Monthly Archives: March 2012

Lessons from Australia: What Researchers Have Learned about the Melbourne Neighbourhood Justice Centre

Mark Halsey of Flinders University Law School discusses key findings of an evaluation of Australia’s first community court.


ROBERT V. WOLF: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation and
I’m in Washington D.C. at Community Justice 2012.  I’m speaking with Mark Halsey.  He’s
a professor of criminal justice at the Flinders Law School in Adelaide, Australia, and he was also one of the joint
leaders of the team that evaluated the Melbourne Neighbourhood Justice Centre.  Mark, first off let me just
thank you for taking the time to speak with me

MARK HALSEY:  Pleasure.  Thanks
for it.

WOLF:  What I wanted to do is ask you a little bit about the evaluation. So I
thought maybe you could just start off by describing what the three most important findings were, and maybe you want
to give just a little background about the evaluation, when it was conducted, and how it was conducted.

HALSEY:  Okay, so the evaluation virtually started when the center first opened, and it first took
clients in around February 2007.  And the evaluation – we collected data for just over two-and-a-half years,
and handed out the final report at the end of 2009, and the court was set up to serve a population of around 80,000
people in a locality called the city of Yara.  Quite a mix of people who come under the banner of the lowest
socioeconomic index, indeed in the country, one report found, with some very wealthy pockets in the population as
well, of the catchment area. 

In terms of your question around what were the three most
significant findings, the first one is that, I mean in terms of just out and out kind of findings, [we asked] “Was
this thing a success?  One of the things that we were charged with measuring was the degree of community
participation. There has to be a big focus on the Community Justice Center, the neighborhood justice center, and
we found kind of high levels of community participation and satisfaction, and it was evidenced by people reporting
that not only had the NJC given them the opportunity to be heard about justice and local community issues in their
area, but they also saw—around 50 percent of everybody surveyed reported that their decisions have been reflected
in things the Community Justice Center or neighborhood justice center had done. 

big finding is that over time, everybody asks the recidivism question.  Now the court didn’t just handle
criminal matters. It sat as a children’s court, it sat as a VCAT, or Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal,
you know, like residential tenancy matters and so forth. It heard a wide range of matters. The majority of the matters
were criminal matters, however. We looked at a sample of NJC clients and they were following up for about, I think
it was about 16 to 18 months, against the control group from other courts with similar backgrounds, kind of offense
histories, times in and out of court and so forth.  And what it shows is the survival times of NJC clients
was slightly better than the control group. It may have came down to something like 7 to 10 percent lower recidivism
rate. I think one of the other clear results was the compliance rate on community-based orders and doing community
service that proved to be a better compliance rate than the state average.

WOLF:  Let
me ask you about something you brought up in your presentation that I thought we could discuss briefly and that was
what happens in the court room, in terms of who speaks.  And you made a point that you found that beyond
the attorneys, the prosecutor and defense, other people including the defendant were much more likely to have an
opportunity to speak and be heard in the courtroom than in a conventional setting.  And I wonder if you
could just say a little more about that.

HALSEY:  Sure.  We did look at, we
ran a series of court observations at the neighborhood justice center court and two comparative sites as well, two
kind of regular, traditional magistrate courts, and we were very interested in, to what extent do people in the court,
engaged in the process of the matter or the case, speak.  What was interesting was that defendants themselves
were not only far more likely to be called on to speak, to be asked to speak by the magistrate, but they themselves
would ask to speak, in a non-prompted way to the magistrate far more often than in other courts, which to us I guess
indicated a degree of trust or, you know, a sense that what they wanted to say would be taken seriously, and they
felt they could actually put their own views on the agenda, if you like. 

One of the
other important things about the NJC court, as opposed to other courts, is the presence of other support people there. 
So if you’re dealing with a clinician or a counselor or whatever, for mental health, alcohol and drugs, financial
counselor, if they needed to be in court to either support or clarify things immediately for the magistrate, they
were far more likely to be there and understand something about that person’s situation – their history, where
they need to go, and where they’re at in their kind of recovery process – if I can put it like that – and to
inform the magistrate of that. Which made for a much more holistic hearing, if you like. 

There was one other thing you mentioned, that it was absolutely fundamental—I think those are the words you used—to
think about the way the magistrate is chosen, or in our case usually the judge in the United States. I thought maybe
you could just explain a little bit more about that, but it also raises for me the question, does it become personality-driven,
and if the personality of the judge is so crucial, does that make it harder to, say, replicate in different settings?

HALSEY:  Look, it does make it slightly more challenging because people are unique, but I think,
you know, they did exceptionally well in appointing the magistrate that they did, and I think one of the best things
that they can do is to try to really try to map – what are the great strengths of that particular magistrate? 
Why does he work in that scenario and so when they go to fill that position again, that at least some of those features
can be present. And I think, you know, it’s been said here at the conference as well that, you know, you need
someone that is willing to move away, if you like, from kind of the moral condemnation script that kind of inhabits
a lot of court kind of operations, and that is willing to canvas some other kind of way of operating, like the therapeutic
justice, like procedural justice, to actually kind of, in a sense, be willing to work with individuals and work to
understand the things that underpin their offending, if indeed they’re before you as a criminal defendant. No
one’s irreplaceable. It’s just a matter of going about the business of selecting someone very carefully
and not thinking you can just slot someone in and they’ll be overwhelmed by the climate and they’ll just
automatically changed.  There has to be some kind of integration process.

So let me ask you one more question, Mark. What would you say are the three most critical factors to a community
court’s success?

HALSEY:  Okay, so the things that we know, I think ultimately in
the final report, were a single magistrate. So the magistrate gets to know, basically, everybody that comes before
them and they can set up some kind of tangible relationship with them, and the monthly—or however often the court
reviews for specific people—is really important.  The second things is that it is really important to have
a neighborhood justice officer, or a person that can act as the go between or liase between the magistrate and the
people who are trying to help clients in a more direct sense, you know, the clinical team and the other members of
the larger support team, like financial counseling, homelessness, whatever.  There needs to be that person
so that you can maintain the independence of the magistrate in court, and that they’re not seen to be interfering
in those other clinician’s roles

WOLF:  Would that parallel the role of the resource
coordinator that we have in community courts?

HALSEY:  I don’t know the answer. 
It may well, but if it is someone that basically is in court the majority of time, and knows what the magistrate
is doing, and knows what other aspects of the center are doing for particular clients who are in the court, then
that would be right.

WOLF:  Yeah, that sounds pretty parallel.

So that’s the second thing. The other thing is that it has to be, or from our point of view, there is huge weight
to be attached to the on-site nature of services so that clients don’t get shunted or lost between and order
from a court and trying to either find a service some distance away, or hope that they turn up to that, or hope that
they go to their community corrections office somewhere else.

WOLF:  Well great, thanks
so much, Mark,

HALSEY:  It’s a pleasure, Rob.  I’m really happy to
be here.

WOLF:  I’ve been speaking with Mark Halsey, who is a professor of Criminal
Justice at the Flinders Law School in Adelaide, Australia.  We’ve been talking about what he learned
as one of the joint leaders of the team who evaluated the Melbourne Justice Center.

Thanks Rob.  Can I just also acknowledge the other members of the team and  that’s Professor
David Bamford from Flinders University, Dr. Stuart Ross from University of Melbourne, and we also had assistance
from PriceWaterhouseCoopers, who did a cost-benefit analysis for us. And the Social Research Center of North Melbourne,
and the Brotherhood of St. Lawrence based in Collinwood in Melbourne.

Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation.  If you want to hear more of our
podcasts you can visit our website at

(March 2012)

Associate Professor Mark Halsey, left, answers a question as part of a panel on community court research
        at Community Justice 2012.Associate Professor
Mark Halsey, left, answers a question as part of a panel on community
court research at Community Justice

The Architecture of Collaboration: A New Courthouse in Colorado has Cooperation in Mind

A new building in Milliken, Colorado, houses a community court, police station and social services in an effort
to foster collaboration among agencies and be more user-friendly for both the public and staff. Jim Burack, town
administrator and chief of police, discusses the logic behind the building’s design.

following is a transcript of the conversation.

: Hi, I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation, and
I’m at Community Justice 2012 in Washington, D.C., and I’m speaking to various people who are in attendance
and presenting.

And right now I’m going to take a little time to talk to Jim Burack, who
is the town administrator and also the chief of police in Milliken, Colorado. And I was going to talk to him about
the development of a community court in Milliken, but I thought, Jim, I would start first with a little bit about
your personal journey, because I know that you used to be the counsel and director of operations at the Police Executive
Research Forum, which is kind of a think tank that explores issues around police, police policy, and I wonder how
you went from that role here in Washington, with a national perspective, to this more local perspective in Colorado.

JIM BURACK: You know, I spent, as you said, I spent six years at
PERF here in Washington, D.C., and I had the opportunity to meet and to hear and spend time with a lot of the leading
police researchers, leading police practitioners. So it was really an incomparable opportunity, and I was really
fortunate to have that chance to see up close, to be able to visit some of these communities that have done great
anti-crime initiatives and to be part of them as either a member of a consulting team, or a member of the research

But there gets to be a point where you’re still an outsider that you want to actually be
engaged with making something happen in the field. And so after a number of years at PERF it was clear to me that
I wanted to get back into the field. I had been a police officer when I first got out of college. I was a patrol
officer on the street outside of Denver and that’s where I wanted to be. And that’s actually been the plan
since college—to be a police chief.

WOLF: Well tell me, then, how
you began to think about creating a community court in Milliken and what led you to that idea and what the process
has been like to actually bring it to fruition.

BURACK: I think
I have to go back years. I mean probably PERF was the formative, the formative period, but I spent a lot of time
working on problem-oriented policing, and I had a chance to spend time with Herman Goldstein and Ron Clarke and practitioners,
Chuck Wexler, who was my boss, and a number of folks who, if you’re in the world of policing, mean a great deal.
So I worked a lot on problem-oriented policing, community policing. One of your colleagues from CCI, Julius Lang,
came in and spoke at a problem-oriented policing conference. So it was clear to me at that point, listening to Julius,
that community courts was the twin of problem-oriented policing, and that there were these synergies that can happen
between policing and courts.

After a couple of years I had an opportunity to build a new police
station. We’re a very fast growing community in northern Colorado, and my county was one of the fastest growing
counties in the country in the early 2000s. We went to the voters for a bond. The voters approved it, and I think
early on I recognized I wanted to build a building which tried to incorporate all of these strands of police innovation:
community policing, problem-oriented policing, CPTED or crime prevention through environmental design. And my impulse
was “We need to build a courthouse into it.” We talked through it. We were going to build a courthouse into it and
figure out how we can make, at the municipal level, the very lowest levels of the criminal justice system, how we
can get the police and courts to cooperate better. And that was the genesis of it.

So it sounds like you’re making a connection between the architecture of the space and the actual practical
relationship the court system and the police have, or you hope that they will have.

I think that’s exactly correct. You put it better than I. I think that design has an impact. It sends a message
both to the defendants and folks who are participating in the in the justice system at the local level, and it sends
a clear message, I think, to the officers and participants that we believe in problem-solving and prevention.

beauty of it is that you can design this, what’s effectively a neighborhood-based police and court, for this
clearly defined geographic area and deliver service on a personal retail basis, where there’s a high level of
accountability, a high level of knowledge by officers about the community and about the customers and the families
and the businesses we serve.

So the question that I think our Milliken model leads to is whether
or not there’s some basis of suggesting that you could design or replicate neighborhood-based, decentralized
community police stations twinned with a community court along, probably, with some sort of human service resource
center, which is what we’ve added in our lobby of our police station. I think it’s a theory worth trying.

WOLF: Well tell me a little bit about the architecture, then. Paint
a picture then. What’s it like?

BURACK: Well, I think if you’re
a visitor, the first thing that strikes you when you walk into our building, first of all, it’s right downtown.
The building overlooks our future town square. But when you walk in, you walk into a lobby with a children’s
library, with children’s toys, with a fireplace, with rocking chairs.

You even walk in and
next to the service counter for the police department, there are two chairs at the counter. And what it does, I think
it changes the dynamic of that interaction between the visitor to the police station and our personnel behind the
counter. Because it instantly suggests to a visitor, “Please sit down. Let’s actually talk.” I mean, you’re
not there to get a burger. You’re there to sit down and talk out a problem. And I think it ties to this procedure
of justice. It’s not only how you’re treated, it’s those silent signals that the customer of justice
services receives, that “I’m gonna be treated with dignity and respect, and be listened to, because my environment
tells me that that’s what’s going to happen in this place.”

We put a lot of glass on
the outside of the courthouse. You want the court participants, you want the judge, you want the victim’s family
and the defendant’s family to understand that there’s a community beyond that glass, outside, that’s
being affected by that behavior that we’re talking about in court. And we wanted to reflect a sense that we
might to restorative justice in the courtroom, so we have a circular design in the center of the room so that if
we do conferencing or, you know, healing circles, that there’s some way that we reflect that tradition that
we hope, at some point, to start.

WOLF: So tell me about introducing
this idea of a community court and even some of the community policing ideas that you’ve brought to Milliken.
Have you found any kind of culture clash or any challenges or obstacles?

I’ll make one observation, which may be counterintuitive, but it reinforces itself from time to time. And that
is when you explain these concepts to the layperson, they intuitively understand it. They intuitively say it’s
a good idea, and it makes sense to them. Curiously, when you explain concepts like this to folks who are the experts,
the professionals, the folks who spent a lifetime in a silo, have a more difficult time—some of them—sort of bridging
the silos because they’re invested in a certain way of doing business. And community courts are a great example
of trying to pull people out of those silos and out of those sorts of cultural norms of the profession we’ve
grown up with.

WOLF: Great, well it’s been a pleasure talking
with you Jim. I’ve been speaking with Jim Burack who’s the town administrator and also the chief of police
of Milliken, Colorado. I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation. To listen
to more podcasts, visit our website at Thanks for listening.

Jim Burack, third from right, says the new combined courthouse/police station fosters inter-agencycollaboration.
        With Burack are, from left, Benito Garcia, Commander, Police Dept., Bruce Fickel, Community Prosecutor, Jessica Jones,
        Community Court Case & Resource Manager, Maria Zuniga,Community Services Assistant, Police Dept., John
        Easley, Community Court Judge, Beatriz Rangel,Community Court Clerk, and Mick Peters, School Resource Officer.Jim Burack, third from right, says the new combined courthouse/police station
fosters inter-agency
collaboration. With Burack are, from left, Benito Garcia, Commander, Police Dept.,
Bruce Fickel,
Community Prosecutor, Jessica Jones, Community Court Case & Resource Manager, Maria
Community Services Assistant, Police Dept., John Easley, Community Court Judge, Beatriz Rangel,
Court Clerk, and Mick Peters, School Resource Officer.

Sustaining Community Courts: What Makes a Program Attractive to Potential Funders?

Burke Fitzpatrick administers the Office
of Justice Programs in South Carolina’s Department of Public Safety
, which distributes federal justice
dollars to programs in the state. In this interview, he explains why he thinks problem-solving courts have been a
good investment and what he looks for in a funding application.

following is a transcript of the interview.

: For anyone trying to start a new program, funding is crucial. The big question is, how do you
attract dollars to your initiative? I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court Innovation,
and I turned to Burke Fitzpatrick for an answer to that question.

Mr. Fitzpatrick is the Administrator
for the Office of Justice Programs in the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, and his team oversees the distribution
of federal justice dollars in his state. Mr. Fitzpatrick participated in a panel on funding at Community Justice
2012: the International Conference of Community Courts. I caught up with him afterward to talk about why he thinks
South Carolina’s problem-solving courts have been a good investment and to get a sense of what he looks for
in a funding application.

Thank you very much, Burke, for taking the time to talk to me.

BURKE FITZPATRICK: Pleasure to be here.

Why are you interested in community courts, given your capacity as overseer of federal justice dollars distributed
in South Carolina?

FITZPATRICK: Let me first give you a little
context. My office does distribute and manage much of the federal law enforcement funds that come from the Department
of Justice, as well as victim of crimes money and juvenile justice grant funds, and we’ve been doing that for
a very long time.

And in South Carolina we don’t have a very distinguished record as far
as our rankings in violent crime and property crime in general. In the last decade, we’ve been ranked number
one per capita in violent crime in the country. And we’re not in that ranking right now, we’ve slipped
to number two, thankfully, and maybe we’re down to five; we’re heading in the right direction. But for all those
years and before, my office put a lot of money into law enforcement to fight violent crime, with a number of initiatives,
multijurisdictional narcotics task forces, all kinds of things. But what we didn’t address—and I think this
was an oversight, which we are now trying to correct—what we didn’t address is the piece on the courts. Because
you can arrest a lot of people, either for minor crimes or major crimes—and major crimes are probably going to do
prison time, but the minor crimes, which affect the quality of life and lead, I think, to violent crime numbers in
the state—actually if you ignore those folks then you’re not solving the problem.

So we
now think that putting some resources into the specialized court, such as community courts, such as domestic violence
courts, such as mental health courts and other types of specialized courts is a wise investment because we’re
going to break that revolving door that—we’re going to break that chain where the offenders who start out as
low-level offenders—although it’s very, very serious, the people they impact—these low-level offenders, we can reintegrate
them into the community, get them sober, and stable, and employed, and have sufficient supervision, perhaps, for
a period of time where they’re a contributing member of the community and not, maybe, someone who’s going
to graduate to a more and more serious crime.

So in a nutshell, we’ve been putting a lot
of money into the law enforcement side and neglecting, to a great extent, the community corrections or community
court side. And now I think it’s time to balance that out. And interestingly, it comes at a time when federal
grant funds are diminishing, so it’s going to be even more difficult to do that. I think law enforcement in
our state and many states have sort of been used to taking advantage, rightfully so, of the justice system’s grants
and the Byrne Funds, and other funds. What they need to see—and I think many, many of our law enforcement officers
do—but they don’t want to be locking up the same people again and again either. And they don’t want their
communities to suffer the same problems over and over again that these courts might be able to solve. So we’ve
got good track records with some of our domestic violence courts. We’ve got a good track record for our mental
health courts— don’t have enough of them, they don’t impact enough people, and they’re not a perfect solution,
but they’re headed in the right direction.

WOLF: So you have
had experience with these kinds of problem-solving courts, and you’re saying that your experience has been positive?

FITZPATRICK: They have been positive. We have funded, out of my
office, domestic violence courts and mental health courts. They’ve all been successful, they’ve got very,
very talented people, judiciary and staff support, and all kinds of community resources behind them, but I question
whether we’re going to ever get to a point where we can have enough of them to make sort of a tidal change in
the kind of the crime rates we’re talking about. But certainly it’s the right thing to do for the judiciary
and it’s the right thing to do for the criminal justice system.

What factors are you weighing? What are you looking for in an applicant who is coming to you and saying, “You know,
we have a great idea. We want to start this kind of court or this kind of program”?

It’s an interesting question because for a grant administrator, it’s always a question as to where you
put your resources, and in my office we’ve taken the philosophy that we will reach out to everybody, make them
aware of these possibilities, and make them aware of the grant solicitation resources out there. But we’re not
wise enough to get on the community level and decide if that’s a good place or the next county’s a good
place, or the next city’s a good place. So we let them come to us. We let those proposals come to our office
because they’ve already shown the initiative and the interest, and they’ve talked amongst themselves and
got buy-in, probably, from law enforcement and courts and probation, parole and pardon services, and the alcohol
and drug abuse folks on the local level before they send us the grant application. Then we’ll look at it and
maybe give it some guidance on budget and structure and evaluation, and make sure they have measurable objectives
and good performance indicators. And then it’s our job to take that application and put it against all the others,
because we get millions of more dollars worth of requests than we can fulfill, and say that’s the project we
need to fund at the expense of others that aren’t gonna get funded.

We’ve been successful
in that because I think the council and board that we report to see the big picture the same way we do, in that if
we just concentrate on that one part of the criminal justice system, we’re just not going to be successful.

WOLF: And have you found that there is some resistance in some
parts within, perhaps, law enforcement or the judiciary to some of these alternative approaches, or are people welcoming
these ideas with open arms at this point?

FITZPATRICK: Let me speak
candidly here. When drug courts first were initiated around the country and I think also in South Carolina, the title
“drug court,” to the general public, meant that you had a special court set up to crack down on drug offenders. And
that was okay because that’s really not what the court was supposed to be about; it was supposed to break that
link of continued criminality and continued recidivism. So we didn’t get too much criticism from the public
because they thought this was a tougher, tougher measure, and I think that as people began to understand what the
drug court was about and saw its successes, they said “hey, this isn’t a bad idea. This is a good idea.”

Mental health courts, I think the community adopted that idea right away. I think the private sector, the communities,
the retailers, they knew that these panhandlers and folks were making, you know, are minor thieves, and people who
were scrawling graffiti or peeing and urinating all over the front of their businesses, they know they’re crazy.
I mean, that’s not a politically correct word, but yeah, they are, and they need special help. And they immediately
endorsed mental health courts, I think.

Domestic violence courts, that’s a very specialized
crime, and we need to work with those offenders so it doesn’t escalate, and people seemed to adopt that pretty
well, as well.

WOLF: And so given, as you referred to, the reduction
in federal dollars, where does that leave states and communities in terms of strategies or the options open to them?

FITZPATRICK: Well there’s ways to initiate community courts
with very little initial funding input. Traditionally it’s been done through grants because most communities
and municipalities just don’t have unprogrammed dollars just sitting around on the shelf saying, “Gosh, what
a great idea. Let’s start a court.”

So they come to maybe a state administrative agency
like mine and say, “I’d like a grant if you have grant money, but after two or three years, or four years, we’ll
stand on our own two feet.” And that’s the model we use in South Carolina.

The first year
is getting it all together and getting organized and getting that client/defendant population in place. The second
year is really hitting your stride and working out all the kinks and getting some good data. And the third year,
the third year is critical because you’re going back to your county council, back to your city council, or whomever
you can find, and saying, “Listen, these grant funds are going to be withdrawn. We have demonstrated success. Here
are our numbers.” And if that community really understands what that community court is about, if they’ve been
in the court and actually seen it and realize “Okay, there’s real people here acting compassionately and fairly,
but firmly,” that community’s going to say, “We understand that the community is safer, saving valuable tax
dollars, we’ve got to continue it.”

WOLF: Great, well, you
know, I really appreciate your taking the time to talk to me.

Well thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be invited to the conference. Great job.

: Thank you. I’ve been speaking with Burke Fitzpatrick, who’s the administrator of the
Office of Justice Programs of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety. I am Rob Wolf, Director of Communications
at the Center for Court Innovation. To hear more podcasts, you can visit our website at

In Vancouver, Offenders Find Community Service is a Two-Way Street

Crown Counsel Adam Dalrymple explains how the Downtown Vancouver Community Court uses community service assignments to match
offenders with organizations that address their social service needs.

following is a transcript of the interview.

: Is it possible to punish an offender and help them at the same time? The Downtown Vancouver
Community Court assigns offenders to restitution projects and the very social services that can help them.

I’m Rob Wolf, Director of Communications at the Center for Court Innovation. And in the following
interview, I talk to Crown Prosecutor Adam Dalrymple about the Downtown Vancouver Community Court’s approach
to combining community service and social services.

WOLF: Hi Adam.


I wanted to ask you about a presentation you participated in today at Community Justice 2012, which really focused
on community service. I think Vancouver’s Downtown Community Court has been able to achieve something that a
lot of community courts strive to achieve, which is a kind of community service that not only seeks to improve the
community but does something for the defendant as well. And I wonder if you could sort of explain to me how your
community service works and how you meet the needs, both of the defendant and the community through your community
service assignments.

DALRYMPLE: Well the first step was identifying
the needs in the community. The Downtown East Side of Vancouver is an area marred by drug addiction, mental health
issues, homelessness, and poverty. We also knew that were there a number of social services in the community, and
the key was trying to connect or link the offenders to those social services.

What we did was,
throughout our community service program at community court, we attempted to organize these programs and have our
offenders go to these programs based on their social needs. And how we went about doing that was through a motivational
interview with a probation officer. So once an accused or an offender was deemed suitable for community work service,
they would go upstairs and have a meeting with a probation officer. The probation officer would employ the motivational
interview, which is designed to elicit information; it’s reflective listening and engagement from the offender–asking
the offender, you know, “What do you think the problem is?” or “Do you have housing? Do you have employment?” Those
sorts of things.

And then based on the answer, that probation officer would match that need
with a placement in the community at one of the various outreach organizations. For example, with women who may have
come in committing a theft under $5,000 or a shoplifting, they may have been victims of domestic violence in their
past. So the idea was, why don’t we place them with the women’s shelter in the Downtown East Side? It’s
a safe environment for them to go to, to give back to their community, learn about the various resources at the shelter,
such as obviously shelter, housing, food; they have outreach workers there.

So they’re actually doing work for the shelter as they learn about what the shelter provides?

DALRYMPLE: So they are, they are sorting clothing, they’re doing administrative
tasks, they’re cleaning, they’re serving food. So they’re working at the shelter, and at the same
time, they’re learning about the services that may assist them in the future. And so in a way we are sort of
killing two birds with one stone. And at the same time, we’re connecting the social services to the court and
the offenders of the court to the social services. We’re really rebuilding a community that was fractured.

WOLF: And are there other examples? So a defendant who has a history of domestic
violence, that sounds like a natural fit. Have her work in a shelter.

Well for example, we have individuals who don’t have stable housing who are new to Vancouver. There’s a
large population in Vancouver that are from other provinces and other countries that are on the Downtown East Side
using drugs, things of that nature. They don’t have stable housing. So we would refer them to a shelter where
they’ll complete their community work service. They may serve food there, they may engage in janitorial duties,
administrative tasks. The idea is to open their minds to all of the resources that are really at their fingertips
that they may not have been aware of before.

We had one really good example of an individual
from Edmonton, Alberta, who recently moved to Vancouver—didn’t have a lot of connections, didn’t have a
home, did his community work service for a minor offense at a shelter and now he’s thriving. He feels like he’s
part of the community. He actually returns to that shelter and plays ping pong and chess, and things of that nature.
And now he feels like he’s a part of that community. And we haven’t seen any recidivism with respect to

WOLF: Was it a hard sell to the community at large? I’m
just speculating that in some instances, someone may feel that it’s too good for the defendants, it’s not
hard enough. I just wonder if there’s any push back.

We haven’t experienced any push back. In fact, most of community is quite practical about community work service
and educating them as well with respect to the principles of restorative justice. The idea that if you can restore
the offender as part of the community, that can pay itself forward many times over. This is someone who, if they
are linked up to shelters, to housing, to food, they may not need to steal from the local market. They may not engage
in criminal activity. So this has benefits for everyone. We’ve only received quite positive feedback.

WOLF: And was it difficult to find partners willing to take on defendants?
I mean presumably they’re working with similar populations, but were there new issues of supervision, or compliance
monitoring that needed to be put in place for the program to work.

I wasn’t responsible for setting up the program, but what I can tell you is that certain placements have restrictions.
For example, they may not want a sex offender working in their facility, or at a women’s shelter they won’t
have men. We respect those rules.

We have open dialogue with these organizations in terms of
compliance. The organization or the placement tells us if they’ve provided compliance. And I mentioned, we have
worksheets that are completed by the organization and when they’re submitted with respect to compliance, we’ll
actually go pick them up so that we have direct communication and dialogue with the organization. That keeps, sort
of, our thumb on the pulse of the organization, and it allows us to continue building those relationships.

WOLF: Are there plans going forward to expand or other thoughts about community
service that you perhaps are picking up here at the conference or you guys are already working on?

DALRYMPLE: Well an idea that we’re sort of thinking of is community work service
as a means to really engage the community and strengthen the ties of the court in the community. And that’s
one thing that I’ve discovered in preparing for this presentation, is that a lot of the organizations aren’t
quite familiar with community court. They care about community court and if we perhaps, we reached out to an even
broader group of groups and organizations, it may increase the profile of the court in the community. And that’s
always a good thing.

WOLF: Have you noticed from your contact
with American prosecutors, a difference in their approach or attitudes toward community court or specific strategies
or obstacles they encounter that perhaps you don’t encounter in Canada?

I’ve learned a lot about the difference between the Canadian and the American community court models. One important
difference is their profile within the community. The American courts are more active with private sector funding,
marketing, reaching out, whereas in Canada we are, have been relatively reluctant to do that. That’s the one
major difference.

As well, I’ve also learned from speaking to my American colleagues that
their courts deal with a lot of quality-of-life type crimes. In Vancouver, we deal with quite a number of serious
offenses in our community court. We deal with domestic assaults, we deal with fraud, we deal with weapons offenses,
we deal with break-and-enters of commercial premises, assault causing bodily harm type offenses. So it represents
an opportunity in Vancouver because we deal with such a variety of different offenses.

Adam, thank you very much. I’ve been talking to Adam Dalrymple, who is a crown prosecutor with the Downtown
Community Court in Vancouver, Canada. We’ve been talking about their approach to community service among other
things. Adam, thank you very much.

DALRYMPLE: Thank you.

WOLF: I’m Rob Wolf, director of communications at the Center for Court
Innovation. To hear more podcasts, you can visit our website at Thanks for listening.

March 2012