Monday, December 22, 2008

Married for Life (in Melbourne West): Life is Cheap

Married for Life (in Melbourne West): Life is Cheap

Testing the Impact of the Midtown Community Court

Community courts are neighborhood-focused courts that attempt to harness the authority of the justice system to address local problems. The first such project was the Midtown Community Court, launched in midtown Manhattan in 1993. As of the end of 2007, more than 50 community courts had opened across the globe, including 32 in the United States (Karafin 2008). Yet, only a handful of studies have tested the effects of the community court model in accomplishing its goals (see Kralstein 2005). Many of these goals involve having a real impact on the local community – by implementing restorative community service projects or initiating greater collaboration between the court and community representatives. In addition, community courts seek to diversify the range of disposition and sentencing options that are at the court’s disposal and to apply a form of individualized justice that tailors each response to the litigant’s specific situation and needs (Sviridoff, Rottman, and Weidner 2001). The expected outcome is a far greater use of “alternative sanctions” than in a traditional court (Kralstein 2005; Sviridoff et al. 2000, Weidner and Davis 2000). Indeed, a recent survey found that 92% of today’s community courts routinely use community service mandates, and 84% routinely use mandates to social services, including substance abuse treatment, treatment readiness sessions, individual counseling, employment readiness, or life skills classes (Karafin 2008).


Using Ethnographic Research to Enhance Youth Program Planning

With the help of the Independence Community Foundation, the Red Hook Community Justice Center, a community court that aims to improve public safety in a low-income Brooklyn neighborhood, sought to tackle the problem of the positive perceptions of youth crime among young people residing in public housing. The Red Hook Houses—the largest public housing development in Brooklyn—are home to a sizeable population of disconnected youth. Many of these young people—predominantly male, poor, and black and Latino—are involved in the neighborhood’s drug trade. The Justice Center wanted to design a program that would provide young popular opinion leaders with the analytical skills and marketing techniques to create and disseminate a youth-designed and -driven community education campaign to challenge the positive perceptions of youth crime.

As it was initially conceived, the first step of this program—drawn from public health safe-sex models—involved using ethnographic research methods to identify young popular opinion leaders in the community so they could be recruited for program participation. As an experienced youth ethnographer and youth program designer, I was hired to oversee the process. After some consideration, my colleagues and I decided to expand the first step to include a larger investigation into Red Hook youth culture. The results have had a dramatic impact on the way we approached program design, content, and recruitment. The final result was a new program, Youth ECHO, that opened its doors in March, 2008. Designing any new program is a lengthy process, a series of sequential decisions each of which impacts the ultimate product. As social services, public health, and other community-based programming is looking more and more to evidence-based models, program designers are working harder than ever to make those decisions deliberately and conscientiously.

Unfortunately, in the world of youth programming the following scene is still all too common: a group of adults sitting around a conference table discussing what programmatic elements might be the most appealing and beneficial to youth. Unlike professionals who work with adults, those who work with youth often approach their jobs with an uncomplicated sense of authority; after all, each was once a teenager. The result can be a set of program components that engages only a subset of youth—those who are the most amenable to participating in
leadership training programs, internship opportunities, or mentoring programs. Despite the lengths to which many of these programs go to recruit more hard-to-reach youth, many ultimately fail to do so.

Consequently, those teenagers who are the most vulnerable—those who have either dropped out of school or are dangerously close, those involved with the juvenile and
criminal justice system, those with limited job prospects—fall through the proverbial cracks. The program design approach described in this report proceeds differently. We drew on the practices of ethnographic research to get closer to understanding how youth themselves feel about their social lives, their cultural milieu, their community, and their futures. By using their words, their stories and their experiences, those of us involved in building Youth ECHO acquired a unique view of youth culture and youth programming needs in Red Hook and in so doing simultaneously jump-started the necessary process of building bridges with potential program participants.


The Impact of the Community Court Model on Defendant Perceptions of Fairness

This report presents the results of a research project comparing defendant perceptions of fairness in the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Red Hook) and a traditional centralized criminal court. Nearly 400 defendants, who were seen at either Red Hook or the traditional court in summer 2005, took part in a survey comparing their perceptions of the treatment they received.

The survey evaluated the effects of court location (Red Hook or the traditional court), defendant background (race, ethnicity, sex and socioeconomic status), the outcome of their current court case (dismissed or required to return to court; required to attend drug treatment or not), and the stage of their case at the time of the survey (arraignment or subsequent court appearance).

Structured courtroom observations supplemented the results of the survey and helped to generate richer explanations about why different defendants might have perceived their court experiences as fair or unfair.

Among other outcomes, community courts seek to improve public confidence in the courts and to encourage law-abiding behavior. Previous research shows that when defendants perceive their treatment to be fair, they are more likely to accept the decisions of the court, comply with court imposed sanctions, and obey the law in the future (Tyler and Huo 2002). This study provides the first-ever evaluation of the success of a community court in improving upon the traditional court’s capacity to ensure that defendants leave court believing they were treated fairly.

This research project had two main goals:
1) to compare defendant perceptions of fairness at the Red Hook Community
Justice Center and the traditional criminal court and 2) to identify the predictors of defendant perceptions. Since effective communication as well as respectful and fair treatment of defendants are important tenets of the community court model, we focus on how each of these elements affects defendants’ overall perceptions of fairness.


Strange Justice

Strange Justice

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Criminal Justice Courses and Program Offered at URock

In January the University of Maine at Fort Kent will offer courses in its Criminal Justice Concentration at University College at Rockland. The program prepares students for a variety of careers in the field of Criminal Justice and serves as an in-service program for law enforcement officers. Students can earn the concentration entirely online.

“It seemed like a natural fit,” said Dr. Tony Enerva,
Criminal Justice and Public Safety faculty at UMFK. “We have had great success with previous Criminal Justice courses offered through distance education formats, and we are seeking ways to reach more people around the state.”

The University of Maine at Augusta will deliver seven courses in its Justice Studies programs at University College at Rockland online and via interactive television (ITV). UMA’s bachelor and associate degrees in Justice Studies provide opportunities in law enforcement, paralegal work, detective work, corrections and security.

The URock spring semester begins January 12. For more information about
Criminal Justice/Justice Studies programs and courses, please contact University College at Rockland or visit to view a complete course listing.

Staff are available to help you with registration questions. Contact URock at 800-286-1594.



Thursday, December 11, 2008

Combustible Dust: The Threat to First Responders

On December 19, 2008, Conversations with Heroes at the Watering Hole will feature a discussion with John Astad and Bob LaPlante on preventing and mitigating fire and explosion from combustible dust. According to OSHA, “any combustible material (and some materials normally considered noncombustible) can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form. If such a dust is suspended in air in the right concentration, it can become explosive.

The force from such an explosion can cause employee deaths, injuries, and destruction of entire buildings. Such incidents have killed scores of employees and injured hundreds over the past few decades.” As an example, “In January 2003, devastating fires and explosions destroyed a North Carolina pharmaceutical plant that manufactured rubber drug-delivery components. Six employees were killed and 38 people, including two
firefighters, were injured. The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB), an independent Federal agency charged with investigating chemical incidents, issued a final report concluding that an accumulation of a combustible polyethylene dust above the suspended ceilings fueled the explosion. The explosion severely damaged the plant and caused minor damage to nearby businesses, a home, and a school.”

Program Date: December 19, 2008
Program Time: 2100 hours, Pacific
Topic: Combustible Dust: The Threat to First Responders
Listen Live:

About the Guests
John Astad is Director and Research Analyst of the Combustible Dust Policy Institute. At the Institute, John tracks and researches combustible dust related fires and explosions. The results of this business intelligence data can be utilized by a myriad of stakeholders in the public and private sectors in developing cost effective strategies in assessing risk concerning combustible dust hazards in the workplace. John Astad holds a BS Business and Public Administration from the University of Houston-Clear Lake, with a major in Environmental Management.

Bob LaPlante is the General Manager at United Training Specialists (Phoenix, AZ). He has 29 years of power plant experience in Engineering, Fire Protection and Emergency Response Planning. His responsibility have included developing emergency response plans for power generating plants with regards to meeting OSHA, NFPA and DHS regulations and standards; and, developing emergency response power plant training, facility pre-plans, standard operating procedures and fire protection equipment maintenance and training programs for plant Emergency Response Team members. Bob LaPlante is a member of the NFPA, Edison Electric Institute’s Fire Committee, International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Arizona Fire Chiefs Association and the Arizona Fire Training Association.

About the Watering Hole
The Watering Hole is
police slang for a location cops go off-duty to blow off steam and talk about work and life. Sometimes funny; sometimes serious; but, always interesting.

About the Host
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster was a sworn member of the Los Angeles
Police Department for 24 years. He retired in 2003 at the rank of Lieutenant. He holds a bachelor’s from the Union Institute and University in Criminal Justice Management and a Master’s Degree in Public Financial Management from California State University, Fullerton; and, has completed his doctoral course work. Raymond E. Foster has been a part-time lecturer at California State University, Fullerton and Fresno; and is currently a Criminal Justice Department chair, faculty advisor and lecturer with the Union Institute and University. He has experience teaching upper division courses in law enforcement, public policy, Criminal Justice technology and leadership. Raymond is an experienced author who has published numerous articles in a wide range of venues including magazines such as Government Technology, Mobile Government, Airborne Law Enforcement Magazine, and Police One. He has appeared on the History Channel and radio programs in the United States and Europe as subject matter expert in technological applications in law enforcement.

Listen, call, join us at the Watering Hole.

Program Contact Information
Lieutenant Raymond E. Foster, LAPD (ret.), MPA

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Request For Proposal Computer Assisted Pre-Coordination Resource and Database System (CAPRAD) and Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) Support

Request For Proposal Computer Assisted Pre-Coordination Resource and Database System (CAPRAD) and Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) Support

Law enforcement and corrections professionals have expressed interest in supporting the Computer Assisted Pre-Coordination Resource and Database System (CAPRAD) and the Regional Planning Committees (RPCs) efforts via the National
Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) Communications Technologies Center of Excellence (COE). The purpose of this Request for Proposal (RFP) is to gather quotes for the support of these two efforts. The COE seeks proposals from organizations and agencies that have capability and experience in the communications arena that can meet the tasks outlined in this RFP.

For a copy of this RFP go to:

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Changes Announced Near the 5-year Anniversary of Dru Sjodin Disappearance

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of
Justice today announced improvements to the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Web site (NSOPW) and a new internet domain name, The new Web address will replace The updated version has a new look, is more user-friendly and provides enhanced search capabilities to locate sex offenders. NSOPW is administered by the Office of Justice Programs’ (OJP) Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART).

"NSOPW provides the public with information to protect themselves, their families and their communities from coming into contact with registered sex offenders," said Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, Assistant Attorney General for OJP.

NSOPW allows jurisdictions to participate in an unprecedented public safety resource by sharing public sex-offender data nationwide. It is the only government system in existence that links to public, state, territory and tribal sex-offender registries from one national search site. With a single query, NSOPW currently searches sex offender registries in up to 50 states, two U.S. territories and the District of Columbia to deliver matched results based on name, state, county, city or ZIP code. NSOPW will soon link to newly established sex offender registries, including certain Native American Tribes and additional U.S. territories.

Since its launch in the summer of 2005, there have been more than 17 million NSOPW user sessions, with 2.3 billion hits. Today, NSOPW remains extremely active, averaging 2.3 million hits per day and 14,000 daily users. Additional information can be found at

The Web site, initially known as the National Sex Offender Public Registry (NSOPR), was established in 2005 and renamed in 2006 by the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act to honor 22-year-old college student Dru Sjodin of Grand Forks, N. D. Sjodin was kidnapped and murdered on November 22, 2003, by a sex offender who crossed state lines to commit his crime.

The Office of
Justice Programs, headed by Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey L. Sedgwick, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer Justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at

Local Author Gives Hope to Bringing Emergency Services Personnel Home Safe

Calgary, AB - Car crashes, drunk drivers, fires, abuse and violence all increase during the holiday season and emergency services personnel (ESP) and their families are often looking for a little hope amidst the tragedies and dangers they face.

“During the holidays, celebrations can often be overshadowed with concern when family members are out on emergency calls. It can be very difficult to cope with those feelings,” explains Maryanne Pope, CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and no stranger to loss. Her husband was Cst John Petropoulos of the Calgary Police Service. John died after falling through a false ceiling during the investigation of a break and enter complaint, as there was no safety railing in place.

Pope’s company produces workplace safety public service announcements, educational films and plays, and now a new book to draw the public’s attention to the role they can play in helping ensure ESP make it home safely after every shift. Pope is hoping she can inspire optimism and create awareness this Christmas by sharing the intimate details of her personal loss with her book A Widow’s Awakening.

One reader, married to a firefighter, wrote: “This unforgettable book made me feel that although there are dangers faced by emergency workers, everyone has the same right to safety. The threats emergency workers face can be reduced.”

An engaging and powerful read, A Widow's Awakening is an uplifting story that awakens hope for those who may need it this Christmas. 20% of the proceeds are donated to the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund, a non-profit organization that raises public awareness about workplace safety for ESP. The Fund focuses on both building and traffic safety, including the ‘Slow Down and Give Us Room to Work’ message to motorists.

Maryanne Pope is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc. and the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. Her products are available online at,, and her book is available at and in select bookstores.