Source: (2012) Center for Court Innocation.

The Center for Court Innovation, with the support of the US Bureau of Justice Assistance, has sought to promote dialogue and idea-sharing among practitioners on the subject. It hosted a roundtable conversation in 2000 among practitioners and academics, encouraging them to start defining community justice, articulating its values, and describing promising practices. 1 By enlisting the public as an active ally, community justice builds trust in government, which, in turn, helps police and prosecutors build better cases. Community justice also allows agencies to go beyond merely responding to crime by promoting the development of collaborative preventive strategies. And by engaging volunteers and community-based resources, community justice saves money, lessening pressure on public budgets. Seen this way, community justice is a smart strategy, one that increases the system’s capacity for making neighborhoods safer and improves informal social controls that strengthen the capacities of communities to police themselves. But community justice also has critics. Some have equated it with vigilante justice and questioned its ability to engage communities in meaningful work, its effectiveness at achieving its goals, and even the way it defines the word “community.” At the roundtable in 2000, some wondered whether community justice “drains resources from other worthy efforts and widens the net of governmental control over poor and minority populations.” 2 As the number and variety of initiatives inspired by community justice has grown, the Center for Court Innovation has continued to encourage discussion. As part of that effort, it invited a group of policymakers and practitioners to its Manhattan headquarters in August 2011 to focusing on two themes: the strategies community justice initiatives use today to engage ordinary people in their work and the emphasis many programs place on restorative justice. (excerpt)

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