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Responding to the Community: Principles for Planning and Creating a Community Court, Updated February 2001

NCJ Number
John Feinblatt; Greg Berman
Date Published
February 2001
7 pages
Publication Series
Using the Midtown Community Court (MCC) in New York City as a case study, this bulletin presents a set of common principles for community courts.
The MCC's location, architecture, and technology are part of a larger strategy to honor the concept of community by making justice restorative. Offenders are sentenced to make restitution to the community through work projects in the neighborhood, which may involve caring for trees, removing graffiti, cleaning subway stations, and sorting cans and bottles for recycling. At the same time, the court uses its legal leverage to link offenders with drug treatment, health care, education, and other social services. Nearly 75 percent of offenders processed through the court complete their community service sentences as mandated, which is the highest rate in the city. The MCC's planning team pursued six goals they considered to be at the core of community justice: restoring the community, bridging the gap between communities and courts, knitting together a fractured criminal justice system, helping offenders deal with problems that lead to crime, providing the courts with better information, and building a courthouse that fosters these ambitions. This paper explains the importance of each of these principles to the creation of an effective community court. This paper also identifies obstacles to the creation of a community court and offers practical advice on applying what has worked in the MCC experiment. 20 references

Date Published: February 1, 2001