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

Video

Bronx Community Solutions: Speeches from the 10th Anniversary

Bronx Community Solutions: Speeches from the 10th Anniversary

This video offers excerpts of speeches from the 10th anniversary celebration of Bronx Community Solutions on April 21, 2015 in the ceremonial courtroom at Bronx Supreme Court. Speakers included Center for Court Innovation Director Greg Berman, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson, and Maria Almonte-Weston and Ramon Semorile from Bronx Community Solutions.

Articles

Fact Sheet: Bronx Community Solutions

Fact Sheet: Bronx Community Solutions

This fact sheet summarizes the mission and impact of Bronx Community Solutions, an initiative of the Center for Court Innovation that seeks to apply a problem-solving approach to non-violent cases in the Bronx.

Articles

Reducing the Use of Jail in the Bronx

Reducing the Use of Jail in the Bronx

Maria Almonte-Weston, director of Bronx Community Solutions, gives an award to Community Service Crew Supervisor Ramon Semorile.Maria Almonte-Weston, director of Bronx Community Solutions, gives an award to Community Service Crew Supervisor Ramon Semorile.

Bronx Community Solutions Celebrates 10 Years of Providing Alternatives to Incarceration

THE BRONX, N.Y., April 21 — More than 200 judges, attorneys, community members and representatives of community organizations from the Bronx filled the ceremonial courtroom at Bronx Supreme Court today to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Bronx Community Solutions.

Read More

Bronx Community Solutions Blog
  • July 31, 2015
    A Day in the Life...Community Service from the Perspective of a Resource Coordinator

    Jeffrey Seplowe, BCS Resource Coordinator, in the grey shirtAs a Resource Coordinator I am usually stationed in courtrooms, providing alternative...

    Read More
  • July 22, 2015
    BCS Helps Out Harmony Day

    Hi everyone,On July 21, BCS participated in the annual Harmony Day Picnic, a success event by NYPD at Van Cortland Park. The goal of Harmony Day is...

    Read More
Contact
  • New York
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  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
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  • 300 South State Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13202
  • phone: 315.266.4330
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  • phone: +44 2076.329.060