Time for another reporting trip, this time to New York City. And there’s a story behind that.
Last January, I was in New York as a finalist for a Soros Justice Fellowship. The morning of my final interview by the selection committee, I was reading news online and discovered that one of my planned stories in my crime-victims series had just taken an unexpected turn.
My project proposal included a story about the work of Susan Herman, a longtime victims advocate whose “parallel justice” theory had intrigued me since I first read about it (see past posts here). I had interviewed her years earlier for a short article on it (a sidebar to a longer story about restorative-justice dialogue in crimes of violence). Now, I proposed to the Soros folks, I would visit one of the sites where police used her methods to improve services for victims.
The news about Herman was that she had just taken a job as deputy commissioner for collaborative policing in Bill Bratton’s second act as commissioner of the New York Police Department. I blogged about that and then headed off to my Soros fellowship interview, worried that if Herman’s victims work were put on hold, a parallel justice story might not be timely.
I needn’t have worried. Further reporting, which I’ll advance this week by meeting with Herman and others, has shown that her high-ranking post in NYPD has everything to do with victim services and with the broader view my series takes on victim advocacy: namely, to ask what we can and should do for victims that we don’t accomplish with an approach to criminal justice focused mainly on punishment of offenders. Now, in addition to looking at how parallel justice works in a smaller city, I will explore how Herman’s work might play out in the nation’s largest city.
I have a lot more reporting to do on this story before I come to any conclusions about what I’m observing. But at least those fears I had last January, that one of my stories had just cratered, turned out to be far from true.