Saturday, August 15, 2009

August has been great month!

What a month! Okay so we had some 90 degree plus days, but the weather is back to normal and I am very excited about the way things are shaping up in the criminal justice community. You may have heard about the Drug Market Initiative, which takes a fresh approach to stopping street drug dealing. DMI gives lower level street drug dealers a chance to change by not filing charges and by involving their families and their community to end the drug dealing. Last year, I obtained a federal grant to organize this project. My office has coordinated that effort for the last six months. So last week, when we brought in the candidates, their families, community leaders, religious leaders and service providers to the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, was the end of a long road. Looking at the hopeful faces of parents who want more than a life on the streets for their children and being able to give them that opportunity, was one of the most moving moments of my life. Watching a community come together was extraordinary and I was very proud of my role in making it happen.

This week we were visited by two representatives from the New York's Center for Court Innovation. They were here because Seattle's Community Court was selected by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of three "mentor" courts in the country to help other communities follow our model. When you work on a project like the Community Court, as I have for the last four years, you focus on the day to day details. Outside experts give you perspective. They watched a group of defendants enter Community Court on Wednesday and then do their Community Service in Lake City on Thursday. They were not only impressed with our ability to get our defendants out working, but also by the way that we have integrated our program into existing community organizations. In many places, community service is make-work. Not so in Seattle! We do work that the community needs and we do it working with the community. On Thursday, our visitors were amazed to see our defendants working alongside members of the Lake City Chamber to remove invasive ivy from the median in Lake City Way and to design a mural to brighten up the neighborhood. I am very proud of the partnerships we have built.

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