Center staff greet Mayor Cory Booker at the Newark Community Solutions opening ceremony.
Newark Community Solutions
Launched in Spring 2011, Newark Community Solutions is a community justice initiative that applies a problem-solving approach to low-level cases in Newark, New Jersey’s municipal courthouse. Newark Community Solutions’s goals are twofold: to provide judges with increased sentencing options for non-violent offenses such as drug possession, prostitution, and shoplifting and to improve public perceptions of justice. By combining punishment with help, Newark Community Solutions seeks to promote the use of community service and social service mandates, reduce the court’s reliance on ineffective fines and expensive short-term jail sentences, and build public confidence in justice. Newark Community Solutions builds on lessons learned from successful community courts throughout the country, which have reduced local crime, improved compliance with sanctions, and strengthened the connections between courts and communities.
How It Works
Newark Community Solutions offers the judges of the Newark Municipal Court a broad range of sentencing options—community service, short-term group counseling and treatment readiness classes, educational assessments, and monitored placement in community-based treatment.
Before arraignment, Newark Community Solutions staff, in consultation with the prosecution and defense, identify appropriate sanction options for each defendant. A typical Newark Community Solutions sentence might be two days of community service combined with a three-day counseling program targeting problems such as prostitution or drug abuse. For defendants facing longer sentences, a social worker or case manager administers a psycho-social assessment and works with the court to determine meaningful alternatives to jail, including closely-supervised drug treatment.
Newark Community Solutions is an initiative of Mayor Cory A. Booker and the City of Newark, the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts, in collaboration with the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice and the Center for Collaborative Change. Newark Community Solutions is supported by the City of Newark and its Municipal Council, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, New Jersey State Bar Foundation, and Nicholson Foundation.