NCSC: @ The Center

@ the Center is the flagship e-newsletter of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). It highlights major projects, publications and conferences related to the work of NCSC.. Even though this newsletter is of redcent vintage (still Volume 1) it has already caught the attention of many in the judiciary. If you are interested in more information click here. Below are highlights of the March 2010 issue.

Volume 1, Issue 6 March 2010

Budget resource center expanded Interactive maps show extent of cost cutting across the country
Fiscal problems continue to plague state court systems across the country. Cost-cutting measures vary from state to state, and a set of new interactive maps on the National Center for State Courts’ Web site helps show which jurisdictions are being forced to make which cuts. This new addition to the Budget Resource Center (BRC) includes information on eight specific strategies adopted by the states, including furloughs, court closures, and hiking filing fees. The BRC is updated regularly with new reports and breaking news. Check back frequently to stay up to date on the latest.

Election experts give online guidance NCSC adds Web resource center for judicial campaign oversight committees
Just in time for the 2010 elections, the National Ad Hoc Committee on Judicial Campaign Oversight – staffed by the National Center – has launched a new set of Web-based resources to aid those contemplating the establishment of such a committee. Oversight committees encourage fair play and honesty in judicial election campaigns – and also can highlight unfair campaign practices or misleading advertising when campaign rhetoric soars over the top. The new resource center includes video excerpts from presentations and panel discussions; interviews with leaders of judicial campaign oversight committees across the country; and other updated materials and resources, such as sample documents and planning tools based on common and effective practices for oversight committees.

California court leader receives Distinguished Service Award Thirty-year career marked by service, commitment to quality of justice
Ronald G. Overholt, chief deputy director of the California Administrative Office of the Courts, has received a 2009 Distinguished Service Award, one of the premiere recognitions given by the National Center. During his tenure with the California AOC, Overholt has played a key role in achieving greater financial stability for the California Judicial Branch and has helped build an administrative, technological, and physical infrastructure that will enable the judicial branch to continue providing fair and equal justice despite future fiscal concerns. He also has worked with the Conference of Chief Justices, Conference of State Court Administrators, and National Association for Court Management to provide training sessions on the most recent innovations in court management.

NCSC officials join Lebanese judiciary at courthouse opening
Project includes administration reforms, training for court staff
Less than a year after a project aimed at modernizing the Beirut Judgment Enforcement Court began, the renovated court building was inaugurated during a March 2 ceremony in Beirut, Lebanon. NCSC President Mary C. McQueen and William G. Kaschak, vice president of the National Center’s International Programs Division, traveled to Beirut for the ribbon cutting, which was hosted by Lebanese Minister of Justice Ibrahim Najjar. The courthouse renovation is part of a three-year, $8.2 million United States Agency for International Development project that is being implemented by the National Center and includes court administration reform and personnel training.

Free curriculum helps judges reduce number of repeat offenders
Program materials available online
With recidivism rates of felony offenders at unprecedented levels – nearly 60 percent according to a 2009 NCSC and Pew Center on the States report – the National Center has created a curriculum designed to help trial judges develop sentencing practices to reduce the risk of repeat offenders. Recidivism contributes to the escalating cost of state corrections, however, evidence-based sentencing has become a proven method to counter high recidivism levels. Some examples of evidence-based sentencing include focusing corrections resources on medium- and high-risk offenders rather than low-risk offenders who are not likely to reoffend; targeting services to offender characteristics that have been proven to best predict future criminality; and using swift, certain, and graduated sanctions for probation violations. The free model curriculum, titled “Evidence-Based Sentencing to Improve Public Safety and Reduce Recidivism,” is available online.

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