Monday, October 22, 2012

Planning a Community Court - Community Engagement

Back in 2008, planners from the Center for Court Innovation spent several months meeting with justice system stakeholders, private citizens, community advocates, block associations, and just about anyone who had an interest in community improvement. We were looking to conversations around community justice and public safety. In other words, we wanted to find out how crime affected Newarkers and what they thought the Newark Municipal Court and its partners could do about it.

So, why did we take on that daunting task? Why not just dive in and create a community court? After all, who knew more about the problem-solving courts than the Center for Court Innovation? The organization created the first community court—the Midtown Community Court –and operates several problem-solving court projects in New York. The answer is simple. We turned to the community for help because, citizens and neighborhood groups play a pivotal role in helping the justice system identify, prioritize, and solve local problems. Also, by actively engaging citizens we can take strides towards improving public trust in the justice system.

This weekend past, while cleaning out my “digital closet”, I came across the video above. It’s from a local cable news broadcast documenting one of our community engagement meetings in Newark’s East Ward. It was recorded in 2008 and it offers a glimpse of what we were looking to do. Thankfully, we landed pretty close to our target. Enjoy!

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