Bronx Community Solutions

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Very Young Girls

This afternoon during lunch, the staff of Bronx Community Solutions watched a screening of a new documentary, Very Young Girls, which focuses on the stories of young women at the GEMS program in New York City who have experienced commercial sexual exploitation and domestic trafficking and are attempting to leave "the life" and develop to their full potential.

Here in the Bronx, we've been conducting street outreaches in partnership with the NYPD and working to coordinate sentences to GEMS, along with the Choices program and the Trans Women Empowerment program at the Midtown Community Court. You can read more about that here.

I recommend the film to everyone - its superbly made, incredibly moving, and it tells an important story. It premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, it was broadcast on Showtime, it's available on Netflix, and soon it will be possible to watch it directly online.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Project CleanUp

In a press conference this week with several law enforcement and elected officials, Mayor Bloomberg announced millions of dollars in federal stimulus funds directed to criminal justice functions in New York City. Among the recipients of stimulus funds are the Midtown Community Court, the Red Hook Community Justice Center, and Project CleanUp, a city-wide enhancement of community service sentences modeled on Bronx Community Solutions as well as Midtown and Red Hook.

Project CleanUp is a new effort to take greater advantage of community service sentences. Project CleanUp will put offenders arrested for minor offenses such as vandalism, shoplifting, and turnstile jumping to work repairing neighborhoods throughout New York City, assigning them more flexibly to emerging problem areas. The program will build on our record of success in community service and ensure that a crime is tied to its consequences; show New Yorkers that the justice system is responding to neighborhood problems; and ensure high compliance rates. Project CleanUp projects will be efforts to address neighborhood problems including painting over graffiti, sorting recyclables, sweeping streets, cleaning up local parks, and taking care of blighted waterfront areas. It is estimated that Project CleanUp will supervise 70,000 community service hours for each of the next two years. Project CleanUp participants will be offered links to social services – drug treatment, job training, and counseling.

“Project CleanUp will help revitalize neighborhoods where crime threatens the social fabric,” said Criminal Justice Coordinator John Feinblatt. “Project CleanUp turns crime on its head by making criminals work to improve the quality of life in communities.”

Project CleanUp will bring the model of targeted community payback citywide. This was originally pioneered by the City and the State in three award-winning community courts – Midtown Community Court, Red Hook Community Justice Center and Bronx Community Solutions. Project CleanUp will be operated as a project of the Center for Court Innovation in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator.

The full press release is here.