WNYC Radio Rookies reporter Deborah Ugo-Omenukwa worked with the Center to explore restorative justice in youth courts. She spoke with our Brownsville Community Justice Center to learn more about restorative approaches to the legal system, and the difference between punishment and consequences.
The Center’s Youth Action Institute (formerly called the Youth Justice Board) alum and current WNYC Radio Rookies reporter, Rainier Harris, is an advocate for abolishing the NYPD’s gang database, which he researched as part of our 2020 report called ‘All Eyes on Us.’ As Rainer shares on this segment, the database is a list of more than 17,000 people that police have labeled as gang members, often without any known affiliations to a gang.
John Jay College senior Shania Roseborough is a winner of the 2021-2022 New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship, which supports year-long internships at leading criminal justice organizations. Working with the Center’s Midtown Community Court, Shania is brainstorming different ways to further improve relationships with local communities and community-based organizations, , and is listening to justice-impacted folks to create new solutions to the system.
The Center’s Syracuse Peacemaking Center will continue operation for another two years, thanks to funding from the city’s Common Council. Program ambassadors are working with community partners and guest speakers to provide residents a safe place to talk and connect them with mental health services. Our Leah Russell tells WAER how the program has “seen firsthand how housing concerns are exacerbating mental health issues.”
John Jay College senior Shambaleed Nayyer is a winner of the 2021-2022 New York Giants Touchdown Fellowship, which supports year-long internships at leading criminal justice organizations. Through her fellowship, Shambaleed has been working with Center program Manhattan Justice Opportunities, researching felony alternatives to incarceration programs across the country, and exploring new ways to improve our programming.
Ifeoma Ebo, an urban designer and planner based in New York City, worked with the Center's Brownsville Community Justice Center and tenants of the Brownsville Houses to activate outdoor areas to build safe, shared spaces. In 2019, the Justice Center, young community members, and Ebo came together to create low-cost solutions and organized B-Lit, an event that transformed the park into a multicolored dance floor that welcomed residents of all ages.
In response to a gas outage, Staten Island community members came together to create their own solution to fight food insecurity. A group of volunteers went door-to-door delivering food and supplies. Leticia Lucero from the Center's Neighborhood Safety Initiatives says the community really came together to do this work, sharing how great it feels to highlight positive things happening in communities, especially among all that's going on in the world.
Providing alternatives to incarceration, the Center's Midtown Community Court's new Misdemeanor Mental Health Court (MMHC) will support individuals suffering from mental illness. Low-level offenses, such as shoplifting and illegal drug use, will now have social services and community service options that are restorative to both the community and participants. The Court's Youth Part has also been expanded to include young adults ages 18 through 25, reducing the risk of recidivism by targeting the root causes for criminal justice involvement.
Using the example of parents and caretakers stealing diapers and baby products, the New Yorker looks at the debate happening in New York about low-level prosecution. The article cites our new report on shrinking New York's misdemeanor system and Michael Rempel, co-author of the study, shares that the harms that jail produces "are criminogenic—leading to higher rates of recidivism than would have otherwise arisen had people been released.”
Christina Swarns argues against the dangerousness assessment that is being considered as a bail determinant in New York City. Citing our research, including the impact evaluation of the Center's SOS Brooklyn and "Closing Rikers Island" report, she advocates that these evaluations would not make our justice system better or our communities safer, rather they would further entrench discrimination into an already biased legal system.