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“In New York City, a ‘Community Court’ and a New Legal Culture.â€?

Anderson, D.C
June 4, 2015

Source: (1996) US Dept of Justice, National Institute of Justice.

The court focuses on low-level offenses that can lower a community’s morale and holds defendants immediately accountable for their crimes. The court also addresses issues underlying the problem that led to the offenses by providing social services such as drug treatment. The building is atypical in that it has clean, light-filled rooms that are secured with glass panels rather than steel bars. The court hears about 55-60 new cases per day. Offenders who receive a short community service sentence of 1 day’s work are often arrested and arraigned and complete 6 hours of community service in less than 24 hours. The court aims to make accountability swift, because delays between conviction and community service assignments have allowed many to avoid their obligations. The court has a 75 percent completion rate for community service sanctions; court officials say that this rate exceeds that of other busy urban courts. About 16 percent of offenders sentenced to community or social services have voluntarily continued with such programs as drug treatment, HIV testing, and employment counselling after completing their sentences. The court is wired for a computer network and uses software that was custom designed by programmers at the Vera Institute of Justice. Figures, photographs, and case example


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