BCS Presents at Community Association Meeting

"The more the court hears from us, the more they will listen." 

This was one of the opening remarks of Mary Jane Musano, the chairperson of the Waterbury LaSalle Community Association – a group with a long history of community activism focused on increasing punitive court outcomes for low level criminal activity like graffiti and car vandalism cases.   

As part of Bronx community Solutions’ community outreach work, we were invited to present at the association's evening meeting in late March. The association represents an enclave of the Bronx that has some of the lowest criminal activity throughout the borough, within the boundaries of Community Board 10. Comprised of largely veteran community residents, this group spearheads a Court Watchers program, through the support of Senator Jeff Klein’s office. Collaborating with the local 45th Precinct and the District Attorney’s Office, members identify district crime hot spots and advocate for harsher sentencing outcomes through community letters and meetings with the District Attorney’s Office. As activists, members are alerted of district arrests and coordinate shifts to sit in arraignments as a unified front wearing T-shirts with generalized messages to the offenders. 

Bronx Community Solutions shared our overall successes and lessons learned in the value of alternatives that fit the crime and the transformative justice in empowering individuals with targeted interventions. Although it would appear that we did not make an immediate impact in influencing their views towards a less punitive position, we were able to identify the needs for graffiti clean up and look forward to further collaboration on this issue. BCS can agree on the overall goal of reducing crime in the Bronx, even if differences arise in the strategies employed to get there.

- Elizabeth Swan-Taylor, Coordinator of Court and Intake Operations