Michael Rempel, director of jail reform at the Center, say it is far too early to draw any hard conclusions on how the new laws have affected New York, given that the policy has been in effect less than a year, and that COVID-19 has created "a series of confusing dynamics" within the criminal justice system that make it even tougher to study.
"Community courts connect defendants with services that can change their lives. That’s something traditional courts aren’t equipped to do," says Julius Lang, a senior advisor at the Center, of the importance of community courts. Through a grant from the Department of Justice, the Center is assisting jurisdictions across the U.S. implement these programs.
Two restorative justice community courts are set to open in September in the Chicago area. The courts are based off the model of our Red Hook Community Justice Center and aim to settle nonviolent felony and misdemeanor cases involving young people using restorative practices.
Supervised release allows defendants to return to their communities before trial, under the watch of a case manager who checks in regularly, and links the client to social services. The program, which we run in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, is now taking new clients in all five boroughs.
Save Our Streets, our anti-violence program, gathered in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in Brooklyn to denounce gun violence after a shooting. The program brings the community together to change norms and behaviors around violence and push for more resources for youth in the area.
Spurred by the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police, New York is just one city where protesters are calling for money to be diverted from police budgets to the community. Mayor Bill de Blasio added $10 million of funding for community groups running alternative-to-policing programs, including Save Our Streets.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one out of every four children in this country does not have a father living with them in their home. TODAY’s Craig Melvin visits UPNEXT, a fatherhood program at our Midtown Community Court, to talk with non-custodial dads, like Harry, who re-connected with his daughter after being incarcerated.
After an uptick in shootings across Brooklyn, dozens of anti-gun violence advocates, including Save Our Streets, gathered the community to speak out against gun violence. “We look at violence, especially gun violence, as a public health issue and not a criminal issue,” said Shadoe Tarver, our associate director of community safety.
Gun violence has risen in cities across the U.S. this summer, compounding the issues of systemic racism, intergenerational trauma, and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Nonprofit Quarterly explores research-backed solutions to gun violence, including violence interruption programs like our Save Our Streets, which approaches gun violence as a public health issue.
"In New York City, one study found that gun violence rates declined significantly in two neighborhoods operating violence interruption programs." The Appeal cites our Save Our Streets program in the Bronx as one way to reduce the footprint of police and create safer communities.