A Kind of Genius: Herb Sturz and Society's Toughest Problems

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9781458759962: A Kind of Genius: Herb Sturz and Society's Toughest Problems

In A Kind of Genius, Sam Roberts offers a window onto Herb Sturz's extraordinary life's work. Sturz began his long career in social entrepreneurship by reforming the bail system and founding the Vera Institute of Justice. He served as New York City's Deputy Mayor for Criminal Justice under Ed Koch and then as Chairman of the City Planning Commision. He moved on to establish affordable inner-city housing and programs for at-risk individuals. But Sturz has, to date, largely eschewed the public's eye. Roberts pays tribute to Sturz's inspirational legacy of accomplishment. His initiatives have consistently provided solutions to our most challenging problems. Here, for the first time, his astonishing story is told in full.

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About the Author:

Sam Roberts, Urban Affairs Correspondent of the New York Times, has written for the Times for more than two decades. Before joining the Times, he was a reporter and city editor at the Daily News. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and New York Magazine. Author and co-author of several books, he lives in New York with his wife.

From The Washington Post:

From The Washington Post's Book World/washingtonpost.com Reviewed by Liam Julian Social reformers toiling at ground level are often unknown. Herbert Sturz, who has spearheaded far-reaching changes in New York City, is no exception. Sam Roberts's book is the first extensive account of Sturz's remarkable accomplishments, which include transforming an unjust and inefficient bail system, preparing former drug addicts for the workforce and unclogging city courts. Sturz was but a young man when he tackled bail reform. In 1960s New York, the bail system penalized the indigent: Prisons were packed with people accused of minor crimes who were too poor to pay even small sums to a bail bondsman. Sturz hypothesized that suspects with strong community ties (a spouse, a job, kids) would not be flight risks. If many people could be released on their own recognizance, he reasoned, prison populations would thin and taxpayers would save money. Experiments proved he was right. Roberts does a fine job of showing how Sturz succeeded not only by having good ideas but also by appealing to "government's enlightened self-interest." Systems change when systems see a selfish reason to change. In our time of national transformation, it's a valuable lesson.
Copyright 2009, The Washington Post. All Rights Reserved.

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