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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Department of Probation Creates NeON Initiative

The Bronx Probation Department held a ribbon-cutting ceremony earlier today to mark the opening of their new initiative, the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON).  NeON is a collective of local businesses, community organizations, government agencies and local residents who will work together to engage probationers with the help they need.  Through NeON, probation clients will have access to services such as employment assistance, literary programs, academic support and mentoring, health education and community benefit events. 

This marks a new direction in the culture of Probation, now emphasizing the importance of having a client-friendly physical environment and enabling clients to feel empowered to seek help and utilize resources, even within the criminal justice system. This approach is well in line with the goals of Bronx Community Solutions!  We are excited that Probation is taking this approach, and look forward to following the success of the program as it moves into operation.  We are pleased to have been invited to this event, and appreciate our ongoing partnership with the Bronx Department of Probation.

Friday, August 24, 2012

CCI Youth Courts Honor Young Leaders

A colleague at the Brownsville Community Justice Center in Brooklyn wrote up a description of a youth appreciation event that was held in Central Park last Wednesday.  What a great way to honor youths making a difference in their communities!

Yesterday, 70 members from six of CCI Youth Courts got together for a day of fun in the sun at Central Park! The day was packed with exciting field day activities such as Capture the Flag, Tank Commander, Obstacle courses, Tug of War and a ball-toss game. This event was for the youth who work selflessly to make their communities a safer and healthier environment for everybody. 
Below are pictures from the day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Boston's Homeless Court

The Boston judicial system has begun to address homelessness in an innovative way, establishing a Homeless Court.  Launched in 2010, the Boston Homeless Court aims to serve the needs of homeless defendants and to stop the pattern of individuals cycling through the justice system for nonviolent offenses.  One way that homeless individuals end up in the system repeatedly is by being held in contempt for failing to respond to a summons, which they did not receive due to living on the streets.  The court connects defendants with the services they need, provided they agree to a yearlong commitment with the Court.  Services offered include mental health and substance abuse counseling, hospital referrals where necessary, shelter beds, tutoring and GED prep.  All defendants are required to work on their job skills or learn new ones.  In exchange for this commitment, defendants who complete the program may have their fines forgiven, minor records wiped clean and their cases dismissed - hopefully encouraging their likelihood of success with improving their lives.  It is a small program, completing 19 defendants since early 2011, and with 33 pending cases currently in the system.  It will be interesting to follow the progress of this court, and its unique approach to addressing homelessness in the busy city of Boston.

BCS handles cases for many defendants who are homeless.  We offer them immediate clinical consultation and referrals to a shelter and/or drop-in center as needed.

You can read more about the Boston Homeless Court in the full article here:  Boston Globe

Friday, August 10, 2012

National Night Out - 46th Precinct News

The Daily News published an article about Tuesday's National Night Out Against Crime event in the 46th Precinct, in which BCS took part.  It highlights the fact that this precinct was where a recent fatal shooting took place, lending the event special meaning.

The article can be found here: Anti-Violence Event in the 46th Precinct

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

National Night Out Against Crime

Yesterday, August 7, Bronx Community Solutions participated in an annual event called National Night Out Against Crime.  National Night Out (NNO) is aimed at heightening awareness of crime and drug prevention, generating support for local anticrime programs, strengthening community/police relationships and establishing a visible presence to show that neighborhoods are united and organized in fighting crime.  In last year's event, over 37 million people participated across the U.S.  The Bronx took part in many police precincts borough-wide, hosting block parties and other events for community members, law enforcement agencies, civic groups, businesses, neighborhood organizations and local officials. 

This year, NNO in the Bronx was hosted by the 40th Precinct.  BCS stationed an information table at the event and had a small community service crew on site to assist in helping the event run smoothly.  And in the 46th Precinct, BCS Crew Supervisor Moises Reyes led a crew of ADP participants in helping to set up and clean the area.  This was a great way to involve the youth in a community service project that was directly engaged with the community.  MANA, a community program that engages local youths in arts-related projects had a particularly powerful presence, displaying poetry and prints of photographs created by its young members. 

Some pictures from the event can be found below.

Community members gathering at the 46th Precinct NNO event

BCS staff, a local pastor and one of the young artists in front of photographs by local youth members of MANA

BCS Community Service Crew, comprised of ADP clients, setting up for the event in the 40th Precinct

The event in the 40th Precinct was highly attended by community members, local organizations and law enforcement personnel

Many youths from the 40th Precinct area were present and enjoyed taking part in the activities
 More information about NNO can be found here: National Night Out Against Crime

For more information about MANA (Marion Ave Neighborhood Association), click here: MANA

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Community Court in Washington D.C. Shown to be Effective

Some great news for community courts!  A recent Westat Inc. research study showed that a community court in east Washington D.C. was effective in reducing rates of reoffending by their misdemeanor defendants. 

Across the country, court officials and community members often report that they believe community courts have made a difference in reducing recidivism among their defendants.  Empirical data of those findings, however, has been less available.  This study marks an important step in providing evidence for the efficacy of community courts, and has already prompted concrete change: after preliminary results from the study were circulated among D.C. court officials last year, the court made the decision to expand the community court model to encompass all of the city's police districts as of next January 1.

While Bronx Community Solutions has not yet gathered empirical evidence to specifically support a reduction in recidivism, we track our success through other means.  In 2011, there were over 11,000 cases mandated to BCS in the Bronx, 79% of which were successfully completed.  In contrast, the compliance rate that existed in the Bronx before the inception of BCS was under 50%, showing a 30% increase.  In that time BCS has also worked to reducing the total number of jail days served by non-violent offenders, bringing the number of jail sentences down from 15% to 9%.  Use of alternative sanctions in the Bronx has also increased from 9% in 2004 to 25% in 2008.
More information about the study and the East of the River Community Court project in Washington, D.C. can be found here: Study Shows D.C. Community Court Program Lowered Reoffending Rates

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Harmony Day

On Tuesday, July 24th BCS participated in the annual NYPD Bronx Harmony Day Picnic, an event aimed at strengthening relationships between police and the community.  This year's Harmony Day at Van Cortland Park was hot and harmonious.  The different sponsors and precincts joined together to make it a fun-filled event. Adrian and I took in the sights and enjoyed the day. The clients were enthusiastic in  performing their service to the community, and were given little treats to take home to their children. There were well over a dozen different summer camps and programs that participated without incident and made the day truly a "Harmony Day".
Matthew Usher, BCS Crew Supervisor