Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Corps Members help over 400 people resolve outstanding warrants in Project Safe Surrender

Last weekend, Juvenile Justice Corps members joined hundreds of volunteers from Brownsville, Bedford Stuyvesant and East New York area churches to bring a courthouse to the community in an initiative called "Project Safe Surrender". For two days, ADA's from the Kings County District Attorney's Office, Court Officers, Clerks, Legal Aid attorneys and Community Affairs Officers from the 73rd Precinct set up shop in the Mt. Sion Baptist Church on Ralph Avenue in Brooklyn. Safe Surrender was an opportunity for men and women with outstanding warrants to clear their warrants and resolve low-level cases with favorable consideration. Tens of thousands of people are currently warranted in Brooklyn, many for missing their court hearing for very minor violations such as walking their dog off-leash, littering or having an open container of alcohol in public view. However, these minor cases can become more serious when an individual is stopped by the police, arrested and taken into custody.

On both days, a line began to form outside the church starting at 7:00 AM. Men and women waited patiently in the pews of the Church while the Judge heard over 400 cases, dismissing most with ACD's which are wiped clean from the defendant's record if they  stay out of trouble for 6 months. Juvenile Justice Corps members performed street outreach before and during the event, spreading the word and reassuring skeptics that it was not a "got ya!" move for law enforcement. This was the third time a Safe Surrender has been held in Brooklyn and in all three, no arrests were made. Corps members also organized and tabled at a resource fair located next door to the Church which included local community based organizations with information on health care, housing, education, anti-gang violence, and jobs. And finally, Corps members conducted surveys with every defendant exiting the court. The interview included basic demographic information as well as how the individual found out about Safe Surrender. It asked the nature of the charge, how long the individual had been warranted and what had prevented them from clearing their warrant prior to Safe Surrender. The results will be shared with the DA's office and other Safe Surrender organizers to plan future Safe Surrenders.

Juvenile Justice Corps members Dianne Graham and Lee Serrano were featured in the New York Times coverage of Safe Surrender:

 Corps Member Annelly Chalas conducts a survey with a man who just had his warrant cleared.
Corps member Mattie Liskow conducts a survey.

Corps members man a table at the community resource fair and hand out applications for paid programming for youth such as the Brownsville Youth Court and Youth Justice Board.

Corps members do some last-minute outreach, handing out flyers throughout the neighborhood

Corps member Danny Conyers surveys a man leaving the court 
Men and women wait patiently to meet with a Legal Aid attorney before going before the Judge

A makeshift courtroom was set up in the back room of the Church

 Corps members direct men and women leaving the courtroom down the stairs to the Resource Fair

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Corps member helps organize the Brownsville Youth Court's first graduation

On Thursday, November 10th, the Brownsville Youth Court, the Center for Court Innovation's newest Youth Court, inducted 8 new teen members into the youth court and celebrated the graduation of it's first cohort. Youth Courts are are diversion programs that train teens to serve as judges, jurors and advocates in their peers cases. The Brownsville Youth Court now has 19 youth court members, 9 of whom are from the Brownsville/East New York area. The first cohort logged 1320 hours collectively on the court over the course of 103 hearings with a sanction compliance rate of 93%. Youth Court respondents have completed 228 hours of community service and our Youth Court members have completed 121 hours. Corps member, Danny Conyers, serves with the Brownsville Youth Court alongside Program Associate, Sharese Crouther who is a two-term AmeriCorps alumn. The New York Juvenile Justice Corps places nine Corps members with five other Youth Courts throughout New York City in Staten Island, Queens, Greenpoint, Red Hook and Harlem.

Corps member helps organize "Week of Peace" events in Crown Heights

During their first month of service, Juvenile Justice Corps members Anthony Mohen and Radel Clause helped organize events for the "Week of Peace" in Crown Heights. Anthony and Radel serve with the Save Our Streets ("S.O.S.") and Youth Organizing to Save Our Streets ("YO S.O.S.") programs at the Crown Heights Community Mediation Center.  

The highlight of the Week of Peace was the Second Annual Peach March on October 20th. Three hundred people marched in the streets of Crown Heights, including a number of schools, churches, and other community organizations, as well as severeal members of the Juvenile Justice Corps. Chants such as “Don’t Shoot! I want to Grow up!”, “I don’t know what you’ve been told; Bullets kill both young and old…” and “You save my child; I’ll save your child” were heard loud and clear as members of the community marched from Eastern Parkway and Utica Avenue, to Kingston Avenue. The march ended outside Brower Park with a rally and ceremony to support and remember victims of violence and their families, to celebrate the positive changes we are continuing to make in our community, and to commit to work as a community to promote nonviolence. Three hundred balloons were released into the air with messages of peace, solidarity, and remembrance inscribed on them by members of the community.
On Friday, October 21st Corps members helped organize a screening of The Interrupters, a movie about the Chicago CeaseFire program on which the S.O.S. program is modeled. The screening drew a crowd of over 100 people including members of the New York Juvenile Justice Corps. After the film, audience members had the opportunity to ask questions of our own Crown Heights Violence Interrupters and Outreach Workers. Attendees also wrote notes to the S.O.S. team, who appreciated hearing about the impact their work has had on the community and that the community supports them in their work.

Corps Member organizes walk to raise awareness about Teen Dating Violence

On October 27th, the Staten Island Youth Justice Center hosted its first annual Teen Dating Violence Awareness Walk. The event was envisioned and executed by young people for young people with the guidance and support of New York Juvenile Justice Corps member, Dana Rachlin, who serves with the Justice Center's Alternative-to-Detention (ATD) program, Project READY.

Corps member Dana Rachlin addresses the crowd before the march

For the event, the Girls Group of READY ATD created banners and t-shirts with slogans of healthy relationships and acknowledgments of those who had been lost to dating violence. The evening started with a moving presentations by individuals who had lost loved ones to dating violence. Assemblyman Mike Cusick spoke about the prevalence of teen dating violence and his commitment to educating young people on how to stay safe. Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, representatives from the New York City Department of Probation and officers from the local police precinct were on hand to show their support for the cause. The walk was led by participants and alumni of READY ATD. They were joined by teen members and trainees of the Staten Island Youth Court and the Red Hook Youth Court who were led by Juvenile Justice Corps members Leticia Lucero, Edwin Saunders, Lameeka Collins and Sierra Green. In total, 50 young people walked to take a stand against teen dating violence and promote greater awareness amongs their peers about how to have safe and healthy relationships.
Teen members of the Red Hook Youth Court led by Corps members Lameeka Collins and Sierra Green came to show their support

Teen members of the Staten Island Youth Court led by Corps members Leticia Lucero and Edwin Saunders marched in support of the cause

Monday, September 19, 2011

Brownsville Community Dialogue

On June 23rd at the Stone Avenue Library in Brownsville, Juvenile Justice Corps Members joined community members and staff from the Center for Court Innovation for a presentation of the Brownsville "Op Data" Community Survey results and to participate in a dialogue. Corps Members had conducted the survey of over 800 residents and merchants in Brownsville back in October and were eager to hear the findings and begin working toward positive solutions.  

Community members voiced their reaction and analysis of the survey findings and the light they shed on larger issues in Brownsville. Many topics were brought up, including the concern from community members about "outsiders"  coming in to try to help but not doing much, the importance of focusing on schools, and frustration about gang violence and lack of job opportunities. One of the highlights of the evening was hearing from a group of young teens who shared their personal experiences about trying to keep from getting caught up in the violence in the community, especially in the summertime. Since October, Corps Members have continued to serve in Brownsville, helping to launch a Youth Court (a restorative justice model in which teens influence the behavior of other teens through positive peer pressure) and engage community members in the planning of a community justice center for the neighborhood.  
Corps Members and others learn the results of the survey that asked more than 800 Brownsville residents and merchants about their perceptions of safety, youth crime and opportunities in their community.

Corps Members Support Kids in OCFS Facilities to "Be the Change" in their Community

Today the Red Hook Community Justice Center hosted an event to celebrate a unique partnership between the New York Juvenile Justice Corps, New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) and generationOn to pilot a service-learning initiative for youth juvenile facilities. OCFS Commissioner, Gladys Carrion, addressed the audience and emphasized the value of partnerships and positive programming like this that keep their youth closer to home and in their communities.
This new initiative places Juvenile Justice Corps Members throughout OCFS facilities in Brooklyn and the Bronx. These highly-trained members facilitate and bring to life a service-learning curriculum designed by generationOn, “Be the Change New York.” The curriculum is based on a restorative justice model and is designed to re-engage youth through hands-on service projects and leadership opportunities.  The Corps Members serve as both instructors and role models to young people in OCFS facilities.  Over the course of a year, more than 100 young people in OCFS facilities have learned valuable life skills, built positive relationships, performed community service, and given back to their local communities.
A packed audience with representatives from the New York City Department of Probation, OCFS, the New York State Unified Court System, the Legal Aid Society, and the New York City Law Department saw an entertaining and educational presentation by Corps Members about the new Service Learning initiative. New York State Senator, Velmanette Montgomery, and a representative from City Councilmember’s Sara Gonzelez’ office were also on hand to celebrate and address the group and emphasize the need to give New York’s children more opportunities to grow up in a safe community. This initiative has been so successful that it will be expanded over the next year with the help of three new Corps Members.
Corps Members Raju Chowdhury and Alicia Grant alongside OCFS Commisioner Gladys Carrion, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Deputy Director and Project Director of the Red Hook Community Justice Center Jessica Colon and Julian Adler.

Red Hook Remembers 9-11

On Monday, September 12th the New York Juvenile Justice Corps hosted a service event to bring the Red Hook community together in honor of September 11th Day of Service and Remembrance. Many members of the Red Hook community were directly affected by the attacks and many more rose in service in the days after to help with recovery efforts. The day was a chance to stop and remember those who were lost, and honor their memory through service. Red Hook is directly across the East River from Ground Zero, and people who were in Red Hook at the time still remember watching in horror as the towers fell 10 years ago. Volunteers and emergency officials from the neighborhood were among the first to arrive, including Red Hook's Ladder 101, known today as "Seven in Heaven" because all seven firemen who responded to the call were lost. In the weeks after the attacks, local residents, Court Officers, and AmeriCorps members organized supply collections for first responders and helped with the cleanup effort at Ground Zero.

Corps Members teamed up with high school members of the Red Hook Youth Court, staff at the Red Hook Community Justice Center, and volunteers from the community to do a service project with Friends of Firefighters.  Friends of Firefighters is a local non-profit which was formed in the days after 9-11 by a small group of volunteers who went from firehouse to firehouse to meet the urgent needs of firemen affected by the attacks. Today, Friends of Firefighters is a one of a kind organization dedicated to health and well-being of New York City firefighters, 9-11 first responders and their families. Corps Members volunteered alongside former firefighters, cleaning, creating outreach packets, and helping Friends of Firefighters renovate their space. Corps Members and other volunteers also brought in homemade baked goods to give to Red Hook’s Court Officers, Officers of the 76th Precinct, and Firefighters from Engine 202 Ladder 101 in recognition of their bravery, sacrifice and daily service to the Red Hook community.

Corps Members with Nancy Carbone, Founder and Executive Director of Friends of Firefighters

Corps Members at Engine 202 Ladder 101 delivering homebaked goods as a small gesture of appreciation

Friday, August 5, 2011

Apply to be an AmeriCorps Member at the Red Hook Community Justice Center

The Red Hook Community Justice Center is looking for volunteers to serve in its AmeriCorps program, the New York Juvenile Justice Corps. The Corps places members in the Red Hook Community Justice Center to assist with youth and community programs, housing assistance, clinical case management, alternative sanctions and GED instruction. Throughout the year, Corps members participate in meaningful service projects to have a visible impact in the community as well as monthly trainings to support their professional development.


What are the Benefits?
  • Educational grant award of $5,550 which can be used toward tuition or student loans
  • Living stipend of $12,100
  • Basic health coverage
  • Childcare reimbursement
  • On the job and supplemental job training
  • Professional development and networking opportunities
  • 85% of Corps graduates go on to a full-time job or college!
What are the Qualifications?

  • Commit to serve for 1 year from October 1st 2011 – September 30th 2012
  • Serve a minimum of 35 hours per week (for a total of 1,700 hours in 1 year)  
  • Participate in monthly trainings and service projects with the Corps including some weekend and evening obligations
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Must be at least 18 years old by October 1st 2011
  • An interest in public service, youth development, law and community service
  • United States citizen or legal permanent resident with a green card
  • Bi-lingual skills a plus

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Apply to be a Corps member!

What is the Juvenile Justice Corps?
The New York Juvenile Justice Corps is an AmeriCorps national service program and project of the Center for Court Innovation. The Juvenile Justice Corps places Corps members at full-time, year-long job placements in courthouses, detention centers, schools and community centers throughout New York City. Corps Members provide wraparound interventions and positive programming to divert young people out of the justice system and break the cycle of unmet needs and delinquent behavior. Throughout the year, Corps members participate in meaningful service projects to have a visible impact in the community as well as monthly trainings to support their professional development.

What are the benefits?
  • Educational grant award of $5,550 which can be used toward tuition or student loans
  • Living stipend of $12,100
  • Basic health coverage
  • Childcare reimbursement
  • On the job and supplemental job training
  • Professional development and networking opportunities
  • 85% of Corps graduates go on to a full-time job or college!

What are the Requirements?
  • Commit to serve for 1 year from October 1st 2011September 30th 2012
  • Serve a minimum of 35 hours per week (for a total of 1,700 hours in 1 year)  
  • Participate in monthly trainings and service projects with the Corps including some weekend and evening obligations
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Must be at least 18 years old by October 1st 2011
  • An interest in public service, youth development, law and community service
  • United States citizen or legal permanent resident with a green card
  • Bi-lingual skills a plus
How do I apply?
Please review positions available online at www.courtinnovation.org/employment and submit a resume and cover letter to the hiring manager. The deadline to apply is September 1st, 2011.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Brownsville Community Survey in the Daily News

In October 2010, the Juvenile Justice Corps hit the streets of Brownsville as part of a week-long community service project called "Operation Data". Operation Data is a community survey aimed at eliciting perceptions about the quality of life, crime, and opportunities in the neighborhood. The New York Daily News recently ran a story about the survey at in anticipation of the release of the findings. The article, “Terror in Brownsville: Survey finds Brooklyn neighborhood grappling with 'serious issues,' like guns” can be found at, http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/brooklyn/2011/05/31/2011-05-31_terror_in_brownsville_survey_finds_nabe_grappling_with_serious_issues_like_guns.html. The survey in  concentrated on issues faced by young people such as gangs, drugs, violence and employment, and will inform the creation of a Youth Justice Center in the neighborhood. Corps members conducted interviews in barber shops, soup kitchens and bus stops and even walked alongside hurried residents on their way to work. The survey took less 10 minutes to complete, but many Brownsville residents spent far longer talking with the Corps members, choosing to miss their bus or delay their plans to share their hopes and concerns about their neighborhood. Word got around about their efforts and by the end of the first day; residents were literally lining up to be surveyed. Planners of the new Youth Justice Center were hoping to collect 500 surveys and Corps members blew that goal out of the water, conducting over 800 surveys! Corps members were blown away by the community's openness and interest in the survey project and are looking forward to seeing how the findings will be used to make real change for young people in Brownsville.

 Corps Members conduct surveys in Brownsville

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Red Hook Youth Baseball

On April 16th, 2011 the Red Hook Youth Baseball League entered its 14th Season with Opening Day ceremonies at the ballfields. The League is a unique collaboration between the criminal justice system and community members made possible through the service of the New York Juvenile Justice Corps. Corps members have a hand in every aspect of the league from recruitment and fundraising to coaching the younger divisions. The League brings together local justice system employees, business owners, and residents as coaches and team sponsors. AmeriCorps has had a presence in the League since its inception. In 1996, the League was founded by an AmeriCorps member and resident of Red Hook as an effort to create recreational activities for young people and take advantage of underutilized baseball diamonds in the neighborhood. Today, more than 150 boys and girls, dozens of community volunteers and parents fill the diamonds every Saturday. Thanks to generous donations, the League is able to offer the opportunity to play free of charge to participants. Fees charged by other leagues in Brooklyn are often prohibitive to families. True to the AmeriCorps spirit, Red Hook baseball is about more than balls, strikes and outs; everyone involved works to instill in the young ballplayers the highest standards of sportsmanship, leadership and respect.
Corps member coaches a young ballplayer.

Summer Reading Initiative in Red Hook

On Friday, May 20th the New York Juvenile Justice Corps hosted a book fair in Coffey Park in Red Hook to encourage summer reading amongst kids and teens. The event was an effort to prevent the "Summer Slide" which happens when young people go all summer without opening a book and results in teachers spending up to 2 months every fall reviewing lessons from the previous school year. Research shows that students who don't read over the summer enter the school year behind their peers and are more likely to drop out. Corps members organized the book give-away because the best predictor of whether a student will read over the summer is whether they have access to books. The event was the culmination of a book drive which collected over 1,000 books for children and young adults. Corps members did outreach to local schools, community centers and after-school programs to draw young people the the event. Corps members gave out hundreds of books and a representative from the Red Hook Public Library signed up young people for library cards and the summer reading program.

Corps members helped children find good books for the summer.

Monday, May 16, 2011

AIDS Walk New York

Early morning showers and thunder did not stop the New York Juvenile Justice Corps from joining 40,000 other New Yorkers on Sunday, May 15th to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS and raise funds to end the epidemic. The walk is the largest AIDS fundraising event in the world and supports organizations throughout the tri-state area which provide care and advocacy for men and women living with HIV. Corps members joined forces with the Greenpoint and Brownsville Youth Courts, friends, and family members for the 10K walk through Central Park and the Upper West Side of Manhattan. The team proudly contributed over $1,500 toward the cause though generous donations from friends, family members, colleagues, and several wildly successful Greenpoint Youth Court bake sales. In the months leading up to the walk, several Corps members worked behind the scenes at the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC) headquarters to prepare for the day - phonebanking, recruiting volunteers, and coordinating day-of logistics. 

Corps members approach the start line.

The Juvenile Justice Corps team brought together first-time walkers with Corps members who have walked for years in honor of loved ones lost.
We did it!