Caroline Nicholl CEO & President
Blue Apricot Solutions

Former London police superintendent Caroline Nicholl came to the States as winner of the Harkness Fellowship, a grant honoring individuals who want to improve health care policies, but soon after working in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., she discovered the U.S. crime system’s flaws—the re-offending rate for criminals hovers around 60% nationally. That troublingly high rate, Nicholl says, is due to a critical flaw in the way we treat criminality. “People are overusing the justice system here,” says Nicholl. “We’re hanging onto it, yet the police department could be much more imaginative when dealing with crime.”

Imagine a court system that sentences a robber to 48 hours of talking with the family they ripped off, or a murderer listening to a town’s grievances in a public school. These are solutions Nicholl used successfully in the town of Milton Keynes, England where she served as police chief. After implementing her plan, the re-offending rate of criminals dropped from 48% to an astonishingly low 3.4%. In 2002, Nicholl founded the Alexandria-based Blue Apricot Solutions, a company devoted to changing the way the United States tackles crime by developing community trust in the police force and justice system. Blue Apricot sees the police department as less of a “force” and more of a “service.”

“What I though impossible was achieved,” says Nicholl, of her Milton Keynes success. “If you’re not taking an organization into different directions,” she says, “you’re not leading.” –IJ