Friday, January 25, 2013

Postscript -"What Works Summit:(Re)Building Trust Between Community and Police"

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of participating in the “What Works Summit: (Re)Building Trust Between Communities and Police” here in Newark. The event, sponsored by the Center for Collaborative Change (CCC), brought together academics, advocates and law enforcement agencies to consider how poor urban communities are harmed by a lack of trust in law enforcement and to explore best practices that address the problem.  The event was chock-full of impressive panelist, highlighted by Connie Rice, civil rights attorney and author of “Power Concedes Nothing: One Woman's Quest for Social Justice in America, from the Courtroom to the Kill Zones” and David M. Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Ms. Rice mesmerized the audience with her account of a career advocating for “bus riders, death row inmates, folks abused by police, school kids, whistle-blowers  cops and sufferers of every stripe of discrimination.”   

Professor Kennedy is perhaps best known for creating two of the most effective and innovative violence reduction responses of the last 20 years including: the Boston Gun Project, a problem-oriented policing initiative expressly aimed at taking on homicide victimization among young people in Boston; and the Drug Market Initiative, a strategic problem-solving initiative aimed at permanently closing down open-air drug markets. David’s presentation laid out in stark relief how our fixation on measuring violent crime nationally has blinded us to the realities on the ground. So, although we have succeeded at national crime reduction, people don’t live “nationwide”. We live in communities and neighborhoods. And from 2000 to 2007, in poor neighborhoods in big, medium and small cities the homicide rate among young black men has increase by a third.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Drug Czar Visits the Community Court in San Francisco

R. Gil Kerlikowske (left), director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, visits Judge Lillian Sing at the Community Justice Center. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle / SF

Last week, R. Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy visited the San Francisco Community Justice Center. The San Francisco Justice Center was inspired in part by the ground breaking work of the Midtown Community Court and the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Speaking (writing) as a member of the larger community court movement, I’m personally encouraged that decision-makers like the nation’s drug czar continue to recognize the accomplishments and the underlying potential of the community court model. Director Kerlikowske noted:

"Most courts around the country think people are arrested for a drug violation," he said. "We see district attorneys who say, 'Why put them into services? Let them do 30 days in jail. And then when they re-offend, let them do another 30 days.' Here you are seeing the nexus of the drug issue, which is that there are other problems, addiction and mental health. That is what is so impressive."

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