Bronx Community Solutions

Overview

Bronx Community Solutions is an initiative that seeks to apply a problem-solving approach to non-violent cases in the Bronx. Its goal is to provide judges with increased sentencing options for non-violent offenses such as drug possession, prostitution and shoplifting. By combining punishment with help, Bronx Community Solutions seeks to reduce the Bronx’s reliance on expensive and ineffective short-term jail sentences, and build public confidence that the system is holding offenders accountable and offering them the assistance they need to avoid further criminal conduct. The project builds on the successful community courts in Red Hook, Midtown and Harlem, which have reduced local crime, improved compliance with alternative sanctions and strengthened the connections between courts and communities. The project, the largest of its kind, is the nation’s most ambitious experiment in going to scale with problem-solving justice. Recognizing this, the U.S. Department of Justice named Bronx Community Solutions one of 10 winners in a national competition for innovative criminal justice projects.

To read more, visit Changing the Court, a blog that documents the implementation process in the Bronx.

How It Works

Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson welcomes guests at the opening of Bronx Community SolutionsBronx District Attorney Robert Johnson welcomes guests at the opening of Bronx Community SolutionsEnhanced Sentencing Options: All judges in the Bronx are provided with a broad set of sentencing options, including drug treatment, job training, family services and mental health counseling. To view a screening tool used to assess offenders' social service needs, click here.

Community Service: Offenders are assigned to community service work in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx. Project staff will work with residents and community groups to create community service options that respond to local problems (for example, trash in a local park or walls marred by graffiti).

Increased Accountability: By quickly assigning offenders to social service and community service sentences, and rigorously monitoring their compliance, Bronx Community Solutions sends the message that community-based sanctions are taken seriously. 

Community Engagement: Bronx Community Solutions invites community groups and local residents to play a number of concrete roles in ongoing operations, including identifying hot spots and eye sores for community service projects, and participating in a neighborhood advisory board.

Each year, Bronx Community Solutions handles more than 11,000 cases.

Results

Bronx Community Solutions seeks to combine punishment and help for convicted misdemeanor offenders in the Bronx. To date, Bronx Community Solutions has cut the use of incarceration by a third and doubled the use of community-based sanctions, which include community restitution and links to social services. Each year, supervised work crews contribute thousands of dollars' worth of labor to the Bronx by shoveling snow, cleaning urban streets and local parks, and painting over graffiti.

Partners

Partners include the New York State Unified Court System, Bronx District Attorney’s Office, Criminal Justice Coordinator’s Office of the City of New York, the local defense bar, and dozens of local service providers and community groups.

Featured Research

Interviews

Deploying Public Health Strategies to Address Drug Addiction

Deploying Public Health Strategies to Address Drug Addiction

Drug addiction is fundamentally a public health issue, says Michael Botticelli, acting director of National Drug Control Policy, in this New Thinking podcast. Botticelli explains why law enforcement must work in tandem with public health to address addiction and how his own personal experience with addiction informs his work.

Publications

The Adolescent Diversion Program

The Adolescent Diversion Program

By Michael Rempel, Suvi Hynynen Lambson, Carolyn R. Cadoret and Allyson Walker Franklin

This report examines the first six months of the pilot Adolescent Diversion Program for court involved 16 and 17 year-olds at nine sites in New York State. The study found that diverting these youth to services does not increase recidivism rates and, in fact, reduces recidivism for those who would otherwise pose the greatest risk to public safety.

Read a summary of the study

Listen to an interview with the researchers

Publications

Prostitution Diversion Programs

Prostitution Diversion Programs

By Sarah Schweig, Danielle Malangone and Miriam Goodman

Many communities across the country grapple with how best to respond to prostitution.

Read More

Bronx Community Solutions Blog
  • October 28, 2014
    New BCS Group - Know Your Rights

    Today, we began a new pilot group for BCS participants called "Know Your Rights," run by BCS partner organization MFY Legal Services. MFY Legal...

    Read More
  • October 15, 2014
    BCS Helps Out with Special Graffiti Cleanup in the 44th Precinct

    BCS clients, crew supervisor and officers worked together on a special clean-up project in the 44th PrecinctBCS has worked with the Community Affairs...

    Read More
Contact
  • New York
  • 520 8th Avenue
  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • One Park Place
  • 300 South State Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13202
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
  • Kean House, 6 Kean Street
  • London, WC2B 4AS
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060