Friendly Critics/Critical Friends
I've known Rob Allen, one of the foremost experts on prison reform in England, for more than a decade. He's a good guy. He's a smart guy. I like him. I think he likes me. But I've always known that Rob was just a wee bit skeptical of our work at the Center for Court Innovation. I like to think of him as a friendly critic. Over the years, both in private and in public, he has consistently pointed out holes in our arguments, flaws in our reasoning, and weaknesses in our approaches.
I bring all of this up because I saw Rob this morning on one of his irregular visits to New York. As part of his trip, Rob asked to visit one of our projects, so I hooked him up with a trip to Newark Community Solutions. I was a little nervous about what his reaction might be, but if his blog is any indication, the visit went well. (And yes, I did notice the criticisms implicit in the piece. But that's the joy of having critical friends -- it helps keep you honest and focused on self-improvement.)