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About The Center

About the Center on Crime, Community & Law


The Center on Crime, Community, and Law engages in teaching, scholarship, and research on problems in crime, law and justice. The Center's activities address the need of policy makers to develop strategies to tackle recurring crime and criminal justice problems, and to situate those strategies in the communities in which these problems exist. The Center promotes interactions between the legal and social science communities, supports the interdisciplinary training of law students in social science theory and methods, and conducts analyses of socio-legal and crime policies. The Center's academic programs support innovative teaching and research in special problems in criminal law and criminal justice. The Center regularly offers a proseminar in which students address a current topic in the field with an eye to analyzing important public policy choices. Annual symposia and colloquia also facilitate the interaction of social scientists and legal scholars.

The Center was inaugurated in 2002-2003 with several activities. A colloquium series featured talks on selected criminal justice topics. Speakers included Ian Ayres, Tracey Meares, David Garland, and Tom Tyler. Topics ranged from labor racketeering to the impact of gun control laws on crime. During the 2002-2003 semester  the proseminar was led by professors Jeffrey Fagan and Michael Dorf, and addressed the subject of Problem Solving Courts and Community Justice. Students were trained in social science research methods and conducted research on specialized problem-solving and community justice centers throughout New York City. Student projects addressed a range of topics such as therapeutic justice, new forms of lawyering that have emerged in these courts, and the balance among procedural rights, defendants' therapeutic needs, and public safety considerations. Students prepared major research papers that were presented at a policy conference at the end of the semester. The Center also held a symposium on Community Courts and Community Justice in April 2003 convening judges, social scientists, legal scholars and professionals who work in and study "problem-solving courts" and community-based institutions that practice therapeutic jurisprudence. The papers were published in the American Criminal Law Review in Fall 2003.

The colloquium series continued in 2003-2004. The 2003-2004 proseminar was led by Professors Harold Edgar and Debra Livingston and was entitled, "National Security, Law Enforcement, and Terrorism." It was constructed around the broad question, "How (if at all) has and should law and institutional practice change in response to the threat of foreign terrorism?" The proseminar began with some assessment of the nature of this threat, based on what we know (or think we know) about it. Proseminar participants then looked closely at the relationship between the law enforcement and intelligence communities, considering how this relationship is changing based on the new assessment of national security imperatives. Students addressed a range of legal and institutional topics, including the USA Patriot Act; intelligence gathering and the proper institutional site for domestic national security operations; use of military tribunals; immigration issues; homeland preparedness; interrogation, search and seizure, and surveillance issues; and ethnic and religious profiling. Students presented their research papers at a policy conference, as in previous years. The proseminar, in conjunction with the National Law Journal, the Randolph Speakers Fund, and the Criminal Law and Public Policy Society, also hosted a roundtable on the Patriot Act in April, 2004. Over 200 lawyers and law students attended this event, which featured a range of legal opinion on the Act and its implication for civil liberties. The event wsa taped and is available on the Law School's website.

In 2004-2005, the Center's research program was extremely active. Research projects included studies of the declining use of the juvenile death penalty, the effects of felon disenfranchisement on voting patterns in New York City neighborhoods, and evaluation research on strategies to reduce gun violence in Chicago. The Center also continued its construction of its 20 year data archive on crime, justice and their collateral policies in New York City neighborhoods. In addition, the Center sponsored a lecture by Professor William Stuntz of the Harvard Law School on the constitutional regulation of criminal justice. The successful proseminar of the 2003-2004 academic year on, "National Security, Law Enforcement, and Terrorism," became a regular seminar offering of the Center entitled, "Legal Issues in the War on Terror."