mass killing, but what it is likely to do is to stigmatize hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of people and maybe even deter them from seeking out assistance with problems of mental illness."</p> <p dir="ltr">So life is complicated.</p> <p dir="ltr">POPE-SUSSMAN: I am Raphael Pope Sussman , and that was James Jacobs, professor of criminal law at New York University and the author of the new book, "The Eternal Criminal Record" from Harvard University Press. To learn more about the Center for Court Innovation please visit <a href=""></a>. Thank you for listening.</p>
Mar 09, 2015
Understanding Youth Violence: A Conversation with Dr. Joel Fein
<p><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">At the kick-off summit for the Minority Youth Violence Prevention initiative, Dr. Joel Fein, a pediatrician and emergency medicine physician at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, discusses youth relationships with authority, family dynamics, and how trauma and stress affect the developing brain. (February 2015)</span></p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-left"><img src="" alt="" title="" class="image image-preview " width="640" height="480" /></span></p> <div></div><div class="image-clear"></div>
Feb 17, 2015
Criminal Justice at the Crossroads: Transforming Crime and Punishment
<p><a href="">William R. Kelly</a>, professor of sociology and director of the Center for Criminology and Criminal Justice Research at the University of Texas at Austin, discusses his new book, "<a href="">Criminal Justice at the Crossroads: Transforming Crime and Punishment</a>," and the costs of mass incarceration.</p><br /><p dir="ltr"> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>RAPHAEL POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Hi. This is Raphael Pope-Sussman for the Center for Court Innovation. Today I'm speaking with William Kelly, professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, and the author of the new book, Criminal Justice at the Crossroads: Transforming Crime and Punishment, from Columbia University Press. Professor Kelly, thank you for speaking with me today, and welcome.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WILLIAM KELLY</strong>: It is my pleasure.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Why is this a crossroads in the American criminal justice system?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: I believe we're at a decision point that was triggered from the recession that began in 2008, that caused states to start taking a hard look at how they spend money. They began to realize that crime control was a very expensive proposition, and that began the discussion affecting about how might we go about doing this differently, primarily motivated by trying to save public revenue. That seems to have begun to evolve into a broader discussion of, not only saving money, but trying to be more effective in how we go about the business of administering criminal justice.</p> <p dir="ltr">It's a crossroads because of the opportunities that have been presented by economic considerations, really a fair amount of lead from the U.S. Justice Department. Eric Holder, when he was the attorney general, launched a discussion about being “smart on crime.” And those types of phrases and that type of thinking has really begun to take hold.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Your book explores the origins and evolution of America's fixation on this idea of being “tough on crime.” Can you give our audience a sense of what that's translated into in terms of policy?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: Beginning in the early 1970s, we shifted policy rather dramatically from focusing more on rehabilitation than on punishment. The events of the 1960s, 1970s--high crime rates, race riots, campus protests, led to the evolution of a focus on controlling crime primarily through the mechanism of punishment. That policy, at the time, made really quite perfect intuitive sense. The problem is disorder; the remedy is punishment. Policymakers got it; the public got it. That launched decades of what we call “crime control,” or “tough on crime” policies that led to, among other things, a really substantial capital investment in things like prisons, extraordinary expansion of the criminal justice system, fundamental changes in statutes like sentencing laws that shift discretion away from judges to more determinate sentences that, in the end, are more severe, changes in parole policies and laws that keep inmates in prison longer and longer.</p> <p dir="ltr">As the dust has settled on 45 plus years of tough on crime policy, we see the largest prison system in the world. We are the country with the highest incarceration rate in the world. I think the public is getting to be familiar with the statistics that we have 5 percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of the world's inmates. The image that the world has about the U.S., is the use of incarceration, which is certainly a distinguishing point, but that's not the end result of the reach of the American criminal justice system. It is much bigger, much broader, and deeper than that. Jails serve to incarcerate huge numbers of individuals on a day-to-day basis. Probation and parole, versions of community supervision, also have very extensive reaches in terms of supervising and trying to control criminal offenders.</p> <p dir="ltr">The end result of this has been a fairly deliberate march, decade after decade, into developing a fairly efficient system of punishment. Unfortunately, as it turns out, punishment doesn’t work. It's legitimate to want to punish somebody for punishment's sake. That's fine, but I think part of the bigger picture here is we need to appreciate that retribution as a motivation for punishment has no utility other than some emotional satisfaction or emotional release that we get from an eye-for-an-eye type of approach.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: What was the biggest revelation for you in researching and writing your book?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: Now that is a really good question. I would say the greatest revelation is that a fairly comprehensive package of reforms that I talk about in the book, that are evidence-based, for which we have sufficient scientific research indicating that these are effective mechanisms, that that package of reform is feasible. It is doable. It is cost-effective, and it can accomplish the goal of enhancing public safety, reducing victimization, and saving money.</p> <p dir="ltr">I think the thing that’s the most troubling thing about it, about the path forward, is not so much the mechanics of what reform should look like. In my mind, the most concerning challenge is changing how we think about crime and punishment, changing the culture, not so much of the public, but the culture of the administration of criminal justice. We've all been pretty much focused on trying to punish people, and it's difficult to change the environment, the day-to-day working environment of probation officers, of law enforcement officials, of, in-particular, prosecutors. Some individuals will embrace some reform more than others, pretty much as we saw what happened with crime control decades ago.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: What are the most promising reforms or proposed reforms out there?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: Diversion is the key in terms of overall umbrella policy going forward. We should reserve prison, which all evidence indicates is criminogenic in and of itself--we should reserve incarceration for those people, those offenders, that we reasonably, truly, fear, violent offenders, clearly habitual offenders, not just somebody who has a third strike. Those are the individuals that we need to incarcerate. That should reduce the prison population dramatically. Everybody else should have some version of a balance between control, compliance, accountability on the one hand, and rehabilitation, behavioral change, on the other.</p> <p dir="ltr">Another major challenge is the scope and scale of the criminogenic circumstances that bring criminal offenders into the justice system in the first place. We know that poverty and crime are linked, but today we know that it's much more than just, "I don't have money because I'm poor. I'm going to have to go out and commit a crime."</p> <p dir="ltr">There are clear neurodevelopmental implications of living in poverty. There are clear neurocognitive implications of being in an environment of violence, and all the factors that are correlated with poverty play out in a variety of different ways, including mental illness, substance abuse, things like that, but a much bigger and ever-evolving list of implications in terms of the less-visible neurodevelopmental problems. If you ask the basic question, "Why didn't punishment work?" The answer is, "Because punishment doesn't change somebody's mental illness. Punishment doesn't address addiction recovery. Punishment doesn't fix somebody who has a neurocognitive deficit or impairment." Punishment doesn’t address why many people commit crime.</p> <p dir="ltr">Now, this is not an excuse for crime. Criminals commit bad acts and they need to be held accountable, and we need to keep the public safe as we attempt to change their behavior. In my mind, and I believe the evidence pretty clearly supports this, that environment of behavioral change is not prison, but rather a balance of supervision and control in the community, and vigorous efforts at behavioral change.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: I'm wondering what you think the ultimate goal of reform is. Is all policy dictated by the bottom line?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: You know, I think the thing that's going to move the public and policymakers in the direction of serious criminal justice reform is precisely that, the money issue. We can debate until the end of time what is morally correct, what is ethically correct, what is fair, and what is just, but if we want to attract attention from a variety of different perspectives, and I think that's precisely what has happened here, the reason that the Koch brothers and Right on Crime are at the same table as the ACLU is the same reason that we had sentencing reform in the 1970s, '80s, and '90s. We had both political parties concerned with different things, but with the same solution.</p> <p><span>Republicans, the conservatives, were concerned about judges being too lenient. Liberals were concerned about unfairness and discrimination. The remedy was, get judges out of the picture. I think it's the same thing here. What brings the Koch brothers and Right on Crime to the table, at least initially, is the financial issue. What brings the ACLU and liberals to the table is that we can do a better job of this. We can make it a fairer system, but also, perhaps, a more effective system.</span></p> <p dir="ltr">I think they're at the table and I think they're heading down the same road. That road is one that appreciates the fact that, while behavioral change may be expensive, it is not nearly as expensive as what we have been doing in terms of simply incarcerating individuals. The evidence indicates that, in the moment, using interventions to change behavior is generally cheaper than incarceration, and I think what policymakers sometimes fail to appreciate is that, for every offender that we can effectively change behavior, every time they don't reoffend, the cash register doesn't ring. The cost savings we can incur now will reap benefits longer term if we can reduce recidivism.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: How should we define success?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: I think success is multidimensional. After a period of serious reform effort, can we look back and say, "We have really developed a system that is more cost-effective"? That's important, but that is not the end game. The end game, really, is public safety. Can we then, at some point, say, "We have effectively by whatever amount reduced recidivism"? Can we say that we have a system that does not unnecessarily place all the rest of us who are not involved in crime at the risk of being a victim?</p> <p dir="ltr">Public support--does the public believe that justice is being done? Reducing inequity in terms of race and ethnic concentrations of individuals in the justice system, and, ultimately, the extent of which we can take individuals who grow up in circumstances many of us would find foreign and horrific, can engage them in sufficient behavioral change to become productive members of society.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: Thank you.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>KELLY</strong>: My pleasure.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>POPE-SUSSMAN</strong>: This has been Raphael Pope-Sussman for the Center for Court Innovation, and I have been speaking with William Kelly, author of the new book, Criminal Justice at the Crossroads: Transforming Crime and Punishment from Columbia University Press. For more information on the Center for Court Innovation, visit</p>
Jan 24, 2015
Hospital Seeks to Halt Violence Among Minority Youth
<p>Our Lady of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton, New York is working with community partners to develop a restorative, strength-based program that will divert high-risk youth from gang involvement as well as violent behavior. At the kick-off summit for the <a href="">Minority Youth Violence Prevention</a> initiative, Nancy Frank and Ralphalla Richardson discuss how they became interested in partnering with police to help stop the cycle of harm in some of Binghamton’s struggling neighborhoods.</p><br /><p> </p> <p><em><strong>The following is a transcript</strong></em></p> <p dir="ltr">SARAH SCHWEIG: Hi, I'm Sarah Schweig of the Center for Court Innovation, and today, I am just outside Atlanta, Georgia, for the first summit for the Minority Youth Violence Prevention Initiative out of the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who partnered with the Office of Community Oriented Policing at the U.S. Department of Justice. Today, I'm here with Ralphalla Richardson and Nancy Frank from Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton. Just to start off, Nancy, who is the director, will just talk a little bit about why you guys got interested in Minority Youth Violence Prevention.</p> <p dir="ltr">NANCY FRANK: As a hospital system, we are part of a department called Youth Services Department, and we've been running programs, youth development programs, since 1996. We have been running juvenile justice programs for youth, juvenile justice prevention programs, and being a hospital system, we also are looking at mitigating some of the risk factors for the social determinants of health. One area that we've really wanted to get into is the restorative justice area of being able to look at youth violence with a different kind of lens. One of the programs we currently run is a detention alternative after school program, but these kids are already in the juvenile justice system. We've talked about wanting to get kids before they enter the system and use more of a preventative approach. We have, for many years, been providing youth services in our county--in Broome County--and also in Binghamton. That was our interest in getting this program together.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Wonderful. Maybe Ralphalla can talk a little bit about some of the things you've been doing with the youth. I know we had a conversation before about some trips you guys take and what you see that affecting with the kids you're working with.</p> <p dir="ltr">RALPHALLA RICHARDSON:  Because we've been doing the detention alternative after school program for so long, we've learned some really cool things. Like by taking the kids and exposing them to just different situations, different environments, you get a very immediate and visceral reaction, so we implemented a lot of that into our, we're calling it BCAST in our area, Binghamton Community and Schools Together. What we're hoping to do is do some team-building trips. Like our local ski resort has a ropes course, so one of our first big trips is all the kids in the program are going to go out, do some ropes course, do some team-building. But we're also going to do trips to science museums as incentives to keep them going but also then do other trips to NICUs, kind of show them the adverse effects of getting involved in risky behaviors.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: NICUs is...</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Oh, okay.</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: Also doing maybe interacting with some parolees recently that are their own age. But also maybe going into what it's actually like in jail because there's this very glamorized version of it but actually let them see what it really is. You get more of an immediate switch in behavior, and then doing the follow-up work with our in-school groups, working with the SROs there, doing structured recreation activities after school where the SROs can also be involved and build those positive relationships. We also—</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: SRO being the School Resource Officer.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Okay.</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: That's our police component to build that healthy relationship with the local law enforcement but also to address some of the parent behaviors. They have their own negative impression of the police force so to work with them to improve that but also to address their own immediate needs to improve the home environment, so that some of the changes the kids are working on have a better chance of sticking. So the entire family can improve.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: One thing that either of you could answer it sounds like is that partnership with police. How did you guys really establish that? I feel like every city is very different in terms of the relationship the police have with other agencies. Sometimes they tend to be more siloed, sometimes they're more out in the community, so maybe you can give a little bit of a sense of what that was like.</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: Well, we started this process by reaching out to the mayor of the city of Binghamton who, ultimately, oversees the police department for Binghamton. He was very interested in doing this program, so he's on board. They've started a Youth Success initiative through the city of Binghamton, and the police also sit on that. It's a Community Youth Services Board. They're going to be acting as our advisory board in a sense. That's one area that we have to start focusing a little bit more on is the police involvement.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, with partnering with the BOCES programs, there are kids from Binghamton who are attending BOCES schools, so there are two different they're called learning centers, east and west. Each of those buildings have School Resource Officers who some are from the Binghamton Police, some are also from our Broome County Sheriff's Department. Our kids are pretty transient, so many times they move from Binghamton to other parts of the county. To be able to have that good relationship not only with the city police force but with the county sheriff's department is not a bad thing as well. We're still working on that aspect of it, but it's a new development. It's not really something we've done before. We've had a lot of interaction with the county attorney's office, probation, but not so much law enforcement. That's the piece that we really are excited about adding to our existing program.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Yeah. That's what this whole summit is about is ways of partnering...</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: Right.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: … across health and policing.</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: One thing we're real excited about is we're having a community-wide restorative justice training. We've been able to use the funds through this grant to bring in a gentleman by the name of Duke Fisher who is a nationally renowned expert on restorative justice models. He's had a lot of success working in schools, college campuses, communities, and he's going to be coming in and doing a free training for our community stakeholders. From that training, we're going to identify facilitators to actually be able to perform restorative justice activities. It's something that's not being done in our community, and we're really excited that this grant's going to allow us to bring that. That's a sustainability piece because when this funding goes away, to have people that are trained to continue a different way of looking at juvenile justice and youth offenders. We're excited about that.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: That's wonderful. Maybe a last question to add is just from your experience and starting this process, do you have any takeaways, any lessons for any of the other sites however anecdotal it might be just because you're in a very unique situation where you're in a hospital, you have this program already in place? Any sort of suggestions?</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: I would say just don't be afraid to think of unique ways of doing them. Just because you haven't done it before doesn't mean you can't, and it's people that you maybe are hesitant to think of that would want to partner with you are more than willing to because that was one of the things when we started letting in our community, letting other agencies that we hadn't even approached when we were writing it, writing the proposal. You know, "We got this," and telling them what we were doing. They were so supportive, and they're all like, "What can we do?" Once you actually tell people what you're doing, you'd be surprised how many people actually want to help you and want to be involved in the process.</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: One example of that is there's the Healthy Lifestyles Coalition that was funded by a private not-for-profit foundation, and they're running out of money. But they have established great connections in a particular neighborhood in Binghamton with the parents of the kids in that community, and they do a lot of cooking classes and things like that. We're sort of starting a discussion with them to say, "Well, how can we go in then with this established group and do some of the things that we want to do? We can pay for the food..." Just those connections, and we're a small community. Everybody kind of knows everybody, so it's been ...</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Using other organization's knowledge or populations-</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: Yes.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Seems really helpful.</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: Their connections, especially with what Nancy was saying with the parents. That's a really hard group to break into, but this particular agency, they've had some great success in engaging these parents--</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: And neighborhood.</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: Yeah. It's a neighborhood that really could benefit from this violence prevention because it's a rougher neighborhood, and it's a generational: generations of poverty, generations of high school dropouts. That we can actually use their connections, and they'll almost vouch for us. They'll be like, "These people are okay. You can"--</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: Right. Trust them.</p> <p dir="ltr">RICHARDSON: It's giving us access to people we hadn't even--</p> <p dir="ltr">FRANK: Thought about. Right.</p> <p dir="ltr">SCHWEIG: Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for speaking with me today. Hopefully you enjoy the rest of the visit. I'm Sarah Schweig, and I've been speaking with Nancy Frank and Ralphalla Richardson of Lourdes Memorial Hospital in Binghamton, New York, about gaining trust within communities and partnering with people you might not have normally thought of. To learn more about the Minority Youth Violence Prevention initiative, visit Thanks for listening.</p>
Jan 20, 2015
To Help Teens Experiencing Dating Violence, Meet Young People Where They're At
<p>Some people mistakenly think that when teenagers experience intimate partner violence, it's less serious than when adults experience it, explains Andrew Sta. Ana,  supervising attorney of <a href="" target="_blank">Day One</a>, which seeks to end teen dating violence. "There's this idea, 'Oh, teen DV. That must mean domestic violence or intimate-partner violence 'lite'... I think that what's important to recognize about teen dating violence, particularly as it affects young women, is that [the age group of 18 to 24 has] the highest rates of dating violence" among any group, Sta. Ana says in this New Thinking podcast. He also explains what services Day One offers clients and how it works with the <a href="" target="_blank">Brooklyn Youthful Offender Domestic Violence Court</a>, and he discusses some of the factors that distinguish cases of teen intimate-partner violence from adult cases, including differences in law, the use of technology, and adolescent brain development.</p> <p> </p> <p> </p><br /><p><em><strong>The following is a transcript: </strong></em></p> <p> </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Intro clip: “When I started doing this work, one of the most important lessons I learned was people said the opposite of domestic violence isn't safety. The opposite of domestic violence is self determination.”</em></p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>ROB WOLF</strong>: I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Today I am in the office of Andrew Santa Ana, who is the supervising attorney at Day One, which is a legal services program that works with teenagers and young people who are experiencing or are survivors of intimate partner violence. Welcome to the podcast.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>ANDREW SANTA ANA</strong>: Thank you so much for having me. I'm glad we're able to do this.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Your work involves many things. I thought maybe we could start with a program that the Center for Court Innovation has been involved in and helped develop, the Youth Offender Domestic Violence Court in Brooklyn, which works with young people ages 16 to 19 who have been involved in intimate partner domestic violence, misdemeanor criminal cases. Now, your role is representing the victims in civil cases. Is that correct?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA AN</strong>A: Yeah, when there's a case going on in the YODVC, many of the young people who are victims in that case have questions about family court, custody of their kids, or orders of protection in the civil process. We have a pretty close relationship with the Brooklyn district attorney's office. They make referrals to us and we see how we can help.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Let's talk about your clients and being a teenager in an intimate partner violence situation. Are there different characteristics? Are there different issues and concerns that teenagers have and that you have representing teenagers than an adult might have?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Sure. Young people are obviously a different population with respect to their age. That plays out in a few different ways. There are things about it that are similar to cases involving adults and things about it that are significantly different. When I think about the differences, I break them into a few different categories. First and foremost is the law, right? When we talk about working with young people, the law treats young people and minors differently, right? A young person under the age of 18 is considered an infant of the laws, considered a minor or someone with diminished capacity. From the get go you have someone for whom the standard is a little bit different and that requires more from an attorney and from the court to think about where that young person is. There's definitely the legal aspect of that.</p> <p dir="ltr">Then, secondly, there's the culture aspect of that, which means that young people who are teenagers in the 2014 time are different in some ways because of their access to technology than young people even just 10 years ago. We're talking about manifestations of intimate partner violence or ways that power and control manifest. They're taking along on a huge technological component. Then, I would say the last piece about this is that as studies and research develops, we know that we're interacting with young people at a certain developmental stage in their lives. Whether it be normal teenage brain development to hormones to relationships with their parents, we know more information about how young people are processing information. That helps inform what services they need, what they seek, and what remedies are appropriate.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: The Youth Offender Domestic Violence Court takes care of or works with the criminal side of things. Then, what happens if you get a referral from the court? What are some of the issues that, some of the civil remedies or issues that you're dealing with when you represent the young victims in a civil setting?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Sure. When people contact Day One, they might have questions about a civil case. We work with a lot of teen mothers who have questions about whether it be paternity or child support or custody and visitation, the clients we work with also have a right to file for an order of protection from the civil process. Those are often some pretty typical questions but also because of the lives of our clients are complicated and they have many different identities. Sometimes there's questions about benefits, about young people and teenagers accessing public benefits. There's sometimes immigration questions. If we're talking about young people in violent relationships, there's also the need for them to just to connect with someone and to talk to someone.</p> <p dir="ltr">We have legal services, but we also have one-on-one and group counseling services. We also have a survivors group that does advocacy. Thinking about where that young person is and being responsible for that is where we come from because while it's great and I can talk to someone about their legal options, sometimes they just want to talk to someone about this relationship where it might have been their first time they were in love or the parent to their child with whom they might have a complicated relationship. It's important for young people to have people that they can talk to and reach out.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Let's put this in a little bit maybe in historical context. Domestic violence itself has been an issue that has taken historically many years for advocates to bring to the attention of the justice system and take it as seriously as any violence and also look at the complexities that are involved when it involves intimate partners. Now for teenagers, is that taking another level of awareness and more time to bring attention to the fact that teenagers too can experience this kind of ...</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Yeah. Thank you for asking that question because that in some ways gets to the real heart of it. Part of this is talking about young people and teenagers as people who have intimate relationships, as young people who will be having sex, as young people that will be engaged in a lot of behaviors that their parents or adults would rather not touch, right? We're talking about domestic violence. We are certainly working with young people who are parents or young people that are having sex and unprotected sex or sex that's coerced.</p> <p dir="ltr">We're also talking about young people who wouldn't necessarily talk about these things with their parents. As I was saying before, there are developmental things going on with young people, so maybe they don't want to talk to their parents or their counselors or their teachers or people that they trust about what's going on in their lives or at least adults because they're developing a sense of themselves. That's one piece of it. A second piece of it is a cultural misconception about young people in intimate relationships. There's this idea, oh, teen TV. That must mean domestic violence or intimate partner violence light or it's not as serious. This is maybe slapping or some constant phone calls.</p> <p dir="ltr">What's important to recognize about teen dating violence particularly as it affects young women, is that these are actually the highest rates of intimate partner violence, young women between ages say 18 and 24, right? There's the highest rate. There's also a lot of physical violence. With thinking about these relationships, it's important to recognize what exists culturally, which is a minimization of this experience but also recognizing that these young people at a particularly high amount of risk in this age group.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Do the teenagers themselves sometimes have trouble as anyone perhaps does recognizing that they're in a situation that's perhaps becoming dangerous or abusive because when someone's been in a relationship for a long time, that's when those patterns maybe become the most unmanageable and the most evident, sometimes even to the victim. If someone's very young and less experienced in the world and perhaps being told that this is normal or this is what they're to expect, is that a challenge?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Sure. That challenge comes from all sides. On one hand, you have someone who's navigating their first intimate relationships. Constant phone calls, checking in, stalking, possessiveness might feel like it means that they really care about me, but if you're looking at it objectively, in some cases that might mean stalking. There's definitely that piece. Of course, there's a lot of, whether it be hormonal or cultural influences in which young people are thought to be in these really amazing, romantic relationships by the age of 16, there's also not necessarily the healthiest images out there in our culture about what young people in relationships are supposed to be like. It's really complicated.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: What are your goals as an attorney representing the victim? I assume obviously the safety of the victim's paramount, but considering your clients have a lifetime of relationships ahead of them, do you have goals also related to helping them learn how to navigate or change something in their lives so that they have healthy relationships?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Sure. Thank you for saying that. What I think we're driven by at Day One,is the desire to support that young person's development and their safety but most importantly their self determination. When I started doing this work, one of the most important lessons I learned was people said the opposite of domestic violence isn't safety. The opposite of domestic violence is self determination. When I understood that, I took it to mean that safety is important, but when you have a pattern of someone exercising power and control, stalking them, manipulating them, battering them, abusing them, you're taking away that person's agency, right?</p> <p dir="ltr">When we talk about the opposite of domestic violence, it's empowering a young person, giving that person information, allowing them to make choices for themselves. Now, as someone who's not a teenager anymore, some of those choices may be choices I agree with and some of them might be things that I'm a little bit more concerned about. My role as an attorney is to advise them of the consequences of those choices but ultimately support them in their own growth about where that's going, right? When we talk about with adults or whoever are living abusive relationships they say it takes, what is that? The stat is 7 to 10 times for someone to leave an abusive relationship.</p> <p dir="ltr">At Day One, we recognize that young people in abusive relationships, we're going to meet them whether it be that first time, that third time, that fifth time, or that seventh time when they're ready to leave or they might not be ready to leave and they want to switch something up. Our role is to give them legal advice, represent them where we can and just support their self determination. Part of that means safety and safety planning. Sometimes that means getting access to immigration remedies. That means talking to their teachers. That means talking to them about their home. Sometimes that involves litigation but really having that person's experience centered and affirming their choices is where we come from.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Tell me a little bit about yourself, how you ended up in this role and doing this work.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Yeah. As a supervising attorney, I oversee our programs. I've been here for a couple of years. I found myself in this role because I was interested in working with young people and trying to figure out, for me it was thinking about what the end of domestic violence looked like, right? The end of domestic violence is a community and a legal system in a society where this isn't happening. For me, it happens from a young age. There are lessons that you learn from a young age. I'm excited to be a part of this work because I'm doing really interesting legal advocacy, but it's combined with prevention work and counseling in a way that isn't just isn't only interventionist, doesn't only intersect or intervene or become a part of this process when something is done wrong.</p> <p dir="ltr">I'm a part of team that people that try to address it before. In the past I worked at an organization and worked specifically with LGBTQ clients. In that work, it was also working with a marginalized or historically under represented community at least in this arena. Working with marginalized communities and those contacts really think about me provide a lens on how our system needs to have nuanced responses to individuals and have these blanket statements on how we address this work cannot be seen outside of the lens or talking about age and gender and sexual orientation and race and poverty and ability and education and all of these other things.</p> <p dir="ltr">For me, I got into this work because I like being in that complexity. Sometimes it's messy, but it's more authentic that way. Does that make sense?</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Sure. It sounds like you feel maybe you can have more of an impact if you work with a younger population. You're sort of ...</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Yeah. I'm always learning things from the young people I work with. I did a workshop last week at a high school here in New York City. Whether it be young people's vocabulary to understanding what apps they're using to how they talk about their relationships, there's obviously very serious and intensive litigation that happens, but there's also can be a lighter side when we get to connect with young people who are exploring relationships and love.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Let me ask you one more thing because you mentioned technology before. How does that play a role in your young people's lives in terms of making them perhaps more open to being victims? I don't know, in terms of your being working as an attorney, maybe gathering evidence and such.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Yeah. When we work with young people, their access to technology and communication through social media, through apps, through cell phones, through online interactions are so embedded in how they have relationships that it's a double edged sword because on one hand there can be a lot of documentation about text messages and emails and Facebook messages and tweets and Instagrams, but at the same time, what's challenging about it is that there are a lot of risks when you put that information out there. A lot of young people experience technology abuse. There's a lot of things that are going on with, say, sexting where the exchange of sexually explicit or intimate messages amongst young people.</p> <p dir="ltr">What happens is is that young people, because they're so connected, have a sense of privacy or intimacy in exchanges with other people online. I would say that those exchanges and that intimacy is entirely real because those connections are real. However, that sense of privacy is entirely false. While you can create these intimate connections, those messages can be sent to your partner's friends, their friends, your teachers, your parents and can be put on the internet. We're in this stage where while these connections are real, that privacy is entirely fake and runs into a bunch of risks around that.</p> <p dir="ltr">The only other thing that I would say around that is that as an attorney it can be hard to litigate these things because in some cases the technology is a couple of steps ahead of the law. Many of these apps are based out of Canada or it's not so easy to get information from them. Litigation around this stuff can be also really difficult.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: It doesn't make it easier necessarily that you have evidence recorded somewhere.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: I would love to talk to someone who's doing this work 20 years ago because I bet they probably have a different set of challenges. While there is an opportunity for evidence I would just say there's other challenges. One other things that I would say is that I recently worked with a young person who told me that they didn't have voice mail. The only way to contact them was through text. Again, it's like flipping modifying understanding of how people interact in order to meet where a young person's at. That's probably going to change in another 5 years. It might be some, I don't know, more immediate way to connect with someone other than text.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Through implants in our heads.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Right, exactly.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: Listen, thank you so much. This has been fascinating. Good luck with your continued work.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>: Thanks, anytime.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: I've been speaking with SANTA ANA Santa Ana, who is the supervising attorney at Day One based here in Manhattan. To find out more about Day One, you can visit their website which is …</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>SANTA ANA</strong>:</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>WOLF</strong>: To find out more about the Youth Offender Domestic Violence Court, you can visit You can also visit that website to hear more podcasts. You can also subscribe to our podcast on iTunes. You can also leave a review there. You can also visit Court Innovation on our Facebook page. Thank you very much for listening. I am Rob Wolf. Stay tuned for more podcasts in the future.</p> <p> </p>
Dec 02, 2014
The International Rule of Law Movement: David Marshall on the Need for Reform
<p>David Marshall, editor of <em><a href="">The International Rule of Law Movement: A Crisis of Legitimacy and the Way Forward</a></em>, discusses the international rule of law as an industry--one that has been promoted as offering solutions in post-conflict and fragile states and that too often fails. Marshall discusses some of the reasons for these failures and outlines some alternative approaches to interventions in fragile states. (September 2014)</p><br /><p> </p> <p><strong><em>The following is a transcript</em></strong><br /><br /></p> <p><span> </span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SARAH SCHWEIG:</span><span><span> </span></span><span> Hi, I'm Sarah Schweig of the Center for Court Innovation and today I'm speaking with David Marshall, who has just edited and released a new book called “The International Rule of Law Movement: A Crisis of Legitimacy and the Way Forward.” David Marshall is a senior law and policy advisor at the U.N. Office for Human Rights. His background is in trial work, mainly in criminal defense and death penalty cases. He has extensive field experience in post-conflict states including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Nepal, and South Sudan. Thanks for speaking with me today, David.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>DAVID MARSHALL:</span><span><span> </span></span><span> Great, thank you for the invitation.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SCHWEIG: Rule of law, very, very basically, as I understand it means that individuals, institutions, and even the government itself agree to be held accountable to a code of rules, correct?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MARSHALL: That's about right. There's a equality of arms. There's equity in the process however the process is defined, non-discrimination. There are some sort of core principles: supremacy of law is one of them. But one thing, which we'll get to, which is--why the book--is, the content of the Rule of Law was much discussed in 2012 by the global community when all member states of the U.N., as the world countries, got together to discuss the rule of law and its content.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SCHWEIG: The new book is on the International rule of law movement, so maybe you could talk about what this movement really means, sort of what you just mentioned, and why, as your title says, it's currently in a crisis of legitimacy.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MARSHALL: Just to make clear on the outset that obviously these are my views. These views may or not represent the organization I work for, the U.N. as a whole. The rule of law movement has been around forever and thus. It has probably been around for 60 years. It's an attempt initiated by the West to help emerging states, those states moving away from communism, those states coming out of former Yugoslavia in the 80s, in the 90s, fragile states:  Congo, Afghanistan.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>The last 40 or 50 years has been a huge endeavor to help states reform, repair, rebuild justice systems; it’s been predominately focused on criminal justice reform and it’s been an endeavor that has had modest success, at best. The movement has become an industry. Up until 2003, there was some efforts by some countries. This country, the U.S., is a major player in this movement, but 2003 and beyond, which is sort of one of the reasons for the book, is this being an explosion of activity. The consequence is you have thousands of NGOs. You have thousands of guidance materials. Thousands of experts, all mainly from English-speaking countries.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We have all of this information about the rule of law, but we really understand so little. I wanted to explore in 2013 or 2014, given this being such modest success and this being a mini-industry--exploring why it's been a failure.  I wanted to explore, why, not the standing the modest success, why has there been this explosion, which is that coupled with the 2012 declaration by the world's countries as to the rule of law was sort of the catalyst for the book.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SCHWEIG: You've had experience on the ground in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, and other more moratoria countries. What were some of the things that you observed, maybe on the ground, that led you to compile this book?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MARSHALL: </span><span><span> </span></span><span>I learned that the international community has a profound deficit of knowledge, of where it works, where it doesn't: Afghanistan, Iraq, Haiti, Liberia; I mean choose your fragile state. Our knowledge around the language, the culture of justice means the deficits are profound around who we are, and why we're there, what we're doing, what we know about what we're doing. And that hasn't changed. That has dogged the industry for decades, the knowledge deficit, and secondly, that obsession with institutions. We have a lot of rhetoric around supporting national ownership, nationally driven processes, but generally the international community tends to focus on institutions and persons working therein, as opposed to the individual. The consequence is that we are focused on institutions, institutions generally around criminal justice, so an addition to a deficit of knowledge, that  is, I would suggest, profound. The other problem is that our theory of this work, the rule of law, it's more of a law-and-order narrative.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>We generally, the international community, sees the rule of law through a law-and-order prism, and that is basically supporting police, supporting prison reform. But that's usually building prisons and supplying batons to police officers. I'm not suggesting that there isn't a need in some stage for security apparatuses and supportive to coercive institutions is clearly needed. But we seem to get stuck in that for decades. I also think that one thing I've learned is that rule of law is, and it’s a bit of a cliche, but it's truly indigenous. We have this sense that we arrive with this model called the Rule of the Law: “If you please build your institutions that look like ours, you are good to go.” The evidence, I suggest, is in and that's been a failure. That's one thing in the book that I think it's important to recognize, is that it's okay to say, "It's been a comprehensive failure."</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>The international community has an aversion to failure, so we can better understand when we spend $4 billion dollars in Afghanistan, of American taxpayer money over 12 years on justice reform, and the inspector general says basically this can come to naught, within a year, we need to sort of really stop and think about why we're doing this.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SCHWEIG: Obviously, throughout the book there's some agreement and some disagreement, some tension in perspective. Can you tell us a bit about the ideas that you think harmonize in the book and then some of the ideas that conflict across the different essays?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MARSHALL: I think one of the major ideas I think where there's a consensus is the deepening of knowledge. I mean it's a bit of cliche--it’s been identified as a problem for years, but there's a great piece on when the rule of law movement meets Iraq. We meets context where the Islamic law is applied.  An increasing issue for the world community is we're building the rule of law in Somalia, Mali, and Afghanistan. We don’t really talk enough about when the movement hits an Islamic state and that chapter by Haider Hamoudi from Pittsburgh is terrific and also the piece on South Sudan. Sometimes these often indigenous processes, customary processes, are okay. They are delivering some semblance of justice and have been for decades, so rather than trying to suppress and replace these customary processes, tribal chiefs or religious shuras in Afghanistan and Iraq, why don't we learn about them?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>The other thing is that we're a little tired of the rule of law. It has such baggage--the evidence doesn't support that rule of law will lead to economic empowerment, more or greater human rights promotion or protection. So if we can all just lower the rhetoric a bit. Stop the rhetoric around comprehensive approaches to rule of law reform because modest goals are honestly more achievable. Modesty, humility would be helpful and Deborah Isser talks starting by identifying injustices and insecurities the population are suffering. Let's start there, well that's the conversation sort of. What's the major injustice in that country and often it has nothing to do with criminal justice.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>I think there's a little bit of tension mainly with Jim Goldston's piece, which is that the endeavor is a good faith endeavor by the international community. There have been some modest success and the rhetoric is to some extent a runaway train, but all it basically needs is a bit of adjusting, more investment, and knowledge, and skills and capacity of the internationals. That's not my view for what it's worth.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>The piece that was done by Todd Foglesong at Harvard is interesting because it's just a small project with reforming the prosecutor's office in Lagos, Nigeria. And I'm coming back to the issue of modesty. Where you have a concrete example of where there's a small modest project. The success was about both modesty and about relationships and how they built over four years a relationship with the prosecutor's office. That really helped them stress the issue of arbitrary detention, prolonged detention in Lagos. That's a really fascinating piece. The question is whether the international community, which goes big, right, is looking for the Big Bang of success in the rule of law. It doesn't exist, stop looking. I don't know whether the international community can accept modesty and humility. Time will tell. I mean $4 billion dollars in Afghanistan of taxpayers’ money is a lot of money. And I’m wondering when our people will say enough?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SCHWEIG: What do you think the way forward now would be?</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>MARSHALL: The way forward is radical change. The way forward is basically stop. The best we can, however improbable that suggestion is, to stop and digest who this community is, what they're trying to achieve, so that the objectives of this endeavor--what the key objectives? Because I say in my chapter that surely the objectives are basically human rights objectives. We need to sort of stop, take stock of what we've done, what we're learning. I'm suggesting for the U.N. that we play a more strategic role, helping states think through the strategic direction of a new justice system and that's more than law, more than the human rights law. That's, in my view, the only really leverage tool we have in our tool box.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>I think it's okay to ask these deep questions. It's whether or not the international has the maturity and the patience to do so.</span></p> <p dir="ltr"><span>SCHWEIG: Thanks so much for speaking with me today. I'm Sarah Schweig of the Center for Court Innovation. I've been speaking with David Marshall of the U.N. about his work in post-conflict states and his new book, “The International Rule of Law Movement: A Crisis of Legitimacy and the Way Forward” from Harvard University Press. To learn more about the Center for Court Innovation, please visit us at Thanks for listening.</span></p> <p> </p>
Sep 09, 2014
Community-Oriented Public Safety Strategies: A Conversation with Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell
<p><span>Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell discusses how law enforcement leadership can promote new “smart” strategies–including community engagement and prevention-oriented diversion approaches–that can effectively and efficiently keep communities safe, address the symptoms and causes of criminal activity, and alleviate prison overcrowding.</span> (August 2014)</p><br /><p> </p> <p>SARAH SCHWEIG: Hi, I'm Sarah Schweig of the Center for Court Innovation and today I’m speaking with Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell. Chief McDonnell was appointed to the U.S. Attorney General's national task force on children exposed to violence, and has served in executive sessions on law enforcement and public health, and police legitimacy and racial reconciliation. We're currently at an executive session in Los Angeles, California, sponsored by the California Endowment, Community Oriented Policing Services (the COPS Office), and the Center for Court Innovation. We've brought together public health experts and law enforcement representatives for a conversation about public health approaches to public safety. Thanks for speaking with me today.</p> <p>JIM MCDONNELL: Thanks for having me.</p> <p>SCHWEIG: So just to start off, you know we're in an environment where crime is relatively low and yet resources are pretty tight across the country, as well as in California. And community policing, involves as engaging residents to keep neighborhoods safe. How can police in this sort of climate engage residents to help keep crime low in this kind of tight budget atmosphere?</p> <p>MCDONNELL: I think a big part of it is an educational process—it kind of drove the point home to me last night. I spoke at a public park in Long Beach and there were hundreds of kids in that park playing every different kind of sport. And I think back, I was impressed with that because I think back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when you could drive back that park and it would be empty because people were afraid to go into the park, and a generation of kids missed the opportunity to grow up and exercise in that fashion. And that's a giant missing piece, I think. It's looking at how far we've come. I don't think we give ourselves enough credit as a society and celebrate where we are today. We finished out the last year, really, in Los Angeles County with the lowest violent crime numbers in 40 years. We're down dramatically this year from last year, and all of us together were able to achieve something that I think was seen as unachievable just a few short years ago, but yet we're not taking advantage of that. By that, I mean we're not reengaging, we're not taking back the streets and, and you know the parks public spaces in a way that we should be. We are seeing what I saw last night, people back in the parks, but we're not doing it consciously. And I think we really need to do that and talk to each other about that in our communities, and encourage people to get out and take full advantage of the cities that we live in. We're very fortunate to live in this country and be able to have the freedom that we have. We kind of limit ourselves, I think, by not being aware of what the threat levels actually are versus what they are perceived to be. So education is a big part of that—creating a dialogue and talking openly about where we are and what we can do to make it even safer.</p> <p>SCHWEIG: So how can law enforcement take an active role in new thinking around how we can make communities safer?</p> <p>MCDONNELL: Well you know you look at just basic crime control tips that sound so common sense that we too often, I think, don't talk about them because we don't want to insult people by giving them something so basic. But yet we look at our property crime in Los Angeles County and when you look at the property crime reports, over and over again, people left iPads, iPods, computers, laptops, whatever, in an unlocked car because they were only going into a store for a couple of minutes and they figured that it's safe there. And over and over again the themes are the same. My house was burglarized. Was the door left open? Well, yeah because I never lock the door—or the windows were left open because I didn't feel there was a threat. And it sounds very basic, but we have the ability to protect ourselves by using the basic tools that we don't take advantage of. And so I think we become complacent and, as a result, we become victims. So by just creating a dialogue around this, those are the little things that don't cost a dime but really can change the outcome of what we're doing. So I think education is a tremendous piece that I think we undervalue. And just the opportunity to be able to get out in front of a group and be able to talk about, you know, how do you keep your family safer, is priceless.</p> <p>SCHWEIG: Speak a bit about prison overcrowding in California and what you think, from a law enforcement perspective, can be done towards solving this problem.</p> <p>MCDONNELL: Right. I'll talk about both prisons and jails, but I look at the issues that we've studied very closely here in Los Angeles County. In the L.A. County jail, the population is estimated to be between 15 and 20 percent of the people incarcerated are there because of mental illness, their behavior, not taking their meds or whatever the issue is that caused them to find themselves in custody. If we have an ability to be able to re-evaluate the way we treat people in this regard, and to be able to develop community-based mental health clinics, community-based mental health courts, so an assessment is done and rather than using incarceration as a default treatment plan, we have options that keep the person in the community where they are more likely to be monitored, and hopefully helped, and treated as a medical issue as opposed to a criminal issue, I think we'd be in a different position. In addition, to look at the jail environment, who's in custody awaiting trial, that could have been bailed out if they only had the money. And what we find is often times the jail system is not based on a risk assessment, but rather if they can come up with whatever the prescribed bail is. And we have people sitting in custody at great expense to society, that would be less of a threat, potentially, back in their community, than somebody who was able to make bail and is now back out in the community. So in looking at some of, just the different ways we have taken things to just the way it is, and reevaluate those and say what other opportunities are there to reduce the population of jails and prison, holding people accountable for their behavior, but at the same time doing it in a way that is least harmful to society and a more efficient and smarter way of doing the same job we've been trying to do for a long time.</p> <p>SCHWEIG: As you know, crime prevention can start in many different arenas and agencies. What advice would you give to police departments who may want to reach out to partner with their local public health departments, or school systems or other agencies to sort of help in, you know, maybe education efforts or you know, innovative initiatives.</p> <p>MCDONNELL: Yeah. I think that we have to reach out to our partners in different disciplines, to be able to bring them, the various sectors, into play, to have a tremendous outcome on what the end game will be. It's easier to do that where there's an education piece, where there's minimal investment, where you just get in and you work together, and you're able to put together something for a presentation or so forth. The harder part is to get people to come together on a daily basis to address the issues that we face, and to see what role each of us can play in that. And in order to affect that in a positive way, we need to look at it—bring in the various players at the city level, the county level, the state level, and maybe even the federal level, depending on the issues we're dealing with. And that takes a lot of work because everybody's got their own goals, everybody's held accountable for different standards, and what might be a police goal at the end of the day isn't in alignment with the health department's goals or and other of our partner agencies. So we need, as heads of agencies, to be able to take the initiative and meet—to come up with an alignment as to—we're dealing with the same audience over and over again, but we're not doing it in a way where we each bring some strength to the table to be able to address their needs. Rather, we're looking at it through our own lens to see what's our responsibility in this? And then moving on. Rather than, in the medical model, to be able to say, this person is our patient. Did we put them on the road to cure, or did we just address the symptom and send them back on the street. So to be able to look at it in a more comprehensive, which will ultimately be a smarter, more efficient, and more effective way of dealing with the problem. I think we need a re-engineering of the way we've been doing business, and you know, when it comes right down to it, I think it will be a more efficient way because when you look at the population that we're dealing with in this county, there's a relatively small number of people coming into contact with all of the various agencies on a routine basis for care. So if we can triage those individuals and identify what their needs are, and rather than just symptoms, look at the causes and put together, as a medical model would, a diagnosis and a plan for getting better, I think we're on a much better track.</p> <p>SCHWEIG: I'm Sarah Schweig and I've been speaking with Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell, and we're currently at a roundtable session on public health approaches to violence prevention, looking at ways that public health and law enforcement can partner up to fight crime. To learn more about the Center for Court Innovation please visit</p> <p> </p>
Aug 12, 2014
Gavin Newsom: Community Justice 2014
<p>In keynote remarks at<a href="" target="_blank"> Community Justice 2014</a>, California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom draws a parallel between community justice and internet innovations like Craig's List and Uber, praising them for their the bottom-up, customized approaches to doing business. </p>
Jul 21, 2014
Importing Innovation: the Challenges and Rewards of Transplanting a Program from One Nation to Another
<p>Simon Fulford, chief executive of <a href="" target="_blank">Khulisa U.K.</a>, explains how and why his not-for-profit brought a successful South African prisoner reentry program to the United Kingdom.</p><br /><p> </p> <p>SIMON FULFORD: You walk into an English prison, you've got a group of 10 young offenders. If you hand them anything more than one piece of paper, they would probably throw it back in your face.</p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Today I'm with Simon Fulford, who is the chief executive of Khulisa U.K., a non-profit started in South Africa and dedicated to breaking the cycle of crime and violence. Welcome to New York - or maybe I should say welcome back, because I know you used to live here.</p> <p>FULFORD: I did. So, I lived in New York from '92 to the end of 2004 and loved it, it was brilliant.</p> <p>WOLF: I was really interested to see that you were also an award winning photographer and that you've used your work as a photographer to engage the disabled community, and that you co-founded and directed a non-profit in New York called Art Start, that received a president service award from President Clinton in 1997.</p> <p>FULFORD: That's right.</p> <p>WOLF: I wonder if you could explain how you see art as a way to empower underserved and disadvantaged communities.</p> <p>FULFORD: I guess it's empowering, I guess on multiple levels. On a personal level, often being given and having the opportunity to express hopes, fears, challenges, needs, in a way that is creative as opposed to verbal, that feels a bit more accessible, sometimes it's less personally challenging, and often kind of from that, it can be very empowering for them to be able to then say - and now I've told you, or now I've shared this with you as an organization or you as a policy maker, you as a government service provider, and this is the - I’ve now expressed my needs, and hopefully you can help meet my needs.</p> <p>WOLF: So it's a blend of personal growth and advocacy.</p> <p>FULFORD: Correct.</p> <p>WOLF: In your current endeavor at Khulisa, you know its mission is to break the cycle of crime and violence. That's a tall order.</p> <p>FULFORD: It is.</p> <p>WOLF: How does Khulisa work? And maybe you could start by explaining the South African connection, or its origin in South Africa.</p> <p>FULFORD: So, Khulisa is a Zulu word which means "to nurture". You know, the freedom had come to South Africa and the multi-racial elections. There was a huge increase and explosion in violent crime and my understanding from my colleagues there, is a lot of it sort of took society by surprise, that in a sense, a lot of the black community, and what they call colored community, kind of almost turned on themselves. So our founder, Leslie Ann van Selm, she founded the organization and the first program they ran was using traditional African storytelling techniques so it creates a rehabilitative tool and vehicle, sort of helping violent offenders reconnect with their cultural roots. A lot of this community has been totally decimated by apartheid and trying to use that as a tool to kind of have them see themselves as positive contributors to their communities.</p> <p>WOLF: So these are people who are currently in prison, or they were returning from prison?</p> <p>FULFORD: Well, they were currently in prison. It was part of their sort of pre-release and hopefully re-integration, as they call it in South Africa, re-integration into their communities. Fast forward 16 years. Colleagues in South Africa in one of the leading crime prevention NGOs - so they do a lot of work with young people, with children from their late teens to early 30s, gang diversion programs, getting young people to stay in education, helping them develop community projects. We then brought one of their program models, Silence the Violence, from South Africa to the U.K. in 2009 and we began to pilot test that in English prisons, in English schools, and in the community.</p> <p>WOLF: So you brought one specific program of many that they have.</p> <p>FULFORD: Yes, they have a whole raft of different programs and interventions that they run in various different settings, in schools, in community. When Khulisa was coming to England and talking about South Africa society, that has 20 times the U.K.s violent crime rate, has communities with 80 percent unemployment, it's a very, very extreme - and extreme poverty and depravation. So there was a question posed. You've been very successful in South Africa in quite an extreme environment, a very fragile sort of social economic environment. Could your success be translated to a more modern, Western, developed society? And with many more resources.</p> <p>WOLF: That's an interesting question too, that I don't think many people ask. because usually when you think of exporting an idea from one country to another, there seems to be a tendency to think that it would go from a more developed, supposedly - I don't know what the proper word to describe it would be - but a country with more resources, or a so-called first world country, to perhaps a country that in many areas was less developed. So it's interesting.</p> <p>FULFORD: It is an interesting model and I wouldn't say we're unique in that, there are some other examples of it, but it is a new way of looking at it. I think it's quite subversive in some way, because the traditional development model is very much the west - America, western Europe, Japan, whatever, the more "developed" countries, exporting their models of social development to, you know, the less developed "third world countries", and saying we've developed all the right solutions and you now go through them. And of course, interestingly, if not ironically, a lot of less developed countries struggle to implement some of the systems and processes that more developed countries can do. A lot of it has to do with resourcing. They are very under-resourced environments.</p> <p>WOLF: So tell me, what is the program and how has it been working?</p> <p>FULFORD: So the program is Silence the Violence. We have a youth version that we call Face It. It's a very intensive, motivational, behavior change program. It focuses on violent behavior, but in many ways it's about motivating participants to really understand themselves, to understand the triggers to their violent and criminal behavior, to understanding - in a sense - the excuses and the value systems and belief systems - belief with a small b - that allow them to behave in certain ways or propel them to behave in certain ways, and beginning to try to challenge those or unpick them, so that they can make better choices for themselves, better choices for family or community, and certainly better choices for their future. We work on a theory of violence developed by, actually, an American forensic psychologist, Dr. James Gilligan. His approach is that violence is a learned behavior for the majority of individuals who don't have a mental health problem or challenge, or psychosis. If it's a learned behavior, then it can be unlearned. It doesn't mean it can be unlearned overnight, but you have to star that process and our program is a very intense, short duration, high intensity program to trigger the beginning of that change process.</p> <p>WOLF: Is it therapy group? Counseling? Classes?</p> <p>FULFORD: That's a very good question. It's a group-led process. We use a lot of therapeutic techniques, and so we use a lot of drama therapy, creative art therapy. It is based on cognitive behavior therapy techniques, and very much the group, the participants actually, they provide the content. Their stories, their lives, their experiences become the content that either the group works through as a group and individually, and by doing role play, by making masks, and making hats that represent violent signs themselves, and making kind of the original self that they would like to be through those kind of different creative techniques, sharing and having a dialogue around it that moves them to a place that they would very much understand more of who they are, more of the connection of themselves and having been victims of abuse and neglect in their own lives, or witnesses of abuse and neglect and violence.</p> <p>WOLF: So how's it been going? How’s the implementation, and what have the results been so far?</p> <p>FULFORD: So, it's been a really fun journey of meeting, you know, a healthy level of sort of interest and certainly a healthy level of skepticism. And I would say it's been a resounding positive opinion of how it works. In that the participants themselves say it is one of the most profoundly impactful programs they've ever been in, we've had academics evaluate and assess, certainly the short term impact on behavior change that it can have a - when it works well, when the group dynamics work - that it can have a profound impact on propensity for violence and reducing aggressive tendencies, and improving emotional well-being, that can be built on for individuals thinking positively about their lives, and engaging in other rehabilitation programs - job training, drug and alcohol, substance use programs, etc. We haven't had the ability to do the long-term tracking on recidivism. Mostly we just haven't had the resources to do that. We've received some high profile grants for innovation in the justice center, and we're implementing one of those current projects now.</p> <p>WOLF: Oh, a new project.</p> <p>FULFORD: Yeah, it's a combination of our Silence the Violence work with Through the Gate mentoring to hopefully really embed behavior changes and learning of an offender once they've been released into the community.</p> <p>WOLF: I see. So - because it does sound like Silence the Violence is sort of laying a foundation that would, perhaps, require continued engagement around other issues and job training or whatever. So it sounds like that's what you're moving - you're developing now.</p> <p>FULFORD: Yes. So we're adding in a rigorous process of referral from our program onto other service provision, or bringing in a volunteer mentor who can support that individual, on a more personal way - meeting them once a week, talking to them on the phone, you know, encouraging them to have goals and sticking to their goals about applying for jobs.</p> <p>WOLF: And have you encountered any challenges related to translating the model from South Africa? Perhaps cultural differences? Or have you had to make particular tweaks?</p> <p>FULFORD: At its core, the program content and the curriculum design was wholly transferrable. And a lot of that is because it's not a South Africa program, it's universal therapeutic techniques, it's cognitive behavior therapy, it's drama therapy, it's kind of creative art therapy techniques. What is unique about the program is the way we've sequenced it and our approach with this sort of high intensity, short duration, and then using what are a few more traditional, indigenous tools such as the mask making, you know? I mean I know in ancient England they wore painted faces and things like that, but they haven’t done it for about 2,000 years. Whereas in Africa, masks are still very much part of the culture in rituals and ceremonies. So the mask making is potentially something that came more from South Africa, but it's therefore very interesting and novel in England. We use a hat making, which again is a slightly different approach, and then we have what we call the wisdom circle, which is again a more African tradition of sitting in a circle at the community, resolving an issue and having a talking piece that they pass around the circle. What we did remove from the program in its adaptation was obviously a lot of the cultural references. A poem about South Africa doesn't translate to London, I have to say, and even less so to Manchester - if anyone knows their English geography. What was also quite interesting is in South Africa, the prison system is so under-resourced that their approach to running the program is often quite didactic. So they can go in, there are 20 guys in the program, they can hand them a program manual to the offenders that was as thick as a phone book, and they would cherish it and hold it, and they were thankful that someone was coming to do anything. You walk into an English prison, you've got a group of 10 young offenders. If you hand them anything more than one piece of paper, they would probably throw it back in your face. It was a very different approach.</p> <p>WOLF: So you have to prove yourself?</p> <p>FULFORD: You really have to prove yourself. You've got to really build and gain the trust of the group, and it has to be earned, whereas in South Africa there's more generosity with the group giving you the trust from the outset, and it's kind of yours to lose, whereas in England it's - you've got to gain it. And so we work on gaining it as quickly as possible.</p> <p>WOLF: Well thank you so much for explaining your programming at Khulisa U.K. and good luck with your future endeavors.</p> <p>FULFORD: Thank you very much.</p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking with Simon Fulford, who is the chief executive of Khulisa U.K. I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. You've been listening to one of our New Thinking podcasts and you can listen to more at You can also listen to us on iTunes or your favorite podcast app. Thanks for listening.</p>
Jul 15, 2014
Los Angeles City Attorney Says Listening is Key to Developing Effective Community-Based Programming
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles City Attorney</a> Mike Feuer discusses his plans for community-based solutions to problems like truancy, gun violence, and prison overcrowding. <em>(July 2014)</em></p><br /><p> </p> <p>MIKE FEUER: For leaders and for elected officials, speaking skills are highly overvalued relative to listening skills, which are frequently under-valued.</p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, director of communication at the Center for Court Innovation. Welcome to another New Thinking Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who is here today at the Center for Court Innovation, and he's visited some of our projects and met with some of our staff. Welcome to New Thinking.</p> <p>FEUER: Oh, it's great to be here and I really appreciate the work of the center.</p> <p>WOLF: That's great to hear. Let me ask a little bit about your role as the city attorney. A lot of municipalities have a City Attorney but usually their role is a little different in each jurisdiction. So why don't you tell me what your responsibilities are as the Los Angeles City Attorney.</p> <p>FEUER: Sure. In Los Angeles there are three city wide elected officials: the mayor, the city attorney, and the controller. So I’ve held office since July of last year. Prior to that time, I'd been a member of the state legislature, a city council member, I used to run a public interest law firm. The city attorney's job is very expansive. In addition to writing every law in the city, the City Attorney advises the mayor, the council, the city's departments and commissions on every legal issue that has any relationship to public policy. The City Attorney defends litigation when the city is sued. The City Attorney uses civil litigation as a sword on behalf of the city or the people of the state of California on a wide array of issues. Environmental justice, issues of sub-housing or elder abuse, consumer fraud. My role also is a prosecutorial role. The City Attorney prosecutes every misdemeanor in the city of Los Angeles, tens of thousands of such matters each year. And they might include issues from drunk driving to domestic violence, to assault and sexual abuse, to vandalism and levels of quality of life crime in communities that have a significant impact on whether a business chooses to site in a neighborhood or whether kids can walk safely to school. The City Attorney also can initiate legislation in Los Angeles, and at the state and federal levels also.</p> <p>WOLF: Sounds like there's a huge opportunity to bring new ideas to the table, to make changes. So I wonder, as somebody who's relatively newly elected, not even a year in office, what your vision is for possible reforms.</p> <p>FEUER: Sure. I view our offices role, be it on the civil side or the criminal side, or the course of giving advice or counsel to other officials in government, to the core being the same. And that is, we're here to solve a problem. I view misdemeanor crimes that way. Have we found a way to demonstrate to the community that the intervention of the justice system has made a tangible difference in their quality of life? And through that lens, I view a whole array of potential innovations that I’m here to explore at the center. It's important to find ways to divert low level offenders from the traditional justice system, which formerly—and in fact, in many cases still—</p> <p>relies on incarceration. But in real life in California and in Los Angeles, to potential for incarceration is rather nominal. There is a mandate to diminish prison overcrowding. It's also true that there's been a dramatic diminution in resources for the state court system, and that's been pronounced in Los Angeles where we've seen the closing, not just of courtrooms, but of courthouses as well. So what I want to find are innovations that include community based justice. A neighborhood court system is something that I’m hoping to put in place in Los Angeles, under which low level offenders go through a process where a panel of community mediators, residents who volunteer to participate under the supervision of experienced staff members, sit with an offender who's agreed to circumvent the traditional process, and identify for that offender the sorts of services that offender ought to perform in the neighborhood to help rectify the problems that he or she has caused, and also to prescribe for that offender the intervention of social services that are likely to reduce the possibility that the offender is going to repeat the crime, or the crimes later on. I'm concerned about particular classes of problems. I've assigned somebody to be in charge of school safety-related issues in my office, and I’m looking for the best ideas around the country for how we can create, in Los Angeles, a robust sense of safety in and around school sites. It's essential because, among other reasons, we want to encourage kids to go to school. We have a truancy issue in every major jurisdiction in the country. It's true in Los Angeles. I have in mind to pursue a truancy-based court, a truancy court system where we involve peers of the truant child, along with his or her parents, and perhaps other community adults, all of whom would come together to try to find solutions to what, traditionally, has been treated with punishment, as opposed to a constructive approach to have that child return to school. I'm also here to look at preventative approaches. The justice system is a blunt instrument frequently, and many of us would benefit tremendously if we could prevent crimes in the first place. I'm very focused on gun violence prevention, dealing with gang activity in neighborhoods in ways that transcend the usual supression-based model, which is an essential component, but not a sustainable way to deal with the activity in a neighborhood.</p> <p>WOLF: What's your strategy for enlisting all the different partners that you'll need, whether it's police or the court system itself, or the schools, or I can imagine there's quite a vast range in each of these areas that you've described—whether it's misdemeanor offending, or around schools, or it's addressing prevention of gun violence. Do you have a way in mind to begin to bring about what sounds like kind of systemic change?</p> <p>FEUER: Yes, you've hit it on the head. It's important for us to engage stakeholders at every level in this process. I'm a very neighborhood-based official and I have had, in my prior jobs, a very strong affinity for working closely with people at the community level to view life through the lens of their experience, listen carefully to what their priorities are, and try to effectuate those. And that's certainly going to be necessary in this process what I’m working on now. So I've been present at multiple community meetings, I've held well over a hundred such sessions in neighborhoods throughout the city of Los Angeles in just the first nine months or so of being in office, in audiences large and small, most of which were devoted to trying to find what matters most to constituents and match those issues up with the resources of my office. There are institutional partner needs as well. The mayor's office, the city council, the police department, the court system are just a few among the many partnerships that are necessary for us to effectuate the goals that I've articulated here. There are also different levels of government besides the local level. I'm working with state officials on some of these issues. I can see the prospect for engaging at the federal level because there's an interest in being a catalyst for innovation at the justice department level, and I’m hoping that we can try to find some resources that (Inaudible) that can be helpful to us. Private foundations can be instrumental to affecting some of the change we're looking to implement here.</p> <p>WOLF: Is there a possibility of legislative responses to some of these issues, as opposed to just implementing programmatic response?</p> <p>FEUER: There sometimes can be. I will say that the innovations that we're talking about here, neighborhood courts, focuses on truancy and gun violence prevention, and so forth. One is unlikely to need much new legislation to accomplish these goals. What we need is a can-do attitude, a spirit of innovation, a sense of creativity and imagination, a very practical event because ideas are only as good as implementation if you're in public service, and we need to be sure that we're taking advantage of the best of what each of our partners has to offer. I often have said, you know, for lawyers and for elected officials, speaking skills are highly overvalued relative to listening skills, which are frequently under-valued. Much of the effectiveness of our exercise is going to be contingent on our capacity to listen carefully to other stakeholders, to good ideas that emanate from others.</p> <p>WOLF: Thank you very much for taking the time out of your visit. I know you've had a very tight schedule, so I appreciate your taking a little time to speak with me.</p> <p>FEUER: It's always a pleasure to work with you, and I hope to be invited back.</p> <p>WOLF: I'm sure you will be. I've been speaking with the Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who has been visiting our programs in New York, learning about what we're doing here, getting ideas to bring back to California. I'm Rob Wolf, director of communication for at the Center for Court Innovation. To hear more New Thinking podcasts, please visit our website at or you can also listen to us on iTunes, and subscribe, and write a review if you want, actually. Thank you very much for listening.</p>
Jul 02, 2014
Rebuilding Trust in Government in a Country Recovering from Guerrilla Warfare
<p>Miguel Samper Strouss, the vice-minister of criminal policy and restorative justice in the Colombian Ministry of Justice and Law, discusses the challenge of returning law and order--and trust in justice and government--to the rural regions of his country that have been devastated by 50 years of guerrilla fighting. <em>(June 2014)</em></p><br /><p> </p> <p>MIGUEL SAMPER STROUSS: The only law enforcement agency that they know is the FARC, the guerilla groups or the former paramilitary groups, so right now what we have to do is show them that the government exists, that the government has a human shape, and that the services provided by the state are trustworthy.</p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I'm Rob Wolf, director of communication at the Center for Court Innovation with a special guest, Miguel Samper Strouss, the Vice Minister of Criminal Policy and Restorative Justice at the Ministry of Justice and Law in Columbia, who spent the week in the United States meeting with justice officials including Attorney General Eric Holder, and talking with experts and visiting programs here at the Center for Court Innovation's Midtown Community Court. So I want to welcome you to New Thinking, our podcast series, where we speak to justice innovators around the U.S. and around the world.</p> <p>STROUSS: Well thank you very much for having us here. It has been a very, very interesting and insightful visit.</p> <p>WOLF: Why don't I start out by asking you a little bit about some of the challenges that you're facing in Columbia regarding the justice system.</p> <p>STROUSS: Well right now is a very, very curious moment to ask that because we're facing the possibility of reaching a peace agreement right now in Columbia, after 50 years or more of conflict, of armed conflict. We now are facing the greatest opportunity to reach a peace agreement with the guerilla groups, with the FARC movement. And, well, if we want this peace to be an endurable peace and a sustainable peace in the future, then we have to build this peace process on three pillars: truth—seeking truth, finding reparation for victims, and of course the most important one, justice. Justice can ensure that in the future the conflict will not re-emerge, and the country will see an exit outside of this conflict. So what we now face, in justice terms, is a big challenge of how to get justice to the regions outside the main cities, the far-reaching regions of the country, how to get security there through the justice system, and how the state or the government will regain legitimacy by building trust in the communities through the justice system. It is very important to have justice present in every single region of the country if you want the state or the government to gain legitimacy from the citizens. And the armed conflict, what has cost, in many regions in our country, people don't trust the government, don't trust the state. They don't know the state. The only law enforcement agency that they know is the FARC, the guerilla groups or the former paramilitary groups, so now what we have to do is show them that the government exists, that the government has a human shape, and that the services provided by the state are trustworthy. So we have to get justice to every corner of our country, and to provide good services, reliable services.</p> <p>WOLF: Well it sounds like a tall order. You've got a lot to do, but also an exciting time and a real opportunity to make long-standing and important changes. Tell me, what have you seen on your visit here that you think might help you achieve some of the goals you just described?</p> <p>STROUSS: Well most people know Columbia, unfortunately, because of the drug production problem. So within having interviews and knowing all the models, like the drug courts, for example, we visit the drug courts back in Washington, here in New York, the community court, Columbia is becoming more and more a consumption—a drug consuming country, rather than a drug production country. So we're facing there, a huge obstacle for peace if our youth and the new generations are starting to consume and abuse illegal substances. And we're trying to evaluate all the models we can find, and the mechanisms, to treat—not only our peasants because jail is not the answer for them—but also the consumers that are growing in numbers again, in our country. So right now we are evaluating models in which we, by giving them positive incentives, that they won't be in prison, how to handle crimes related to drug abuse. And with that we can improve the security in the communities, in the cities, but also we can reduce abusing of these illegal substances.</p> <p>WOLF: Have you implemented anything like a drug court yet or were you here to see what it's like when you have a court that is linking offenders to drug treatment under judicial supervision?</p> <p>STROUSS: Right. We don't have that model in Columbia. We don't have the mechanisms. I think that our first thoughts when we encounter this mechanism is that we're going to need a legal reform because right now those low impact crimes related to drug abuse, those criminals have to be in prison. So right now we're running a diagnosis on which model we should implement in Columbia to tackle the problems I just mentioned.</p> <p>WOLF: Part of your mission here is to gather as many options as you can and start thinking through what might work best in your situation.  </p> <p>STROUSS: Exactly.</p> <p>WOLF: Maybe you could share with me, if there are any innovations or reforms that you have started to implement, that you think might be of interest to people here in the United States or in other countries, who might be listening to this podcast.</p> <p>STROUSS: Yeah, we have a very, very nice and beautiful program that is called Casas de Justicia, the houses of justice, in which we get the different alternative justice mechanisms closer to people in the far reaching regions of the country—not in the cities but in the municipalities that are far away from the cities—so we can get those justice services closer to people, and also to take the Kafka away, this author that wrote about the judicial system—</p> <p>WOLF: The surreal system where you don't understand what's going on or how anything works?</p> <p>STROUSS: Exactly, and everything is dark, and you don't understand what's happening there, and you see the judge—well, you don't see the judge. It's like an anonymous people, person around.</p> <p>WOLF: Is that a result of the fears of retribution from drug cartels? That the judges were anonymous?</p> <p>STROUSS: Well we implemented that model, but right now I think, even—not only in criminal justice but in civil justice—there's a commonly believed idea that justice is very far away from people. So we have to take out the Kafka from our justice. And this program, Casas de Justicia, is trying to do so by getting alternative mechanisms, not the ordinary judge sits in Casas de Justicia. What we sit there is referees and mediators and also we have inspectors that try to work with the community and construct the whole concept of justice and community justice with the community. They work together to create those bonds that would allow the state to gain legitimacy, and also to provide justice services in all the regions. We have implemented the program in 82 municipalities right now, and we have provided justice services for over five million cases in the past 15 or 16 years have been resolved, even better. If you provide justice services where people haven't had any contact with the government, then you can ensure that in those regions, they are not going to make justice by their own hands. They are not going to apply that saying of an eye for an eye and—</p> <p>WOLF: —a tooth for a tooth.</p> <p>STROUSS: Exactly. So what we want is to reduce and de-escalate the conflict in those regions with this Casas de Justicia.</p> <p>WOLF: And prior to the Casas de Justicia, it was kind of a vigilante justice? Or these kinds of crimes or disputes were just resolved person to person, without any—</p> <p>STROUSS: Well person to person, but this is the perfect ground for these guerilla groups or the paramilitary to take place. If you don't have a government, if you don't have a state, if you don't have institutions or authorities, then any armed group can supply that need. And that's what we're hoping to achieve with this Casas de Justicia, to create safe environments and safe communities in which the presence of these groups is not going to be needed anymore.</p> <p>WOLF: I wonder what you saw at the Midtown Community Court today, because that shares the principle with the Casas de Justicia, of trying to bring justice into a neighborhood. It's very different, we're still in an urban environment, it's not the countryside, but I wonder if there was something in what you observed there that you see as similar, or any ideas that you think might be applicable?</p> <p>STROUSS: Well, the very interesting part of the community court is that first it changes the whole way that people interact with justice. because if you think about the ordinary model in which people interact with justice it's just through lawyers, in very complex ways, and legal procedures, legal complications. But this is very close to people. This justice is very close to them, that the justice becomes not a friend, but a person that is close to the community and one of them, that works with them and not against them, to try to solve the day by day problems—problems that arise every day. So it's very interesting to see how it works and how it handles the drug abuse problems in the community. Because that could trigger a lot of other problems, persecution, alcohol related crimes. We got a lot of ideas so we can start seeing the way that this will fit according to Columbian needs.</p> <p>WOLF: It sounds like you're taking real advantage of this opportunity to do a thoughtful job to rebuild the justice system.</p> <p>STROUSS: Well that's the idea. That's why I'm getting paid. So—</p> <p>WOLF: Well I want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk with me. I know you've had a busy week.</p> <p>STROUSS: Well thank you, Rob. It's been a very interesting and insightful visit, and of course I enjoyed very much this talk.</p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking with Miguel Samper Strouss, the Vice Minister of Criminal Policy and Restorative Justice in Columbia, who's been visiting with justice officials and observing programming in the United States. You can listen to this and other New Thinking podcasts on our website and on iTunes. I'm Rob Wolf, thanks for listening.</p> <p><em><br /></em></p>
Jun 11, 2014
How Procedural Justice Strengthens the Public's Willingness to Obey the Law
<p>In this New Thinking podcast, <a href="" target="_blank">Tracey L. Meares</a>, the Walton Hale Hamilton Professor at Yale Law School, outlines the four components of <a href="" target="_blank">procedural justice</a> and their power to enhance perceptions of government legitimacy. She also discusses how procedural justice is incorporated into Chicago Offender Notification Forums, an anti-violence intervention that she helped design. <em>(June 2014)</em></p><br /><p> </p> <p>TRACEY MEARES: Our forums were organized around legitimacy and the idea is this—is that if legitimacy works, then you're going to comply with the law because you believe that government has the right to dictate proper behavior.</p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation and I am in San Francisco at Community Justice 2014 International Summit, meeting and speaking with a number of leaders in the field of community justice and criminal justice. Right now, I have the pleasure of speaking with Tracey Meares, who is a professor at Yale Law School. She is a theorist and a social scientist and I want to thank you for taking the time to speak with me.</p> <p>MEARES: Thank you.</p> <p>WOLF: You will be speaking this afternoon about procedural justice, which is an issue you have been very involved in and done research on, and written a lot about. So what is procedural justice? I've also hear the word legitimacy as well. Maybe you can help parse those out.</p> <p>MEARES: So, I think the way to explain how they fit together is to start with legitimacy first. And the way I like to explain it is to ask people to think about why they, or other people, obey the law. Do they obey the law because they fear the consequences of failing to do so? Do they obey the law because they think it's the right thing to do? Do they obey the law because they think government has the right to dictate to them proper behavior? The concept of legitimacy encompasses the last idea, that is people complying voluntarily because they think government has the right to tell them what to do. And it's a very powerful when you think about it because unlike the first one—I’m obeying because I fear the consequences of failing to do so—that's only gonna work if people perceive there to be someone to carry out a threat. That's deterrence, right? That's often the way criminal justice systems are organized. The second idea, that you'll obey because you think it's the right thing to do, that's morality. You know, people think about inculcating that idea through religion and other things, what you teach your children. And that's a really, really powerful way to get people—that's probably the most powerful, that people mostly obey the law because they think it's the right thing to do. But every once in awhile there are gonna be laws that you actually don't think are the right thing to do. I think historically<span>—</span>registering for the draft, or drug laws, or certain things. And why is it that people obey those laws? Often it's because they think that government has the right to dictate to them proper behavior. And so where does procedural justice fit in? Well, social science research has shown that procedural justice supports this idea that people will obey because they think government has the right to dictate to them proper behavior, legitimacy. Procedural justices are the components of government behavior that people tend to focus on when evaluating legal authorities and finding them fair. There are four factors that people really focus on. One factor is voice, a second is decision-making neutrality, a third is respectful treatment, and then a fourth is trust and benevolence. And I'll explain all four of them in greater detail. So by voice I mean people like to have an opportunity to tell their side of the story. In a court context, people like to say, well this is what happened to me. And it's very important that they have a chance to tell their side of the story, even when it turns out that it has no impact at all on the outcome. Second, decision-making neutrality. People look for, in interactions with legal authorities, and they look for indications that the decision that that person is making is neutral and fair. And one of the best indications is that the person in legal authority gives a reason for what they're doing. So the violence reduction strategies that I've been involved in, we bring people together who have violent crimes or gun offenses in their history and, you know, we explain to them the consequences of their behavior, and we provide them an example of someone who's changed their life around. And we offer them services. And we say look, going forward, if you have a gun these are going to be the consequences for you. The reason why that's important is so that if that happens, or when that happens, they'll know exactly why it's happening and they're not singled out because they're from<span>—</span>well I'm in San Francisco now<span>—</span>they're from the tenderloin, or because they're African-American, or because they're a young Latino, you know? They have been given a reason and they know what the reason is. The third factor that's really, really important for people is treatment with dignity and respect. And that has often been translated in some other contexts by people who don't really understand the theory as just being nice. Like basically you can do whatever you want to people as long as you're nice. And I think that it is true that it is possible for police to violate constitutional dictates and treat people with respect, and have people be relatively satisfied with the encounter after. But you know, over time obviously that will run into the other factors that I was talking about, clearly. But treatment with dignity and respect is really key, and research shows that different ethnic groups and racial groups care about these factors to a greater extent. So Latinos, in particular, really care about this factor.</p> <p>WOLF: Before you go on, you mentioned, research has shown. Has it shown for the treating people with dignity and respect produces a more positive feeling from the litigant or the defender, whoever's detained, is that true also, has research of all these aspects of procedural justice voice, decision neutrality—I know you're going to go on to speak about trust—have they been all researched in similarly rigorous ways?</p> <p>MEARES: Yes. Well, because when you look at the, when you look at the research on procedural justice it's not as if the research singles out each individual factor. It's the bundle of the factors that go together and most of this is done through survey work, and you can ask people particular questions, and we create scales that capture the different aspects. And so the last aspect is the one that's the most amorphous, but basically it's a more general category that tries to capture the idea that a person expects to be treated benevolently in the future by the person in legal authority.</p> <p>WOLF: Well that's very interesting. Thank you for the primer on procedural justice and what it is, and the four components that define it. Let's talk a little bit about the violence reduction strategies that you referred to, you were associated with the Chicago forums of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative, federal initiative, and I know that those are adaptations or related to what are sometimes referred to as call-ins. There are different names for them that David Kennedy and others developed in Boston, I know in High Point North Carolina as well. So maybe you could tell me a little bit about the Chicago model, how they work and what is different about what was developed in Chicago.</p> <p>MEARES: Well we owe, obviously, a huge debt to the work in Boston that David and his colleagues have done. That work focused on groups of kids, youth, reciprocating in violence because of beefs. And so they map that out and they talk to them about the consequences of being involved in violence, and<span>—</span></p> <p>WOLF: And this was really murders and gang violence, right?</p> <p>MEARES: Yeah. So the first thing we did was structural because mapping that out takes a long time, and we didn't have the time or the resources to do it when we started. So we decided to use an individual level intervention, rather than a group-based intervention. And we selected people based on their criminal history status. So in order to attend a Chicago forum, you had to have a gun crime in your history or a violent crime. So basically as you got out of prison, we called people in in groups of 20. And we would have call-ins every three weeks.</p> <p>WOLF: Did they follow a similar model where you had people who are giving both a positive message and a message of, if you<span>—</span>here are resources for you to get your life on track, and here are the consequences if you don't, and they could be very serious consequences.</p> <p>MEARES: So, we were definitely inspired by that model. Our forums were organized around legitimacy, and the idea was this <span>—</span>is that if legitimacy works then you're going to comply with the law because you believe that government has the right to dictate to you proper behavior. And if it doesn't then, you know, we have deterrents and we have these other things, but our overall goal was that. And so the design of the people who were speaking, where we had it, the structure of the room, everything was all about enhancing legitimacy. So there's a law enforcement message, a key part of that law enforcement message is the local police commander saying to the participants, I am your police chief. It is my job to keep everybody in our community safe. You're a part of this community and it is my job to keep you safe. So right there it's an identification of the participants of members of the community with value. The ex-offender who tells the story about changing his or her life is really important. I tell that person to say that this is really hard work. And the service providers are there too, to provide information about an option because the key to legitimacy is activation of agency, right? It's internalized. So the constant message is, this is up to you. No one can make you do it. I'm not gonna make you do it. All I’m gonna do is give you information about the consequences, but this choice is yours. And then finally architecturally we set up the room in a very particular way to signal that we're all in this together. And the tables are in a circle like this, and there's no podium.</p> <p>WOLF: Right, so there's no podium and not an audience all facing one way. It's a circle.</p> <p>MEARES: It's a circle and that's really important. And I also, I never have the forums in law enforcement location. So we have them in places of what we call civic importance. So in New York we have it in the Adam Clayton Powell building, and in the Bronx they have it in a beautiful museum, and in Brownsville they have it in the library. And these are places that citizens go to and, you know, these are folks who should be welcome there too. And that's also part of the signal.</p> <p>WOLF: Well thank you very much. It's been very interesting and I really appreciate your taking the time to speak with me. I've been talking with Tracy Meares, who is a law professor at Yale Law School. She's a social scientist and she is an expert on legitimacy and procedural justice, so thank you so much.</p> <p>MEARES:  You're welcome. I had fun.</p> <p>WOLF: I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. To listen to more podcasts and to learn more about procedural justice and community justice you can visit our website at Thank you for listening.</p>
May 29, 2014
Minimizing the Collateral Consequences of a Conviction
<p>Timothy C. Evans, chief judge of the <a href="" target="_blank">Circuit Court of Cook County in Illinois</a>, explains how courts can help mitigate the collateral consequences of justice system involvement. Among other things, courts can reach out to those affected to educate them about their rights and options, Evans says in this New Thinking podcast.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-left"><img src="" alt="Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans of Cook County, Illinois, participates in a panel on "Minimizing the Collateral Consequences of Justice Involvement" at Community Justice 2014." title="Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans of Cook County, Illinois, participates in a panel on "Minimizing the Collateral Consequences of Justice Involvement" at Community Justice 2014." class="image image-img_assist_custom-370x299 " width="369" height="299" /><span class="caption" style="width: 367px;">Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans of Cook County, Illinois, participates in a panel on "Minimizing the Collateral Consequences of Justice Involvement" at Community Justice 2014.</span></span></p> <p> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p style="text-align: center;"> </p> <p><span style="word-spacing: 0.04em;">JUDGE TIMOTHY C. EVANS: We've had instances where people were locked up pending trial, asking—well let me just enter a plea of guilty so I can get out. They want to get out of jail and don't realize, hey, that conviction is going to follow you wherever you're gonna go.</span></p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. I'm in San Francisco at Community Justice 2014. Today I’m speaking with Timothy C. Evans, the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois. Welcome to our New Thinking podcast series.</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: Well thank you, Rob, for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here with you.</p> <p>WOLF: You participated in a plenary session this morning that was titled Minimizing the Collateral Consequences of Justice Involvement. So I thought that's what we would spend these next few minutes focusing on, and maybe we could start off just by you sharing a little bit or explaining when we talk about collateral consequences of justice involvement, what exactly does that mean?</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: All right, most people would realize that if, in the criminal justice system, someone is arrested and is charged with a given offense, let's say some kind of drug-oriented offense, that if a person is going to enter a plea of guilty, or goes to trial on an issue like that, probably the direct consequence is going to be some kind of time in jail, some kind of a conviction that might result in someone losing his or her freedom for a period of time. That's a direct consequence. But the collateral consequence would be, using this example but going a step further, that in addition to the person being convicted and locked up for a time, that person might also find himself deported, lose his right to stay in the country. So that's a collateral consequence. An additional one might be that the person could no longer be in a profession that requires a license. Let's say barbers, for example, can't be convicted of certain offenses, and so that would be a collateral consequence in addition to a plea of guilty for this particular problem with the drug, they end up losing the right to have that license. Housing is another collateral consequence. There may be some division where a person is living that says that if you're convicted of a certain offense you can't live there any longer. Scholarships and educational opportunities, if you are convicted of certain things, you don't qualify for that. Or you might go into a career like public transportation, driving a bus—they might say, no, you can't do that if you're convicted of this kind of offense. So these are the kinds of collateral consequences that we're talking about.</p> <p>WOLF: So it sounds like someone could be convicted of one thing and receive a sentence that is proportionate to—hopefully proportionate to the crime, the offense, but then these collateral consequences could go on for many years to come and affect employment, housing—I mean it sounds like you could end up homeless if you get kicked out of public housing because of rules against having, you know, certain kinds of convictions. So it's very expansive, in a sense. You have a discreet sentence, but then it affects your life.</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: It truly does affect your life in many ways, and the focus today in the session that we alluded to earlier gave us a chance to concentrate on who has the responsibility of ameliorating some of these collateral consequences. The Supreme Court case, the Padilla case that was the subject of that particular discussion, said that at the very least, the lawyer representing the defendant who has been charged has a responsibility, yes discussing the direct consequences, but also the collateral consequences in a particular case. A person didn't have that kind of advice and there was a question whether the sixth amendment applied, to have effective counsel. But my point of view is that it permeates throughout a system of fairness that should be committed to justice, that it shouldn't just be on the shoulder of the defense attorney. But the prosecutorial segment of our society has to be interested in justice, and certainly the judge hearing that case has a responsibility too, and I shared that in the state of Illinois, in Cook County, we certainly put that burden on the judge as well. We want the judge to tell the defendant appearing before the judge—are you aware that if you're not a citizen, these are the consequences that may flow from this plea of guilty. So I think it's a commitment, and we have to make the fairness, no matter what. And we have to assume that people who are going through that particular phase of their lives, that they're not focusing on anything like that. We've had instances where people were locked up pending trial, asking—well let me just enter a plea of guilty so I can get out. They want to get out of jail and don't realize, hey, that conviction is going to follow you wherever you're gonna go. And that gets back to your question. It absolutely does transcend this time period that they might otherwise be thinking about.</p> <p>WOLF: You talked about how judges in Cook County will explain the collateral consequence vis-à-vis immigration status. Are there other ways that the justice system in Cook County is trying to minimize collateral consequences?</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: Yes, we have several. One would be a commitment to sealed records so that they couldn't be used in an inappropriate way. We have several other kinds of activities I discussed, for example certificates of relief, certificates of good character, certificates of innocence, that make it possible for the person who has been rehabilitated to obviate some of the collateral consequences that we talked about. For example, the licensing. If a person wants to resume being a licensed barber, even though he'd been convicted of something that would normally take that licensing capability away, under this certificate of relief that we talked about, we could have that hearing, enter that order, the person receive that certificate, then we would tell the employer you won't be charged with any particular problem if you hire this person. They are rehabilitated and they now qualify for the license that had been taken away from them. So we have all kinds of programs like that and we are pleased to see them work.</p> <p>WOLF: And are those programs that are initiated through the judiciary, or are they legislatively enacted?</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: They are carried out by the judiciary, but they are statutorily in effect. The state legislature has worked closely with the judiciary in trying to make these opportunities available. But we have to be proactive as members of the judiciary or members of the legal community to make these opportunities available to people who are not comfortable in our setting. Most people don't know that they've got the right to petition to expunge a certain record. They don't know what they have to do to qualify for that, so they don't know how to seal a background, they don't know about these certificates of relief unless we be proactive in making sure they're given access to these kinds of activities. I discussed one particular thing that I thought was particularly helpful in this pending before the legislature right now, and that is the expungement of juvenile records. Certainly if adults don't know what it is that I’m talking about, children certainly would not know and under the legislation that is pending in the legislature in Springfield, Illinois now, that expungement would be automatic. When a child reaches the age of 18, his or her record would automatically be expunged and they would then be given a new chance, a second chance to apply for that scholarship to go on to college, or to apply for the first job they're gonna get, or to apply for housing for the first time they'll have access to.</p> <p>WOLF: And let me just ask you one last question, because you mentioned the fact that although you have these different ways that people can mitigate the collateral consequences through expungement or these different certificates, they don't always take advantage of it. And you alluded to a little of that before as well. What are the strategies? How do you engage people so that they do come in or they do find out that these things are possible and they do clear up some of these collateral consequences?</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: Well, we try to provide this information on the circumstances that are beyond the traditional circumstances. For example, if a person had to come to court to find out about these, chances are they wouldn't come to court. They think about what is facing them right then, they're not looking for other opportunities. So what we do is we provide these opportunities, let's say on weekends, Saturdays and Sundays we go to the YMCA, we go to other places where people gather. We go to churches, we go to civic groupings where we can bring the court, and bring the forms, and bring the lawyers who can help them fill out those forms at no expense to them. And I think when people see what we have to show them, under those informal circumstances, then they can ask a question. They're not embarrassed, they're not ashamed, they realize that others have similar problems to the problems they have. So that's how we try to do it. We ask for free time on the radio, or on television. We make it kind of a public service, you know, things of that kind.</p> <p>WOLF: Well thank you very much for explaining, you know, some of these great ideas and the way you're carrying it out. Addressing this clearly difficult and important issue. I've been speaking with Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, he's the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County in Chicago, Illinois, and we've been talking about how to mitigate collateral consequences of justice system involvement. Thank you so much.</p> <p>JUDGE EVANS: You're quite welcome, Rob, and I claim you and I have your family back in Chicago. I'm going to tell them, if I can, what a great job you're doing in New York and how much you are very effective. But I’m telling them we need that kind of talent back in Illinois, back in Chicago.</p> <p>WOLF: Well thank you very much. I'm Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. To learn more about community justice and the Center for Court Innovation, please visit our website at You can also listen to our podcast there, and you can also find us on iTunes. Thanks.</p><div class="image-clear"></div>
May 12, 2014
Improving Outcomes by Assessing the Impact of Trauma on Offenders
<p>Courts need to assess offenders for traumatic exposures so they can match them to effective services and improve treatment outcomes, says Kathleen West, an expert on trauma-informed care and lecturer at the University of California. In this New Thinking podcast, West discusses what we know about the impact of trauma on litigants and the justice system. <em>(April 2014)</em></p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-left"><img src="" alt="Kathleen West participates in a panel on linking defendants to services at Community Justice 2014." title="Kathleen West participates in a panel on linking defendants to services at Community Justice 2014." class="image image-img_assist_custom-355x237 " width="355" height="237" /><span class="caption" style="width: 353px;">Kathleen West participates in a panel on linking defendants to services at Community Justice 2014.</span></span></p> <p style="clear: both;"> </p> <p>KATHLEEN WEST: Trauma exposure is not equally distributed across our population, so some communities have a lot, a lot of risk, just certain zip codes have, you know, great risk for being exposed to trauma.</p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation, and I am at the Community Justice 2014 International Summit in sf. I'm speaking with one of the presenters right now, Kathleen West, who is a researcher. She lectures at UCLA and the University of Southern California, and today she was here speaking about linking defendants to services, with an emphasis on trauma informed care, and the role trauma has played in the lives of many people who find themselves in the criminal justice system, and how the justice system can start considering the effects of trauma when working with these clients and offenders. Thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me.</p> <p>WEST: Thanks.</p> <p>WOLF: So let's talk a little bit about trauma-informed care. What is it, exactly?</p> <p>WEST: Well, basically it means to consider the traumatic exposures that your clients have had, or your defendants have had, and that you need to be assessing for trauma exposures, making sure that you are aware of what the background traumatic exposure might be, and that your system of care is not traumatogenic, that you are not exacerbating the problems, that you're also not putting clients in programs where they're not likely to succeed. You don't want to set them up to fail if the structure or ambiance of the program, or the jail or correctional facility is going to induce more trauma, because we know that folks that are in traumatized states that may have a PTSD diagnosis—</p> <p>WOLF: Post traumatic—</p> <p>WEST: Post traumatic stress disorder, or if you really actually have a full blown diagnosis with a disorder there where you've moved into a state of pathology in managing your traumatic stress, then you may not be able to receive treatment in a way that it's designed, if you're not really considering the traumatic effect. Also we've found that a lot of our courts, while not intending to do harm, can do harm both to the practitioners in the court systems by vicarious trauma, where a lot of our practitioners are clerks or attorneys, are exposed to a lot of trauma and then we're traumatogenic in sharing that across our system so that we're actually—it's not just our clients that are suffering, perhaps, but some secondary traumatization can happen as well.</p> <p>WOLF: So when we speak of the effect on clients, one thing I’m hearing you say is that if you don't assess or evaluate the level of trauma they may have experienced in their life, you might not be able to match them effectively to treatment.</p> <p>WEST: That's right, absolutely. So it's really matching the treatment issues. So we had a lot of discussions here around risk assessment and that is one element of assessment that you certainly, obviously, have to do, but traumatic exposure assessment has been rarely done. I think the reason why this has become a bigger public health awareness issue is really with the average childhood experiences study, which is a massive longitudinal study, it's called the ASA study, and it was a very big, ongoing still, longitudinal study done by the Kaiser Health System. And what they identified was that exposure to what they called adverse childhood experiences—and that's an assessment tool that looked at 10 different kinds of exposures that included things like having a parent in jail, or being abused physically oneself—ended up with a lot of negative health consequences later on as an adult, including, some of this included traumatic exposures. And now we're aware that we really ought to be assessing for those factors as well, that are not criminogenic factors, that we don't necessarily think of as risk factors in the same way, but that actually can be a, can make a big difference whether people can succeed or cannot comply with a program. So, making the distinction between inability to comply and non-compliance is a really important distinction we'd like to make here, I think. They might look the same, but I think our ethical obligation to respond to them is different. If somebody is unable to comply because of various exposures or inability to do things that they have, that's one thing. But if they are none compliant, that's something else. So we need to tease out that difference and try to match our programming appropriately.</p> <p>WOLF: And is there the capacity to do that? Do we have the tools to differentiate between those who are unable to comply and those who are, I guess, who aren't complying for some sort of willfulness?</p> <p>WEST: I think there are the tools available and we're getting to that place. I'm not gonna be able to name a specific tool at the moment because I think it really does vary, actually, on the population you're looking at. But yes, we are getting to the place where there are those resources available. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMSA, has an entire website devoted to trauma-informed care, there's a national clearinghouse, national center on trauma-informed practices, trauma-informed care. The National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, NCTSN, has a lot of resources available. Where understanding and evaluating trauma, and then matching what kind of programs might be available is very important. Also medication management should be influenced by a trauma exposure assessment as well.</p> <p>WOLF: And before we started, you referred to the issue of including trauma-informed care and just the epidemic nature of trauma on certain populations as a public health problem. And I wonder if you could elaborate on that because I think a lot of people are also interested in the nexus between the justice system and public health.</p> <p>WEST: I'm delighted to hear that. I mean I know that that's really why I’m here, is the community courts, community justice movement. I do see this as a public health issue. I think a lot of public health practitioners are increasingly aware that all of our highest risk patients, clients, are also in the criminal justice system, often times, and when they are not in the criminal justice system, they are recycling in and out, you know, on the streets, homelessness, domestic violence, problems with the ability to maintain jobs, employment, certainly health issues, mental health issues, traumatic brain injury, and all sorts of things that are challenges. So I think many of us certainly look at this as an intergenerational situation as well, that we really want to get in there and provide early intervention and prevention, and a place where we can deal with this. In some populations this is endemic. Trauma exposure is not equally distributed across our population, so some communities have a lot, a lot of risk, just certain zip codes have, you know, great risk for being exposed to trauma, and what we know for the most part is that the more you're exposed, it doesn't mean that you get better at managing it, actually it's additive and intensity, duration, and frequency all make a difference in whether or not you're able to be resilient. We really want to be looking at resiliency and how our courts can help people do that, so we're looking, trying strength-based, how we find pro-social kinds of things, how can we make sure that we're not asking people to do things that they can't comply with and can't do, just from even a physiological perspective, and making sure that we give people the time to heal. We want to emphasize that even with a diagnosis of PTSD, this is not a death now, but a long shot. There is treatment that's effective and that people can manage and live with that their whole lives. That's really important to understand. But if it's not taken into account then you can't treat it, and you may be misdiagnosing or missing something. And that's just where I think our courts, especially community courts, are so therapeutic in their approach, that this is just something they ought not be missing in their assessment.</p> <p>WOLF: When you talk about a public health approach, or a public health problem, does it mean not only looking at trauma as a health problem, but applying some of the tools that come from public health? I mean you refer to prevention and the criminal justice system is increasingly thinking about prevention and thinking about recidivism. Does that have parallels in the public health system, like preventing an illness, preventing a return of an illness?</p> <p>WEST: Absolutely, and it also quite concretely has a lot to do with good use of scarce resources, right? And the Affordable Care Act is really making people aware that it makes so much more sense to do really good up front diagnosis, get in that preventative healthcare services, and you won't be seeing people in your emergency room, which is not a good place to deliver primary care. I think there's a real parallel there, where we ought to be doing better work in our community justice programming, really identifying clearly at the beginning who we've got as high risk populations, screening out our low risk, make sure we're maintaining them well and addressing their needs right away, which can be really low cost. Early intervention, not waiting until you have a frank pathology or a frank perpetrator, you know serious offender on your hands. We ought to be investing more in our preschool programming, for example, or even in our courts we really need to be looking at that whole family constellation, which is still our core of our socialization or social norms as a family. So even when you've got a criminal court and we're working with the defendant as a lone wolf, they're not a lone wolf. They're somewhere embedded in a community with a family and somebody else. And if we don't, you know, pay attention to that community and try to support them, they're gonna be a problem. And I also think that as we're looking at our higher risk folks, we need to provide that right dose of care, identify what the problems are, and really intensively serve them so that we don't see them, you know, coming back in and out again of our system. It is an analogy to our healthcare system.</p> <p>WOLF: Well I know you have a plane to catch and I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to me.</p> <p>WEST: Thank you for your interest. I'm so glad you’re working on this, and I’m so glad to hear that you know, there might be more opportunities for public health and our court systems to interact, so thank you.</p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking Kathleen West, who is a researcher, a lecturer, at University of Southern California and UCLA, and an expert on trauma-informed care. To find out more about the Center for Court Innovation, about this conference, Community Justice 2014, or even about the nexus between public health and the justice system, you can visit our website at You can also listen to our New Thinking podcast on iTunes. I'm Rob Wolf, thanks for listening.</p><div class="image-clear"></div>
May 07, 2014
Deploying Public Health Strategies to Address Drug Addiction
<p>Drug addiction is fundamentally a public health issue, says Michael Botticelli, acting director of <a href="" target="_blank">National Drug Control Policy</a>, in this New Thinking podcast. Botticelli explains why law enforcement must work in tandem with public health to address addiction and how his own personal experience with addiction informs his work.</p><br /><p><span class="inline inline-left"><img src="" alt="In keynote remarks at Community Justice 2014, Michael Botticelli discusses the importance of public health strategies in addressing drug addiction." title="In keynote remarks at Community Justice 2014, Michael Botticelli discusses the importance of public health strategies in addressing drug addiction." class="image image-img_assist_custom-372x380 " width="372" height="380" /><span class="caption" style="width: 370px;">In keynote remarks at Community Justice 2014, Michael Botticelli discusses the importance of public health strategies in addressing drug addiction.</span></span></p> <p style="clear: both;"><em>(April 2014)</em></p> <p style="clear: both;"><em><br /></em></p> <p>MICHAEL BOTTICELLI: You know I say I’m not unique in the sense that I’m one of 23 million Americans who are in recovery. What makes it unique is I get to sit at the White House and kind of do this work.</p> <p>ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, this is Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. I am in San Francisco at the Community Justice 2014 and I have the pleasure of sitting down right now with Michael Botticelli, who is the acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: It's great to be here, Rob.</p> <p>WOLF: I wanted to ask you a few questions about your role as what is sometimes referred to, and has been over the years, as drug czar. And I thought a great way to segue into this conversation is really to ask you if that term really captures your work, and what you think about it. Perhaps there's been an evolution in thinking about the role of the office.</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: I actually really hate the term drug czar, only because I think it, you know, the term czar actually means something that kind of coordinates things, which is really what we do, but I think it's been associated with previous administration's policy about the war on drugs, which is clearly not what this administration is all about, so I don't like the term because I think it raises, for people, this kind of very law enforcement-centric, arrest people for addiction. So I really, I don't like the term drug czar. You know, and the other piece for me is I have a very atypical background in terms of someone who's leading our agency. So, I don't come from a law enforcement background, I come from a public health background, I’m in recovery myself. Maybe some of it is I don't associate myself with the drug czar, so that's probably why I don't like the term.</p> <p>WOLF: You're talking about your public health background and I wonder if you think people see illegal drugs as an either/or situation, as either a law enforcement problem or if they're coming from your perspective, as a public health problems, and it just depends on the orientation that a police chief might think of it as a law enforcement problem and a treatment provider thinks of it as public health.</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: I actually think things are dramatically changing in terms of that kind of focus, and you know, part of my job I get to talk to a tremendous amount of local law enforcement officers who will say, you can't arrest our way out of the problem, and understanding that this is a public health issue. So I just participated in a conference in Washington with over 200 local law enforcement across the country, and it's really interesting for me to hear things like, we can't arrest our way out of the problem, that we have to partner with public health in terms of the work that we do. And quite honestly, I think that that's the function of our office, in terms of how do we continue to bridge—you know, law enforcement does play a crucial role in terms of the public safety consequences, and making sure we have safe communities, and trying to minimize the impact that drugs have on our community. But I think there's a growing understanding that this is fundamentally a public health related issue. And so part of our job, at our office, is how do we continue to bridge that gap between public health and law enforcement, in terms of the strategies. I think a lot of the work that we've done on overdose prevention, I think has moved that conversation dramatically and we've seen the dramatic uptake of the use of naloxone, which was a highly effective, highly safe overdose prevention medication by local law enforcement. And I think that's dramatically changed the conversation. So, so I don't—I think people are understanding that we actually do need this balanced approach between law enforcement and public safety, and that we can't just you know, I always say we can't incarcerate addiction out of people. And so, you know, I think they understand that we have to have primarily a public health response, but in partnership with law enforcement.</p> <p>WOLF: Since the conference here is a community justice conference, I wonder if you think that problem solving courts like drug courts or re-entry courts, community courts, can play a role in addressing the problematic use of drugs, and can they also contribute to reframing the debate about getting law enforcement and public health advocates working more collaboratively?</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: So problem-solving courts looking at any opportunity to divert people away from the criminal justice system has been part of our strategy since the beginning of the administration. And I would absolutely agree with you that I think these problem-solving courts and drug courts have really shown the way in terms of well wait a second here, we can have a different kind of approach here, other than just incarcerating folks. I think we've seen the explosion of, particularly, drug courts, not only in the United States but internationally. And so I think that we have about 2,700 drug courts here in the United States. They are in 22 countries. So I think there's a growing understanding that if you partner the criminal justice folks with the public health folks, that we really can have effective strategies here. I think you know that many, many states across political stripes have really been engaged in wholesale justice reinvestment. I think they've understood that incarceration is both costly and ineffective in terms of dealing with people with substance use disorders. So, and I think clearly, you know, you've seen the work and the changes that have come out of the attorney general's office around, and with, the president, in terms of fairer sentencing laws and really looking at how do we make sure that we're not incarcerating folks who really need to be dealt with, in terms of treatment related issues.</p> <p>WOLF: And how do you see getting police prosecutors, probation departments, and particularly law enforcement, so police, to pursue public safety buy also incorporating these lessons of public health, prevention, and treatment, concretely, rather than just saying—well it's a public health problem, so let's bring in some public health advocates—let them do it. Can law enforcement actively also engage in public health?</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: I absolutely think so, and I think that's a lot of the work that we've been doing. And you know, so first and foremost, we want to make sure that law enforcement, like other people, understand what addiction is, and understand what it means and how it affects judgment, and how it affects people's ability to make decisions. And you know, there's been models in other areas, particularly in terms of mental health, of how, on the street, can you really not turn this into an arrest. you know, again, I think I’ve heard from many, many law enforcement folks who've seen—and I think particularly with the prescription drug issue—have seen that they're arresting the same people over and over again, and how ineffective that is to be able to do that. And I also, again, think that the overdose situation has changed dramatically. I think that many of these law enforcement are seeing kids from their own community who are overdosing, and understanding that we need to have another response to this. So I think it's been helpful, and I’m not saying that there are not pockets of resistance or pockets of change, but I do think that there's a building momentum around not just a direct kind of local law enforcement response, but a larger criminal justice response to people with addictive disorders.</p> <p>WOLF: Let me ask you, and you referred to it yourself in the beginning of the interview, and your official bio notes that you're in long term recovery yourself. And I just wonder how your personal experience informs your work. And do you think recovering addicts can or should play more active roles in developing drug policies?</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: So maybe I’ll start with the last first. You know, obviously being in recovery, I do feel that people who come from affected communities should be part and parcel of the policy and decision-making. I have a long career in public health and I did a lot of work around HIV and AIDS, where clearly the consumer voice, you know, needed to be at the table. And there used to be an expression—nothing about us without us. And I carry that with me in terms of our work that we do on both the national and local levels. You know, I say I’m not unique in the sense that I’m one of 23 million Americans who are in recovery. What makes it unique is I get to sit at the White House and kind of do this work. So that's the really cool piece about it. But what it says to me is that people who are affected by this disorder really have a unique experience and really have a unique voice that needs to be heard at every level. And by virtue of the fact that I am in recovery, and am in this job, I think shows the administration's commitment to really making sure that folks have a voice at the table. And it does inform the work that I do in terms of understanding. I think of my own experience and what were the missed opportunities along the way in terms of identifying this issue with me early on. So it makes us think about things like screening a brief intervention, of how do we intervene, particularly for folks who we know are at risk of developing a more significant problem. You know I actually kind of got into treatment because of my own involvement with the law. I was arrested for drunk driving, I was in a drunk driving car accident, and actually had the opportunity of being somewhat of a forced opportunity to say, treatment or we can continue down the criminal justice path. So, you know, part of it for me—and that's why the significance of being at conferences like this is to say, you know, 27 years ago I was in handcuffs. And for me, now, to be sitting as the acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy is, I think, particularly indicative of how we can take those opportunities, one not let people get involved with the criminal justice system in the first place and second, how do we really look at those intersections with the criminal justice system? And make sure that people are getting adequate care and treatment. You know, again, you know we can't arrest our way out of the problem. You can't incarcerate addiction out of people. And we really need to make sure—and I think, again, that's the exciting part and in terms of being here at this conference and looking at the agenda, that there is a growing acknowledgment in terms of that we can have a more effective and, quite honestly, a much more compassionate response in terms of how we deal with addiction.</p> <p>WOLF: Well thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with me and good luck with your mission.</p> <p>BOTTICELLI: Thanks.<span> </span></p> <p>WOLF: I've been speaking with Michael Botticelli, who's the acting director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and he is about to take the stage shortly at Community Justice 2014 here in sf. I'm Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. To listen to more podcasts like this you can visit our website at Thanks for listening.&l