Source: (2000) US Dept of Justice. Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The central goal of panels is to give community residents a chance to talk about the impact of low-level crime on the community. Each panel is composed of community representatives, a facilitator, and offenders. The community representatives are volunteers, recruited by the court from the neighborhood, and include people who live or work in the area, merchants, activist citizens, social service providers, police officers, and religious representatives. The facilitator is a trained mediator from Victim Services, New York City’s leading victim assistance agency. Each panel is unique in that different types of offenses and different types of personalities yield dramatically different conversations. The Midtown Community Court is continuously exploring ways of improving the panel program’s effectiveness and monitors the program using research questionnaires given to offenders and community volunteers before and after each panel session. The work of the panels to date indicates there are no victimless crimes. Challenges faced by the Midtown Community Court in implementing the panel program are noted, and the effectiveness of the program is demonstrated.
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