Author:Dare, James
Position:Greg Berman's 'Reducing Crime, Reducing Incarceration: Essays on Criminal Justice Innovation' - Book review

Reducing Crime, Reducing Incarceration: Essays on Criminal Justice Innovation, by Greg Berman, Quid Pro Books, New Orleans, La., 2014, 167 pp.

This thought provoking compilation of essays and articles by Greg Berman is the catalyst for addressing the problems faced daily in the workplace and local communities, such as: jail overcrowding; prison overcrowding; increasing court dockets; skyrocketing casebooks; lack of public confidence; deterioration of neighborhoods; declining public safety; not addressing harm to victims; lack of opportunities for children; inability to access social services; and many others. There is an overwhelming message in our society that "one size fits all."

However, Berman provides a roadmap providing directions on how case processing needs to move from the "status quo" to solving problems of the individual defendants, victims and neighborhoods. Berman talks about making an investment that takes time, hard work, collaboration, community support, planning, research and funding. The book would be a valuable tool for judges, court staff, elected officials, chiefs of police, state corrections staff, law schools, attorneys, community leaders, victims or any reformers considering the possibility of a community justice center or problem-solving court. The book outlines the following six strategic investments for problem-solving advocates to influence the culture of the court:

* Technology;

* Training;

* Incentives;

* Ongoing research and development;

* Law schools; and

* Communications.

The author does a tremendous job outlining the steps and decisions that politicians, judges, community leaders and citizens may take to effectuate short- or long-term change. Berman has opened my eyes to a new way of doing business from a legislative, judicial and executive standpoint. It was refreshing and rewarding to hear that there is a positive way to fail--you can give yourself permission to attempt and implement new ideas. There is an entire chapter on trying to demystify and destigmatize failure. As one of the participants noted, "The only time real change occurs is when there is a maniac on a mission." This is clarified so the reader understands how to survive failure. Failure doesn't always lead to ruin, and all of us can learn from a failed project. In addition, Berman outlines the following nine lessons about implementing a new program:

* Not all failures are alike;

* Our expectations of criminal justice reform should be modest;


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