As the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizations and institutions to shift to operating remotely, disparities driven by the digital divide became a shared problem across major cross-sector systems important to a community’s well-being. The Health, Housing, and Justice Alliance sought to eliminate inequities of fully virtual legal, healthcare, and social services through the creation of pop-up navigation centers and court hubs throughout Newark, New Jersey.
Kristina Singleton works on diverting people from court into supportive or educational programming. Among the programs she works with at the Midtown Community Court are Project Reset, which offers those charged with a low-level crime the chance to avoid court and a criminal record by completing community-based programming, and a recently launched youth gun-diversion program for young people who have been arrested on gun possession charges.
“I got you.” Three little, but powerful, words that mean the world to the community residents that Yvette Rouget serves in her role as program manager at our Housing Resource Center at Brownsville Community Justice Center. As someone who also lives in the community in which she works, she takes her job and role as a good neighbor seriously. Often starting conversations with residents with just a simple greeting, it’s not long before she’s asking, “What do you need?” or sharing resources and support.
A lifelong New Yorker, Jukie Tsai’s work with the Center has taken him all over the city. “I’m still surprised by how massive this city is and how many wonderful communities there are.” As a planner with our Neighborhood Safety Initiatives program, Jukie currently works with residents in public housing to co-create meaningful community change through tenant-directed projects including building community gardens, designing lighting improvements, and creating public artwork. “There’s so much expertise among residents about what is going on and needs to be addressed.
Youth Impact: Bronx is a youth leadership program that offers a restorative approach to issues that young people face. Volunteer members develop and pilot projects to promote community change, lead restorative circles for their peers, and take actions to address the underlying issues causing youth contact with the criminal legal system. Youth Impact offers individual support, mentorship, and educational opportunities to support members as they move towards their individual goals. Watch the video to hear from young people themselves what this program means to them and their community.
With spikes in gun violence and humanitarian crises in jails, the need for meaningful reform in the justice system is more urgent than ever. On October 28, 2021, Center for Court Innovation Executive Director Courtney Bryan hosted a briefing on the state of justice reform and alternatives to incarceration. Following the briefing, she engaged in conversation with Deron Johnston, the Center’s deputy director of the Center's Community Development and Crime Prevention programs, about innovations in community-led justice.
“This job has really shown me our deep ability as human beings to be connected to one another.” Kellsie Sayers is the director of restorative practices where she oversees the design and implementation of restorative justice programming. Kellsie joined the Center for Court Innovation four years ago to lead the restorative justice in schools project, a four-year pilot looking at the impact of restorative practices on school culture.
Our Queens Community Justice Center recently moved to a new location and is planning to open a new office in the Rockaways. The Justice Center is dedicated to supporting people both in and outside the justice system, providing a range of services and opportunities for civic engagement for people of all ages. In this video, see the new space and hear our staff share how expanding services will build a stronger community for the residents of Queens.
Specialized domestic violence courts centralize resources and trained staff to handle a dedicated domestic violence docket. Domestic violence courts operate in jurisdictions across the country, adapting to local laws and court structure, available resources, and community-specific needs. While there is no one model for a specialized domestic violence court, they rely on some common strategies and goals to ensure victim/survivor safety, a robust coordinated community response, and accountability and engagement for those who cause harm.
Chidinma Ume is a connector of both people and resources as she consults with communities nationally to implement justice reforms. Based in our West Coast office, Chidinma serves as deputy director of policy, a role that allows her to provide jurisdictions advice, support, and training in the areas of jail reduction, criminal justice debt reform, and to work with government and community leaders on evidence-informed practices. Hear from Chidinma how she approaches the work of transforming justice in an effort to co-create a fairer, more human-centered system for all.