Domingo Herraiz, Director of the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance, joins New York Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye (Ret.) in cutting the ribbon to officially open Bronx Community Solutions
Bronx Community Solutions
Bronx Community Solutions 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
Enhanced 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.
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.