Mandatory minimums place a fixed minimum prison sentence on certain criminal cases, effectively making incarceration automatic. From the systematic harm they cause to Black and Brown communities, to the unfair bargaining power they confer on prosecutors, to their inability to make communities safer, there are many reasons to oppose these laws. With decisive reform on the table, see our op-ed in New York Daily News for the case against mandatory minimum sentences.
Los Angeles County’s jails house a staggering number of people with mental illnesses, where these conditions go untreated and can even get worse. Under the county’s Rapid Diversion Program, operated in partnership with the Center, more than 1,500 people have been given the chance to receive treatment in their communities instead. So far, 350 people have graduated from the program to see their charges reduced or dropped.
This photo essay displays Brownsville Community Justice Center's work in placekeeping and includes personal narratives from members of the Youth Leadership Council who dreamt up the spaces that will foster healing in their community.
Sharing how her own experiences drive her housing work, Yvette Rouget—program manager at our Brownsville Community Justice Center’s Housing Resource Center—recently spoke with Pix11 News about New York’s housing crisis and how expanding rental assistance funding will be essential to help folks pay their rent. In her work towards safe, secure housing in the last decade, Yvette and her colleagues have helped prevent over 600 evictions in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
In her State of the City address, New York City Council Speaker Adrienne E. Adams spoke about prioritizing people and creating safer neighborhoods. Executive Director Courtney Bryan added a statement commending Speaker Adams for her commitment to closing Rikers. "The Center for Justice Innovation is committed to working with the City to close Rikers in the next four years through expanding the availability of community-based alternatives to incarceration, partnering with communities to prevent crime involvement, and creating a fairer, more effective justice system for all.”
The Center is proud to add three new executive staff positions: Sherene Crawford will return to the organization as Chief of Staff; she was previously with the Manhattan District Attorney's Office’s Pathways to Public Safety Division, leading alternatives-to-incarceration programs. Dan Lavoie is the Chief of External Affairs and Theron Pride is the Managing Director of National Initiatives and Research.
Nearly half of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) households are behind on rent, to the tune of $454 million, yet there is still no policy or funding solution in sight. Federal and state government-provided funding to help tenants pay rent during the pandemic placed people in subsidized housing, including NYCHA residents, last in line. In this Gotham Gazette op-ed, Center Executive Director Courtney Bryant calls for government relief, saying "We cannot abandon NYCHA tenants or the buildings they call home. In the short-term, we must provide immediate relief to the nearly 50% of households who have fallen behind on rent."
People living in New York City public housing who have requested to transfer apartments—typically due to severe repair needs, domestic violence, or other imminent safety issues—are currently left waiting upwards of years. Yet, there has been a 640% increase in vacant public housing units within the past year, pointing to a system-wide slowdown, says Ross Joy, director of housing and civil justice at our Red Hook Community Justice Center. Decades of underfunding has caused challenges throughout NYCHA (New York City Housing Authority), including unfilled staff positions that would help maintain and turnover units between tenants.
Since its founding in 1993, our community court in Midtown has been responding to lower-level, quality-of-life offenses with a community service and treatment-oriented approach. After reduced hours because of the pandemic, Midtown Community Court will again be expanding its capacity by mid-March. The expansion comes after a number of local elected officials called for a plan to enhance the program’s capacity, citing its demonstrated effectiveness at improving public safety and connecting individuals to needed services and support.
Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy of service, the Staten Island Justice Center hosted a community event centered around improving the quality of life for residents. This fun, impactful day included giveaways, activities, plenty of food, and partner organizations joining to share community enrichment resources, such as assistance with SNAP applications, legal and business services, career building support, and more.