Monthly Archives: February 2012

Breaking the Cycle: A Canadian Province Explores an Integrated Approach to Addressing Offenders’ Underlying Problems

Kurt Sandstrom, assistant deputy minister of Alberta Justice in Alberta, Canada discusses his province’s efforts to
break cycles of offending with integrated, evidence-based services. 

: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation and I am
at Community Justice 2012 at the end of January in Washington, D.C. And I am speaking with Kurt Sandstrom who is
Deputy –

KURT SANDSTROM: Assistant Deputy Minister –

Thank you Kurt – for Alberta Justice in the province of Alberta in Canada. And I understand that you in Alberta are
exploring the possibility of creating a community court. So maybe you could tell me a little bit about where you
are in the process and what made you interested in the first place.

It’s a long story, so I could go back in time to 2009 when we started looking at this issue. And we have a stakeholder
vehicle called the Justice Policy Advisory Committee that is co-hosted by the Minister of Justice and the Solicitor
General. And we had presentations at that meeting, outlining some of the innovative work that was going on in the
United States – notably the Redhook Community [Justice Center], and also looking at a lot of things that were going
on in Canada, the Victoria Integrated Court and the Vancouver Community Court, and the drug courts.

we were looking at a number of silos that were popping up, depending on the needs or circumstances of the offender.
So, for example, if you were addicted you could get into the drug court program. If you had mental health issues
you would qualify for mental health diversion. If you went down the road and were homeless, then you could get into
the Pathways to Housing program that would look at your justice needs.

And so the Justice Minister,
who is now our Premier, at that point in time, along with the Solicitor General, said we need to look at how we break
down these silos and look at it in a more holistic manner. So the Integrated Justice Services Project was born and
we engaged some consultants who looked at all the models across North America and came up with the Cadillac model,
which we’d like to implement, but we’re not able to make as much headway on the Cadillac model at the moment. We
are taking small steps and right at the moment we’re launching a pilot in Calgary, Alberta, that will be entitled
A Safe Community’s Resource Center. And it will be focusing on the population that is post-conviction that will be
serving their sentence in the community. And the idea would be to refer them to a program that has a joint assessment
team of probation and health services members who also have all the supports of housing, mental health, alcohol addictions

We’ll be working in partnership with community organizations to essentially create
a center with wraparound, holistic, integrated services down the road. And so you’ll know that the court is not involved
in that project at the moment because we’re trying to focus on the government services and the other support services
in that offending population that is post-sentence but serving in the community. We then hope to evaluate and proceed
to other phases of the project that will look at pre-conviction. We’ll also look at pre-charge because the police
population is saying—or the police officers are saying—we need some sort of solution to deal with diversion without
charge. And so all of this will be considered and evaluated in the fullness of time.

And when you say the court’s not involved, you mean because it’s post-conviction?

Correct. Because it’s post-conviction and these offenders are put on probation, at the moment the judiciary will
not have really much to say to nor will defense or Crown. It will be a determination based on the probation officer’s
assessment of whether the offender would qualify for the safe community’s resource center. And if they do so qualify,
then one comprehensive treatment plan will be set up for them. The judiciary are involved in our two drug courts
in the province already in the pre-trial, or pre-conviction population. So right at the moment we’re working with
them to ensure that they’ve got everything they need to come at it holistically, and we’re hoping to build on some
of their experiences when we go forward with the project further.

So your vision – correct me if I’m wrong – is that this resource center that you’re pulling together using community-based
organizations and not-for-profits and such, and government agencies, presumably, could serve as a resource for these
other components, when and if you create them – the pre-trial one that you referred to. It would be sort of an all-in-one
place that, as it expands, you perhaps could draw upon and refer defendants to?

Yes and no. We want to make sure that the phases are separate from coming up with one cookie-cutter approach. So
we may be looking at the resource center doing some of this, but we may also be looking at other solutions. For example,
right at the moment we’ve got two communities in Alberta—Edmonton and Calgary—organizing at the community level with
respect to the community-based organizations, because they’re reaching out to clients in distress. And they’re, at
the moment, saying we need to do business differently. We need to provide one place for a person who’s not even charged
with an offense to have, you know, their distress remediated in some fashion or another. So the community right at
the moment is driving some of the solution making.

We’re gonna be participating as a government
with those community organizations. What they set up could be the response to the other phases of a project. And
the key is that we’re going to continue to integrate as we move forward. We have a number of, as I said, earlier
silos that we’ll need to kind of put together. And we’re creating one position within our Safe Communities provincial
government that we call the Director of Integrated Justice Services. And this person’s position will be to further
integrate, to further design programming that will get at the offender’s criminogenic needs and really try to move
that marker in terms of an integrated provincial system.

how much of an emphasis are you placing on evidence-based practices, using strategies that evidence has shown apparently

SANDSTROM: That’s the cornerstone to the model. We’re looking
at only working with programs that have been evaluated and have been shown to be successful. And that’s difficult
within Alberta to ensure that we have the knowledge base that we need to draw from that. There’s quite a bit of work
going on across North America and worldwide, I think, in this area. We really want to set ourselves up as experts
in that fidelity in the science, and build from that, and also contribute to it. So, for example, our Safe Communities
initiative has funded 88 crime-prevention pilots, pilot projects across Alberta, all of which have to be evaluated
from a social return on investment, as to what will work in preventing crime? Even getting further upstream, what
are we doing to prevent crime? And all of that evaluation and research will help infuse our approach provincially,
and will also hopefully contribute to the literature across North America on what works.

So I understand you visited the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Have you seen other community courts and, if so,
are there things in particular that you want to try to replicate, and are there things you think will not work in

SANDSTROM: I haven’t personally visited any of the community
courts other than the Victoria Integrated Court. But the team has and our consultants have gone out to Dallas. They’ve
seen Red Hook, they’ve seen Vancouver. Really we’re not sure exactly how we’re going to replicate this. It’s a, it’s
certainly not a cookie-cutter approach. We’re going to be seeing what works and what doesn’t. So right at the moment,
we’re just struggling to get the government services together, working differently, and at that point we’re going
to build community in so we’ll be looking at these other models to see what their successes are, drawing from them,
and hopefully, you know, replicating something that’s going to get at that criminogenic aspect.

And one last question. I know you’re kind of early in the process. It sounds like you’ve done an incredible amount
of research and now you’re putting in, you know, you’re taking steps to move forward with the plan. Are there any
lessons that you’ve learned so far, that you might share, that might help someone else who’s exploring the possibility
of creating this integrated approach, or something like a community court?

Yeah, I guess the first learning I would have is it’s not often that state or provincial or federal governments will
attempt to do this from the top down. We’ve attempted to do it from the top down, drawing from the experience of
more community-driven success stories. It’s difficult driving it from the top down. What I’ve encountered is that
often times change is slow to come to systems, especially government systems. In the future I might look at another
approach as a provincial government going into this, whereby we actually empower work that’s going on in communities
and are there to enable and facilitate the work that would be happening there, and let the models come up. In a perfect
world, I guess you have to be top down and bottom up. And so don’t forget the bottom, the community. The community
is critical in the solution. Every community is different. Every organization or community has different organizations
and they all have to be engaged and it is difficult for government to know what is going on in that area. And so
we need to find a way to make sure the bottom is coming up to the top and the top is coming down to the bottom.

Very interesting. Well thank you very much, Kurt Sandstrom. I appreciate your taking the time to talk to me. I’ve
been speaking with Kurt Sandstrom who is Assistant Deputy Minister in Alberta Justice. And you guys are working on
exploring the possibility of creating something like a community court or an integrated approach, offering alternatives
to incarceration, enhancing probation.

SANDSTROM: Exactly, Integrated
Justice Services is what we’re calling it, as opposed to being a court at the moment.

So thanks very much for taking the time to talk to me.

Thanks very much.

WOLF: I’m Rob Wolf, Director of Communications
at the Center for Court Innovation at Community Justice 2012. To hear more of our podcasts, visit
Thanks for listening.

February 2012

Connections Among People: Tracking and Preventing Violence through Social Network Analysis

Sociologist Andrew Papachristos focuses his studies on urban neighborhoods, social networks, street gangs, violent
crime, and gun violence. A Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar at Harvard University, Papachristos discusses
how social network analysis can aid crime prevention.

Hi, I’m Sarah Schweig at the Center for Court Innovation, and today I’m speaking with Andrew Papachristos. We
are currently in an executive session in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the California Endowment, Community Oriented
Policing Services, and the Center for Court Innovation that brought together public health experts and law enforcement
representatives for a conversation about public health approaches to public safety. Andrew Papachristos is a sociologist
who focuses his studies on urban neighborhoods, social networks, street gangs, violent crime, and gun violence. As
a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholar, Andrew will expand his use of network analysis to the study of
crime epidemics in U.S. cities, paying particular attention to the way violence diffuses among populations of youth.
Thank you for speaking with me today.

It’s my pleasure.

SCHWEIG:  So let’s start out by talking
about crime epidemics. How does treating violence like a contagious disease affect approaches to crime in law enforcement,
and how does it help us understand, in general, how crime occurs?

So I think when the phrase ‘crime epidemics’ is typically brought up, it’s brought up as sort of like a moral panic
to sort of motivate people into action, and usually the action is political or law enforcement. I think we mentioned
in our talk today one of the actions when you have a crime epidemic is to call out the National Guard, quite literally.
I think what both I’m trying to do, as well as people in this room are trying to do, is understand what the idea
of an epidemic means in public health—so we don’t mobilize the National Guard when we have an outbreak of influenza
or an STD—and in fact, taking some of the science that’s used in contagious disease studies and apply them to violence,
as in who is most susceptible to getting shot. And to use more precise models, especially around social networks
to really understand if crime is a disease, then how does it spread? What is its form? What is the way that it is
transmitted? So to actually take this sort of analogy, which is often political, and actually take it at its sort
of real value, and understand what these mechanisms of contagion might be. 

 The public probably thinks of social networks as Facebook and stuff like that. Can you talk a bit about
what you mean when you say, ‘using social network analysis,’ and also the kinds of relationships are you looking
at—and why are you looking at those relationships?

So social network analysis is a science that’s been around for 60+ years. It really started in anthropology and sociology
where people were interested to understand the connections among groups and individuals, and how that affects action,
political action, social action, health and behaviors, and the difference between that and sort of regular science
is—rather than just understand individuals in isolation—network analysis really tries to understand how the connections
among people affect their behavior. So how your friend’s choice of political candidates affects your choice, or whether
it’s eating habits or social influence, or how you get a job.  And so the idea of understanding connections
and how that affects your behavior.  When you talk about the connections that you have, like Facebook, who
are your friends, it is actually—the science behind it is much like social network analysis, especially the mathematics. 
What you are interested in, who are your friends, who are your family, who did you go to school with, who were you
in clubs with? As well as sort of—did you buy the same book as other people? So Amazon uses that type of analysis
to understand people who bought this, they also like this, based on what other people like you have done.

In the case of today’s discussion about crime, we’re trying to understand how certain types of risky relationships—so
sort of offending relationships or gang relationships affect some of these outcomes like mortality: who gets shot
and killed. And like other types of behavior like intravenous drug use or sex behavior, you want to understand the
relationships that matter. So who you share needles with, who you’re sleeping with, in much the same way we’re trying
to understand who you hang out with and how that affects all these sorts of bad outcomes.

Right. And you mentioned an offending population and during the talk today you talked about co-offending populations—how
does mass incarceration, that our country is dealing with right now, tend to affect the offending networks?

PAPACHRISTOS:  So it’s a great question. I haven’t looked at it sort
of in this analysis yet. But what it does do, we know—from the evidence as well as what I would hypothesize—is it
disrupts these positive networks—family, school, romantic relationships, jobs—and then essentially filters you into
a different set of networks when you come out. So the capacity to get a job being an incarcerated felon, the capacity
to maintain relationships with your children, and that then getting passed down to them, intergenerational transition
of things like poverty, really incarceration is having a long effect on these networks both now and in the future.
And hopefully it’s something we can get at empirically. 

That’s really interesting. And sort of in the vein of where you want this to go in the future, where do you see this
research moving and how might it affect law enforcement approaches on the ground? And also maybe talk a little bit
about what jurisdictions would need to best implement these ideas in the most useful ways.

Yeah, I mean my guess is that in 5 to 10 years—probably 10—sort of network mapping for police will be where sort
of hotspot mapping is now. I think that intuitively people understand more now—because of things like Facebook and
Amazon and the Internet—how connections matter. I think we’ve always known, you know, it’s not what you know but
who you know, the good old boys club, like all of those sort of images and sort of analogies now have a basis in
scientific analysis. So I think that it’s only gonna go up. I think there’s a critical mass of people beginning to
sort of galvanize around it. I think the difference is it’s not quite as intuitively simple as geographic map. 
So you have to actually get people past a certain learning curve. I think that there are all kinds of tools for both
enforcement that can be developed technology-wise, as well as for other public health and violence prevention initiatives.
Again, so this has been done on smaller scales with HIV and needle-exchange programs, sex work, and hopefully the
same models can be applied, but it can’t be cut and paste. It has to be specific to the epidemic you’re examining,
right?  So crime is like, but not the same as, a needle exchange, right? So understanding the context is
essential. And that’s sort of the caution to moving forward.

And you mentioned also moving some of these initiatives during your talk toward Milwaukee and San Francisco, some
of that analysis. Do you want to talk a little bit about that, just sort of as a last point?

Yeah, so I think that what I’m seeing these last couple years is more and more jurisdictions that are eager to try
something that’s much more directed, especially given the limited resources. But not just directed, but is directed
and can have a huge sort of effect for a small sort of intervention. I just received the NSF award to expand the
work in Chicago and Boston, to Cincinnati and potentially San Francisco, but even already cities like Atlanta, Milwaukee,
Minneapolis, Brooklyn Park, there are a bunch of cities that are already eager to do it and the capacity is just
not there. The big barrier is that it’s not a point and click approach just yet, right? So with crime mapping, you
put in a bunch of addresses you get your picture. There’s a—there’s quite a bit more backend to this type of technology
and we’re not at that stage yet, where people with basic computer skills can do it. So it requires an analyst. And
so as we train more analysts, it will become more pervasive, I think.

Great. Thank you so much for speaking with me today.

My pleasure.

SCHWEIG:  I’m Sarah Schweig and I’ve been speaking
with Andrew Papachristos. To learn more about the Center for Court Innovation, please visit 
Thank you for listening.

January 2012

A Community Court Takes Washington D.C.: Expanding the Model in the Nation’s Capital

Dan Cipullo, director of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, discusses
why and how the court expanded its community court approach from one neighborhood to cover the entire city.

: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation and I am
in Washington, D.C., at Community Justice 2012, which is the International Conference of Community Courts. And I’m
speaking with Dan Cipullo, who is the director of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court in Washington, D.C.
And I wanted to talk to you, Dan, a little bit about the East of the River Community Court and plans for expanding


Maybe you can start by describing the East of the River Community Court, when it started and just a little bit about

CIPULLO: East of the River Community Court started in the early
2000s. We were actually experiencing problems in D.C. We had a zero tolerance in D.C. so we were inundated with a
large number of misdemeanor arrests. We went up about 30 percent in misdemeanor arrests, which led to a lot of delays
in processing cases and a lot of police overtime. So police overtime was the initial impetus of looking at community

We worked with the Justice Management Institute, with Dick Hoffman there and Barry Mahoney.
And Barry had heard about the community court concept from New York and we got a group together. We went out to see
Midtown [Community Court], we went up to see the community court in Minneapolis and in Portland. And we brought those
ideas back to our city. We said, ‘How do we implement it here?’

The first community court concept
was more of city-wide on the really low-level quality-of-life crimes. Judge [Richard H.] Ringell in our D.C. misdemeanor
court. And then we went and looked at the East of the River community, which is a primarily underserved area, with
high poverty rates, high crime rates, and just generally underserved in social services. And we decided to make that
our project, to start out there. And Judge Noël Kramer, a wonderful, wonderful judge, and I went out there, and we
started it first in the sixth police district, which comprised the northern half of the Anacostia neighborhood, and
the seventh police district was the second side of Anacostia.

And we expanded. We really started
with no services, with no real idea other than to go out there and make it better. And we did a good job. We did
really link with our city agencies, the pre-trial services agency, some city agencies to bring some social services.
And Judge Kramer was just an unending champion of the community court movement out there.

we had that running since 2003. In 2010 we actually were able to find some money and do our first evaluation of the
program, and we looked to see whether it was reducing recidivism in the community.

So what did you find?

CIPULLO: Well we worked with the group, Weststat,
they came in and did an independent survey for us, and they found a statistically significant reduction in recidivism
in people who went through the East of the River Community Court as opposed to people who had gone through the traditional

WOLF: I understand right now there are plans for expanding
it or you’re in the process of expanding it.

CIPULLO: We all knew
there was a little bit of unfairness in the city because the only people who really got the diversion opportunities
were people coming out of the East of the River Community Court. The prosecutor was not offering the same treatment
and diversion opportunities to everybody else across the court. And Judge Russell Canan and Judge Robert Morin, our
presiding and deputy presiding judges, had been very, very concerned about that and really wanted to expand that
and make it more fair to every defendant coming into the court. And we decided that at the beginning of 2012 we were
going to expand it citywide.

WOLF: So what would that model actually
look like?

CIPULLO: Well, we created six misdemeanor courts where
the judges will be taking the cases for their own individual police district. So we start in the summer with community
engagement, trying to get the judges out into the community to work with those civic associations, with those neighborhood
commissioners and start talking about the program. We work with the prosecutors and defense attorneys to kind of
align it.

We’ve taken – the court took over, actually, the community service program, too, which
was a big change for us because prior to that, part of it had been run by the pre-trial service agency for the East
of the River people, and then a small amount done by the US Attorney’s Office directly, and now the court’s taking
that over. So it’s been a big change for us in how we handle that community service.

But right
now we’re in the process of trying to line up some of the social services we need, but we do run a really good drug
court, we do run a really good mental health court, so anybody coming into the community courts who need those services
will be referred to those courts. So we’ll be looking at the lower level of drug users and hopefully lower-level
mental health people. So really try to find services that fit them and their needs.

Was it a tough sell, this decision to take the community court that had previously just been focused in the Anacostia
neighborhood to the entire city?

CIPULLO: Our chief judge was so
supportive, Chief Judge [Lee F.] Satterfield has been very, very, very supportive of the idea and the problem-solving

It’s been a little challenge with our judges because in the past our community court
judge did not do any trials. It was really just a problem-solving court, and that’s our model for our drug court
and our mental health court. So the judges have been very concerned about, ‘How can I be a problem-solver and still
do trials?’ So that’s been one of our biggest sells and we’re really working with our judges on that.

all really looking, the community’s been very receptive, we’ve been out to all the community meetings. We’ve had
judges out for a couple months now getting to most of the community meetings we can find. And the community is really,
really embracing it. The prosecutors are great partners in that, the pre-trial agency—[all] have been great partners.
So the whole criminal justice system is really embracing it. We’re actually cooperating with the city, and they’re
going to give us, hopefully, personnel to help us in our community service program too. So it’s been a great cooperative
effort so far.

WOLF: And I suppose it’s correct to say that the
experience you had at the East of the River Community Court acclimated all of these agencies, the U.S. Attorney’s
Office who serves as the prosecutor in D.C., the defense bar, even the court system itself to some extent had exposure
with it, so you could point to that positive example when you’re expanding it.

Yeah, it’s just been really great, the whole thing. When we first started community court the public defender service
was not a big fan of the community court. They really believed in, you know, the adversarial process and it took
a long time to convince some of them that actually we can do really good justice and not lose the adversarial process.

One of the great things about our court is too, that we have been doing most of our community
court diversions pretrial, so that if you fail in it, you still have the right to trial, which is something that
our public defender has appreciated, our CJA bar has really appreciated too. So some of the challenges we’ve had,
but overall it’s been a great partnership with all the agencies.

Give me a sense of what the expansion means in terms of how many places does the East of the River Community Court
handle annually and going forward –

CIPULLO: Yeah, the East of the
River Community Court was handling two police districts, so around 3,000 cases a year, give or take. Some people
opted out of that community court. They wanted to go to trial instead and that’s still always the option. But as
we expand it citywide, we’ll be affecting over 13,000 cases. The prosecutors estimated that about 70 percent of the
defendants coming in will be eligible for some kind of diversion – either mental health or drug court or community

WOLF: Tell me are there any extra costs or are you hoping
to save money through the change?

CIPULLO: I don’t think we’ll save
any money, but right now we’re not creating any additional costs because there’s just the money there. The big challenge
is, how do we line up, how do we do the assessment for people with social service needs, how do we provide those
social service needs? So that’s one of the big areas we’re really looking at.

We’re going to
send our serious drug abusers to our drug court, people with serious mental illness to our mental health court, but
of course you have other offenders whose problems aren’t quite so severe who still need that treatment, who still
need that help. And we’re really looking at that right now, how do we deal with that? Unemployment’s a big issue
in D.C. too, so we’re really working with our department of employment services to bring employment services into
the courthouse.

We’re really blessed, we actually have a mental health clinic in our courthouse
so anybody who’s showing signs of mental illness, we can send right down. We have a doctor there who can start medication,
can start treatment immediately. So we’re really blessed in some regards, but we really need to expand our resources
to be able to meet the needs of the population we’re serving.

And one final question. Did your experience planning the East of the River Community Court originally in any way
inform or help you as you’re doing the expansion? The lessons you’ve learned, has it made it easier?

Yes, so much easier because when we really started East of the River we started with no resources, no real plan,
but we had seen the other programs we thought it was great, and the time was right, we had a very supportive chief
judge, and we had an opportunity to move forward. We just did, kind of built it by the seats of our pants.

actually seeing what we did over the years, having worked with our partners over the years, how we saw the rate of
recidivism changing, we thought it was a great opportunity to move forward and that experience has really helped
guide us in trying to expand citywide.

WOLF: Great, well listen,
I really appreciate you taking the time, Dan.


I’ve been talking to Dan Cipullo, who is the director of the Criminal Division of the Superior Court in Washington,
D.C., and we’ve been talking about the community courts here in Washington, D.C., starting with the East of the River
Community Court, and the plans going forward now to expand the model to the entire city. So, good luck to you and
thank you.

CIPULLO: Thank you.

I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. Thanks for listening.