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Closing Rikers Island: A Roadmap for Reducing Jail in New York City

July 19, 2021

New York City's promise to shutter its notorious Rikers Island jail complex hinges on reducing the number of people in city jails. This new report from the Independent Commission that called for Rikers' closure in 2017 and the Center for Court Innovation lays out a series of concrete, data-driven strategies to produce sizable jail reductions while prioritizing public safety.The annual cost of detaining someone on Rikers has soared to $447,000. As the report emphasizes, that is money that could be more productively used on a range of interventions to foster safer neighborhoods. Increasingly, research is finding stays in jail increase the likelihood of future criminal activity once someone is released, making us all less, not more, safe.The report recommends numerous policy changes, covering everything from improving case processing times—85 percent of the population on Rikers is presumed innocent and waiting, generally for months, for their day in court—to ensuring people's ability to pay bail is properly assessed, as is required by law. In combination, these changes can lastingly remake New York City's approach to incarceration.

What Makes A Court Problem-Solving: Universal Performance Indicators for Problem-Solving Justice

February 1, 2010

This report identifies a set of universal performance indicators for specialized "problem-solving courts" and related experiments in problem-solving justice. Traditional performance indicators related to caseload and processing efficiency can assist court managers in monitoring case flow, assigning cases to judges, and adhering to budgetary and statutory due process guidelines. Yet, these indicators are ultimately limited in scope. Faced with the recent explosion of problem solving courts and other experiments seeking to address the underlying problems of litigants, victims, and communities, there is an urgent need to complement traditional court performance indicators with ones of a problem-solving nature. With funding from the State Justice Institute (SJI), the Center for Court Innovation conducted an investigation designed to achieve three purposes. The first was to establish a set of universal performance indicators against which to judge the effectiveness of specialized problem-solving courts, of which there are currently more than 3,000 nationwide. The second purpose was to develop performance indicators specific to each of the four major problem-solving court models: drug, mental health, domestic violence, and community courts. The third purpose was to assist traditional court managers by establishing a more limited set of indicators, designed to capture problem-solving activity throughout the courthouse, not only within a specialized court context.

A National Portrait of Domestic Violence Courts

December 1, 2009

A growing number of criminal courts nationwide handle domestic violence cases on separate calendars, termed domestic violence courts. There are now 208 confirmed domestic violence courts across the U.S. (Center for Court Innovation 2009). More than 150 similar projects have been established internationally. Some domestic violence courts emerged in the context of the broader "problem-solving court" movement and share characteristics with other specialized courts, such as separate dockets and specially trained judges. However, the origins of domestic violence courts are also distinct, growing out of the increased attention afforded domestic violence matters by the justice system over the past 30 years. With funding from the National Institute of Justice, this study explores how criminal domestic violence courts have evolved, their rationale, and how their operations vary across the U.S. This study does not test whether domestic violence courts reduce recidivism, protect victims, or achieve other specific effects -- although we provide a thorough literature review on these points. Rather, our aim is to present a comprehensive national portrait of the field as it exists today, laying the groundwork for future information exchange and research.