Criminal Justice Conversations with David Onek: Greg Berman, Center for Court Innovation

Mar 2, 2012

In Episode #28, Greg Berman, Director of the Center for Court Innovation, discusses the creation of the Midtown Community Court, the importance of tailoring reform efforts to the needs of the communities involved, the different ways that criminal justice reforms can fail, procedural justice, and more.

Greg Berman Interview Highlights

Berman on the Ideas Behind Community Courts: 

"What we’re really interested in is spreading a set of ideas: that courts can lift their heads up and see the forest for the trees, that we can get better access to information for judges so they can make more informed decisions, that we can create links between courts and social service providers so that we can drastically reduce the use of incarceration, that we can be more thoughtful about measuring the impacts of what courts do on the streets. These are the ideas that underlie the Midtown Community Court. The ideas seem to be gaining traction in the broader criminal justice world and in the broader court community."

Berman on the Importance of Tailoring Reform Efforts to the Needs of the Communities Involved: 

"You really have to take seriously that idea of community. Every community is idiosyncratic, and so it doesn’t make sense just to plop down the Midtown Community Court model around the world, around the country, or even in the next neighborhood over because every neighborhood is different, and every neighborhood is suffering from slightly different problems, and has a slightly different sense of itself and slightly different resources and strengths that it brings to the table and so we’re very mindful of that."

Berman on Procedural Justice: 

"The issue of procedural justice is a potential growth area for us that we’re very interested in. We take great pains, from the judge on down, to communicate with people in an incredibly respectful way and to treat people as individuals rather than as widgets going through a factory. By improving the process by which people go through the criminal justice system, you can not only improve their faith in public institutions but you can actually improve their compliance with the law. That idea is at the heart of so much of what we do."


The Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast with David Onek features in-depth, thirty-minute interviews with a wide range of criminal justice leaders: law enforcement officials, policymakers, advocates, service providers, academics and others.

The Podcast gets behind the sound bites that far too often dominate the public dialogue about criminal justice, to have detailed, nuanced conversations about criminal justice policy.

Podcast host David Onek is a Senior Fellow at Berkeley Law School and a former Commissioner on the San Francisco Police Commission.

You can find more information on the Criminal Justice Conversations Podcast and listen to all past episodes on the Podcast web site.

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