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Community Courts Initiative

FY24 Funding Available


The Basics

Principles of Problem-Solving Justice (NCJ 234803), BJA. Principles described in this article emphasize collaboration, engagement with local stakeholders, and individualization of sanctions—strategies that avoid cookie-cutter approaches and encourage justice practitioners to embrace local priorities, resources, and circumstances.

What is a Community Court? How the Model is Being Adapted Across the United Statesby Julius Lang. There are dozens of community courts in the U.S. and around the world. This paper explains how they have adapted key principles of problem-solving justice—such as enhanced information, community engagement, collaboration, and accountability—to local conditions.

Defining the Problem: Using Data to Plan a Community Justice Project, by Robert V. Wolf. This publication looks at how community justice initiatives across the county have used concrete data to define local problems.

Lessons from Community Court: Strategies on Criminal Justice Reform from a Defense Attorney, by Brett Taylor. Since the first community court was created in 1993, a generation of judges, lawyers, and court staff have developed new strategies for working with those charged with low-level crimes. In this report, Brett Taylor shares lessons he learned first-hand from his years working as a defense attorney at the Red Hook Community Justice Center and helping other jurisdictions adapt the community courts model.

Engaging Communities

Advancing Community Justice: The Challenge of Brownsville, Brooklyn
This monograph starts with a question: What can we do differently to enhance public safety, reduce the use of incarceration, and improve public perceptions of justice in a Brooklyn neighborhood that experiences both high crime and high rates of incarceration? The paper provides answers by looking at new approaches (including place-based interventions, procedural justice and new strategies for crime prevention) that have the potential to reduce offending, reengineer the relationship between the justice system and the public, and help activate a neighborhood's capacity to help produce safety for itself.

How Community Advisory Boards Can Assist the Work of the Justice System By Danielle Malangone and Carmen Facciolo
Based on a survey of 20 jurisdictions across the United States currently employing community advisory boards, this fact sheet provides guidance on establishing goals, a review of practical considerations, and examples of accomplishments from around the country.

'The Public Wants to be Involved': A Roundtable Conversation about Community and Restorative Justice By Robert V. Wolf
This document presents highlights from a roundtable discussion about engaging the public in justice programming. Questions addressed included: How do you define "community"? What are the goals of community engagement and how do programs engage communities and retain volunteers?

Evidence-Based Strategies for Working with Offenders By Michael Rempel
This fact sheet distills a growing body of research about evidence-based strategies in five areas for reducing recidivism among criminal offenders: assessment, treatment, deterrence, procedural justice, and collaboration.

Demystifying Risk Assessment: Key Principles and Controversies By Sarah Picard-Fritsche, Michael Rempel, Jennifer A. Tallon, Julian Adler, and Natalie Reyes
This paper explains the science underlying risk-based decision-making and explores both the promise and controversies associated with the increasing application of "big data" to the field of criminal justice.

Evolving Models

Renewing Justice: When the Library Becomes a Community Court Podcast
Since 2016, the community court in Eugene, Oregon, has met every week in the downtown library. It is part of an effort that is getting a lot of attention on the West Coast to bring problem-solving justice to friendlier settings. On the Center for Court Innovation's New Thinking Podcast, administrator Cheryl Stone of Eugene Municipal Court talks about the city's replication of a model first pioneered in Spokane, Washington.

Tale of Three Cities: Drugs, Courts, and Community Justice, (NCJ 232872), BJA and the Center for Court Innovation. Inspired by drug courts, the three innovative programs profiled—in Brooklyn, the Bronx, and California—are all tackling the problem of drug addiction. Yet these courts have some important differences from drug court. This monograph highlights how new and innovative community courts are building on the drug court model, expanding the reach of problem-solving principles beyond specialized courtrooms and making a significant contribution to the fight against substance abuse.

Widening the Circle: Can Peacemaking Work in Non-Tribal Communities? By Robert V. Wolf
This report can serve as a guide for justice planners seeking to adapt Native American peacemaking to a nontribal setting. After providing an overview of peacemaking, it outlines key issues that jurisdictions will most likely want to consider during planning and implementation.

Performance Reports

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Full Report) By Cynthia G. Lee, Fred L. Cheesman II, David Rottman, Rachel Swaner, Suvi Hynynen Lambson, Michael Rempel, and Ric Curtis (2013)
With funding from the National Institute of Justice, the National Center for State Courts completed this independent evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center in 2013. The evaluation found that the Justice Center's emphasis on alternatives to incarceration, including community restitution projects and social services, helped reduce the use of jail even as it helped reduce recidivism among misdemeanor offenders.

Does San Francisco's Community Justice Center Reduce Criminal Recidivism? By Beau Kilmer and Jesse Sussell (2014)
This report from the RAND Corporation examines whether San Francisco's Community Justice Center reduces the risk of rearrest when compared to more traditional approaches for addressing arrestees.

Expanding the Community Court Model: Testing Community Court Principles in the Bronx Centralized Courthouse By Shani Katz (2009)
This report examines the impact of Bronx Community Solutions on sentencing in its first year of operation.

Peacemaking Circles: Evaluating a Native American Restorative Justice Practice in a State Criminal Court Setting in Brooklyn By Suvi Hynynen Lambson (2015)
This study examines the work of the Red Hook Community Justice Center's Peacemaking Program, which uses traditional Native American practices to resolve disputes. Participants can avoid the justice system by participating in peacemaking sessions and reaching a consensus agreement for restitution and repair.

Perceptions of Safety, Community, and the Criminal Justice System in Red Hook, Brooklyn By Suvi Hynynen Lambson (2018)
This report provides the results of a 2016 community survey measuring perceptions of neighborhood quality of life, public safety, and satisfaction with local criminal justice agencies in the Red Hook neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn, home of the Red Hook Community Justice Center.

Date Created: December 9, 2019