A Powerful Moral Compass
Last night the New York City Bar hosted a panel honoring the late Alfred Siegel and his legacy of advancing youth justice reform. It was a lovely event. Dozens of Alfred's friends, family members, work colleagues and partners came out to celebrate Alfred's many contributions to advancing the cause of justice in New York. Happily, they were joined by a number of people who had never met Alfred but who were just interested in learning more about the man who served as a powerful moral compass for just about everyone who knew him. I think they left with a full portrait of a man who managed to do a lot of good in the world.
While there were many poignant moments, they were balanced both by moments of levity and by discussion of a set of concrete Family Court and Criminal Court reforms that Alfred helped realize. I loved hearing from Alfred's two sons, both of whom exhibit so many of the qualities that I loved in Alfred: poise, self-deprecation, decency. Michael Jacobson of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance captured Alfred's sense of humor and his unique ability to get things done. Adam Mansky, who moderated the panel, captured him best when he said:
Alfred was not an outside agitator, standing apart from the system; nor was he paralyzed by its injustices. Rather, he continually engaged the justice system in the process of change and improvement, using every trick in the book to push his shoulder against the yoke of bureaucratic inertia, business as usual, fear of change and petty politics; and in doing so, improved the lives of young people and their families, as well as adults caught up in the system.
At the Center for Court Innovation, we've created a special scholarship fund in Alfred's memory which will help defray tuition expenses for a current or prospective student at John Jay College. For more information, click here.