In this opinion piece, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg shares his plan for providing voluntary services that will help New Yorkers live with dignity and make all of us safer. Bragg advocates for providing treatment, services, and a path to a better life to help folks safely manage substance and mental health struggles, sharing that arrests and incarceration alone will not address their needs. Citing Center expertise on supportive solutions, Bragg's plan is to utilize neighborhood and court-based navigators who will meet people where they are, build trust, and provide needed services.
After over 25 years at the cutting edge of efforts to reform the justice system and cultivate safe and vibrant communities, the Center for Court Innovation has changed its name to the Center for Justice Innovation. This new name is intended to better reflect the entirety of the Center's work, which has for long been carried out not only within the court system but also well beyond it. This article from the New York Law Journal draws attention to the name change and discusses the Center's growth—both quantitative and qualitative—since its founding. As executive director Courtney Bryan told the Journal, "Our new name reflects our belief that true justice is a continuum that starts in the community long before anyone ends up in court."
"For too long, we have relied upon law enforcement and jail to be our primary response to those in mental distress."
In this opinion piece, Courtney Bryan and Times Square Alliance president Tom Harris share better solutions for supporting people with mental health needs. When the legal system, law enforcement, and social service providers work together, we can address health, psychiatric, and housing needs on an individualized basis, and ensure safety for all New Yorkers.
Center executive director Courtney Bryan joined CBS News to talk about the growing backlog of court cases since the onset of COVID-19 is slowing the progress of hundreds of thousands of cases and people across the country.
"These are not just cases or case files. These are people. Most who are sitting in jails around the country haven't yet been convicted of a crime. Because of this crisis, [they’re waiting] for much longer than they were prior to COVID. And in New York City, that means folks are sitting in Rikers Island, a place renowned for violence and horrible conditions."
She also shared outcomes from a 2019 pilot program by the Center and New York Office of Court Administration that succeeded in reducing felony case backlogs in Brooklyn Superior Court.
Judge Alex Calabrese is stepping down from his 22-year tenure as Red Hook Community Justice Center's presiding judge. The nation's first multijurisdictional court in the country with criminal, family, and housing court cases all appearing before a single judge, this courtroom put people—and the community—at the center of justice. The model has now been replicated in jurisdictions across the country, and internationally, showing the effects of a holistic approach to justice. In this op-ed published by both City & State and NYN Media, Judge Calabrese reflects on 22 years of service, recalling times when the courtroom was turned into a crisis center to meet the needs of the moment, and all the ways in which the Justice Center improves lives in the Red Hook, Brooklyn community.
In Los Angeles County, home to the country's largest jail population, the city and local organizations are partnering to create more equity in the legal process by focusing on mental health. The Center is helping to implement the LA-based Rapid Diversion Program, which helps individuals with mental health diagnoses connect with case management, treatment, housing and job services, and cases are dismissed when a participant completes the program. "If we’re able to help one person and change their trajectory, it can have compounding impacts for their families and their communities,” Chidinma Ume, our interim director of policy, says. Brett Taylor, senior advisor of West Coast Initiatives is also quoted.
The Center's executive director, Courtney Bryan, was honored on this list of the public officials, philanthropic leaders, and nonprofit executives leading the sector in New York. Her profile highlights her role directing the Center's work with government and communities, providing alternatives to incarceration, strengthening communities through safety and economic opportunity, and conducting research and evaluations on these initiatives.
With gun violence on the rise, researchers are turning to those most impacted for solutions. The Center is currently conducting a multi-city gun study that speaks directly with young people's attitudes towards guns, including their reasons for carrying. Speaking to these sentiments in Philadelphia, Center part-time researcher involved in the study, Jonathan Wilson, says. "Everybody is armed. Nobody’s without a gun in these ZIP codes, because they’ve always been dangerous."
These materials were created by the Center for Court Innovation with funding from Office of Victims of Crime (OVC) and are newly translated into African French; Brazilian Portuguese; Chinese (simplified); Spanish; and Vietnamese. These Child Victims and Witnesses Support Materials are for use with young survivors of human trafficking, including excerpts of support from individuals with lived experience and information for a reader who might find themselves in a similar situation.
The vast majority of women at Rikers are awaiting trial, and this op-ed by former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Sharon White-Harrigan lays out the path to reduce the population of women and gender-expansive people currently detained on Rikers Island, referencing our co-authored report, Path to Under 100.
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