Wednesday, November 23, 2011
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.
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.
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