Victoria Pratt: How judges can show respect
Victoria Pratt - Professor
Judge Victoria Pratt is inspiring a global revolution in criminal justice. Full bio
I want to tell you something.
by a transgender prostitute
sitting next to her,
I look better than the girl you're with."
be picked up by the record,
towards counselor's table with dignity.
also known as procedural fairness,
of an African-American garbageman
in the segregated South.
you're still paying attention.
for a better life for her unborn children.
you meet with dignity and respect,
no matter how they dress,
it would be the most important lesson
to the Newark Municipal Court bench.
off the playground
to translate for family members
to the United States,
for a person, a novice,
and around the globe,
that is foreign, intimidating
about the nature of their charges,
with the police
their relationships, their finances
who encounters our courts.
going through court security.
they walk around the building,
the same question
to where they're supposed to be,
when they encounter the courts.
people's court experience,
the public's trust
is procedural justice
they are treated fairly
Yale professor Tom Tyler found
as far back in the '70s
see the justice system
to impose rules and regulations,
that they were treated fairly
begins with what?
to court participants.
a reserve seat to a tragic reality show
of appearing vulnerable on the bench,
did I need to do something,
of procedural justice are easy
as quickly as tomorrow.
that it can be done for free.
not going to let them speak.
that's going to hurt your case."
of giving them voice.
college student an essay.
and his hands trembling,
had become an alcoholic like his mom,
due to alcohol-related liver disease.
to my father, a letter to my son,
positive thing about myself,
to be introspective,
that goes beyond their criminal record
in the justice system,
to be favoring one side over the other.
not to say things like,
"my defense attorney."
when we work in environments
assigned to your courts,
in and out of your courts as well.
a new Rutgers Law grad
and I was greeted by two grey-haired men
the last game of golf they played together
a fair shot in that forum.
understand the process,
is the language we use to confuse.
who appear before me,
their second language.
was when I was a young judge --
a senior judge comes to me,
has mental health issues,
and you can get your evaluation."
was a mental health issue,
and I started to ask questions.
um, psychotrop --
with a psychiatrist before?"
was suffering from mental illness.
to scrap the script and ask one question.
to clear your mind?"
for my schizophrenia,
to clear your mind?"
no medication to clear my mind.
to stop the voices in my head,
understand the question,
to make meaningful decisions
of the other principles can work.
"Good morning, ma'am."
who is standing before you,
"Um, how are you doing today?
actually interested in the response.
in the paperwork?"
read and write, can't you?"
there's a literacy issue.
is that it's contagious.
respectful to other folks
that respect to themselves.
the transgender prostitute was telling me.
as you think you may be judging me.
to change the culture at my courthouse
to the criminal court,
as the worst courtroom in the city,
with revolving door justice,
of low-level offenders --
with quality-of-life tickets,
and the misguided young people --
doing a life sentence
decided that Newarkers deserved better,
with the Center for Court Innovation
to punishment with assistance.
otherwise get a jail sentence
individual counseling sessions,
as well as community giveback,
that this wonderful program
and was going to be housed where?
the attitudes were terrible there
being sent there as punishment.
disciplinary actions at times,
a 30-day jail sentence on their rotation,
they were being hazed
sorority or fraternity.
an attorney who worked there
as "the scum of the earth"
with those people? They're so nasty.
we criminalize social ills,
and say, "Do something."
to lead by example.
came when a 60-something-year-old man
was showing the signs of drug withdrawal.
and he said, "30 years."
I have a 32-year-old son."
had the opportunity
because of your addiction."
I'm going to let you go home,
some assistance for your addiction."
and he was sitting the courtroom.
"Judge, I came back to court
than I had for myself."
he heard love from the bench?
when the court behaves differently,
you can go to for assistance,
schizophrenic homeless woman
and screams, "Judge!
for a couple of months,
a couple of weeks ago.
of coaxing by the judge,
was terrible, Judge.
and it was full of empty heroin envelopes,
to do community service,
when I wasn't high,
the children playing there."
lowered their head.
its relationship with the community,
through the court program.
at an office cleaning company,
after the interview,
how bad I wanted the job."
when a person in authority
who struts down the aisle
do you notice anything different?"
a referral from the program,
to replace the old teeth
of years of heroin addiction.
that judges will use these tools
the communities that they serve.
are not miracle cure-alls,
to where we want to be,
that people enter our halls of justice
with dignity and respect
will be served there.
About the speaker:Victoria Pratt - Professor
Judge Victoria Pratt is inspiring a global revolution in criminal justice.
Why you should listen
Judge Victoria Pratt has gained national and international acclaim for her commitment to reforming the criminal justice system. As the Chief Judge in Newark Municipal Court in Newark, New Jersey, a busy urban court, she spent years gaining a deep understanding of how justice could be delivered to court participants in a manner that increased their trust in the legal system. While presiding over Newark Community Solutions, the Community Court Program, she provided alternatives to jail to low-level offenders. These alternatives included community service, individual and group counseling sessions, and her signature assignment of introspective essays. Her respectful approach has had a positive effect on court participant’s court experience -- and how the community viewed the court.
Pratt is now serving as a Professor at Rutgers Law School in Newark, an institution that has always been committed to social justice. Her teaching load includes problem-solving courts and restorative justice. As a graduate of Rutgers Law, she is excited by the opportunity to influence the minds of future lawyers and judges with innovative and humane ways of dealing with court participants. She also continues to champion criminal justice reform through her consulting firm Pratt Lucien Consultants, LLC, by sharing her skills and approach with others.
Pratt’s work has been featured in The Guardian and Rutgers Magazine (both written by Pulitzer-winning author Tina Rosenberg.) As a nationally recognized expert in procedural justice and alternative sentencing, she has been asked by numerous professional organizations and jurisdictions to share her story and philosophy. Judge Pratt has also appeared on MSNBC's "Melissa Harris Perry Show," the Emmy-winning PBS show "Due Process," and National Public Radio's "Conversations with Allan Wolper."
Pratt is licensed to practice law in both New Jersey and New York and is admitted to the US Supreme Court. She also facilitates empowerment sessions to help people live their best lives.
(Photo: Erik James Montgomery)
Victoria Pratt | Speaker | TED.com