Friday, July 13, 2012

What is the Brownsville Community Justice Center?

Currently in the planning phase, the Brownsville Community Justice Center seeks to reduce crime and the use of incarceration in Brownsville while at the same restoring local faith in the justice system.

The Justice Center is dedicated to building multiple off-ramps for local residents who come
into contact with the justice system. The Justice Center will provide much-needed educational, occupational, social, and health services at nearly every stage of the justice process, from arrest to prosecution to sentencing to aftercare. No matter how someone encounters the Justice Center—whether it’s a case diverted from prosecution or a
mandate from a judge or an individual returning from incarceration—the goal is the same: to provide the kind of services and support that individuals need to become law-abiding members of society. In performing this work, the Brownsville Community Justice Center will build on the track record of community courts in Red Hook, Midtown Manhattan, Harlem, and the Bronx that have been documented to reduce local crime, enhance public confidence in government, and reduce the use of jail sentences.

The Challenge

Located in central Brooklyn, Brownsville has not experienced the same public safety gains
that the rest of New York City has enjoyed over the past 20 years.
Brownsville has
the highest concentration of public housing of any neighborhood in the country, with more
than 18 different developments. In recent years, it has also earned the distinction of being the most violent neighborhood in the city as well as the neighborhood with the most stop-and-frisk encounters.

The Idea

Responding to these conditions, the Brownsville Community Justice Center will be a neighborhood based court that will work with a variety of justice system-involved populations, including individuals with low-level criminal and family court cases, probationers, and parolees. When fully operational, the Justice Center will be
an official branch of the New York State Court System, with a full-time judge dedicated to
the project. The judge will have a broad array of community-based sanctions at his disposal,
including community service, drug treatment, job training, and counseling. The idea is to link
individuals to the services and supports they need to avoid becoming recidivists. In addition to a courtroom that will emphasize solving problems, the Brownsville Community Justice Center will make a major investment in crime prevention.

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