An experimental, community court opened in 2000 to take a new approach to youth offenders in south Brooklyn.
Where traditional courts look to punish past wrong doings, the Red Hook Community Justice Center looks to preventing crimes in the future by interrupting a cycle of crime with peacemaking programs, job training, drug rehabilitation and community service.
When small crimes committed by minors and are punished with jail time, youth are often cut off from their community and provided no framework for positive change. Many of the 11 million small crimes prosecuted in New York courts each year are from repeat offenders.
By focusing on reforming the offender rather than just punishing the crime, the Red Hook Community Justice Center ensures that youth re-enter their community with a new perspective and sense of responsibility for their actions.The Center’s success has been replicated with similar projects in North Liverpool, Great Britain, and San Francisco. It has received awards from the Innovations in American Government Award from Harvard University and the Ford Foundation, the Peter F. Drucker Award for Nonprofit Innovation.