In September 2005, the Bureau of Justice Assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice funded ten demonstration projects under its new Community-Based Problem-Solving Criminal Justice Initiative. The following edited excerpt was taken from the New York’s winning proposal.
Bronx Community Solutions is the next phase in the development of problem-solving justice in New York, an ambitious experiment in going to scale with ideas and practices that have worked in pilot community courts in Midtown Manhattan, Harlem, and Red Hook, Brooklyn. Rather than concentrating resources in a single, specialized court, Bronx Community Solutions seeks to bring problem-solving resources to all of the players in Bronx Criminal Court, which handles 50,000 misdemeanor cases annually. The project aims to re-think business as usual in the local criminal justice system, marshalling the system’s resources towards improving the response to quality-of-life crime and increasing public trust in government. It combines punishment (community service) and help (drug treatment, job training, counseling) for eligible non-violent offenders.
Sentencing Options. By creating social service classes and community service projects, the project seeks to provide judges with expanded sentencing options and reduce reliance on expensive and ineffective short-term incarceration.
Accountability. By quickly assigning offenders to alternative sanctions and rigorously monitoring their performance, the project seeks to improve compliance and reduce the number of offenders who receive no sanction whatsoever—sending a message that all crime has consequences.
Community Engagement. By engaging local residents and organizations in selecting community service projects and providing social services, the project seeks to revitalize the relationship between court and community.
Bronx Community Solutions partners include the New York State Court System, the Bronx DA’s Office, the City of New York, the local defense bar and the Center for Court Innovation.
To view a screening tool used to assess ofenders' social service needs click here.