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A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn - Red Hook Community Justice Center, NCSC, 2013

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A COMMUNITY COURT GROWS IN BROOKLYN:
A COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION OF THE RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER
Final Report

Authors:
Cynthia G. Lee, National Center for State Courts
Fred L. Cheesman, II, National Center for State Courts
David B. Rottman, National Center for State Courts (Project Director)
Rachel Swaner, Center for Court Innovation
Suvi Lambson, Center for Court Innovation
Mike Rempel, Center for Court Innovation
Ric Curtis, John Jay College
Contributors:
John Jay College
Avi Bornstein
Anthony Marcus
Sarah Rivera
National Center for State Courts
Jordan Bowman
Scott Graves

This project was supported by Award No. 2009-IJ-CX-0016 awarded by the National Institute
of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings and
conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of
the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

Cover image by Gene Sorkin, Youth Programs Office, Red Hook Community Justice Center
Recommended citation:
Lee, C.G., F. Cheesman, D. Rottman, R. Swaner, S. Lambson, M. Rempel & R. Curtis (2013) A
Community Court Grows in Brooklyn: A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook
Community Justice Center. Williamsburg VA: National Center for State Courts.

Pre-Released
November, 2013

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

CONTENTS
Acknowledgements ........................................................................................................................ xiii
Chapter 1. Theoretical Foundations And Study Context .................................................................. 1
A. Community Courts And The Problem-Solving Courts Movement .......................................... 1
B. Red Hook Community Justice Center Program Theory ........................................................... 4
1. Deterrence .............................................................................................................................. 5
2. Intervention ............................................................................................................................ 6
3. Legitimacy ............................................................................................................................. 7
C. Research Literature On Community Courts ........................................................................... 10
1. Expanded Sentencing Options ............................................................................................. 10
2. Compliance With Alternative Sanctions ............................................................................. 11
3. Community Perceptions ...................................................................................................... 11
4. Litigant Perceptions ............................................................................................................. 11
5. Impacts On Recidivism And Neighborhood Crime ............................................................ 12
6. Cost Savings ........................................................................................................................ 13
Chapter 2. Evaluation Data And Methods ...................................................................................... 14
A. Qualitative Data ...................................................................................................................... 14
B. Quantitative Data .................................................................................................................... 14
1. Case Processing Data........................................................................................................... 14
2. Comparison Data ................................................................................................................. 15
3. Arrest Data ........................................................................................................................... 21
C. Ethnographic Data .................................................................................................................. 21
Chapter 3. Planning The Red Hook Community Justice Center .................................................... 23
A. A Neighborhood In Crisis ...................................................................................................... 23
B. The Call For A Community Court In Red Hook .................................................................... 24
C. Building A Coalition .............................................................................................................. 26
D. Involving The Community ..................................................................................................... 26
E. Delivering Value ..................................................................................................................... 28
1. The Red Hook Public Safety Corps ..................................................................................... 28
2. Youth Court ......................................................................................................................... 29

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

F. Founding The Center For Court Innovation ........................................................................... 30
G. Building The Justice Center ................................................................................................... 31
1. Refining The Plan ................................................................................................................ 31
2. Selecting The Site ................................................................................................................ 32
3. Renovating The Building..................................................................................................... 33
H. Final Preparations ................................................................................................................... 33
Chapter 4. Organizational Structure And Staffing .......................................................................... 35
A. Court System Personnel And Functions ................................................................................. 35
1. Judge .................................................................................................................................... 35
2. Court Attorney ..................................................................................................................... 36
3. Court Clerk’s Office ............................................................................................................ 36
4. Resource Coordinator .......................................................................................................... 37
5. Court Officers ...................................................................................................................... 37
6. Other Court System Staff .................................................................................................... 39
B. Center For Court Innovation Personnel And Functions ......................................................... 39
1. Project Director And Deputy Project Director .................................................................... 40
2. Clinic ................................................................................................................................... 41
3. Alternative Sanctions ........................................................................................................... 41
4. Housing Resource Center .................................................................................................... 42
5. Family Court Clinic ............................................................................................................. 42
6. Community And Youth Programs ....................................................................................... 43
7. Research............................................................................................................................... 44
8. Facility ................................................................................................................................. 44
C. Legal And Criminal Justice Personnel ................................................................................... 44
1. District Attorney’s Office .................................................................................................... 45
2. Corporation Counsel ............................................................................................................ 45
3. Legal Aid ............................................................................................................................. 45
4. Criminal Justice Agency ...................................................................................................... 46
5. Probation Officer ................................................................................................................. 46
6. New York City Police Department ...................................................................................... 46
D. Other Government And Community Partners ........................................................................ 47
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E. Community Advisory Board ................................................................................................... 47
Chapter 5. Community And Youth Programs................................................................................. 49
A. Housing Court And The Housing Resource Center ............................................................... 49
1. The Role Of Housing Cases In Justice Center Planning And Implementation ................... 49
2. The Context: Public Housing In Red Hook And The Surrounding Neighborhoods ........... 50
3. Housing Court Jurisdiction .................................................................................................. 51
4. Trends In Housing Caseloads .............................................................................................. 52
5. Housing Court Process ........................................................................................................ 54
6. The Role Of The Housing Resource Center ........................................................................ 55
7. Housing Court And Criminal Justice Outcomes ................................................................. 56
B. Youth Programs ...................................................................................................................... 58
1. Youth Court ......................................................................................................................... 59
2. Teach ................................................................................................................................... 60
3. Youth Echo .......................................................................................................................... 61
4. Internships ........................................................................................................................... 62
5. Justarts ................................................................................................................................. 62
6. GED Program ...................................................................................................................... 62
7. Youth Programming Partnerships ....................................................................................... 63
C. Community Programs And Public Outreach .......................................................................... 63
D. Walk-In Services .................................................................................................................... 64
E. Resident And Offender Perceptions Of The Red Hook Community Justice Center .............. 65
1. Community Connections ..................................................................................................... 65
2. Police-Community Relations ............................................................................................... 66
F. Conclusions: Community And Youth Programs .................................................................... 66
Chapter 6. Criminal Court Case Processing And Sanctioning Practices At Red Hook ................. 68
A. The Multi-Jurisdictional Courtroom ...................................................................................... 68
B. Arraignments .......................................................................................................................... 70
1. Pre-Arraignment Procedures ............................................................................................... 70
2. Volume Of Arraignments .................................................................................................... 71
3. Precinct Of Arrest ................................................................................................................ 72
4. Caseload Composition ......................................................................................................... 74
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C. Criminal Case Outcomes ........................................................................................................ 75
1. Data ...................................................................................................................................... 76
2. Time To Disposition ............................................................................................................ 77
3. Initial Case Disposition ....................................................................................................... 77
4. Alternative Sanctions ........................................................................................................... 79
5. Final Case Disposition ......................................................................................................... 82
D. Summons Cases...................................................................................................................... 85
E. Offender Perceptions Of Procedural Justice ........................................................................... 86
F. Conclusions: Criminal Court Case Processing And Sanctioning Practices At Red Hook...... 87
Chapter 7. Drug Treatment Cases ................................................................................................... 90
A. Drug Treatment Procedures.................................................................................................... 90
1. Assessment And Plea........................................................................................................... 90
2. Referral To Programs .......................................................................................................... 91
3. Treatment Monitoring.......................................................................................................... 92
4. Final Disposition.................................................................................................................. 94
5. Comparison To Traditional Drug Court Procedures ........................................................... 94
B. Drug Treatment Caseloads ..................................................................................................... 96
C. Treatment Modalities .............................................................................................................. 97
D. Drug Treatment Case Outcomes .......................................................................................... 100
E. Conclusions: Drug Treatment Cases..................................................................................... 103
Chapter 8. Family Court ............................................................................................................... 105
A. History Of The Red Hook Community Justice Center Family Court .................................. 105
B. Family Court Process............................................................................................................ 108
C. Family Court Participants ..................................................................................................... 116
D. Conclusions: Family Court................................................................................................... 121
Chapter 9: Impact On Recidivism And Arrests ............................................................................ 122
A. Recidivism Analysis: Criminal Court .................................................................................. 122
1. Data .................................................................................................................................... 122
2. Measuring Recidivism ....................................................................................................... 123
3. One-Year And Two-Year Re-Arrest Outcomes ................................................................ 123
4. Survival Analysis ............................................................................................................... 125
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5. Procedural Justice And Recidivism ................................................................................... 139
B. Recidivism Analysis: Family Court ..................................................................................... 141
1. Data .................................................................................................................................... 141
2. One-Year And Two-Year Re-Arrest Outcomes ................................................................ 141
3. Survival Analysis ............................................................................................................... 142
C. Change Point Analysis Of Catchment Area Arrests ............................................................. 145
1. Data .................................................................................................................................... 145
2. Change Point Analysis....................................................................................................... 145
D. Conclusions: Recidivism And Arrests ................................................................................. 153
Chapter 10. Cost Efficiency Analysis .......................................................................................... 156
A. Methodology ........................................................................................................................ 156
B. Costs ..................................................................................................................................... 157
1. Start-Up Costs.................................................................................................................... 157
2. Funding And Expenditures For Justice Center Operations ............................................... 160
3. Partner Expenses ................................................................................................................ 162
4. Other Costs And Benefits .................................................................................................. 166
C. Benefits ................................................................................................................................. 166
1. The Cost Of Jail Use .......................................................................................................... 166
2. Value Of Community Service ........................................................................................... 167
3. Avoided Victimization Costs............................................................................................. 167
4. Other Costs And Benefits .................................................................................................. 169
5. Summary Of Benefits ........................................................................................................ 169
D. Conclusions And Recommendations.................................................................................... 170
Chapter 11. Conclusions And Observations ................................................................................. 173
A. Principal Findings................................................................................................................. 173
1. Fidelity To The Program Theory In The Implementation Process .................................... 174
2. Sanctioning In The Criminal And Family Courts ............................................................. 176
3. Recidivism Among Adult Misdemeanor Defendants ....................................................... 176
4. Crime Rates ....................................................................................................................... 177
5. Cost Efficiency .................................................................................................................. 177
6. Mechanisms Responsible For The Justice Center’s Success ............................................. 177
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B. Lessons For Policy And Practice .......................................................................................... 178
1. Issue: Selecting Community Court Judges ........................................................................ 179
2. Issue: Benefits And Costs Of Being Multijurisdictional ................................................... 180
3. Issue: Staffing A Community Court .................................................................................. 181
4. Issue: Establishing A Community Identity ........................................................................ 182
5. Issue: The Importance Of Local Knowledge ..................................................................... 183
6. Issue: Serving As A Resource For The Local Community ............................................... 183
7. Issue: Meeting The Caseload Imperative .......................................................................... 183
8. Issue: Courtroom Design ................................................................................................... 184
9. Issue: Working With Local Law Enforcement .................................................................. 184
10. Issue: External Support For Community Court Programs And Management ................. 184
C. Implementing Community Court Principles In Centralized Misdemeanor Courts .............. 185
1. Use Of Assessment Tools .................................................................................................. 185
2. Monitoring And Enforcing Court Orders .......................................................................... 185
3. Use Of Information Technology........................................................................................ 186
4. Procedural Justice .............................................................................................................. 186
5. Expanding Sentencing Options ......................................................................................... 186
6. Mechanisms For Incorporating Community Court Practices Into Mainstream Courts ..... 187
D. Priorities For Future Research On Community Courts ........................................................ 187
E. Conclusion ............................................................................................................................ 189
Appendix A. Propensity Score Modeling, Criminal Court ............................................................... 1
Appendix B. Sampling And Propensity Score Matching, Family Court .......................................... 6
Appendix C. Impact Of Drug Treatment On Two-Year Re-Arrests For Specific Charge Types .... 9
Appendix D. Change Point Analysis Of Red Hook Arrest Series .................................................. 10
Appendix E: Ethnographic Report: The Red Hook Community Justice Center ............................ 18
Works Cited .................................................................................................................................... 75

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LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Background Characteristics of Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008
Dispositions .................................................................................................................................... 17
Table 2. Baseline Characteristics for Juvenile Delinquency Respondents, Original and Matched
Sample…………………………………………………………………………………………….20
Table 3. Public Housing Units in the Justice Center’s Catchment Area ........................................ 51
Table 4. Trends in Housing Court Caseloads ................................................................................. 53
Table 5. RHCJC Mediation Cases, 2003 – 2009 ............................................................................ 65
Table 6. Precinct of Arrest for RHCJC Misdemeanor Arraignments, 2008 Dispositions .............. 73
Table 7. Court of Arraignment for Misdemeanor Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area
by Day of Arrest, 2008 Dispositions............................................................................................... 74
Table 8. RHCJC Arraignments by Most Serious Charge, 2000 – 2009 ......................................... 75
Table 9. Court of Disposition for Cases Arraigned at RHCJC, 2000 – 2009 ................................ 76
Table 10. Time to Disposition by Court for Misdemeanor Cases with Arrests in RHCJC
Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions ............................................................................................... 77
Table 11. Initial Disposition by Court for Misdemeanor Cases with Arrests in RHCJC Catchment
Area, 2008 Dispositions .................................................................................................................. 78
Table 12. Classes Taught as Social Service Sanctions at RHCJC .................................................. 79
Table 13. RHCJC Alternative Sanctions by Arraignment Charge, 2000 – 2009 ........................... 80
Table 14. Compliance Rates for RHCJC Alternative Sanctions, by Arraignment Year ................ 82
Table 15. Final Disposition by Court for Misdemeanor Cases with Arrests in RHCJC Catchment
Area, 2008 Dispositions .................................................................................................................. 83
Table 16. Jail Sanctions at RHCJC v. Kings County Criminal Court ............................................ 84
Table 17. Misdemeanor Trials at RHCJC, 2008 – 2011 ................................................................. 85
Table 18. RHCJC Defendants Mandated to Drug Treatment by Arraignment Charge, 2000 –
2009…............................................................................................................................................. 97
Table 19. Number of Treatment Modalties for RHCJC Defendants Mandated to Long Term
Treatment by Case Type, 2003-2009 .............................................................................................. 98
Table 20. Number of Treatment Modalities for RHCJC Defendants Mandated to Long-Term Drug
Treatment by Arraignment Year, 2003 – 2009 ............................................................................... 99
Table 21. Treatment Modality by Arraignment Year for RHCJC Defendants With Long-Term
Treatment Mandates, 2003 – 2009................................................................................................ 100

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Table 22. Final Status of Mandate by Arraignment Year for RHCJC Defendants with Long-Term
Treatment Mandates, 2003 – 2008................................................................................................ 101
Table 23.Manner of Disposition for RHCJC Cases with Long-Term Treatment Mandates, 20032008…........................................................................................................................................... 101
Table 24. Manner of Final Disposition by Status of Mandate for RHCJC Cases with Long-Term
Treatment Mandates, 2003 – 2008................................................................................................ 102
Table 25. Time to Disposition for RHCJC Cases, 2008 Dispositions ......................................... 102
Table 26. Juvenile Arrests Referred to RHCJC Family Court and Percent Attempted Adjustment,
2002-2007…… ............................................................................................................................. 110
Table 27. Adjustment Outcomes................................................................................................... 110
Table 28. Law Department Actions Taken 2002-2005 ................................................................. 111
Table 29. Law Department Filings to RHCJC 2002-2007 ........................................................... 111
Table 30. Family Court Case Processing Statistics, 2006-2008 ................................................... 115
Table 31. Fact-Finding Hearings at the RHCJC Family Court ..................................................... 116
Table 32.Charges for New Juvenile Arrests Referred to RHCJC Family Court .......................... 117
Table 33. Severity of Juvenile Charges, 2007 .............................................................................. 117
Table 34. Red Hook Family Court Baseline Measures, 2006-2008 ............................................. 118
Table 35. Type of Long-Term Services Received by RHCJC Clinic Referrals, 2009-2010 ........ 120
Table 36. Re-Arrests for Catchment Area Misdemeanor Defendants, RHCJC v. Kings County
Criminal Court………. ................................................................................................................. 124
Table 37. Impact of Drug Treatment at RHCJC on Re-Arrests .................................................... 125
Table 38. Hypotheses Concerning Mechanisms By Which RHCJC Reduces Recidivism, As
Operationalized in Full Model ...................................................................................................... 130
Table 39. Relative Risks of Re-arrest for Misdemeanor Defendants Arrested in RHCJC
Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions ............................................................................................. 134
Table 40. Family Court Impact on Re-Arrests.............................................................................. 142
Table 41. Relative Risk of Re-Arrest for Family Court Respondents .......................................... 144
Table A.1. Background Characteristics of Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008
Dispositions....................................................................................................................................... 1
Table A.2. Logistic Regression For Propensity Score Model Predicting Court Of Case Processing
(RHCJC V. Kings County Criminal Court)1..................................................................................... 3
Table B.1. Baseline Characteristics for Juvenile Delinquency Respondents, Original and Matched
Samples ............................................................................................................................................. 8
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Table C.1 Impact of Drug Treatment on Two-Year Re-Arrests for Specific Charge Types ............ 9

List of Figures
Figure 1.Map of Brooklyn, New York............................................................................................ 24
Figure 2. Red Hook Community Justice Center ............................................................................. 34
Figure 3. RHCJC Arraignments by Year, 2000 – 2009 .................................................................. 72
Figure 4. Summonses Processed at RHCJC, 2001 – 2009 ............................................................. 85
Figure 5. Percentage of RHCJC Defendants Mandated to Long-Term Drug Treatment,
2000 – 2009
……………………………………………………………………………………………96
Figure 6: Red Hook Family Court Case Flow .............................................................................. 109
Figure 7. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest by Court for Defendants
Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions ................................................. 128
Figure 8. Estimated Risk of Re-arrest for Catchment Area Misdemeanor Defendants,
Baseline v. Female ............................................................................................................ 131
Figure 9. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest By Court and Sanction Type for
Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions .............................. 137
Figure 10. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest By Court and Precinct of
Arrest for Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions ............. 139
Figure 11. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest by Court for RHCJC and
Comparison Group Juvenile Delinquency Cases .............................................................. 143
Figure 12. Monthly Misdemeanor Arrests for RHCJC Catchment Area Precincts, ||
1998 – 2009
…………………………………………………………………………………………..147
Figure 13. Monthly Misdemeanor Arrests for Precincts Adjacent to RHCJC Catchment Area,
1998 – 2009....................................................................................................................... 148
Figure 14: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 76 ..................................................................... 150
Figure 15: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 72 ..................................................................... 150
Figure 16: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 78 ..................................................................... 151
Figure 17: Estimated Means and Changepoint Probabilities: Total Arrests, RHCJC Precincts,
1998 – 2009....................................................................................................................... 151
Figure 18: Estimated Means and Changepoint Probabilities: Total Arrests, Non-RHCJC
Precincts,
1998 – 2009....................................................................................................................... 153
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This comprehensive evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center was a collaborative
effort by three organizations with prior experience working together on community court
evaluations. The authors are grateful to the management of their respective organizations for
providing support and resources that allowed us to meet our objectives.
Our research relied upon the cooperation of a wide range of individuals and organizations. The
authors gratefully acknowledge all of those who gave generously of their time and knowledge
during the qualitative interviews and the community survey. We owe a particular debt of
gratitude to the residents of Red Hook and the staff of the Justice Center’s partner organizations.
Our process and impact evaluations were made possible by the assistance with data we received
from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, the New York City Criminal
Justice Agency, the Division of Technology of the New York State Unified Court System, and
Timothy McGrath and Antonio Diaz of the Kings County Criminal Court in providing case
records and other quantitative data. The authors are solely responsible for the methodologies
used and results obtained through the use of data from these sources.
Pamela Petrakis of the National Center for State Courts provided primary administrative support
for the project at the National Center for State Courts and Neil LaFountain, also of National
Center for State Courts, gave expert assistance in analyzing the process evaluation data. We also
extend our sincere appreciation to Judge Alex Calabrese and to the staff and attorneys at the Red
Hook Community Justice Center for allowing us an insider’s view of the program and its
operations. Their helpfulness and courtesy were exemplary. Finally, we also thank Linda Truitt
of the National Institute of Justice for her guidance as project monitor.
This study was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department
of Justice to the National Center for State Courts. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and
recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily
reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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CHAPTER 1. THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND STUDY CONTEXT
In April 2000, a new courthouse opened its doors in a vacant schoolhouse in the Red Hook
neighborhood of Brooklyn. Over the course of the five previous decades, Red Hook had declined
from a vibrant, working-class waterfront community into a notorious hotbed of drug-related
violence, cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by an elevated highway and a lack of public
transportation. Following in the footsteps of the nation’s first community court, established in
Manhattan seven years earlier, the Red Hook Community Justice Center aimed to help transform
the neighborhood by cleaning up misdemeanor crime and offering defendants treatment for the
drug addictions and other social dislocations believed to fuel their criminal behavior. The Justice
Center would also handle juvenile delinquency cases, hear landlord-tenant disputes, and provide a
wide variety of youth and community programs open to all residents. The ultimate goal was to
create a court that “would both respond constructively when crime occurs and work to prevent
crime before it takes place,” halting the “revolving door” of the traditional criminal justice system.
“By bringing justice back to neighborhoods and by playing a variety of non-traditional roles,”
Justice Center planners asserted, “community courts foster stronger relationships between courts
and communities and restore public confidence in the justice system” (Midtown Community Court
undated, 1).
More than a decade later, the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) is a prominent
fixture in the Red Hook neighborhood. The Justice Center is the product of an ongoing partnership
among the New York State Unified Court System, the Center for Court Innovation, the Kings
County District Attorney’s Office, the Legal Aid Society of New York, and a number of other
governmental and nonprofit organizations. As a demonstration project, it is also arguably the bestknown community court in the world, welcoming visitors from as far away as South Africa,
Australia, and Japan and serving as a model for other community courts across the nation and the
globe.
In 2010, the National Institute of Justice funded the first comprehensive independent
evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Conducted by the National Center for State
Courts in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation and the John Jay College of Criminal
Justice, this evaluation represents a rigorous multi-method investigation into the impact of the
Justice Center on crime, incarceration, and costs; the mechanisms by which the Justice Center
produces any such results; and how policymakers and court planners in other jurisdictions can
adapt the Justice Center’s vision of the community court model to suit the unique needs of their
own communities. The evaluation consists of four major components: a process evaluation that
documents the planning and operations of the Red Hook Community Justice Center and
investigates whether the program was implemented in accordance with its design; an ethnographic
analysis that examines community and offender perceptions of the Justice Center; an impact
evaluation that analyzes the Justice Center’s impact on sentencing, recidivism, and arrest rates; and
a cost-efficiency analysis that quantifies the Justice Center’s costs and benefits in monetary terms.
A. COMMUNITY COURTS AND THE PROBLEM-SOLVING COURTS MOVEMENT

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Community courts such as the Red Hook Community Justice Center are part of the broader
problem-solving courts movement that has taken root across the nation over the past two and a half
decades. The basic premise behind the problem-solving court model is the idea that instead of
merely adjudicating legal questions or punishing criminal behavior after the fact, courts should
seek to prevent crime by directly addressing its underlying causes (Berman and Feinblatt 2005;
Rottman and Casey 1999). The nation’s first problem-solving court was the Miami-Dade County
Drug Court, established in Florida in 1989. This new type of court replaced prison and other
traditional sanctions for drug-addicted offenders with judicially supervised treatment. Over time, a
number of variants on the drug court model emerged, including mental health courts, veterans’
courts, homelessness courts, domestic violence courts, and community courts. By 2010, the
National Drug Court Institute estimated that more than 3,600 problem- solving courts were in
operation across the United States (Huddleston and Marlowe 2011, 37).
The concept of the community court first emerged in the United States with the
establishment of the Midtown Community Court in Midtown Manhattan in 1993. Two key
influences on the development of the community court model were the “broken windows” theory
of crime and the related concept of community policing. According to the broken windows theory,
visible conditions of disorder in a neighborhood—such as broken windows that are never repaired
or misdemeanors that go unprosecuted—serve as a signal that the community does not enforce
social norms, inviting further misdemeanor activity that eventually leads to more serious crimes
(Kelling and Wilson 1982). In accordance with the broken windows theory, community courts
typically focus on cleaning up minor “quality of life” crimes such as graffiti, turnstile jumping,
prostitution, and public intoxication on the assumption that this will lead to reductions in other
types of crime as well. Building upon the broken windows theory, the community policing model
seeks to take police officers out of their patrol cars and integrate them into the fabric of the
community, where they can better exercise both formal and informal control over conditions of
disorder (Manning 1984, 208). In a similar fashion, the community court model aims to relocate
the production of justice out of large centralized courts and into the local community.
Among the many types of problem-solving courts that exist today, community courts are
perhaps the least amenable to a standardized definition. As the name suggests, the most basic
premise of the community court model is that the court should be both an integral part of the
community and an agent of transformation in it. Although individual community courts embody
this vision in ways as varied as the communities in which they are located, most share a few core
features. There have been several attempts to identify the key elements and practices common to
community courts that differentiate them from traditional courts processing misdemeanor offenses.
One such effort resulted in a list of 11 elements:
1. Dual commitment to changing the lives of individual offenders and the quality of life in
communities;
2. Increased court time and resources devoted to “minor” misdemeanors;
3. Community service and other alternative sanctions replace jail and fines;

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4. Offender compliance with sentence conditions strictly monitored;
5. Noncompliance with sentence conditions strictly sanctioned;
6. Treatment and services as a component of sanctions;
7. Access to a comprehensive package of treatment and social services through a mix of
government and nonprofit agencies;
8. Extensive inventory of information on defendants gathered through expanded intake
interviews and access to other criminal justice databases;
9. Immediacy in the commencement of community service and treatment programs;
10. Community service work crews or improvement projects posted as the products of
community service; and
11. One or more mechanisms that provide ongoing communication with the community
(Casey and Rottman 2005, 37).
An alternative synthesis of common community court principles and practices is based on a
review of the main features of the community courts operating in mid-2010, both in the United
States and internationally. In this formulation, the six dimensions are:
1. Enhanced information,
2. Community engagement,
3. Collaboration with outside agencies and groups,
4. Individualized justice shaped by the use of risk and needs assessments,
5. Defendant accountability, and
6. Outcomes that are measured and analyzed (Lang 2011, 2-3).
Based upon these two formulations along with additional considerations identified during
previous evaluation research on community courts, the evaluation team identified the following as
the main distinguishing features of a community court:
1. Individualized Justice: Judicial decision-making characterized by access to a wide range
of information about defendants and by a focus on achieving individualized rather than
standardized treatment of offenders.

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2. Expanded Sentencing Options: Availability of an enhanced range of sentencing and
diversion options that draw heavily on locally-based government and nonprofit
providers, with a corresponding reduction in the use of jail time and fines as options.
3. Varying Mandate Length: Development of a system in which a (typically small)
proportion of defendants may receive medium-term treatment for drug addiction or
other problems under court supervision, while the majority of defendants receive shortterm social service or community service sanctions, typically five days or less in length.
4. Offender Accountability: An emphasis on immediacy in the commencement of noncustodial sanctions as well as the strict enforcement of these sanctions.
5. Community Engagement: Establishment of processes through which community input
can be factored into decision-making by community court leaders.
6. Community Impacts: Definitions of success in which community outcomes, such as
reductions in crime or community restitution through community service, are among the
measured evaluation criteria.
This evaluation explores the ways in which each of these features manifests itself at the Red
Hook Community Justice Center, and how these features contribute to the Justice Center’s core
mission of reducing crime in its catchment area.
B. RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER PROGRAM THEORY
As stated by the project planners, the Justice Center’s primary goals are to reduce crime and
improve quality of life in the Red Hook neighborhood. “Program theory” refers to the expectations
on how the RHCJC would achieve these goals. The Red Hook Community Justice Center combines
a broken-windows focus on deterring minor crime with intensive community involvement and a
drug-court-style program of judicially supervised drug treatment. The Red Hook version of the
community court model aims to reduce crime through three separate but interrelated mechanisms:
deterrence, intervention, and enhanced legitimacy of the justice system.1 First, the certainty of
meaningful punishment—including follow-up sanctions in response to a defendant’s
noncompliance with the original court order—is designed to deter criminal behavior. Second, for
juveniles and a small proportion of adult defendants, the Justice Center provides judicial
supervision for community-based treatment of drug abuse and other underlying criminogenic needs
in order to reduce the likelihood of future offending. Finally, RHCJC seeks to secure voluntary
compliance with the law by enhancing the perceived legitimacy of the justice system through
procedural justice in judicial decision-making as well as the cultivation of close ties to the
This description of the RHCJC program theory is the research team’s reconstruction and is based on interviews,
articles, and other documentation of the planning process. It is not an official statement of the program theory by the
Justice Center’s planners or managers.
1

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community. The first two of these mechanisms can be described as instrumental, in that they seek
to alter the incentives that individuals face to commit or to desist from crime. In contrast, the third
mechanism is a normative one, intended to affect people’s sense of obligation to follow the law
regardless of the likelihood of punishment (Tyler 2006, 3).

1. Deterrence
Deterrence theory is founded on the assumption that people make rational choices about
whether to engage in criminal behavior, weighing the gain they expect to realize from the crime
against the expected cost of punishment. The expectation of punishment encompasses the
likelihood of being caught and punished as well as the expected severity of the punishment. This
means that in order to design an effective deterrent, policymakers must consider three factors: the
severity of the punishment, the certainty of punishment, and the celerity with which the punishment
is imposed (Marlowe and Kirby 1999; Marlowe et al. 2005; Paternoster and Piquero 1995). The
severity of the punishment must be proportional to the benefit the criminal expects to realize from
the crime. In other words, more serious punishment is required to deter more serious types of
crime. Research indicates that the certainty of punishment is the most important element in the
potential criminal’s cost-benefit calculus (Nagin and Pogarsky 2001). The prospect of a lengthy jail
term will not deter criminal behavior if potential lawbreakers do not think they will be caught, or if
they believe that they are likely to walk away without punishment even if apprehended. Celerity, or
swiftness, of punishment is also important in reinforcing the connection between crime and
punishment in the mind of both the criminal and the public at large (Akers 1997, 16-17). Swift,
certain, and meaningful punishment for criminal offenses is intended to deter future criminal
behavior on the part of the individual offender (specific deterrence), as well as among the
population as a whole (general deterrence).
In accordance with deterrence theory, the Red Hook Community Justice Center intends to
replace “walks” (case dispositions that leave offenders with no further obligations) with
meaningful sanctions for even the most minor of offenses and to have defendants begin serving
social and community service sentences as quickly as possible. Social service sanctions—typically
one- or two-session educational programs on topics such as “What to Do When Stopped By the
Police” and “Treatment Readiness”—and community service sanctions are typically administered
and supervised by Justice Center staff. Offenders register for these programs immediately after
exiting the courtroom, and the court’s alternative sanctions office follows up with defendants who
fail to appear for their assigned sessions. The judge regularly requires defendants to appear in court
to demonstrate compliance with all terms of the court’s mandate, including completion of social
service sanctions, payment of fines and restitution, and completion of administrative tasks related
to the defendant’s driver’s license. In contrast, in mainstream New York City criminal courts,
immediate on-site registration for community and social service sanctions is often impossible,
monitoring of alternative sanctions may be sporadic, and defendants are not typically required to
appear in court to demonstrate compliance.

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The broken windows hypothesis is an outgrowth of deterrence theory. Under the broken
windows theory, the presence of minor crime and other visible conditions of disorder sends a signal
to potential lawbreakers that any crimes they commit are likely to be overlooked. This signal
informs the cost-benefit calculation related not only to other minor crimes, but also to more serious
offenses. The Justice Center applies broken windows theory through its intensive focus on
misdemeanor offenses, its use of community service to repair visible conditions of disorder in the
neighborhood, and its organization of community forums and events designed to strengthen
community-based forms of informal social control. To a greater degree than most other community
courts, RHCJC is concerned with the connection between the types of minor crime that appear on
its docket and more serious offenses. By treating misdemeanor offenses seriously, RHCJC also
hopes to achieve a reduction in the types of felony offenses that plagued the Red Hook
neighborhood during the 1980s and 1990s.
2. Intervention
In contrast to the deterrence model, which aims to rebalance the scales as the potential
offender weighs the costs and benefits of breaking the law, the intervention component of the
RHCJC program aims to provide participants with the resources and support that they need to bring
about positive changes in their behavior, thereby reducing crime in the Red Hook neighborhood.
Intervention services include long-term treatment for drug-addicted offenders, court mandates to
short-term educational programs, and walk-in services for community members without active
court cases.
Judicially supervised treatment for drug addiction is the Justice Center’s primary mode of
intervention. Many minor crimes such as prostitution and theft are assumed to be committed by
drug addicts in pursuit of funds with which to purchase drugs (Gupta et al. 2011, 3-4; Chein and
Rosenfield 1957, 53). Other offenses such as public intoxication, driving under the influence, and
drug possession are also frequently associated with addiction to alcohol or illegal drugs. By treating
the underlying addiction rather than merely punishing the offender for the resulting crime, the
Justice Center aims to break the cycle of recurrent criminal behavior caused by drug addiction.
The Justice Center’s intervention services for drug addiction are patterned after the
established drug court model. Drug courts use their coercive power to compel defendants’
participation in drug treatment through a system of sanctions and rewards. A defendant who fails to
attend treatment, shows up late for court, or tests positive for drugs may be required to write an
essay, perform community service, attend additional treatment sessions, or spend a weekend in jail.
Defendants who repeatedly break the rules are terminated from the program and typically
sentenced to jail. Defendants who comply with program requirements receive public recognition
from the judge and drug court staff, as well as increases in privileges. In most drug courts,
defendants who successfully complete the entire program are rewarded with the dismissal of the
original charges. Research on drug courts suggests that judicially supervised drug treatment
increases retention in treatment programs as compared to voluntary participation and reduces
recidivism as compared to “business as usual” methods of case processing that do not incorporate
treatment (Mitchell et al. 2012; Rossman et al. 2011; Gottfredson et al. 2003, 185,188; Belenko

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2001, 4,26) Like a drug court, RHCJC provides a small subgroup of adult and juvenile defendants
with intensive judicial supervision for a personalized treatment program that may include group
outpatient treatment for drug addiction, regular drug testing, and therapy for underlying
psychological trauma. Young offenders in drug treatment are also required to attend school or a
GED program and to comply with a curfew.
In addition to judicially supervised drug treatment, the Justice Center mandates many
defendants to short-term educational programs such as the Treatment Readiness Program (which
introduces participants to available drug treatment resources), anger management, and life skills
classes. Each of these programs lasts two hours or less. Research demonstrates that drug treatment
interventions lasting less than 90 days are generally ineffective (Marlowe 2003). Similarly,
effective cognitive behavioral therapy programs for anger management typically last around 16
weeks, with a median of two sessions per week (Lipsey, Landenberger, & Wison 2007). This
suggests that the short-term social service interventions offered at Red Hook are not expected to
have a direct impact on participants’ social service needs; rather, the time that defendants spend in
these programs may be regarded as a proportionate sanction that may have some deterrent power.
Although these interventions may lead some participants to seek treatment that might have an
eventual impact on knowledge, attitudes, and behavior, no data on these long-term outcomes were
available.
In addition to court-mandated interventions, the Justice Center offers some intervention
services to youth and adult community members without active court cases. Programs such as
Youth Court, arts programs, internships, the youth baseball league, and the AmeriCorps programs
are designed in part to provide opportunities for both young people and adults to develop strong
relationships with peers and mentors, a positive self-image, and concrete skills that will prepare
them for success in school and employment, reducing the likelihood that they will commit future
crimes.
3. Legitimacy
In addition to altering the risks and rewards associated with crime, RHCJC also seeks to
promote law-abiding behavior by enhancing the legitimacy of the justice system among offenders
as well as other residents of the catchment area. An authority’s legitimacy is its perceived right to
dictate behavior. If citizens believe that the justice system is legitimate, they will voluntarily obey
the law even if the expected gains from crime outweigh the expected punishment (Tyler 2006, 3-4).
The Justice Center uses two mechanisms to establish legitimacy: procedural justice and a close
relationship with the local community.
a. Procedural Justice
Empirical research consistently demonstrates that people’s assessments of their interactions
with the legal system (as well as other authority figures) are influenced more by their perceptions
of the fairness of the decision-making process than by the outcomes of those processes. In the
words of Tom Tyler, the social psychologist most closely associated with procedural justice theory,

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“[t]he procedural justice argument is that, on the general level, the key concerns people have about
the police and the courts center around whether these authorities treat people fairly, recognize
citizen rights, treat people with dignity, and care about people’s concerns” (Tyler, 2001, 216).
First-hand experience of procedural justice has been shown to increase people’s belief in
the legitimacy of the judicial system and make them more likely to obey the law in the future
(Tyler 2007-2008, 26). If people feel they have been treated fairly, they are more likely to believe
that the courts have a moral right to make decisions on disputed matters, and consequently, are
more likely to obey those decisions. Procedural justice is present when people perceive that they
are experiencing the following in their interaction with judges (Tyler 2004, 443-47):
Respect: People are treated with dignity and their rights are respected.
Neutrality: Honest and impartial decision-makers base their decisions on facts.
Participation: Each party has an opportunity to express his or her viewpoint to the decisionmaker
Trustworthiness: Decision-makers appear benevolent, caring, motivated to treat parties
fairly, and sincerely concerned about people.
The greater the degree of perceived procedural justice, the more likely it is that defendants
and litigants will be satisfied with criminal justice authorities and their decisions, view authorities
as legitimate, and defer to or comply with the decisions made by the judge and others in authority.
The connection between procedural justice and compliance applies to both minority and majority
group members and in both low-stakes and high-stakes situations (Tyler 2006, 105,156-57).
To maximize perceptions of procedural justice, judges are advised to treat individuals with
respect, afford all parties the opportunity to be heard, and clearly explain the rationale behind their
decisions. Although the judge is the primary contributor to procedural justice, the actions of all
justice system personnel, including the police, lawyers, court clerks, court officers and other court
staff, may also influence whether people feel that they are being treated fairly (Burke and Leben,
2007; Tyler 2007-2008, 30-31; Rottman 2007).
An implicit commitment to procedural justice has been a cornerstone of the RHCJC
program since the earliest stages of planning, despite the apparent lack of explicit discussion of
procedural justice principles during the planning process. That commitment extends beyond the
interaction between the judge and each litigant to the physical design of the courthouse and the
actions of all RHCJC staff members. For example, the court was strategically located between the
public housing at the “front” of the neighborhood and the privately owned housing at the “back” in
order to create the perception of neutrality. The courthouse’s physical design is intended to
promote individual dignity, from the clean, well-lit holding cells without bars, to the lowered bench
that places the judge eye to eye with the defendant. All court staff, from the court officers to the
judge, assert that they emphasize courtesy and respect in all of their interactions with the public,

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and the judge attempts to engage in direct dialogue with the parties during court appearances. On a
larger scale, the Community Advisory Board, appearances by the judge and court staff at
community meetings, and the regular administration of the Operation Data survey are designed to
promote perceptions of procedural justice by giving the community a voice in court policies and
initiatives.
b. Community Involvement
The procedural justice perspective is supported by the group value theory and other
identity-based theories holding that people actively seek to identify themselves with groups (Tyler
et al. 1997, 184-188). The psychological rewards of group membership are sufficient that people
will act for the benefit of the group even when such action conflicts with their own self- interest.
Experience of procedural justice motivates compliance with the law partly by affirming the
individual’s status within the group governed by legal authorities. By treating litigants with
respect, listening to their stories, and considering their arguments, authorities send a message that
the litigants are valued members of the group—“they provide people with feedback about the
quality of their relationship with authorities and institutions” (Tyler 2006, 276).
In procedural justice terms, the Justice Center’s community and youth programming is
designed to demonstrate that the court shares the values of the community (Jackson et al. 2012).
The Justice Center also seeks to strengthen citizens’ affective ties to the community through youth
and community programming, public outreach, and community service sanctions. In addition to
providing development opportunities for individual participants, youth and community programs
such as a youth baseball league are designed to enhance community ties by bringing the
neighborhood together. The court’s involvement with community organizations such as the Red
Hook Initiative, Added Value community farm, the Friends of Coffey Park, the Groundswell mural
program, and the Falconworks theater company, as well as its support of community events like
movie nights on Valentino Pier, is also intended to help strengthen neighborhood identity and
informal social controls (Sampson and Raudenbush 2001). Furthermore, the community service
sanctions frequently handed down at RHCJC are not intended merely to serve as a deterrent or a
source of labor to cover graffiti and clean up trash: community service is also designed as a way for
the offender to repay the community for the harm he has inflicted upon it, serving as a tangible
reminder of the offender’s membership in and responsibility to the group (Herrschaft 2012).
Finally, through its intensive focus on the Red Hook neighborhood, the Justice Center seeks
to redefine the “group” or “community” to which residents belong as the neighborhood itself,
rather than Brooklyn, New York City, or society at large. Although this strategy has the potential to
enhance the court’s legitimacy within the confines of Red Hook, it carries a corresponding risk of
alienating residents of other catchment area neighborhoods and precincts, potentially decreasing
the court’s legitimacy among this segment of its constituency.

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C. RESEARCH LITERATURE ON COMMUNITY COURTS
Community courts are a relative newcomer to the criminal justice landscape. Ten years
after the 1993 debut of the Midtown Community Court, 21 community courts were in operation;
today there are 37 such courts in the United States and 33 in other countries (17 in South Africa,
13 in the United Kingdom, two in Canada, and one in Australia) (Karafin 2008; Lang 2011).
Several of these courts have undergone comprehensive evaluations. These include the community
courts in Midtown Manhattan (Hakuta et al. 2008; Sviridoff et al. 2000, 2001), Hennepin County,
Minnesota (Eckberg 2001; Weidner and Davis 2000), Philadelphia (Cheesman et al. 2009;
Cheesman et al. 2010), and the City of Yarra in Melbourne, Australia (Ross et al. 2009).
Methodologies applied in these studies included process evaluations (all four sites), quasiexperimental studies of impacts on case processing, outcomes, offender compliance, and/or
recidivism (all four), cost-benefit analyses (Midtown, Hennepin County, and Melbourne),
community surveys (Midtown and Hennepin), and ethnographic observations and interviews with
local offenders (Midtown, Philadelphia, and Melbourne).
More limited process evaluations without comparison groups have been conducted in
Hartford, Connecticut (The Justice Education Center 2002), North Liverpool, England (McKenna
2007), and Salford, England (Brown and Payne 2007). In addition, several sites have
commissioned “special topic” studies. In Red Hook (Frazer 2006) and the Harlem neighborhood of
New York City (Abuwala and Farole 2008), studies with comparison groups focused on the
important question of whether litigant perceptions of procedural justice are higher in community
courts than in their traditional counterparts. In Red Hook itself (Custer et al. 2008; Moore 2004),
the Harlem neighborhood of New York City (Custer et al. 2008), and North Liverpool, England
(Llewellyn-Thomas and Prior 2007), community surveys have been undertaken to measure
perceptions of neighborhood problems and attitudes towards local justice agencies, including the
police, prosecutors, and courts.
The Columbia Center for Violence Research and Prevention undertook a broader effort to
evaluate the Red Hook Community Justice Center two years after its implementation, but that work
was never completed. The study did, however, result in two articles reflecting on the general
ambitions and challenges of any neighborhood-based court, drawing upon interviews with RHCJC
staff and offenders (Fagan and Malkin 2003; Malkin 2003).
Two literature reviews undertaken by the Center for Court Innovation synthesize the
conclusions from the extant body of research on community courts (Kralstein 2005; Kralstein and
Henry 2011). Findings most relevant to the present evaluation include:
1. Expanded Sentencing Options
Confirming the central role of diversified sentencing options, a global survey of 25
community courts found that 92 percent routinely mandate defendants to community service, and
84 percent mandate defendants to social services, including treatment readiness classes (64
percent), individual counseling (64 percent), job skills (64 percent), life skills (56 percent), anger

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management (52 percent), and substance abuse treatment (48 percent) (Karafin 2008). Two
separate evaluations of the Midtown Community Court—one focusing on its early years and the
other on recent impacts—both found that the court made significantly greater use of alternative
sentences than the centralized Manhattan court. These studies also found that Midtown made less
use than the comparison court of both jail and “walks,” defined as sentences such as time already
served that lack any ongoing obligation (Hakuta et al. 2008; Sviridoff et al. 2001). Yet both studies
found that, despite sentencing a lower percentage of its defendants to jail, when the Midtown
Community Court did use jail, the average sentence was longer. In addition, one evaluation found
that Midtown was more likely to impose meaningful jail time as a “secondary sanction” due to
noncompliance with what was initially an alternative sentence (Sviridoff et al. 2001). These
dynamics meant that Midtown did not ultimately produce a significant reduction in the aggregate
number of jail days its defendants served. These findings have not been replicated in studies of
other community courts
2. Compliance with Alternative Sanctions
As compared with the nearest centralized courts, the Midtown and Hennepin County
community courts produced significant increases in offender compliance with community service
mandates, from 50 percent to 75 percent in Midtown (Sviridoff et al. 2000, 2001) and 29 percent to
54 percent in Hennepin (Weidner and Davis 2000).
3. Community Perceptions
Community courts purport to address community-specific needs and concerns, yet the
literature has focused primarily on how community courts affect individual defendants and litigants
rather than on the success or limitations of their community engagement efforts. A few studies,
however, have attempted to measure broader public perceptions of community courts. The first
evaluation of the Midtown Community Court included a survey of residents in the surrounding
neighborhoods (Sviridoff et al. 2002). Few residents (20 percent) were aware of the court’s
existence; of these, 7 percent characterized themselves as “very familiar,” 49 percent as “somewhat
familiar,” and 44 percent as “not at all familiar” with the court. A North Liverpool study concluded
that efforts to inform the community of court activities were effective. Data from three community
attitude surveys, conducted between 2005 and 2007, found that awareness grew from one in five
residents knowing of the community court to nearly one-third (32%). Yet this increased knowledge
of the court’s existence did not translate into a detectable increase in public confidence in justice
(McKenna 2007). Evaluations of community courts in Salford, England (Brown and Payne 2007)
and Seattle (Mahoney and Carlson 2007) recommended further strengthening ties to the
communities served. None of these studies, however, adopted the type of systematic random block
sampling methodology used for the community survey in the current evaluation.
4. Litigant Perceptions
Several studies have sought to examine litigant perceptions of fairness in community courts.
Most offenders at the Hartford Community Court believed that their sentence was fair (73 percent),
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the prosecutor was fair (76 percent), and the judge treated them with respect (91 percent) (Justice
Education Center 2002, 63). Based upon qualitative interviews, another study reported that
offenders processed at RHCJC generally admired the court’s judge and viewed their experience
more positively than their experiences in other courts (Malkin 2003). However, in the absence of a
rigorous and representative methodology for recruiting subjects for interviews, and in the absence
of a comparison group, it is difficult to weigh the conclusions of or reach reliable generalizations
based upon these studies.
One study focused on the question of procedural justice at Red Hook did include a
comparison group composed of defendants processed in a local centralized court (Frazer 2006).
This study found that Red Hook defendants were more likely to perceive the court process as fair,
but the proportion of defendants perceiving the centralized court as fair was also high. At Red
Hook, positive perceptions of the judge appeared to influence overall perceptions of the court
process. A separate study, which also used a comparison group, found that parties whose cases
were processed in a community-based housing court in Harlem were more likely to perceive the
court process as comprehensible and fair, and more likely to hold favorable views of the judge,
than parties whose cases were handled by a traditional housing court (Abuwala and Farole 2008). It
should be noted that both of these studies relied on convenience sampling methods rather than the
quasi-experimental design used in research conducted on drug treatment courts that reached similar
conclusions.2
5. Impacts on Recidivism and Neighborhood Crime
Evaluations of community courts’ impact on recidivism and overall crime rates have
produced mixed results. The first evaluation of the Midtown Community Court failed to detect an
effect on re-offending by individual offenders but did detect a drop in prostitution and illegal
vending crime in the entire Midtown neighborhood, likely due in part to simultaneous economic
development activity in Midtown and in part to a displacement effect in which crime moves to a
different neighborhood experiencing less aggressive enforcement (Sviridoff et al. 2001). An
evaluation of a community court in Seattle, Washington found that there was not a significant
difference in the probability of re-arrest, but there was a smaller average number of re-arrests
among those processed in the community court than among those processed in a centralized court
during a pre-implementation period (Nugent-Borakove 2009). Similarly, an evaluation of the
community court in Liverpool, England showed that the community court had no impact on the reconviction rate, but did produce a small reduction in the total number of re-offenses that fell just
short of statistical significance (Jolliffe and Farrington 2009). On the other hand, an evaluation of
For example, an evaluation of the Baltimore Drug Treatment court concluded that “the [Drug Treatment Court]
program, especially the judicial hearings, contributes to an offender’s perception of fairness and due process, thereby
increasing his or her willingness to fulfill his or her part of the negotiated DTC agreement” (Gottfredson et al.
2007:28). Similarly, NIJ’s Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation found that drug court participants across 23 sites
were more likely than a matched comparison sample of defendants in traditional criminal courts to perceive their
treatment by the judge as fair; this study also found that these more positive perceptions of the judge was an influential
factor explaining why the drug court sample was less likely than the comparison sample either to commit further
crimes or to use drugs during the follow- up period (Rossman et al. 2011).
2

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the Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC), which serves the Yarra neighborhood in Melbourne,
Australia, detected a statistically significant reduction in recidivism, from a re-arrest rate of 41
percent within 18 months among offenders processed in nearby comparison courts to a re-arrest
rate of 34 percent within 18 months among those processed by the NJC (Ross et al. 2009).
6. Cost Savings
Cost-benefit analyses of the Midtown, Melbourne, and Hennepin community courts
produced a range of findings. In Midtown, the evaluation identified approximately $1.3 million in
annual savings based on a reduction in pre-arraignment detention time, reduced jail sentences on
shoplifting cases (jail time was not reduced on other cases), and a decrease in prostitution arrests in
the Midtown neighborhood (Sviridoff et al. 2001). The evaluation of the Neighbourhood Justice
Center in Melbourne also found that the court saved money: for every Australian dollar invested,
the expected return was AUS$1.09 to $1.23 (Ross et al. 2009). The Hennepin study, on the other
hand, found that initial processing of criminal cases in the community court was more expensive
than standard case processing, but was unable to quantify potential benefits that might eventually
accrue in the long term (Weidner and Davis 2000).

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CHAPTER 2. EVALUATION DATA AND METHODS
This evaluation employs four different forms of analysis: a process evaluation that
documents the planning and operations of the Red Hook Community Justice Center and
investigates whether the program was implemented in accordance with its design; an ethnographic
analysis that examines community and offender perceptions of the Justice Center; an impact
evaluation that analyzes the Justice Center’s impact on sentencing, recidivism, and arrest rates; and
a cost-efficiency analysis that quantifies the Justice Center’s costs and benefits in monetary terms.
The evaluation draws on a variety of qualitative and quantitative data sources, including survey and
interview data, annual reports and other RHCJC operational documents, case processing and arrest
records for individual defendants, and aggregate data on arrests in the catchment area and
surrounding precincts.
A. QUALITATIVE DATA
Sources of qualitative data relied upon in the process evaluation include:
• 52 structured qualitative group and individual interviews, each lasting between 60 and
90 minutes, with stakeholders, including court staff, attorneys, police commanders,
community leaders, and community partners, carried out during site visits in January
2010, May 2010, November 2010, June 2011, and December 2011;
• Observation of courtroom activities and staff meetings;
• Written documentation of the project planning process;
• News reports and journal articles;
• Center for Court Innovation publications; and
• Operational documents provided by CCI and the Justice Center.
B. QUANTITATIVE DATA
1. Case Processing Data
Some aggregate statistics on case processing at the Justice Center were taken from the
Justice Center’s quarterly and annual statistical reports. Defendant-level records of adult criminal
cases arraigned at the Justice Center from 2000 through 2009 were provided by the New York
State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the New York City Criminal Justice Agency
(CJA), the Division of Technology of the New York State Unified Court System, and the Justice
Center itself. The Justice Center’s juvenile clinic also provided available case-level data on

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services received by juvenile delinquency respondents whose cases were processed in the Justice
Center’s family court part in 2009 and 2010.3
2. Comparison Data
To understand how sanctioning practices and recidivism outcomes at the Justice Center
differ from those in a traditional misdemeanor court, we collected data on comparable groups of
adult criminal and juvenile delinquency cases processed at the Justice Center and at the Kings
County Criminal Court and the Kings County Family Court in downtown Brooklyn. Data elements
included each defendant’s demographic background (age, sex, race/ethnicity), criminal history,
precinct of arrest, current charges, arraignment and disposition dates, type of disposition, sanctions
imposed, and subsequent arrest history.
a. Criminal Court
To evaluate the impact of any intervention, it is necessary to select a comparison group that
represents the counterfactual (see Morgan and Winship 2007). Specifically, we seek to understand
how cases now processed at the Justice Center would otherwise have been processed at the
downtown Brooklyn Criminal Court, and how recidivism outcomes would have differed. Because
random assignment of cases to each court was not feasible, the evaluation must employ a quasiexperimental design. (Rossi and Freeman 1993). Because the Justice Center operates only on
weekdays, those defendants arrested in the catchment area outside the Justice Center’s operating
hours are routed to Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn for arraignment. These
defendants provided a natural comparison group. To minimize the differences between the Red
Hook and downtown samples, we required cases from both courts to be processed during the same
period of time and with arrests in the same three police precincts that feed the Red Hook court.
Having identified our samples, we implemented propensity score adjustment techniques to ensure
comparability on key baseline characteristics, including demographics (age, race, and sex),
criminal history, and current charges.
i. Sampling Frame
Our research sample included 3,247 cases, 1,576 processed at the Red Hook Community
Justice Center and 1,671 processed in Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn. These
defendants were all arraigned on misdemeanor criminal charges with a final case disposition in
2008.4 All defendants were arrested within the Red Hook geographic catchment area, which
comprises three of Brooklyn’s 23 police precincts: the 76th precinct, which covers the Red Hook
neighborhood, and the 72nd and 78th precincts, which cover surrounding neighborhoods. The two
samples differed primarily as to the time of arrest. The downtown defendants were mostly arrested
from 12:00 p.m. Friday through 12:00 p.m. Sunday, when the Justice Center does not accept
3

Identifying information was removed from all case-level data used in this evaluation.
The year 2008 was selected to allow a minimum follow-up period of two years, plus sufficient time to compile the
final data set from multiple sources prior to data analysis.

4

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defendants for arraignment; most RHCJC defendants were arrested during the remainder of the
week. Some defendants in the downtown sample were arrested during other hours as well, when
according to policy they should have been sent to Red Hook. For example, at their discretion,
police officers are often believed to refer cases to the downtown court instead of Red Hook
throughout Sunday afternoon and evening. As documented in the process evaluation, a proportion
of defendants arrested on weekdays are also arraigned downtown instead of at Red Hook, as a
result of routing errors or other factors.
Before arriving at our final sample, we eliminated exactly 500 cases that were adjourned
downtown for disposition following an initial appearance at Red Hook. Nearly all of these cases
were rerouted downtown after arraignment because the defendant was detained in jail or unable to
make bail. Because it is impractical for detained defendants to be produced at the Justice Center for
subsequent court appearances, their cases must be transferred to the centralized criminal courthouse
in downtown Brooklyn. These cases were deemed to be inappropriate for inclusion in either the
Red Hook group or the comparison group because they were not processed exclusively in either
court, and because these cases tended to involve more severe charges or higher-risk defendants
than those retained at Red Hook.
We also excluded 328 eligible cases for which we could not obtain a recidivism records
match in data provided by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The
vast majority of these cases were traffic offenses for which the defendant was not fingerprinted and
therefore was not assigned an identification number that would enable matching across databases.5
To avoid violating standard assumptions of independence in our statistical analyses, we required
the final sample to include a maximum of one case per individual defendant. When the same
defendant had multiple eligible cases, our final sample included the first, based on arrest date. We
eliminated 542 cases, but obviously did not lose any defendants, for this reason. Finally, both
samples were limited to misdemeanor arraignments.
ii. Propensity Score Adjustment
To mitigate any selection bias, we implemented a standard propensity score adjustment (see
Luellen, Shadish, and Clark 2005; Rosenbaum and Rubin 1983, 1984; Rubin 1973). Selection bias
may arise if two groups of defendants being compared differ with respect to baseline
characteristics—such as demographics, criminal history, or current charges—that affect the
outcome being studied—here, the sanction and the likelihood of recidivism. For example, if
defendants receiving the intervention being studied (here, Red Hook defendants) tend to have less
serious criminal histories than those in the comparison group (here, downtown defendants), the
intervention may appear to be more effective in reducing recidivism than it actually is. Propensity
score techniques allow researchers to compensate for any such differences between the two
samples, removing the associated bias in estimates of the program’s impact.

This means that the results of the recidivism analysis cannot be generalized to Red Hook’s traffic cases, which
comprise slightly more than 15 percent of its misdemeanor caseload.
5

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A propensity score is a number ranging from zero to one that is assigned to each case,
reflecting the predicted probability that the case falls into one or another of two possible samples—
in this study, the Red Hook sample as opposed to the downtown sample. Propensity scores can
derive from a large number of individual baseline characteristics, representing these characteristics’
combined effect in leading some cases to be more statistically likely than others to be in one
sample or the other. Once propensity scores are assigned, statistical adjustments can be
implemented.
Propensity score modeling for the adult criminal court analysis is detailed in Appendix A.
Table 1 compares the baseline characteristics for Red Hook and downtown defendants before and
after propensity score adjustment.6 During propensity score analysis, 12 Red Hook cases and 108
downtown cases were deleted due to missing data, initial arrests prior to 2006, or lack of common
support,7 leaving a final sample size of 1,564 Red Hook cases and 1,563 downtown cases. Before
adjustment, there were small but statistically significant differences between the Red Hook and
downtown samples as to precinct of arrest, age, race/ethnicity, criminal history, arrest year, and
arraignment charge; after propensity score adjustment, no significant differences remain.
Table 1: Background Characteristics of Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area,
2008 Dispositions
Original
Adjusted
Red Hook Status
Red Hook
Downtown
Red Hook
Downtown
Number of Cases
Precinct
Precinct 72
Precinct 76
Precinct 78
Age
Female
Race/Ethnicity
White
Black/African-American
Hispanic / Latino
Asian
# prior arrests
Any prior arrest

1576
***
55%
25%
21%
32.3**
18%
**
19%
22%
54%
5%*
4.12***
47%*

1671

1564

1563

55%
27%
18%
32.8
18%

55%
25%
19%
32.6
18%

56%
25%
19%
32.4
18%

17%
25%
53%
7%
5.76
56%

17%
24%
53%
6%
4.85
51%

17%
24%
53%
6%
4.89
51%

6

Because there was not a sufficient number of cases in the downtown sample to permit propensity score matching, a
covariate adjustment was used. See Appendix A for details.
7
Cases lacking common support include downtown cases with propensity scores lower than the lowest propensity
score found in the Red Hook sample, and those in the Red Hook sample with propensity scores higher than the highest
propensity score found in the downtown sample—in other words, those cases in each group that are most dissimilar to
cases in the other group.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

17

# felony arrests
Any felony arrest
# misdemeanor arrests
Any misdemeanor arrest
# violent felony arrests

Red Hook Status
Any prior probation revocation
Any prior parole revocation
Arrest year
2007
2008
Arraignment Charges
Arraignment charge type
Drug charge
Marijuana charge
DWI charge
Crime against person charge
Petit larceny
Other property charge
Prostitution charge
Other public order charge
Other
Domestic violence case

1.56***
33%***
2.56***
43%***
0.49***

2.36
44%
3.40
49%
0.73

Original
Red Hook
Downtown

1.90
38%
2.96
46%
0.59

1.94
38%
2.96
46%
0.6

Adjusted
Red Hook
Downtown

7%***
5%***
***
20%
80%

9%
9%

7%
6%

8%
7%

24%
76%

21%
79%

20%
80%

***
19%
16%
2%
27%
5%
8%
2%
15%
5%
6%***

19%
10%
10%
23%
3%
9%
2%
17%
8%
11%

21%
14%
5%
26%
4%
8%
1%
16%
7%
9%

20%
14%
5%
25%
4%
9%
2%
16%
6%
9%

b. Family Court
As in the criminal court analysis, our goal was to understand how cases processed at the
Red Hook Family Court would have otherwise been processed at the downtown family court, and
how recidivism outcomes would have differed. Because random assignment to courts was not
feasible, we adopted a quasi-experimental design. To minimize differences between the Red Hook
and downtown case samples, we required respondents from both courts to be arrested on similar
charges and to have their cases processed during the same period of time. To ensure comparability
on key baseline characteristics, including demographics (age, race, and sex), criminal history, and
current charges, we implemented propensity score matching techniques.
i. Sampling Frame

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18

Our research sample included 595 cases, 102 processed in the Red Hook Family Court and
493 processed in Kings County Family Court in downtown Brooklyn. These youth were all
arrested from 2006 through 2008.8 In contrast with the criminal court analysis, we were unable to
isolate a comparison group composed of cases limited to the Red Hook geographic catchment area,
so the comparison group was drawn from youth arrested throughout Brooklyn. Because the Red
Hook family court, unlike the Red Hook criminal court, processes some felony cases through
disposition, each group includes some respondents arraigned on felony charges. Appendix B
describes the sampling and data collection process in detail.
ii. Propensity Score Matching
To reduce selection bias in the comparison group, we used propensity score matching.
Because the downtown sample was nearly five times as large as the Red Hook sample, we were
able to implement one-to-one matching on the basis of propensity scores, and did not need to use a
covariate adjustment as with the adult criminal court data. The final samples included 102 Red
Hook Family Court and 102 matched downtown family court cases. Table 2 compares the baseline
characteristics of youth in the original and matched samples. Prior to matching, there were
statistically significant differences between the Red Hook and downtown samples with respect to
race, criminal history, and arraignment charge; matching eliminated these differences.

8

The years 2006 through 2008 were selected to provide a sufficient number of Red Hook cases while allowing a
minimum follow-up period of two years, along with sufficient time to compile the final data set from multiple sources
prior to data analysis.

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19

Table 2. Baseline Characteristics for Juvenile Delinquency Respondents, Original
and Matched Samples
Sample:
Original
Matched
Red Hook Status:
RH
Downtown
RH
Downtown
Number of Cases
DEMOGRAPHICS
Female
Age
Mean age
Age categories
12
13
14
15
Race
Black
Hispanic
White/Other
CRIMINAL HISTORY
Prior Arrests
Prior Arrest?
Prior Felony Arrests
Prior Felony Arrest?
Prior Misdemeanor Arrests
Prior Misdemeanor Arrest?

CURRENT CRIMINAL CASE
Arraignment Charge
Assault
Robbery
Other property related
Drugs or Marijuana
Weapons
Other
Arraignment Severity
Felony?

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

102

493

102

102

25%

22%

25%

23%

14.27

14.27

14.27

14.26

4%
13%
35%
58%
**
56%
34%
10%

4%
13%
28%
51%

4%
13%
35%
48%

1%
20%
31%
48%

74%
18%
8%

56%
34%
10%

57%
33%
10%

0.37***
24%***
0.19***
15%***
0.19***
15%***

0.89
46%
0.47
29%
0.41
29%

0.37
24%
0.19
15%
0.19
15%

0.38
23%
0.02
17%
0.19
13%

**
33%
14%
29%
12%
8%
4%

30%
32%
17%
10%
7%
3%

33%
14%
29%
12%
8%
4%

31%
15%
28%
10%
10%
7%

23%***

43%

23%

21%

20

3. Arrest Data
To aid in understanding the Justice Center’s impact on the overall level of crime in the
catchment area, we obtained monthly counts of felony and misdemeanor arrests in each of the three
catchment area police precincts (the 76th, 72nd, and 78th precincts). For comparison, we also
obtained monthly counts of felony and misdemeanor arrests in each of five Brooklyn precincts
adjacent to the catchment area (the 66th, 68th, 70th, 71st, and 84th precincts). Each data series
covers the period January 1998 through December 2009.
C. ETHNOGRAPHIC DATA
In order to incorporate the perspectives of community members and offenders regarding the
Justice Center’s work into the evaluation, a team of anthropologists from the John Jay College of
Criminal Justice conducted a door-to-door survey of neighborhood residents, detailed interviews of
offenders, and direct observation on the streets of Brooklyn as well as in the courtrooms of the Red
Hook Community Justice Center and the Kings County Criminal Court.
In the spring and summer of 2010, a team of John Jay students and faculty administered a
survey to 107 residents of the Red Hook neighborhood. Ten closed-ended and five open-ended
questions asked residents about their knowledge of and opinions about the Red Hook Community
Justice Center, their usage of Justice Center services, and how the community had changed over the
previous decade. To ensure that all segments of the Red Hook community were represented, doorto-door and intercept interviews were conducted over three blocks of private housing in the “back”
of the neighborhood and two blocks of public housing in the “front” of the neighborhood,
supplemented by intercept interviews of passersby on Van Brunt Street, a gentrifying business
thoroughfare near the waterfront.
In October and November of 2010, the ethnographers set out to use the technique of
Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) to recruit 100 misdemeanor offenders from Red Hook and
another 100 from the adjacent Sunset Park neighborhood (Abdul-Quader et al. 2006; Robinson et
al. 2006; Heckathorn 1997, 2002; Heckathorn et al. 2002). RDS is a methodology for recruiting
statistically representative samples of hard-to-reach groups, such as criminal offenders, by taking
advantage of intragroup social connections to build a sample pool (Abdul-Quader, et al. 2006;
Heckathorn 1997, 2002; Heckathorn, et al. 2002; Robinson, et al. 2006). In each location, the
process began with three self-described misdemeanor offenders who were recruited in the
community by the ethnographic team. Each of these “seeds” was interviewed, compensated $20 for
the interview, and given three numbered coupons with instructions to pass them along to friends
and associates who had also committed a misdemeanor offense within the past three years.9 For
each coupon redeemed by an eligible research subject, the recruiter was compensated $10. Each
subject was compensated $20 for the interview and given three coupons to use in recruiting the
next wave of participants. Subjects were recruited in this fashion until the desired sample size was
9

To preserve their anonymity, subjects were identified only by number and asked to orally waive written
documentation of informed consent to participate in the research.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

21

reached in each location. Because the sample size was reached after a relatively small number of
waves of recruitment, and because there was evidence that participants were recruiting other
subjects from the community at large rather than from their own networks, it was not possible to
perform some types of analysis of the sample composition (e.g., measures of homophily) that are
typically used with RDS samples (Heckathorn 2002).
The 115-item interview questionnaire asked offenders about their involvement with the
criminal justice system, their experiences with the police, and their perceptions of and experiences
with the Justice Center and the traditional criminal court in downtown Brooklyn. The Red Hook
interviews were conducted over a period of five days in a community room in Coffey Park, located
between the Red Hook Houses and the Justice Center building; the space was donated by the New
York City Department of Parks and Recreation. The Sunset Park interviews took place over the
course of three days in the community room of the Community Board 7 building in Sunset Park.
The sampling of offenders from two distinct neighborhoods within the Justice Center’s catchment
area made it possible to investigate whether offender perceptions of the Justice Center vary
between the court’s immediate environs and the outlying neighborhoods of the catchment area.
Finally, members of the ethnographic team logged dozens of hours of field observation in
catchment area neighborhoods, the Red Hook courtroom, and misdemeanor courtrooms in
downtown Brooklyn. Field notes were recorded in the form of “thick description,” which
incorporates detailed description of human behaviors as well as their context.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

22

CHAPTER 3. PLANNING THE RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER
A. A NEIGHBORHOOD IN CRISIS
The South Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook was first settled by the Dutch in 1636, who
named their village “Roode Hoek” after the red clay soil and the shape of the peninsula that juts out
into the Upper Bay. In the 1850s, Red Hook became one of the busiest ports in the United States
(Waterfront Museum 2011). For more than a century, it remained a thriving working-class
neighborhood populated by Irish-American and Italian-American dockworkers and their families.
Warehouses and other industrial buildings shared space with modest brick row houses (Farbstein
2004, 129). In 1938, New York City built its first high-rise public housing development to house
the families of Red Hook’s longshoremen. The 27 brown brick buildings of the Red Hook Houses
contained 2,545 apartments and were equipped with modern conveniences such as self-operating
elevators, electric refrigerators, gas ranges, central heating, and basement laundry rooms (Lin 2009;
Bleyer 2006). Three more buildings consisting of 346 apartments were added in 1955 (Bleyer
2006).
The construction of the Gowanus Expressway in 1946 severed the Red Hook neighborhood
from the rest of Brooklyn, and the discontinuation of trolley service in the 1950s created further
isolation. In the 1960s, the advent of container shipping attracted the shipping industry away from
Red Hook to the ports of New Jersey. As jobs and businesses left Red Hook for more accessible
locations, residents followed (New York City Department of Parks and Recreation 2011). Between
the 1950s and 1990, the population fell by nearly half, from more than 20,000 to less than 11,000.
By the 1990 Census, the population had become predominantly Black and Hispanic, and the Red
Hook Houses—still the largest housing project in Brooklyn and the second largest in New York
City—had come to dominate the neighborhood, housing 70 percent of the neighborhood’s
residents. The median income was $9,500, less than one-third the median for New York City as a
whole, and over 30 percent of the neighborhood’s working-age men were unemployed. More than
78 percent of Red Hook’s children were being raised by a single parent or a non-parent, and just six
percent of adults aged 25 and older possessed college degrees (Berman and Fox 2005, 79). Over
the years, the elevated highway, a methadone clinic, a waste transfer station, and a long-standing
lack of maintenance in the Red Hook Houses fostered a profound distrust of government on the
part of Red Hook residents (Berman and Fox 2005, 77). As one community leader put it, “Red
Hook is a little small island all by itself.”
Red Hook had also become a hotbed of crime. Drug dealers had taken over Coffey Park and
the Red Hook Houses, littering the ground with crack vials and broken bottles. Shootouts between
rival drug dealers were so common that residents were afraid to venture outside even in daylight
hours (Berman and Feinblatt 2005, 76-79). In a 1988 Life magazine cover story, a resident of the
Red Hook Houses likened the area to the Wild West: “There is a shooting every night and
sometimes two…. It’s like Dodge City” (Barnes and Colt 1988, 100). In December of
1992, Red Hook again captured national headlines when Patrick Daly, the beloved principal of
Public School 15, was killed in the crossfire between two rival groups of drug dealers as he
searched the Red Hook Houses for a missing student (Fried 1993; McFadden 1992).
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

23

Figure 1.Map of Brooklyn, New York

B. THE CALL FOR A COMMUNITY COURT IN RED HOOK
Daly’s murder focused a spotlight on the violence in Red Hook at a moment when local and
national interest in problem-solving courts was gaining critical momentum. At the time of the
shooting, planning was already well underway for the nation’s first community court in Midtown
Manhattan. The Midtown Community Court was intended to address low-level “quality-of-life”
crime and other visible signs of disorder, such as graffiti and litter, in Times Square and the nearby
residential neighborhoods of Clinton and Chelsea. Defendants arrested in the court’s catchment
area for offenses such as prostitution, shoplifting, minor drug possession, and disorderly conduct
would be brought to a neighborhood courthouse, rather than the centralized downtown facility, for
arraignment. Defendants who pleaded guilty at arraignment would receive sanctions such as
community service that would serve both as meaningful punishment to the offender and as a means
of restitution to the community, in contrast to the “walks” (jail time already served or unconditional
discharges) frequently handed out downtown. Judges would also have at their disposal an array of
social service sanctions unavailable in the traditional downtown court, including health education
for prostitutes and their customers, treatment readiness classes for substance abusers, supervised
treatment for drug addiction, and case management services for the homeless and mentally ill
(Sviridoff et al. 2000, 49-51).

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

24

At the same time, support for problem-solving courts was building among policymakers at
the local, state, and national levels. Even before the murder of Patrick Daly, Kings County10
District Attorney Charles J. Hynes had already become interested in replicating the Midtown
experiment in his own borough (Holloway 1993). Judith Kaye, a strong advocate of problemsolving justice, was appointed Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals in early
1993. Meanwhile, Janet Reno, who had helped to implement the nation’s first drug court during her
tenure as State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, was appointed Attorney General of the United
States.
The Daly case convinced DA Hynes that Red Hook needed a community court to stem the
tide of drug-related violence in its public housing complexes. "There is no question that the
shooting of Patrick Daly was the precipitous moment when we said we have to do something about
the Red Hook Houses,” Hynes said. “Before then we had been talking about the court and where
we would put it, but the incident decided the location for us” (Holloway 1993).
Several other factors also made the Red Hook neighborhood an attractive site for a
community court. The existing Midtown Community Court served the business district of Times
Square, along with the residential neighborhoods of Clinton and Chelsea. The Times Square
business community had originally supported the idea of a community court as a way to improve
tourism and theater attendance by cleaning up low-level “quality-of-life” crime (Sviridoff et al.
2000, 14). Critics charged that the court’s primary goal was to benefit wealthy white business
owners at the expense of the poor (Gordon 1994, 55). Economically disadvantaged, populated by
minorities, dominated by public housing, and ignored by business interests, Red Hook was the
perfect answer to questions about the motives behind the Midtown court. Moreover, in Times
Square as well as in the nearby residential districts the court served, many offenders and their
customers in the drug and prostitution trades came from outside the neighborhood (Sviridoff et
al. 2000, 15-16). Unlike Midtown with its transient population, Red Hook was physically and
socially isolated from the rest of the city by the elevated Gowanus Expressway and minimal
availability of public transportation. As a result, crimes in Red Hook tended to be perpetrated by
local residents against their own neighbors—another sharp contrast with Midtown. Finally, Red
Hook’s geographic and social isolation and clear neighborhood boundaries would make it easier to
identify the court’s impact on crime and neighborhood conditions (Berman 1998, 2; Gonzalez
1996).
In November of 1993, just weeks after the opening of the Midtown Community Court and
less than a year after the murder of Patrick Daly, DA Hynes announced that another community
court would be built in Red Hook. Hynes envisioned that, like Midtown, the Red Hook court would
deal primarily with misdemeanor offenses. But unlike Midtown, the court would handle more than
just arraignments: it would also hold non-jury trials in criminal cases and hear civil and family
court cases (Holloway 1993).

10

Kings County is coterminous with the borough of Brooklyn.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

25

By the time the Justice Center opened, Red Hook as a community had already begun to
experience a remarkable transformation. Gentrification was changing the demographic and
economic profile of residents living in private housing close to the waterfront, known as “the back”
of the neighborhood, and new retailers emerged to cater to their consumer needs. The pace of
gentrification picked up in the first decade of the twenty-first century. New restaurants, art
galleries, and upscale stores brought in outsiders to shop, eat and stroll, as well as to live. Two
major retail attractions were Fairway, a large gourmet supermarket, which opened in 2006, and the
largest Ikea store in North America, which opened in 2008. Any appraisal of the Justice Center’s
role in improving the quality of life for Red Hook’s residents must consider the extraordinary urban
renewal simultaneously taking place at its doorstep.
C. BUILDING A COALITION
DA Hynes began to seek out partners to help build the Red Hook court. In May 1993,
representatives of the district attorney’s office began meeting with a wide variety of community
groups, clergy, and public school leaders in Red Hook. The New York State Unified Court System
and the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice were also critical partners (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994,
1). Chief Judge Kaye and New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, elected in 1994, both emerged
as supporters of the Red Hook project.
To fund the planning of the community court, the DA’s office obtained a $150,000 grant
from the United States Department of Justice (Holloway 1993). John Feinblatt, the project director
of the Midtown Community Court, worked with the DA’s office to secure another planning grant
of $125,000 from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). By the summer of 1994, this
grant had enabled Feinblatt to recruit former Midtown employee Greg Berman to plan the Red
Hook court (Berman 1998, 2). Hynes’s office also assigned two assistant district attorneys (ADAs)
to the planning team. Additional support for the planning process came from nonprofit
organizations including the Schubert Foundation, the Scherman Foundation, and the Fund for the
City of New York (Berman 1998, 8).
D. INVOLVING THE COMMUNITY
Berman and Assistant District Attorneys Gene Lopez and Carl Thomas took to the streets of
Red Hook to learn all they could about the neighborhood and its needs. Using the Justice
Department grant, the DA’s office hired the Jefferson Institute for Justice Studies to conduct a
series of focus groups with neighborhood residents and community leaders in September 1994.
Group members included providers of professional and social services, community leaders and
activists, other residents who were not leaders of community organizations, single heads of
households and youth aged 14 to 20 years (Berman 1998, 2; Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 3-4).
The groups were designed to incorporate a wide range of perspectives, including those of
stakeholders not active in community organizations whose voices would ordinarily go unheard.
Following the focus groups, the court planners continued to meet individually with a wide variety

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

26

of community leaders, from business owners to social service providers, from Housing Authority
administrators to tenant leaders, and from police officers to clergy (Berman 1998, 4). Planners
attended numerous public meetings, such as tenants’ association and police precinct meetings.
They also conducted a “town hall” meeting attended by hundreds of residents (Berman and Fox
2005, 79).
The planners met with a combination of skepticism and demanding expectations on the part
of the Red Hook community. Ever since construction began on the Gowanus Expressway in 1939,
Red Hook residents had felt that their neighborhood was a “dumping ground” for harmful
government projects (Berman 1998, 3; Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 6-7). There was also a deepseated distrust of the police, who were widely perceived as being more interested in harassing
residents than in arresting drug dealers and shooters. “Whenever there is something going on, there
are never cops around,” said one focus group participant. “Whenever it is quiet, the cops are always
around shaking people—any little reason” (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 24-28). Community
members had little more faith in the courts than in the police. “The court system has failed us,”
explained another focus group member. “[T]he failures go back to the courts where drug dealers go
through revolving doors…. Even if a [drug] bust is made, the guy will come back” (Jacoby and
Ratledge 1994, 12, 15). In addition to their general skepticism about a government program’s
ability to deliver on its promises, residents worried that a community court would bring in
“undesirables” as well as unwanted vehicular traffic from outside the neighborhood (Jacoby and
Ratledge 1994, 14-18).
The focus groups, interviews and community meetings revealed several common concerns
among residents: drugs, living conditions in the Red Hook Houses, opportunities for young people,
and jobs. The vast share of the danger and disorder in public housing was blamed on the drug
dealers who had staked out territories throughout the Houses. Disputes over turf and customers
frequently erupted into shooting matches. Residents were afraid to spend time outdoors even in
broad daylight, and the local park was populated mainly by drug dealers (Berman and Feinblatt
2005, 77-80; Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 8-10, 28-29). In addition to the gunfire, drug dealers were
blamed for graffiti, broken glass, and the destruction of locks and intercom systems in the Houses
(Berman and Feinblatt 2005, 79; Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 31).
A share of the blame for the conditions in the Red Hook Houses was reserved for the New
York City Housing Authority. Residents lamented the fact that the strict regulations against
littering and vandalism were no longer being enforced. “There used to be housing fines that you
had to pay before you paid the rent. If your child threw his homework paper down, or was writing
on the walls, you had to pay a fine…. Our mothers kept us in check because they had to pay the
fine,” explained a tenant during one of the focus groups (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 33). The
Housing Authority was widely faulted for its failure to make repairs and to provide even the most
basic of security measures. For example, several focus group participants reported that a single key
would open exterior doors in multiple buildings (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 30, 33-44).
Another key area of concern among Red Hook residents was an overall lack of guidance for
the neighborhood’s youth. Although residents partly blamed parents for failing to discipline their

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

27

own children, they also identified a need for early intervention programs to divert juvenile
offenders from a life of crime (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 21-23, 31). More generally, there was a
desire for educational and after-school programs to provide supervision and positive role models
(Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 35-38). Residents saw also an urgent need for economic development
and job training. The flight of the shipping industry and other large businesses meant that the few
jobs left in the neighborhood tended to be in small “mom-and-pop” businesses with low turnover,
making it difficult for residents to find jobs (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 36).
Despite their general skepticism about government initiatives and the criminal justice
system, Red Hook residents participating in the focus groups envisioned the community court as a
potential force for change in the neighborhood. They wanted the court to hold offenders
accountable for their crimes, to ensure close supervision of community service sanctions, and to
provide case management services for offenders to halt the “revolving-door” cycle of incarceration
and recidivism. As one focus group participant put it, “You can’t divide a person up. You have to
treat the whole person. You have to have a comprehensive look at the whole person. The justice
center could do that. The community court can look at social issues. It has great potential for
eliminating social problems.” But residents also wanted the court to do more than just process
cases. They also wanted it to provide services such as mediation and a teen mock court to the entire
community, not just to those involved in court cases. Finally, the community wanted assurance that
it would have a meaningful voice in the planning and operation of the court (Jacoby and Ratledge
1994, 11-20). This holistic vision was reflected in the early decision to christen the project not the
Red Hook Community Court, but the Red Hook Community Justice Center (Berman 1998, 3).
E. DELIVERING VALUE
As the planning team continued to solicit community input, it ran into challenges in
securing funding and selecting a site for the court (Berman 1998, 7). In order to maintain the
project’s momentum and deliver tangible results to the community while the funding and building
issues were being ironed out, the planners implemented two programs prior to the court’s opening:
the Red Hook Public Safety Corps and the Youth Court.
1. The Red Hook Public Safety Corps
In 1995, Justice Center planners partnered with the nonprofit group Victim Services (now
Safe Horizon) and the National Organization for Victim Assistance to establish the Red Hook
Public Safety Corps. The program was funded by the federal government’s newly launched
AmeriCorps initiative and operated out of an apartment donated by the Housing Authority that had
once been a crack den. Unlike many AmeriCorps programs, which bring new college graduates to
serve in underprivileged communities, the Red Hook Public Safety Corps attracted applicants
ranging in age from 18 to 68 directly from Red Hook and the surrounding neighborhoods—more
than three-quarters of them from the Red Hook Houses. In exchange for one year of full-time
service, Corps members received job training, a stipend of $7,950 and an educational award of
$4,750.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

28

The Corps’s first class of 50 recruits, supervised by four staff members, was formed in
November of 1995. Following two weeks of training, Corps members’ first task was to conduct a
door-to-door survey called “Operation Data.” The survey results echoed some of the themes that
had come out of the focus groups: residents felt unsafe outdoors and even inside their own
buildings, were concerned about conditions of disrepair and disorder in and around the Red
Hook Houses, and harbored a deep-seated distrust for the police and the courts. In addition to
providing a vehicle for community input into the development of the court, the survey also
functioned as a means of increasing the visibility of the Corps and the community court project.
Some residents initially dubbed the Corps members, clad in bright red t-shirts with the program’s
logo, the “snitch patrol,” but many others were eager to chat and surprised that the Corps members
were willing to take time to listen.
After completing the survey, Public Safety Corps members fanned out to various
assignments throughout the neighborhood. Some made repairs and improvements in the Red Hook
Houses, while others served on a domestic violence team that presented educational workshops,
assisted the police in filling out domestic violence reports, and escorted victims to court. One Corps
member helped to establish a baseball league that is still active today, bringing community
members, court staff and attorneys who practice at RHCJC together as coaches (Berman 1999;
Berman 1998).
The Red Hook Public Safety Corps served several important purposes during the Justice
Center planning process. It helped court planners to establish a visible presence in the
neighborhood at a time when progress towards the program’s primary goal had stalled. It
strengthened ties with the local police precincts, tenants’ groups and Victim Services, all of which
would go on to become partners in implementing the community court. And it achieved tangible
results in two of the community’s primary areas of concern: conditions of disorder and jobs.
2. Youth Court
Juvenile delinquency was another community concern that surfaced during the focus groups
and the Operation Data survey. When police officers picked up teenagers on violations or low-level
misdemeanors such as marijuana possession, fighting or truancy, they noted the incident in a file at
the police station. Although the police were supposed to notify the youth’s parents, they were
usually too busy. The lack of consequences for these offenses frustrated police, parents, and the
community at large. There was particular concern about reaching teens who were on the precipice
of real trouble—those who had begun to skip school and commit minor offenses, but had not yet
graduated to more serious crime. In response, RHCJC planners partnered with the DA’s office and
Good Shepherd Services, the largest provider of social services in Red Hook, to implement the
Youth Court.
The Youth Court was designed to address cases that would normally result in a police
write-up without further action. All members of the court, including the judge, bailiff, jury, and
community and youth advocates (analogous to the prosecutor and the defense attorney), would be
specially trained teens from the local community. The court would have access to a range of

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sanctions including community service, letters of apology to the victim or the youth’s parents,
essays, educational workshops and consultations with Good Shepherd caseworkers. The Red Hook
Youth Court diverged from the typical youth court model in two respects: instead of top students,
its members were primarily students from an alternative high school with histories of truancy and
other issues, and the defendant was actively questioned by members of the jury rather than the
students serving as the advocates or the judge. Planners intentionally recruited less-than-perfect
students so that participants would view Youth Court members as genuine peers, while the jury’s
active role was intended to ensure that all Youth Court members were able to participate
meaningfully in the proceedings.
The Youth Court’s first class of approximately 20 members was formed in 1998. Until the
RHCJC building opened in 2000, the Youth Court’s offices were in a second apartment donated by
NYCHA; hearings took place at a local church or the Red Hook precinct house (Anderson 1999,
7). Grant funding paid the salaries of the Youth Court coordinator and a second adult staff member
(Anderson 1999, 7).
When a police officer in Red Hook or one of two neighboring precincts picked up a teen on
minor charges, the officer now had the option of referring the case to Youth Court instead of
simply writing the incident up and releasing the youth. Upon receiving a referral, Youth Court staff
contacted the youth and the youth’s parents to explain the Youth Court process. Since participation
was voluntary and there were no consequences for nonparticipation, only about one-quarter of
referred youth and their families chose to participate, yielding an average of about two Youth Court
appearances per week. Around 82 percent of youth sanctioned by the Youth Court completed their
sanctions, and police observed little recidivism among youth who had been through Youth Court.
Youth Court members also gained self-confidence, leadership experience and a better
understanding of the criminal justice system (Anderson 1999, 8). Like the Red Hook Public Safety
Corps, the Youth Court allowed court planners to deliver visible results to the community during
the long years of waiting for the court itself to open. Still in operation today, the Youth Court
remains an integral component of RHCJC’s community outreach strategy.
F. FOUNDING THE CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION
In addition to the Red Hook Public Safety Corps and the Youth Court, the RHCJC planning
process helped to establish another organization that is now a key player in the New York City
criminal justice system: the Center for Court Innovation (CCI). In 1996, John Feinblatt and his
team went to then Chief Judge Kaye and then Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman with a
proposal to establish a nonprofit, public-private partnership with the New York State Unified Court
System that would expand upon the work already in progress in Midtown, in Red Hook, and in
planning other projects such as the Brooklyn Treatment Court and the Brooklyn Felony Domestic
Violence Court. CCI would serve as the court system’s “research and development arm,”
overseeing the implementation of demonstration projects such as RHCJC, evaluating the results of
these projects, and providing technical assistance for other projects both within and beyond the
state of New York (CCI 1996, 4). CCI’s unique status as a public-private partnership was designed
to allow it to combine a close familiarity with the workings of the New York courts and credibility
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with justice system partners with the flexibility of an independent organization (CCI 1996, 2). CCI
would be jointly managed by the court system and the Fund for the City of New York, a nonprofit
agency whose mission is to improve the quality of life in New York by incubating innovative
projects. CCI would apply for grant funding from a variety of other private and governmental
sources in an effort to bring new resources into the New York courts (CCI 1996, 3).
With Judge Kaye’s support, the court system awarded the Fund for the City of New York a
five-year, $400,000 contract to establish the Center for Court Innovation. Simultaneously, CCI’s
founders obtained a $1.2 million grant from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to provide technical
assistance for the community court model on a national basis. These two investments helped to
further define CCI’s dual mission to find innovative solutions to problems within the New York
state court system as well as to support the spread of these solutions outside of New York. The Red
Hook Community Justice Center immediately became one of the new organization’s flagship
projects, with CCI assuming an overall leadership role as well as operational responsibility for the
new court’s non-traditional components.11
G. BUILDING THE JUSTICE CENTER
1. Refining the Plan
To address the community’s desire for input into the planning and implementation of the
Justice Center, court planners asked the local community board to appoint a task force to advise
them as the project progressed. New York City’s community boards hold public meetings on a
monthly basis and advise city government about local community issues. There are 18 community
boards in the borough of Brooklyn, each with 50 members appointed by the borough president.
Community Board 6 represents Red Hook as well as most of the other neighborhoods in the
RHCJC catchment area. Although observers have noted that the membership of the community
boards is not typically an accurate reflection of the racial makeup of the local population, the
boards remain the representative body with the closest ties to the residents of individual
neighborhoods (Hum 2010, 474).
Beginning in November 1993, the Community Board 6 task force held public meetings on a
quarterly basis to review and comment on the project plan (Berman and Fox 2005, 80; Berman
1998, 4; Jacoby and Ratledge 1994, 2). Because New York City’s community boards serve as
formal advisory bodies to the city and borough governments on land use, public services, and other
matters of community concern, this ongoing collaboration with the community board would later
help to facilitate regulatory approval of the project. As planning progressed, additional stakeholders
were incorporated into the process. In addition to staff from CCI and the DA’s office,
representatives from the Legal Aid Society, the court system, Victim Services, and other service
providers were invited to provide input.
11

From its establishment in 1996 through the mid-2000s, CCI gradually increased its work in areas that did not directly
involve the New York State courts. CCI presently defines itself as a nonprofit think tank that is not exclusively tied to a
single state court system.

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Over time, the project plan evolved in response the community’s concerns about public
safety and quality of life, along with the priorities of other key stakeholders. At the community’s
request, RHCJC would incorporate non-court programs such as the Red Hook Public Safety Corps
and Youth Court, and the court’s social service offerings would be made available to the general
public, not just criminal defendants or other parties to court cases. In line with District Attorney
Hynes’s original vision, the adult criminal court was to handle all types of misdemeanor cases
throughout the life of the case, and juvenile delinquency and housing court dockets would be added
once the criminal court was up and running. Consistent with CCI’s mission to test and propagate
innovative justice programs, the court would have an on-site research associate to provide data to
help guide policy decisions.
Other aspects of the court plan changed over time for practical reasons. The court would not
handle small claims or other civil matters besides housing cases. An early plan to arraign
defendants remotely via two-way video monitors never came to fruition (CCI 1996, 4; Holloway
1993). To ensure a sufficient volume of cases, the court’s catchment area was expanded beyond the
76th Precinct, which serves Red Hook and the nearby neighborhoods of Carroll Gardens and
Cobble Hill along with portions of Gowanus and Boerum Hill, to encompass the 72nd and 78th
Precincts as well. Adjacent to the 76th Precinct on the east, the 78th Precinct includes the
remainder of Gowanus as well as the affluent, predominantly white neighborhood of Park Slope.
To the south of the 78th Precinct, the 72nd Precinct includes the neighborhoods of Sunset Park and
Windsor Terrace. The population of Sunset Park is primarily Hispanic and low-income, whereas
Windsor Terrace is demographically similar to Park Slope. The Justice Center’s geographic
jurisdiction therefore encompasses a heterogeneous mix of neighborhoods, adjacent to one another
but highly distinct in historic, economic, and demographic terms.
2. Selecting the Site
Perhaps the most challenging hurdle court planners faced was finding and renovating a
building to house the Justice Center. The site was a topic of conflict between residents of the Red
Hook Houses at the “front” of the neighborhood and residents living in private housing at the
“back” of the neighborhood. An early suggestion to place the court in a converted warehouse near
the waterfront was rejected by both sides because public housing residents would need to walk
through the “back” to get to the court. On the other hand, residents from the “back” were also
anxious to avoid entering the housing projects in order to visit the court.
After narrowing the possibilities to eight sites, court planners took members of the
Community Board 6 task force on a bus tour to view the options. A clear consensus emerged
around Visitation School, a vacant parochial school located on the border between the “front” and
the “back” of the neighborhood. In addition to its location in neutral territory, the 1908 Collegiate
Gothic building had the potential to serve as a symbol of the renewal of Red Hook’s decayed
community institutions (Indelman 2011; Berman and Fox 2005, 80; Farbstein 2004, 132-133;
Berman 1998, 7). The building was owned by Catholic Charities, which agreed to a 30-year lease
at a nominal rate (Farbstein 2004, 140; Berman 1998, 7-8).

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3. Renovating the Building
Although the yellow brick and stone Visitation School building retained much of its stately
character despite its boarded-up doors and windows, two decades of neglect had taken their toll.
The roof and windows needed replacement, and the interior was contaminated with lead paint and
asbestos. In late 1996, the Bureau of Justice Assistance awarded CCI a two-year,
$1.2 million grant to cover the “soft costs”—design, planning and construction management—of
renovating the building. With this funding in hand, along with the support of Chief Judge Kaye and
Mayor Giuliani, CCI was able to secure a commitment from the City of New York to pay the
remaining costs of the renovation, which would eventually amount to more than $5.5 million
(Farbstein 2004, 140-141; Berman 1998, 8).
During the course of the renovation, it became apparent that the building would need to be
completely gutted. The new layout was designed to humanize the experience of a court appearance
and to enable the building to function as a community center as well as a courthouse. Unlike the
dimly lit courtrooms in the downtown criminal court building, the Red Hook courtroom would be
filled with natural light from a bank of large windows. To minimize intimidation and facilitate twoway communication between the judge and defendants, the bench would be situated low enough to
place the judge at eye level with the parties. The holding cells were designed with a separate
entrance so defendants would not be paraded through the building in handcuffs, and reinforced
glass windows replaced bars. The architect kept the vision of integration between the court and the
community in mind even when incorporating wheelchair access to the building: instead of
separating the building from the sidewalk with a long ramp, the building’s main entrance—
originally accessible only by a staircase just inside the main door—was lowered to street level
(Stull 2007). The plans also incorporated office space for prosecutors, defense attorneys from the
Legal Aid Society, CCI staff, court clerks and the judge, as well as locker rooms for court officers,
a mock courtroom for the Youth Court, a GED classroom, and a child care facility.
Before construction could begin, the project plan had to survive a complex regulatory
review process designed to protect poor neighborhoods from becoming dumping grounds for
undesirable government programs. Aided by the close relationships court planners had developed
with the community, particularly the Community Board 6 task force, the project was approved
without objection. In the summer of 1998, Mayor Giuliani, Chief Judge Kaye, and DA Hynes
helped to break ground on the renovation. Construction was completed in early
2000 (Berman and Fox 2005, 80-81; Berman 1999, 8).
H. FINAL PREPARATIONS
Although the process of selecting and renovating the courthouse took years longer than
originally intended, the court’s opening day was finally on the horizon. Court planners had heard
that a judge named Alex Calabrese had informally established a small problem-solving docket in
his own arraignment part in downtown Brooklyn. They invited him to visit Red Hook, and around
November of 1999 the Office of Court Administration assigned Judge Calabrese to preside over the
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Justice Center. CCI and the Office of Court Administration began to recruit other Justice Center
personnel well in advance of the court’s opening. Four months before RHCJC opened, its court
officers were assigned to spend their time in the neighborhood out of uniform, interacting and
building relationships with residents. In April of 2000, seven years after DA Hynes had first
suggested placing a community court in Red Hook, the Red Hook Community Justice Center began
hearing criminal cases arising from arrests in the 76th Precinct. Criminal cases from the 72nd and
78th Precincts followed in June of 2000. The Justice Center heard its first housing court cases in
2002, and began hearing juvenile delinquency cases in 2003.

Figure 2. Red Hook Community Justice Center

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CHAPTER 4. ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE AND STAFFING
Operations at the Red Hook Community Justice Center represent an ongoing collaboration
among a wide variety of organizations. The New York State Unified Court System and the Center
for Court Innovation each fund and staff specific RHCJC functions. Personnel from the Kings
County DA’s Office, the New York City Law Department (which prosecutes juvenile delinquency
cases), the Legal Aid Society of New York, the Department of Probation, and several other city
criminal justice agencies also play essential roles in processing cases at RHCJC. Nonprofit and
governmental partners furnish a variety of on-site services to defendants, housing court tenants, and
the general public, and a community advisory board provides an ongoing forum for public input.
As a result, the Justice Center building is a busy place. In June 2012, the Justice Center housed a
total of 28 New York Unified Court System staff, 23 CCI staff (including some part-time staff and
volunteers), 22 criminal justice professionals employed by various non-court agencies, and 23
other individuals drawn from non-profit organizations working with the Justice Center, community
leaders, and NYPD officers.
A. COURT SYSTEM PERSONNEL AND FUNCTIONS
As in any court in New York State, all personnel directly involved in adjudicating cases,
maintaining court records, and ensuring security at the Red Hook Community Justice Center are
employees of the New York State Unified Court System. These personnel include the judge, the
court attorney, the court clerk and the clerk’s staff, the resource coordinator, the court officers, the
court reporter and court interpreters.
1. Judge
A single judge presides over all proceedings at the Red Hook Community Justice Center,
including criminal court cases, juvenile delinquency cases in family court, and housing court cases.
Elsewhere in New York City, arraignments, summonses, misdemeanor trials, family court cases
and housing cases are heard by different judges in separate court “parts.” Red Hook’s judge is
appointed to a ten-year term as a judge of the Criminal Court of the City of New York. In order to
enable the judge to hear family court cases, he is also appointed an acting justice of the Supreme
Court, New York’s general jurisdiction trial court. The judge is permanently assigned to Red Hook.
A substitute judge may be brought in to handle arraignments while the Red Hook judge is on
vacation or at a conference. The substitute may also hear a reduced docket of non-arraignment
proceedings in criminal cases, but will not typically hear family court or housing cases. During
some of the judge’s absences, no substitute is assigned and defendants arrested in the catchment
area are sent downtown for arraignment.
The long-term appointment of a single judge is a cornerstone of the vision for the Red Hook
Community Justice Center. Court planners intended for the judge to develop a close personal
knowledge of the community that would give him a unique understanding of the context and
impacts of crime in the neighborhood. In criminal trespass cases, for example, knowledge of which
public housing buildings are frequented by drug dealers and which are not should make it easier for
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the judge to distinguish between legitimate visits and attempts to buy drugs (Berman and Fox 2005,
86-87). Families with multiple cases on the criminal, family, and housing court dockets are also
expected to benefit from working with a single judge familiar with all the issues.
Having presided over RHCJC since its opening, Judge Alex Calabrese has spent more than
a decade working closely with the Red Hook community. He attends precinct council and tenants’
association meetings, youth basketball games and other community events. Whereas many housing
court judges have never entered a public housing development, Judge Calabrese is widely known
for making personal inspections of apartments involved in housing court cases. Many participants
in the resident survey who lived in the Red Hook Houses knew Judge Calabrese by name and
praised his fairness, his concern for the community, and his concern for the individual defendants
and litigants appearing before him.
2. Court Attorney
As in other New York trial courts, the Red Hook judge is assisted by a court attorney, who
serves a function similar to that of a law clerk. Unlike a law clerk, however, who typically serves
for one year immediately after graduating law school, the court attorney holds a long-term, careertrack position.
The responsibilities of the RHCJC court attorney go beyond the typical court attorney tasks
of providing the judge with information on pending cases, researching legal issues, and drafting
opinions. The Red Hook court attorney also has a substantial amount of direct interaction with
social service providers and parties to cases. In family court cases, the court attorney monitors the
respondent’s compliance with the mandate and maintains a “cheat sheet” summarizing the case
history and other key information for the judge. In housing court, the court attorney meets with
tenants to explain their legal rights, ensure they understand any agreements into which they enter,
investigate the issues that led to nonpayment of rent, and connect tenants with public assistance and
other services. The court attorney frequently makes appointments for parties to visit government
agencies and service providers and regularly telephones certain juvenile offenders during their
placements in foster care or residential facilities. The court attorney also supervises interns placed
at RHCJC by local law schools.
3. Court Clerk’s Office
The RHCJC court clerk’s office is overseen by the Assistant Deputy Chief Clerk, who
reports directly to the Chief Clerk of the Criminal Court of the City of New York. The Assistant
Deputy Chief Clerk supervises a staff of four unionized court clerks who manage the calendar and
records in criminal court, family court, housing court, and summons cases. In a typical New York
City court, these four functions would be housed in separate buildings and served by separate
clerk’s offices. Whenever court is in session at RHCJC, one clerk is in the courtroom to enter data
into the computerized case management system in real time. The Justice Center was designed to be
entirely paperless, providing computerized access to case files to all courtroom actors, but in

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practice the court still relies on paper files in addition to the computerized case management
system.
4. Resource Coordinator
Like the Midtown Community Court and New York City’s various drug courts, RHCJC has
a resource coordinator whose function is to identify defendants who are likely candidates for drug
treatment and to facilitate the exchange of information between the court and the on-site clinic. For
in-custody defendants awaiting arraignment at Red Hook, the resource coordinator reviews current
charges and prior histories and conducts brief interviews in order to formulate a recommendation
as to which defendants should receive a full clinic assessment. The resource coordinator also
coordinates pre-plea referrals for outside assessments of DUI defendants. For high-risk defendants
sentenced to community service through the New York City Department of Correction rather than
through the RHCJC alternative sanctions office, the resource coordinator monitors compliance. In
cases involving a treatment mandate, the resource coordinator reads the clinic’s treatment
recommendations and compliance updates into the record during court appearances. The resource
coordinator is only involved with criminal court cases, and does not participate in family court or
housing cases.
Red Hook’s resource coordinator has a more expansive and visible role than the resource
coordinator in a typical New York City drug court. The resource coordinator at Red Hook, for
example, plays a more active role in screening treatment candidates. The RHCJC resource
coordinator also routinely presents information on the record, whereas the function of a drug court
resource coordinator during court sessions is typically limited to entering case information into the
drug court database and verifying information behind the scenes.
Unlike other resource coordinators, the RHCJC resource coordinator is organizationally
isolated from the court clinic. In a drug court, the resource coordinator would report to the drug
court project director along with the clinic staff. At Red Hook, however, the resource coordinator
reports directly to the Assistant Deputy Chief Clerk because the project director is not employed by
the court system. This organizational divide hampers communication between the resource
coordinator and the clinic. Absent significant personal initiative on the part of the resource
coordinator, the resource coordinator may be left out of staff meetings, round tables for court
visitors, and important decisions related to the position. These issues are nonexistent at the
Midtown Community Court, where the resource coordinator and clinic staff are all CCI employees
and therefore part of the CCI organizational structure.
5. Court Officers
The Justice Center employs 17 court officers, including two lieutenants and two sergeants,
to keep order and provide security. The lieutenants report directly to the Assistant Deputy Chief
Clerk. Like all New York State court officers, Red Hook’s court officers are union members and
certified peace officers who wear uniforms and carry firearms.

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There are typically at least five court officers in the courtroom whenever court is in session.
The bridge officer is stationed near the bench to call cases and ensure the judge’s safety. Positioned
at the bar separating the well of the courtroom from the gallery, the rail officer keeps a list of
parties who have arrived in the courtroom, answers questions from persons in the gallery, and
hands paperwork to parties after their cases have been heard. Two officers process paperwork in
criminal cases. In order to avoid errors, one of these officers handles paperwork for defendants who
have been remanded into custody following their court appearances, and the other processes the
files of defendants who do not remain in custody. A fifth officer is stationed at the door leading to
the holding cells; a sixth is frequently positioned in the back of the gallery to provide additional
security and crowd control.
Four court officers are usually stationed at the main entrance to the Justice Center: two to
screen persons entering the courthouse and their belongings using the magnetometer and x-ray
machine, one to voucher items that are not permitted into the courthouse, and one to monitor the
security cameras placed throughout the building. Additional court officers are stationed outside the
judge’s chambers and other offices throughout the Justice Center; others patrol the hallways.
Since before the Justice Center opened, court officers have been selected for placement at Red
Hook on the basis of a special application process unique to the Justice Center. Those officers who
are assigned to the Justice Center tend to develop strong ties to the community. At least two of
RHCJC’s original court officers were Red Hook natives. Other staff report that court officers make
a special effort to participate in community events on their own time and to help out individual
residents who are in need, telling stories of court officers hand-delivering Thanksgiving dinner to
an elderly widower facing eviction and bringing toys to neighborhood children during the winter
holidays. Court officers also volunteer with a variety of community organizations and attend
neighborhood events such as basketball tournaments. One court officer asserts that his fellow
officers’ close personal connection to the Red Hook community was essential to achieving
widespread neighborhood support for the Justice Center: “This place can only work if the
community accepts you. Because they know us, they will give us those five extra minutes to
explain things.” One offender interviewed by the ethnographic team reported that, “being that [the
RHCJC court officers] know me from being there so frequently, they see me on the bus and come
sit by me and ask me about my son.”
Justice Center personnel and CCI managers view the court officers as key contributors to
the community court model, and many staff and attorneys note that the court officers have “really
bought in” to the Justice Center’s mission. The outgoing nature and local ties of the court officers
assigned to provide building security before the Justice Center opened are credited with doing
much to pave the way for community acceptance of the project.
Court officers and other staff assert that a courteous welcome during the security screening
process and respectful treatment from officers in the courtroom contribute greatly to defendants’
perception that the court will treat them fairly. When a defendant becomes upset or agitated,
officers are encouraged to call for a social worker instead of adopting a confrontational stance.
Court officers also help to de-escalate tensions during a mental health crisis by talking with the
subject while awaiting the arrival of emergency personnel. Court officers become familiar with

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clinic-involved defendants and family court respondents who visit the court frequently, and will
alert clinic staff if a defendant has mentioned a problem or appears distressed. During the offender
interviews, some respondents specifically described the RHCJC court officers as courteous and
respectful:


“[T]hey’re very courteous. Even when I’m being detained, they treat me
with respect.”



“The court officers [at Red Hook] treat you like a person too, not like that
other court over there.”

In practice, however, such an expansive vision for the role of court officers could become
problematic. Multiple community partners describe security procedures at the Justice Center as offputting for clinic-involved youth as well as a barrier to holding community events at the Justice
Center. Courtroom observation suggests that officers may not always clearly communicate where
parties are expected to go and what they are expected to do. Most importantly, it does not appear
that court officers are provided with any special training or guidelines for their one-on-one
interactions with members of the public. Several court officers mention that they regularly provide
informal advice and support to defendants and other visitors to the court. However wellintentioned, such interactions in the absence of clear guidelines have the potential to direct a party
to the wrong resources, undermine a defendant’s work with the clinic, or even amount to the
improper provision of legal advice.
6. Other Court System Staff
Finally, the New York State Unified Court System provides a court reporter and court
interpreter services. The Justice Center has its own full-time Spanish interpreter. Interpreters for
other languages are available as needed, either in person or over the telephone.
B. CENTER FOR COURT INNOVATION PERSONNEL AND FUNCTIONS
The Center for Court Innovation staffs and funds those portions of the Red Hook
Community Justice Center that go beyond the traditional functions of a criminal, family, or housing
court, including the clinic, the alternative sanctions office, youth and community programs, and the
housing resource center. CCI also maintains the Justice Center building itself. This report describes
the CCI organizational structure at RHCJC as it existed in June 2011. Staff responsibilities and
lines of authority are frequently redefined in responses to new initiatives or changes in funding or
personnel. Similar arrangements to share both costs and management responsibilities characterize
the 19 other joint projects between CCI and the New York State Unified Court System. At present,
this type of partnership between a court system and a private organization is unique to New York
State.

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1. Project Director and Deputy Project Director
The CCI staff at Red Hook is led by the project director. The project director takes the lead
in shaping general policies such as the court’s preference for outpatient as opposed to residential
treatment and the focus on trauma in drug treatment cases. The project director pursues funding for
CCI’s work at Red Hook from government entities, private foundations, and corporations. The
project director also works with the leaders of partner organizations including the court system, the
DA’s office, Legal Aid, and the three catchment area police precincts to address operational
problems, such as defendants’ arriving at the courthouse for arraignment just before the close of
business.
The RHCJC project director reports to CCI’s director of operations, whose office is located
at CCI headquarters in Manhattan. The project director functions with a high degree of autonomy,
but will consult CCI management on decisions involving significant amounts of funding or other
resources. From time to time, the RHCJC project director is called upon to help implement a new
CCI program at another site: for instance, the current project director spent two days a week for
several months on a community justice initiative in Newark, New Jersey, and the previous project
director worked half-time planning a new community court in the Brownsville neighborhood of
Brooklyn. This practice allows CCI to spread the RHCJC project director’s expertise across
multiple projects and benefits RHCJC by exposing its project director to new ideas, but requires
that the director’s primary project has achieved a degree of maturity in which day-to-day
operations at the Justice Center are close to self-governing.
Although the core programs CCI offers at RHCJC (clinic, housing resource center, youth
programs, and AmeriCorps) have remained relatively constant over time, the lines of authority
between the project director and the staff directly managing these programs are constantly shifting
based on the professional background and interests of the project director and the management
team.12 The project director is assisted by one deputy project director. The deputy project director’s
primary responsibilities include grant-writing, hosting visitors to the Justice Center, and organizing
public events. The deputy project director also works on special initiatives such as a recent
collaboration with the 72nd Precinct and the District Attorney’s office to train clinic staff to
recognize and address gang-related behaviors without putting court staff, offenders, and offenders’
families at risk of retaliatory violence.
Two “director”-level positions reporting to the deputy project director have seen their
responsibilities and authority change considerably over time. At present, the associate director of
court operations oversees all services directly related to both criminal court and housing court,
including clinical services for adults, the alternative sanctions office, and the housing resource
center. The director of community and youth justice is responsible for clinic operations related to
family court, as well as all other youth and community programming offered at the Justice Center.

12

The AmeriCorps program recently ended its exclusive focus on the Red Hook neighborhood, but continues to be
administered through RHCJC.

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2. Clinic
The RHCJC clinic’s leadership has exercised a profound influence over the types of
treatment mandates that are offered to defendants and plays a key role in ensuring that the court
fulfills its mission to replace jail time with drug treatment. The clinical coordinator is a licensed
clinical social worker who reports to the associate director of court operations. Reporting to the
clinical coordinator are two licensed social workers, a case manager with a bachelor’s degree, and
one case manager from AVODAH, a one-year service program for Jewish college graduates.13 The
social workers and case managers administer assessments, formulate treatment recommendations,
refer defendants to treatment providers, perform drug screenings, and monitor defendants’
compliance with their treatment mandates. Clinic staff also serve as instructors for most
educational programs used as alternative sanctions for adult defendants, with the exception of the
“quality of life” class for summary offenses, which is facilitated by other CCI staff, and the adult
treatment readiness program, and a the adolescent marijuana group, which are run by external
service providers.
In the Justice Center’s early years, there were concerns that the boundaries between the
clinic and the courtroom were not properly defined; for example, in some cases the clinical director
would reportedly recommend jail instead of treatment, based upon a punitive rationale rather than a
therapeutic one. Stakeholders note that a lack of training and a high turnover rate were once serious
issues that diminished the clinic staff’s effectiveness. The lack of a highly qualified clinical director
exacerbated the problem, as overwhelmed and inexperienced case managers had nowhere to turn
for help in dealing with defendants with severe addiction, trauma, and mental illness. Eventually, a
clinical director with both a law degree and a social work license was hired, along with more
experienced case managers. Court staff and attorneys report that having a clinical director and case
managers who understood the legal system as well as the mental health field vastly improved clinic
operations. The clinic’s role as a neutral provider of information became more clearly defined, and
clinic staff benefited from stronger leadership and increased support in dealing with complex
clinical issues such as chemical dependency accompanied by mental illness. The clinical director
also brought a personal interest in the relationship between psychological trauma and addiction,
which led to a new focus on identifying and treating trauma among Red Hook defendants,
especially women involved in prostitution. In late 2010, the clinical director was promoted to
project director. With the establishment of the two current director positions, the position of
clinical director was abolished and the lower-level position of clinical coordinator was created to
oversee the clinic’s work with adult criminal court defendants.
3. Alternative Sanctions
The associate director of court operations is also responsible for RHCJC’s alternative
sanctions office. The alternative sanctions office provides community service opportunities for
defendants sentenced to community service and monitors compliance with other sanctions—
including attendance at anger management classes, the treatment readiness program and other
13

CCI provides a stipend and health insurance for the AVODAH corps member.

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41

educational programs, as well as individual counseling sessions—for defendants not under a drug
treatment mandate. Alternative sanctions staff also facilitate the “quality of life” class, frequently
used as a sanction in summons cases.
The alternative sanctions office comprises the coordinator of alternative sanctions, an intake
specialist, an alternative sanctions associate, and an AmeriCorps volunteer from the Red Hook
neighborhood. The coordinator monitors compliance and follows up with noncompliant
defendants. The intake specialist, alternative sanctions associate, and AmeriCorps member conduct
intake interviews, match defendants to community service projects, and assist defendants with
related needs such as child care. Alternative sanctions staff also work with government and
community organizations such as the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the New York
City Department of Parks & Recreation, churches, and a local soup kitchen to set up community
service projects.
Two CCI employees provide direct supervision for defendants performing community
service. Community service projects typically consist of indoor cleaning, outdoor cleanup, or
graffiti removal. Projects are selected partly for their visibility in the community, and offenders
wear blue vests emblazoned with the RHCJC logo while performing community service. To help
reduce neighborhood blight, graffiti removal services are offered to private property owners as well
as government and nonprofit organizations, although owners can sometimes be wary of accepting
free help from the court system.
4. Housing Resource Center
The Justice Center’s housing resource center is managed by the housing resource
coordinator, who reports to the associate director of court operations. Three staff members—a fulltime housing resource coordinator and two part-time case managers—work directly with tenants.
The case managers, both alumni of the Red Hook Public Safety Corps who live in the Red Hook
Houses, were placed at RHCJC through ReServe, a nonprofit organization that connects retirees
with part-time job opportunities at nonprofits and government agencies. Their stipends of $10 per
hour are paid through a grant from the Robin Hood Foundation. The housing resource center staff
help document repair issues and connect tenants with public agencies that can provide financial
assistance for rent arrearages and help in locating low-income housing.
The two housing case managers, as well as the housing resource coordinator and the deputy
project director, are certified as mediators by Safe Horizon. They provide mediation for noise
complaints and other disagreements between neighbors, as well as family disputes that do not
involve domestic violence, with the goal of preventing these matters from becoming court cases.
5. Family Court Clinic
The director of community and youth justice is responsible for clinic services for family
court respondents, as well as non-court youth and community programming. On-site case
management services for family court were originally provided by Good Shepherd Services instead

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42

of RHCJC clinic staff. Youth clinic services were eventually taken over by the RHCJC clinic, then
separated from adult clinical services and placed within the purview of the director of community
and youth justice.
The unification of youth clinic services and other youth programs under a single manager
was one of the Justice Center’s first steps in implementing the Positive Youth Justice model for
juvenile delinquency interventions.14 As implementation of the model progresses, the youth clinic
is also expected to take over case management for criminal court defendants aged 16 and 17.
For each family court respondent, the youth clinic’s juvenile justice social worker performs
an assessment and formulates a treatment recommendation. The family court case manager (an
AmeriCorps member with a college degree) then monitors the respondent’s compliance with the
mandate. As an alternative, a few respondents are referred to a social worker off site at the Red
Hook Initiative for monitoring. The Red Hook family court case manager also engages in
educational advocacy for youth with special educational needs and partners with Safe Horizon for
family and educational mediation. Youth without pending delinquency cases may be referred to the
clinic for assessment by their parents or by the probation department as part of the adjustment
(diversion) process. In these cases, the clinic typically conducts an assessment and may make
referrals, but does not monitor compliance.
6. Community and Youth Programs
In addition to the youth clinic, the director of community and youth justice oversees the
Justice Center’s programs for non-court-involved youth and the general public. One of these
programs is the New York Juvenile Justice Corps, which was established in the fall of 2010 as a
successor to the Red Hook Public Safety Corps. Like the Public Safety Corps, the Juvenile Justice
Corps is a full-time one-year program for local adults, most of whom have not attended college.
Whereas the Red Hook Public Safety Corps focused primarily on the Red Hook neighborhood, the
Juvenile Justice Corps hires residents from throughout New York City and places them at a number
of CCI project sites as well as the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the New York State
Office of Children and Family Services facilities. The Juvenile Justice Corps coordinator is located
at RHCJC and reports to the Justice Center’s director of community and youth justice. Five
Juvenile Justice Corps members are placed at Red Hook, including the housing resource center
assistant, the alternative sanctions assistant, two youth court assistants and a youth program
assistant. These positions are funded through an AmeriCorps grant.15 Students from the John Jay
College of Criminal Justice provide additional part-time volunteer help for the Justice Corps.
Along with the Juvenile Justice Corps coordinator, the director of community and youth
justice supervises the youth court staff, consisting of the youth court coordinator and two assistants
14

The Positive Youth Justice model applies positive youth development principles (which focus on strengths rather
than deficits, promote positive relationships with caring adults, and consider all facets of a youth’s life as opportunities
to grow and learn) to youth involved in the juvenile justice system. (Butts, Bazemore, and Meroe 2010).
15
The AVODAH and AmeriCorps members who work as clinic and youth clinic case managers are college graduates
and are not part of the Juvenile Justice Corps. Funding for these positions is provided by CCI.

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from the Juvenile Justice Corps; two ReServe members who staff the court’s information window
and the Women in Touch outreach program in the Red Hook Houses; and a Juvenile Justice Corps
member who coordinates youth programming, including summer internships, a set of arts programs
known as JustArts, and a leadership program called Youth ECHO.
7. Research
Two members of CCI’s research staff have offices at the Justice Center. Both research staff
members divide their time between RHCJC work and work on other CCI projects. Their Justice
Center work is jointly supervised by the RHCJC project director and CCI’s director of research.
The research staff members generate the court’s annual statistical reports, which are used primarily
by the court and CCI for internal management purposes, and respond to targeted requests for
information from the project director. The researchers also work on externally focused projects
designed to inform the field of criminal justice. They write short pieces based on analysis of
existing court data, and on occasion collect original data for larger projects such as a study that
compared defendant perceptions of fairness at the Justice Center and a traditional criminal court
(Frazer 2006). The research staff also evaluate Justice Center programs such as Youth ECHO.
Their on-site presence allows them to observe the planning process and program activities
unobtrusively, to incorporate evaluation activities such as participant surveys into the program
design, and to gain inside access to program staff, participants, and other stakeholders.
In addition to working on research projects related to RHCJC and other CCI initiatives,
research staff also participate in topic-focused working groups along with managers from other
CCI demonstration projects and CCI’s central office. Such cross-assignments and collaborations
facilitate the sharing of knowledge and effective practices across multiple CCI project sites.
8. Facility
In addition to staffing the court’s nontraditional functions, CCI is responsible for the court
facility. Building operations are overseen by the facilities/office manager, who reports to the
project director, and an assistant facilities manager. The Justice Center building is leased from
Catholic Charities at a nominal rate. Because the building is not owned by the city, CCI plays a
role in maintaining the building. Maintenance and repairs, such as the recent replacement of the air
conditioning system, can be costly. Custodial services are provided by defendants performing
community service. For reasons of security and confidentiality, this means that the court clerks
must clean their own offices, a task for which they would not be responsible in a traditional court.
C. LEGAL AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE PERSONNEL
As in all New York City courts, personnel from a number of other legal and criminal justice
system agencies work at the Justice Center. These personnel include prosecutors and defense
attorneys, a probation officer, pretrial services interviewers, and police officers.

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1. District Attorney’s Office
Criminal defendants aged 16 and over are prosecuted by the Kings County District
Attorney’s (DA) office. The DA’s current bureau chief at Red Hook has held the position since
March of 2001, less than a year after the Justice Center opened. The bureau chief spent 12 years as
a social worker, then several years as a drug court prosecutor before taking over at Red Hook.
Three assistant district attorneys (ADAs) report to the bureau chief. The bureau chief and ADAs
have offices in the Justice Center and are supported by two full-time administrative staff.
ADAs volunteer to serve a one-year rotation at Red Hook; most are new law school
graduates on their first assignment. In addition to the DA’s standard training program for new
hires, new ADAs shadow the attorneys they are replacing for approximately two weeks before they
begin to prosecute cases on their own. In addition to the ordinary challenges of adapting to a first
assignment in an arraignment courtroom, Red Hook ADAs face the added burdens of taking cases
to trial and navigating the complex worlds of drug treatment and problem-solving justice. The steep
learning curve and frequent staffing transitions translate into the potential for a lack of consistency
in prosecutorial policy at the Justice Center, although the presence of a permanently assigned longserving bureau chief tends to mitigate any such problems. The short-term tenure of ADAs contrasts
with the long-term assignments of the Legal Aid defense attorneys whom they face in the
courtroom.
2. Corporation Counsel
In family court, juvenile delinquency petitions are brought by an Assistant Corporation
Counsel from the New York City Law Department. Due to the small number of family court cases
filed at Red Hook, the Assistant Corporation Counsel is assigned to the Justice Center on a parttime basis. The position is typically a short-term, voluntary rotation for an Assistant Corporation
Counsel with some prior experience prosecuting juvenile delinquency cases.
3. Legal Aid
The Legal Aid Society of New York, an independent nonprofit provider of indigent defense
services, represents the vast majority of misdemeanor and felony defendants at the Justice Center.
Three full-time attorneys from Legal Aid’s Criminal Practice are permanently assigned to Red
Hook. Each attorney has a minimum of 10 years’ experience as a criminal defense attorney and has
volunteered for assignment to the Justice Center. The attorneys maintain their offices in the RHCJC
building and are supported by a full-time paralegal. All report to the Attorney-in-Charge of the
Legal Aid Society’s Brooklyn criminal defense office. The Legal Aid Society’s work at Red Hook
is funded by contracts with the City and State of New York (Legal Aid Society of New York 2010,
6). In cases involving conflicts of interest, indigent defendants and respondents are represented by
assigned counsel, dubbed “18b” counsel after New York’s assigned counsel statute. A small
number of defendants hire private attorneys at their own expense.

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Unlike other attorneys from the Criminal Practice, Legal Aid attorneys assigned to Red
Hook also represent respondents in juvenile delinquency proceedings in the RHCJC family court
part. Due to the combination of adult and juvenile representation, per-attorney caseloads at Red
Hook are reported to be higher than is typical for Legal Aid’s Criminal Practice attorneys. For
several years, per-attorney caseloads were driven up further by the fact that only two Legal Aid
attorneys were assigned to Red Hook, despite the fact that the project plan called for three. This
situation was remedied in 2009, when the third Legal Aid position was reinstated. In addition to
carrying higher caseloads, Legal Aid attorneys at Red Hook are reported to spend more time on
some individual cases than their counterparts in traditional court, due to the large number of status
appearances in clinic cases as well as some non-clinic cases. On the other hand, Legal Aid
attorneys at Red Hook may realize some time savings by appearing in a single courtroom rather
than in multiple courtrooms as they would in the downtown criminal court.
4. Criminal Justice Agency
Two employees from the New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA), a nonprofit
agency that provides pretrial services under contract to the City of New York, are stationed at the
Justice Center. Working in overlapping shifts, CJA staff interview in-custody defendants awaiting
arraignment regarding their community ties and make a recommendation to the judge as to whether
each defendant should be released without bail. CJA provides this service in all New York City
arraignment courts; however, CJA interviews of Red Hook defendants include additional questions
designed to match defendants with appropriate community service programs and assess defendants’
social service needs (New York City Criminal Justice Agency 2011).
5. Probation Officer
A single officer from the New York City Department of Probation is employed at the
Justice Center, with support from a full-time administrative staff person. The probation officer
conducts intake evaluations of youth under the age of 16 facing juvenile delinquency charges and
determines whether “adjustment” (pre-filing diversion) is appropriate. The probation officer also
supervises children whose cases have been adjusted, prepares pre-disposition investigation reports
in cases where a youth has been adjudicated delinquent, and appears in court to report on pending
cases. In a conventional family court with a larger caseload, these functions would be divided
among several probation officers. The Justice Center does not have a probation officer to work
with adult defendants, although a conventional criminal court would employ probation officers to
supervise defendants sentenced to probation and to perform pre-sentence investigations of certain
convicted defendants (New York City Department of Probation 2011).
6. New York City Police Department
As in all New York City criminal courts, defendants held in pre-arraignment detention are
in the custody of the New York City Police Department (NYPD). The NYPD provides eight fulltime police officers, including two sergeants, to process arrest paperwork and supervise defendants
in the Justice Center’s holding cells.
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D. OTHER GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNITY PARTNERS
A number of other government and nonprofit organizations place employees at the Justice
Center on a part-time basis. Several of these groups provide representatives to help defendants and
housing court parties apply for public assistance. To assist tenants in housing court cases with back
rent and public benefits, the New York City Human Resources Administration places a
representative at the court one day per week. Adult Protective Services also provides a staff
member two to three days a month to help elderly and vulnerable tenants facing eviction to apply
for public benefits and assistance in paying back rent, and to petition the court to appoint a
guardian ad litem when necessary (New York City Human Resources Administration 2011).
Healthfirst, a Medicaid managed care plan, previously placed a representative at the Justice Center
two days per week to assist clinic defendants and community members in securing health
insurance, but no longer does so.
Other agencies and organizations provide educational programs and other services on site at
the Justice Center. The Department of Education furnishes a full-time teacher for the Justice
Center’s GED program. An employee of the South Brooklyn Health Center devotes three hours per
week to facilitating the marijuana education program used as an alternative sanction, and the Red
Hook Initiative at one time provided peer educators to facilitate the Peer Program group for
offenders aged 16 to 18 years. A mediation coordinator from Safe Horizon, a nonprofit victim
services agency, works with the court’s certified mediators two days per week to address family
and neighborhood disputes before they become court cases, and to facilitate family communication
in juvenile delinquency cases. Safe Horizon also provides a victim advocate three days per week to
process restitution payments and assist domestic violence victims, and provided a full-time teacher
for the court’s child care center until it closed in 2011. Finally, a nonprofit prison re-entry program
called the Fortune Society provides on-site HIV testing one day per month.
E. COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD
When the Justice Center opened, the Community Board 6 task force that served as a vehicle
for community input during the planning process evolved into the Community Advisory Board.
Comprising more than three dozen members, including clergy, police, school officials, tenant
representatives, and civic leaders, the Community Advisory Board meets on a quarterly basis. The
Community Advisory Board is intended to give community members a voice in court planning,
improving perceptions of procedural justice and making the court more responsive to the perceived
needs of the community.
In practice, the board’s influence has been confined largely to the area of community
programming, as court policies regarding case processing and sentencing are based primarily upon
legal considerations. Programming implemented in response to Community Advisory Board
feedback has included a summer internship program for teens and an HIV/AIDS education project.
In an initiative dubbed Project Toolkit, the Community Advisory Board has also appointed task

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47

forces to tackle specific concerns; for example, one task force worked with residents, police, the
sanitation department, and businesses to address problems with illegal dumping and abandoned
cars. Other task force initiatives have led to the establishment of the Friends of Coffey Park, an
organization that led the cleanup of the public park that lies between the Red Hook Houses and the
courthouse, and the strengthening of tenant patrols in the Red Hook Houses (Berman and Fox
2005, 82). Project Toolkit, however, does not appear to have been active over the past several
years.

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48

CHAPTER 5. COMMUNITY AND YOUTH PROGRAMS
In addition to its core function of adjudicating criminal, summons, and juvenile delinquency
cases, the Red Hook Community Justice Center hears landlord-tenant disputes and offers a variety
of youth and community programming. These programs are designed to reduce crime by improving
living conditions in the Red Hook Houses, delivering meaningful consequences for minor juvenile
offenses that would otherwise go unnoticed, diverting young people from the path of crime by
providing rewarding activities and fulfilling social service needs, and enhancing the court’s
legitimacy in the Red Hook community. The Justice Center’s impact on crime cannot be fully
understood without an examination of these programs.
A. HOUSING COURT AND THE HOUSING RESOURCE CENTER
1. The Role of Housing Cases in Justice Center Planning and Implementation
Unlike most problem-solving courts, which do not hear civil cases, the Red Hook
Community Justice Center hears landlord-tenant disputes involving the New York City Housing
Authority (NYCHA) in addition to its criminal and juvenile delinquency caseload. In placing
housing cases under the Justice Center's jurisdiction, RHCJC planners sought to improve criminal
justice outcomes by directly addressing conditions of disorder in the Red Hook Houses, and by
providing the judge with a broader perspective on the context of crime in the neighborhood. More
generally, giving the Justice Center jurisdiction over housing cases was one way in which the
community court model was tailored to fit the Red Hook community’s distinctive needs and
circumstances. In making the case for a community court as a way to curb crime in Red Hook,
District Attorney Charles Hynes argued that "we have to do something about the Red Hook
Houses" (Holloway 1993, Sec. 13, 10). NYCHA also viewed the proposed court as a way of
reducing crime. Its general counsel, Alan Aviles, echoed DA Hynes: "We're always searching for
innovative ways to address low-level persistent crimes that eat away at the quality of life at all of
our developments, and this court offers a different approach" (Holloway 1993, Sec. 13, 10).
Early in the planning stages, District Attorney Hynes and the founders of CCI approached
the NYCHA for grant funding to support the planning process, arguing that a community court
might prove helpful in addressing the area’s public safety problems. The Housing Authority also
made two ground floor apartments in the Red Hook Houses available to court planners for use by
the Red Hook Public Safety Corps and other Justice Center outreach programs.
Despite this broad agreement that the new court should be involved in housing issues, the
process of planning exactly how the housing court would be integrated into the Justice Center did
not always proceed smoothly. There was difficulty in reaching an agreement on the appropriate
configuration for the housing court. Tenant groups and tenant advocates were initially
unenthusiastic about the idea of a housing court in Red Hook. One key issue was the lack of a right
to appointed counsel for tenants in New York City’s housing courts (as is the case for litigants in
all civil matters in New York State). In response, court planners established the Housing Resource
Center, and the Office of Court Administration provided an on-site pro se attorney to assist tenants.
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In retrospect, Adam Mansky, one of the Justice Center’s planners, described housing cases as “the
hardest nut for us to crack.”
Housing cases were first heard at RHCJC in May of 2002, two years after the court opened.
The RHCJC judge was assigned authority to hear housing disputes between the New York City
Housing Authority (NYCHA) and its tenants. These cases typically involve nonpayment of rent,
maintenance issues, or both. The Justice Center's Housing Resource Center (HRC) is available to
assist tenants in resolving disputes with NYCHA without the filing of a court case, as well as to
provide both tenants and the court with information relevant to housing court procedures.
Once established, the housing court quickly developed a distinctive approach to
adjudicating housing disputes consistent with its criminal justice objectives sought by the RHCJC:
[U]nlike many housing court judges who have never seen a public-housing project,
Judge Calabrese has personally visited public-housing units to inspect repairs. The
first time Calabrese went on an inspection, the local public housing superintendent
told him, ‘I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, and I’ve never seen a judge come
to the houses. You must be from the new court’ . . . Another example of how the
judge makes better decisions is seen in trespass cases, which are extremely difficult
to adjudicate in Red Hook with its ninety-six public-housing buildings [measured as
separate street addresses] because distinguishing between legitimate visits to friends
and family from illegal attempts to buy drugs is almost impossible. However, Judge
Calabrese’s knowledge of local conditions—for example, that the building known as
the ‘pharmacy’ is a notorious drug den while the one across the street is not—allows
him to make more nuanced decisions about these cases.” (Berman and Fox 2005,
86-7).
Defining his role as housing court judge in this manner contributed significantly to the
ability of the RHCJC to become defined as a local entity. In sum, the housing court is an
expression of the program theory underlying the creation of RHCJC. The following analysis
describes the operations of the housing court as a component of RHCJC's efforts to reduce crime.
2. The Context: Public Housing in Red Hook and the Surrounding Neighborhoods
The iconic image of the Red Hook neighborhood is that of the looming presence of two
massive public housing complexes—Red Hook East and Red Hook West—comprising 30
buildings ranging from two to 14 stories high. In local parlance, they are known as “The Houses”
or “The Front,” in reference to their location near the border between Red Hook and the rest of
Brooklyn. The residents of these buildings make up two-thirds of the neighborhood’s population.
In recent years, a massive Ikea retail facility, an upscale supermarket, and a string of trendy
restaurants and boutiques on and near Van Brunt Street at the “Back” of the neighborhood, close to
the waterfront, have begun to compete with the housing projects as defining characteristics of the
neighborhood, but the Houses continue to dominate the landscape. The Justice Center’s catchment

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area also includes a third large housing project, the Gowanus Houses in the Cobble Hill
neighborhood. The combined scale of the three housing projects is shown in Table 3.
Table 3. Public Housing Units in the Justice Center’s
Catchment Area
Gowanus
Red Hook East
Red Hook West

Built Buildings Apartments
1949
14
1,137
1939
16
1,411
1955
14
1,480

Population
2,834
2,959
3,276

Source: NYCHA, Development Data Book 2010

The Red Hook Houses have two tenants' associations—one for Red Hook East and one for
the Red Hook West—that meet on a monthly basis, except during the summer. Despite the fact that
the associations’ annual membership dues are just $2.00, many tenants choose not to join. Monthly
meetings typically draw between 50 and 60 of the approximately 1,000 tenants who are eligible to
attend. Association leadership, like the participants the monthly meeting, tends to comprise mainly
older tenants. There is evidence of generational divides on issues such as the role of NYCHA and
the manner in which NYPD polices the Houses and the surrounding area.
Judge Calabrese has been a regular attendee at tenants’ association meetings since before
the Justice Center opened. His occasional visits to apartments in the Houses to examine the
adequacy of disputed NYCHA repairs have become well known, as has his practice of dispatching
Housing Resource Center staff to take photographs of the physical condition of apartments subject
to court proceedings.
3. Housing Court Jurisdiction
Housing cases in New York City are heard in the housing part of the New York City Civil
Court. In order to make it possible for him to hear housing and family cases, it was necessary for
Judge Calabrese, a judge of the Criminal Court, to be appointed an Acting Supreme Court Justice.
New housing cases can be filed under five causes of action, some initiated by the landlord, others
by tenants. These are:
By Landlords:
1. Nonpayment cases: The landlord claims a tenant owes rent and is suing to collect the overdue
rent and to evict the tenant does not or cannot pay it.
2. Holdover cases: The landlord wants a tenant evicted for reasons other than nonpayment of rent.
By Tenants:

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1. Illegal Eviction proceedings: A tenant asks the housing court to order the landlord or a
roommate to let the tenant move back into apartment being illegally evicted.
2. Housing Part ("HP") proceedings: A tenant asks the housing court to order the landlord to
make repairs in the apartment or building because of, for example, a violation of housing code.
3. 7A proceedings: One-third or more of the tenants in a building ask the housing court to take
control of the building away from the landlord and give it to a court supervised administrator.16
The exclusive focus on cases arising in public housing eliminated the need for the Justice
Center housing court to consider ability-to-pay issues when deciding housing cases. At least in
theory, rent for a NYCHA tenant is always set at an affordable level. In practice, however, the
ability to pay back rent is a frequent issue, one the RHCJC has taken steps to mitigate through
making referrals to agencies able to offer financial assistance. In each year for which data exist, the
overwhelming majority of cases (between 67 and 93 percent) were initiated by NYCHA for nonpayment of rent.17
4. Trends in Housing Caseloads
When RHCJC’s housing court began operating in May 2002, its jurisdiction included all
housing court cases arising in public housing developments in the catchment area, including the
Gowanus Houses located in Cobble Hill and the Red Hook Houses. In 2003, RHCJC's housing
court jurisdiction was limited to the Red Hook Houses.18
Initially, the Justice Center devoted one day per week to housing cases; the housing docket
has since been reduced to the afternoon of every second Wednesday. Information from RHCJC's
quarterly and annual internal statistical reports can be used to track trends in housing court case
filings and related caseload measures between 2002 and 2009 (see Table 4). Two measures of the
housing court caseload are available. The first is the number of new cases filed annually, indicating
the volume of demand for court action. The second measure is the total number of court
appearances, indexing the actual workload associated with the housing court. A single case filing
could include no appearances at all, or it could involve multiple appearances. Table 4 also includes
statistics on the number of orders issued to show cause, in which ex parte motions are brought by a
party seeking immediate relief from the housing court. Such orders are frequently sought by tenants
seeking an extension of time to make their rent payments.
16

N. Y. RPA LAW, Art 7-A, Section 770 (2010).
Based on annual fourth quarter CCI quarterly statistical reports, housing court tables.
18
Some tenants of the Gowanus Houses argued that the RHCJC should not have housing jurisdiction over the
Gowanus Houses and some smaller housing developments. The rationale given was the difficulties that tenants from
these developments experienced in reaching RHCJC. NYCHA took no position on this issue, and the Court therefore
agreed to relinquish jurisdiction. Subsequently, the Court received a petition signed by other tenants of the Gowanus
Houses requesting that RHCJC retain jurisdiction over their cases. By that time, however, RHCJC had already
surrendered jurisdiction.
17

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Table 4. Trends in Housing Court Caseloads

Year
2002**
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009

Number of Case
Filings
3,923
2,548
1,088
817
760
633
589
866

Housing Cases as % of
Total RHCJC Caseload
21%
12%
8%
4%
4%
4%
4%
6%

Total Number
of Appearances
1,175
1,556
1,346
1,551
828
951
904
1,414

Orders to
Show Cause
Issued*
174
425
382
301
356
278
228
312

*This numbers refer to orders issued by the court rather than the number of requests for such orders.
**Refers to May – December 2002 only

In its first two years of operations, the housing court accounted for a significant share of the
Justice Center’s overall caseload: 21 percent in 2002 (despite the housing court operating for only
eight months of that year) and 12 percent in 2003 (See Table 4, second column from left). After
2003, both the number of housing cases and their share of the total RHCJC docket declined to a
plateau of about 600 new cases annually, representing 4 percent of the total Justice Center
caseload. A slight uptick in 2009 raised housing cases to 6 percent of new filings, but as a
percentage of total RHCJC cases, housing caseloads remain well below their pre-2004 levels.
The number of court appearances is a more meaningful indicator of the demands that
processing housing cases make on judicial and court time. Unlike case filings, the number of
appearances evinces no clear trend over time, fluctuating from a high of 1,556 appearances in 2003
to a low of 828 appearances in 2006, and then back to 1,414 in 2009. As with new filings, the
number of appearances and orders to show cause rose in 2009 after reaming substantially lower for
several years.
The filings data suggest that there may have been a backlog of unresolved housing disputes
that surfaced as court cases immediately upon the Justice Center housing court’s opening. The
subsequent decline in annual numbers may reflect several possible developments. In adjudicating
housing cases, RHCJC is likely to have established a set of reference points facilitating negotiated
agreements between tenants and NYCHA, even without any direct involvement from the Housing
Resource Center or other RHCJC programs. During 2003, NYCHA also changed its policy for
handling nonpayment cases in a way that led to a significant decline in the number of new filings
that year.19 Another reason for the decline is the 2003 decision to remove the Gowanus Houses
from the RHCJC’s housing court’s jurisdiction.
Two totals are offered for “appearances.” There are “new calendared cases” used here to describe the composition of
the housing caseload, with figures given as a percentage of “appearances.”
19

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5. Housing Court Process
The Justice Center hears housing cases on alternate Wednesdays. If an urgent housing
matter arises on another day, the criminal or family court docket may be interrupted. Conversely,
the regular housing docket can also be put on hold as needed in order to allow the court to hear
arraignments and other urgent criminal and family court matters.
Tenants and lawyers representing NYCHA approach the bench together when their case is
called, rather than standing behind separate tables in the well of the courtroom as in criminal
matters. Attorneys rarely appear on behalf of tenants, as there is no right to appointed counsel in
housing matters in New York State. A voice recording is used to create the court record, rather than
the court reporter as in criminal matters. A NYCHA staff member attends all housing court
sessions held during scheduled housing court hours.
Much of the work involved in resolving housing complaints takes place outside of the
courtroom. In the courtroom, housing cases tend to be dealt with as a series of events, rather than as
one continuous court appearance, although these events often occur on the same day and close in
time. For example, a hearing before the judge may be interrupted by requests to locate photographs
or other documentation relevant to a case; when the required information is produced, the hearing
resumes. There also are short adjournments for purposes of negotiation, the basis upon which many
cases are ultimately resolved.
Despite the lack of a right to government-funded representation, housing court tenants have
access to two sources of legal information, although neither source can provide legal advice on
how to pursue the tenant’s specific case. Since 2005, a part-time pro se attorney has been available
for consultation every Wednesday, including when housing court is not scheduled. In addition, the
court attorney, whose primary function is as the judge’s law clerk, devotes substantial time to
assisting tenants. The court attorney works with tenants to ensure that they understand the
paperwork they are signing, looks into the reasons why tenants are behind in their payments, and
connects them with services that deal with the underlying issues in a way that gets them “back on
the right track.” This includes communicating with social service agencies, making appointments
for tenants, and advising tenants of their rights. Experience suggests that tenants are more likely to
show up for appointments scheduled by the court attorney than if they are left to make
appointments for themselves.
There are reportedly some instances in which the parties to a family court or criminal court
case become linked to a housing court matter. There is no clear evidence, on the other hand, that
such linkages among various types of cases are common. There is a general recognition among
CCI and court staff that the extent of overlap between the three kinds of cases being adjudicated at
RHCJC is not as great as court planners had anticipated.

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6. The Role of the Housing Resource Center
A primary source of the Justice Center’s impact on living conditions is the Housing
Resource Center, which opened for business in the Justice Center building before the housing court
itself became operational. At that point, the Housing Resource Center's main purposes were to refer
housing disputes to mediation for resolution, to serve as a source of information about government
programs related to housing, and to provide information about government-provided housing
assistance (Fagan and Malkin 2003, 921). Once the Justice Center began hearing housing cases, the
Housing Resource Center’s role expanded to that of a liaison between NYCHA and the Red Hook
tenant community, in both court-involved and non-court-involved housing matters. Housing
Resource Center staff communicate with various NYCHA Red Hook East and West staff,
including building superintendents and housing managers, on a daily basis. The Housing Resource
Center helps to facilitate the communication between tenants and NYCHA not only regarding
individual apartment repairs, but also pertaining to the reporting of larger scale building-wide
housing issues such as power outages and weather-related malfunctions which affect entire
apartment power lines.
The five Housing Resource Center staff members include a CCI employee as director and
two ReServe employees.20 The Housing Resource Center is located directly across the hallway
from the entrance to the courtroom. This proximity is more than symbolic, as staff from the
Housing Resource Center frequently participate in the processing of cases through the housing
court. The Housing Resource Center staff may, for example, be directed by the judge to take
photographs of apartments that are the subject of matters on the day’s docket. The head of the
Housing Resource Center is present in the courtroom when housing cases are being heard in order
to provide information to the judge and to litigants. Housing Resource Center staff also help with
referrals. Where non-payment of back rent is the issue, tenants may be referred to the New York
City Human Resources Agency (HRA), which in certain cases can provide a loan or a one-time
payment to allow a tenant to settle the back rent and thus avoid eviction. A Housing Resource
Center staff member is available during housing court hours in the Justice Center for consultation.
The Housing Resource Center also serves as a resource to the court by maintaining data
logs regarding its communications with both NYCHA and tenants, which are provided to the court
upon request to assist in the resolution of cases. The services of the Housing Resource Center are
open to all. The annual number of clients accessing the Housing Resource Center has varied
between 288 and 1,234. Many tenant contacts with the HRC are initiated through referrals that may
originate from the judge during court proceedings, from court officers in the building or in the
courtroom, social services staff, or practically anyone employed within the Justice Center. Outside
referrals and publicity about the Resource Center bring in additional clients.
NYCHA staff will reportedly contact Housing Resource Center staff directly when a
problem arises with a tenant of the Red Hook Houses. For their part, Housing Resource Center
staff members will contact building superintendents, NYCHA managerial staff, or NYCHA
20

Funding for ReServe comes from the Robin Hood Foundation.

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borough administrators as necessary to address maintenance issues on behalf of tenants. Housing
Resource Center practices have been described as evolving over time to focus more on encouraging
tenants to take responsibility for resolving their own housing issues rather than taking the lead
themselves.
7. Housing Court and Criminal Justice Outcomes
Housing issues lie at the heart of community dynamics in Red Hook, separating the
interests of residents of the Houses from residents of the private housing at the "Back" of the
neighborhood, and, at times, the concerns of older public housing tenants from those of their
younger neighbors. Several distinct themes related to the role housing cases plays in achieving
criminal justice outcomes emerged from interviews with tenants, NYCHA staff, the Judge, Justice
Center staff, and various other internal and external stakeholders. These themes are not mutually
exclusive; indeed, many of those interviewed weighed both the advantages and disadvantages of
hearing housing cases at RHCJC.
One perspective focuses on the practical consequences of the local housing court for the
relationship between the NYCHA and tenants of the Houses. The presence of RHCJC, to some,
complicates that relationship. As one stakeholder put it, “we put them [nonpaying tenants] out and
the court puts them back in." There were claims made that many tenants were no longer bothering
to deal directly with NYCHA to resolve complaints; they were instead “running to the court.” It
was suggested that the RHCJC acquiesced to this arrangement.21 Other concerns revolved around
claims that the presence of a housing court in RHCJC had increased the demands placed on
NYCHA staff.
This reportedly leads to some tenants’ “gaming the system,” going to the brink of eviction
and then filing a court case. Claims, which could not be independently verified, were made about
situations in which tenants were damaging their own units and that some tenants “love to go” to the
Justice Center for non-payment of rent rather than keep up with their rent payments. Some of the
older tenants disapproved, stating that “when people are in trouble with their rent and not paying,
don’t keep giving them a pass.” According to these tenants, the rent for the tenants who make their
required rent payments ends up being higher in order to make up for the money NYCHA loses
from non-payment.
A negative but minority view is expressed by those involved in processing criminal cases
within the Justice Center. The presence of the RHCJC housing court, in this view, is a drain on
court time needed for adequately processing criminal and family court cases. The need to address
some housing cases outside of ordinary housing court hours interrupts the flow of criminal cases.
An urgent housing court matter might lead to criminal proceedings being interrupted for an
unpredictable amount of time. There is recognition that handling housing cases puts a strain on the
Justice Center’s capacity to decide cases. Mention was made of the possibility of bringing in a
21

It is unclear whether the net result for these tenants was a reduction in the total amount of rent they would eventually
pay.

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second judge to ease that strain, but this would diminish the primary judge’s access to local
knowledge.
A positive strand of observations about the housing court gives it credit for making the
NYCHA more accountable for its actions. This group of stakeholders was more sympathetic to
those tenants who opted to file in court as a way of obtaining prompt action from the NYCHA on
their complaints. Failure to receive relief might lead a tenant to stop paying rent. An eviction notice
would follow, leading the aggrieved tenant to file in the housing court to fight the eviction through
a HP action. The presence of the housing court places tenants and NYCHA on a more equal footing
according to these stakeholders. There also are signs that the relationship between the tenants and
NYCHA in recent years has changed in a positive direction.
Another frequently cited theme is that accessing the court or the Housing Resource Center
does result in repairs being made more quickly than if a tenant contacted NYCHA directly through
the official complaint process. Court staff estimated that about one-half of tenants with
maintenance issues do not notify NYCHA before filing a case in housing court. Initially, the Justice
Center staff took it as a compliment that local people turned first to the Justice Center for relief.
That response shifted over time, and the Housing Resource Center now asserts that it advises
tenants to report repair issues to NYCHA before pursuing other avenues of relief. The Housing
Resource Center also focuses on coordinating with NYCHA to resolve emergency cases involving
heat, refrigerators, and bathrooms.
The housing court’s contribution to the Justice Center’s mission does not appear to be
attributable to the ability of the court to bring an individual’s or family’s issues in the criminal,
juvenile, and housing arenas together in a coordinated fashion. Instead, the Justice Center’s
involvement in housing cases has increased the judge’s understanding of the local context of crime
and enhanced perceptions of the court’s legitimacy in the community, particularly among residents
of public housing.
How did housing court contribute so significantly to the legitimacy component of the
court’s program theory? It is clear that RHCJC made an early and dramatic contribution to the Red
Hook community by transforming the dynamics of the relationship between Red Hook’s largest
landlord and its tenants. Early on, the opening of RHCJC was associated with concrete
improvements to living conditions in the Red Hook Houses. In 2003, two academics studying the
Justice Center reported that "[t]he Court has responded to tenants' concerns by efficiently reducing
the backlog of housing repair ‘tickets.’ The RHCJC Judge has been a driving force in resolving the
longstanding tensions between NYCHA and public housing residents” (Fagan and Malkin 2003,
920). In interviews conducted nearly a decade later for purposes of the current evaluation, local
residents frequently and spontaneously mentioned Judge Calabrese’s early visits to public housing
units when talking about RHCJC. To many, Judge Calabrese’s handling of housing matters
exemplifies his style of judging. His personal visits have become less frequent in recent years, but
the practice of sending Justice Center staff to photograph apartment conditions continues to
demonstrate RHCJC’s ability to alleviate long-standing, seemingly intractable community
concerns. The ethnographic research supports the conclusion that the legitimacy RHCJC appears to

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enjoy is in part a reflection of local perceptions of the difference Judge Calabrese and the Justice
Center have made in the tenants’ longstanding relationship with NYCHA.
In procedural justice terms, the housing court also allowed RHCJC to demonstrate the
degree to which it shares the values of the community, a factor increasingly viewed as important in
the study of procedural justice. (Jackson et al. 2012). In mid-2010, all of Housing Resource Center
staff members were from the Red Hook or Sunset Park neighborhoods. Two of the staff lived in
public housing themselves, which a senior court manager described as building “a lot of
credibility” for the Justice Center. This appears to have differentiated the Justice Center from other
governmental organizations such as the NYPD.
As housing caseloads decline, the housing court’s role may be due for a reassessment. Over
the past several years, the housing court’s share of the Justice Center’s total caseload has steadily
declined. There is no simple way to assess the continued importance of the Justice Center’s
housing court. On one hand, the ethnographic research strongly suggests that the legitimacy
RHCJC appears to enjoy is in part a reflection of local perceptions of the difference the judge and
the Justice Center have made in tenants’ longstanding relationship with NYCHA. It might,
however, be risky for the Justice Center to abandon a role that has contributed so significantly to its
local image by relinquishing its jurisdiction over housing cases. Furthermore, the mere existence of
the Justice Center’s housing court may provide a framework for negotiated out-of-court resolutions
to many disputes between NYCHA and residents of the Red Hook Houses. On the other hand, the
housing docket appears to compete with criminal cases for valuable courtroom time and resources.
Given the decline in housing caseloads, coupled with the practical difficulties presented by hearing
these cases in a primarily criminal courtroom, it may be time for Justice Center leaders to reevaluate the court’s jurisdiction over housing cases and determine whether to discontinue
processing these cases, or to maintain housing court operations while addressing issues such as
docket interruption that may impede efficiency and procedural justice.
B. YOUTH PROGRAMS
Under the positive youth development model, programs and activities that provide young
people with opportunities to learn new skills, serve others, and form lasting attachments to prosocial peers and adults are believed to reduce recidivism among court-involved youth and to
prevent crime among other youth. Although the Justice Center is still exploring exactly how to
integrate recreational and leadership development activities into court-mandated sanctions, it
already operates a variety of youth programs that are open to both court-involved and non-courtinvolved teens on a voluntary basis. In addition to providing positive development opportunities for
participants, some of these programs are also designed to benefit the larger community.
A key feature of most RHCJC youth programs is the provision of a monthly stipend of
around $100 to participants who fulfill all program requirements. The stipends are designed to
attract and retain young people who might otherwise elect to spend their time working at afterschool jobs or caring for younger siblings. The stipends are also intended to give young people a

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sense that they are engaging in meaningful employment, building their self-confidence, and
encouraging them to take program activities seriously.
1. Youth Court
Having been in operation since 1998, two years before RHCJC opened its doors, the Youth
Court is the Justice Center’s oldest and most prominent youth program. It is staffed by the Youth
Court coordinator, who reports to the director of community and youth justice, and two Juvenile
Justice Corps members. Each class of around 20 Youth Court members, aged 14 to 18 years, serves
for six months, beginning with 40 hours of training presented by RHCJC staff and volunteers from
the DA’s Office, the Legal Aid Society, and other organizations. After completing training, Youth
Court members serve about five hours per week in exchange for a monthly stipend of $100. Upon
completing their initial six-month term, some Youth Court members return as senior members,
serving three hours per week and receiving a monthly stipend of $120.
Youth aged 10 to 15 are referred to Youth Court by police in the RHCJC catchment area,
by one of three local high schools, or occasionally by their parents after committing minor offenses
such as truancy, trespassing, or possession of alcohol or marijuana. A few are referred
to Youth Court by the probation department as part of the “adjustment,” or diversion, process in
juvenile delinquency cases. Following a referral, adult Youth Court staff contact the youth’s
parents to explain the program and obtain permission for the youth to participate. In addition to
obtaining parental permission, the youth is required to admit responsibility for the offense and to
bring a parent to the Youth Court hearing.
Youth Court hearings are held in RHCJC’s mock courtroom on Tuesday and Thursday
evenings. An average of three hearings, typically lasting between 30 and 45 minutes each, are held
per session. Before a hearing, the youth and his or her parents meet with Youth Court staff, then the
RHCJC juvenile justice social worker, and finally with the Youth Court member playing the role of
youth advocate. Before the hearing, the Youth Court bailiff hands out confidentiality forms for
observers to sign. Another Youth Court member presides over the hearing in the role of the judge.
Because the youth has already admitted responsibility, the hearing serves only to fix a sanction, not
to determine guilt or innocence. The hearing begins with a statement from the Youth Court
member serving as community advocate about the offense and its impact on the community,
followed by a statement from the youth advocate expressing the youth’s willingness to take
responsibility and pointing out the youth’s positive personal qualities. Following the opening
statements, the jury of eight Youth Court members questions the youth about the circumstances of
the offense, performance in school, family relationships, and plans for the future.
After closing arguments from the community and youth advocates, the jury retires to
deliberate. The jury can choose from a range of sanctions including community service, essays,
letters of apology to the victim or the youth’s own parents, and attendance at RHCJC workshops on
topics such as life skills and conflict resolution. After the jury announces its decision, an adult
Youth Court staff member meets with the youth and his or her parents to review the terms of the
sanction.

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The cases referred to Youth Court would not ordinarily result in the filing of a delinquency
petition, and there are no immediate consequences for refusal to participate in Youth Court or
failure to comply with a Youth Court sanction, although noncompliance is reported to the referring
authority. Youth Court therefore relies primarily on peer pressure rather than legal authority to
encourage participants to complete their sanctions.
Youth Court is designed to benefit members, participants, and the broader community. For
members, Youth Court provides a positive development experience complete with adult mentors,
strong peer connections, meaningful service opportunities, and a small income. In addition to
attending training and hearing cases, Youth Court members participate in a variety of special
events designed to build interest in legal and criminal justice careers, such as Law Day celebrations
with other youth court organizations and field trips to local law schools. For participants, a Youth
Court appearance is intended to deliver meaningful sanctions for delinquent behavior that would
otherwise slip through the cracks, deterring more serious criminal behavior in the future. In turn,
the resulting reduction in recidivism is expected to benefit the community at large.
2. TEACH
Another relatively large youth program previously offered at RHCJC was Teens Educating
About Community Health (TEACH), an HIV and substance abuse prevention peer education
program that ran from 2004 through 2008. TEACH was planned by a working group
of RHCJC staff, catchment area residents, and public health professionals formed by the RHCJC
Community Advisory Board in the summer of 2002. The working group obtained a one-year
planning grant, followed by a five-year implementation grant, from the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human
Services. The Justice Center hired two full-time staff members and provided an AmeriCorps
volunteer to run the program; Good Shepherd Services furnished a social worker. The South
Brooklyn Health Clinic and the Brooklyn AIDS Task Force also participated in the planning
process, and a number of other community organizations were involved in peer educator training,
public outreach, and special events. Planning meetings and most program activities were held at the
Justice Center.
During the six-month program, teens aged 16 and older received 40 hours of training, then
facilitated HIV/substance abuse prevention workshops for other youth. Some workshops were
targeted at teens with pending cases in RHCJC’s criminal or family court; other audiences were
recruited through partner agencies or street outreach. Teen peer educators were paid a stipend in
exchange for their participation. Eight cohorts totaling 182 peer educators presented 151
workshops attended by 1,059 youth.
The program was designed to benefit both peer educators and workshop participants by
improving their knowledge of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, as well as the
risks of alcohol, tobacco, and drug use. Peer educators, many of whom had significant social
service needs, also received individual attention from the program coordinator and social worker. A

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program evaluation by a CCI researcher found that both peer educators and workshop participants
gained knowledge about HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. Peer educators also demonstrated
improved attitudes towards sexual risk and experimentation, but did not become less likely to use
alcohol, tobacco, or marijuana. The program was discontinued when the SAMSHA implementation
grant ran out in 2008 (Swaner 2009).
3. Youth ECHO
Another example of RHCJC’s youth programming is a leadership program called Youth
ECHO, established in 2007. Following a model successfully used for HIV/AIDS peer education
among gay men, Youth ECHO’s original plan was to use ethnographic research methods to identify
and recruit teens aged 13 to 18 who were disengaged from mainstream culture but served as
popular opinion leaders among Red Hook youth. When this research revealed that no fixed group
of influential youth leaders existed in the neighborhood, participation was opened up to any young
person who expressed an interest, and the popular opinion leader model evolved into a program
structure more akin to community organizing.
Over the course of several months, Youth ECHO members attended educational sessions on
topics such as communication skills, research methods, causes of crime, and community
organizing. They interviewed peers and identified a social problem to address through a message
campaign; the first cohort chose to focus on drug dealing, and the second selected staying in school
as its topic. Each group then worked with volunteers from an advertising agency to develop and
implement a messaging campaign. The groups spread their messages via a documentary film, a cell
phone ringtone, YouTube videos, text messages, chalked messages in the Red Hook Houses, free tshirts, fake dollar bills stamped with slogans, and block parties featuring talent shows, a basketball
tournament, and gift bags.
Youth ECHO participants were paid a biweekly stipend of $50 to $65, depending on their
age. The program was funded by grants from the Independence Community Foundation and other
private foundations. It employed two full-time adult staff members, and a participant from the first
cohort was hired through AmeriCorps to assist with the program in its second year.
There were 13 teens in the first cohort, and 14 in the second. Program participants had
difficulty modeling the pro-social behaviors they were supposed to be promoting. Over the course
of the program, the number of participants reporting alcohol, cigarette, and marijuana usage
increased. Despite signing a behavior contract in order to participate in the program, many Youth
ECHO members also continued to skip school, and several were arrested (Swaner and White 2010;
Swaner and White 2009).
After the second cohort completed the program in 2009, the original grants ended and CCI
management decided not to seek additional funding. For 2010, Youth ECHO was scaled back to a
six-week summer program supervised by AmeriCorps volunteers from the Red Hook Public Safety
Corps. In 2011, a summer Youth ECHO program was run by a graduate student intern hired
through the Juvenile Justice Corps. From December 2011 through June 2012, there was another

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Youth ECHO cohort, which met twice a week and worked on a campaign about teen dating
violence. This cohort was run by a Juvenile Justice Corps member and assisted by a second
member. This was the last cohort of Youth ECHO before the program was discontinued.
4. Internships
Since 2008, the Justice Center has run a paid summer internship program for teens aged 14
through 18. The 2011 program ran for seven weeks, including two weeks of training on topics such
as job skills and workplace communication, followed by five weeks of placement in internships at
a variety of community organizations. Students worked 15 hours per week and returned to Red
Hook each Friday for additional training and field trips, such as a college tour to Philadelphia. Like
the 2011 Youth ECHO program, the 2011 internship program was administered by a graduate
student intern. Unlike Youth ECHO participants, many of whom had dropped out of school or been
arrested, interns are typically students without significant behavior problems or criminal justice
system involvement. To avoid conflicts with school, internships are offered only during the
summer. In 2011, there were 17 interns. The program is funded by the Robin Hood Foundation.
5. JustArts
In partnership with local arts organizations, the Justice Center periodically offers youth arts
programs under the title “JustArts.” Two JustArts programs were offered in 2011: a drawing
program for 11- to 13-year-olds, and a photography program for 14- to 18-year-olds. The Kentler
International Drawing Center provided volunteer teaching artists for the drawing program. The
Brooklyn Arts Council provided teaching artists for the photography program; these artists were
paid through the New York State Council on the Arts. Stipends for participants in both programs
were funded through grants from the Robin Hood Foundation.
Although participation in youth programming is always voluntary and never part of a court
mandate, RHCJC staff aim to achieve approximately equal proportions of court-involved and noncourt-involved youth in JustArts programs. As a result of Department of Probation policies
encouraging the diversion of juvenile delinquency cases whenever possible, cases that are filed in
family court tend to be particularly difficult, and respondents in these cases can present significant
classroom management issues for teaching artists. Justice Center staff report that finding consistent
funding has also been a challenge for JustArts and other youth programming.
6. GED Program
A full-time teacher from the New York City Department of Education teaches GED classes
in the Justice Center’s dedicated classroom. Although many students are referred by the court or
the clinic, the court does not mandate GED completion. The judge celebrates GED attainment in
the courtroom during regular court sessions.

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7. Youth Programming Partnerships
In addition to offering its own youth programming, the Justice Center partners both
formally and informally with a variety of community organizations to offer programs and to make
referrals. One long- standing partnership is with the nonprofit theater group Falconworks, whose
mission is to use theater as a means of community empowerment. Falconworks maintains its
offices in one of the apartments donated to the Justice Center by NYCHA, and the Justice Center
has placed Public Safety Corps members and youth interns at Falconworks. RHCJC has recruited
many of the participants for two Falconworks programs: Off the Hook, in which children aged 11
to 15 write plays to be produced by adults, and Police-Teen Theater, an improvisation workshop
that brings together teenagers and police officers.
The Red Hook Initiative, which employs neighborhood teens as health educators, has
offered a training program for potential court officer candidates at the Justice Center, and its GED
program has a cross-referral agreement with the RHCJC GED program. Groundswell, a mural
project, provides community service opportunities for offenders from Youth Court and family
court, some of whom go on to secure apprenticeships with the organization. Red Hook Rise, a
literacy and basketball program, also has a cross-referral agreement with the Justice Center, and
TEACH peer educators held workshops during its basketball tournaments.
The Red Hook Youth Baseball League, which in 2013 entered its fifteenth season, is a
longstanding collaboration among the Justice Center, criminal justice system partners, and the
community. Founded by a Red Hook Public Safety Corps member and administered by the
Juvenile Justice Corps, the league brings together volunteer coaches from the Juvenile Justice
Corps, Legal Aid, the DA’s office, the Justice Center, and elsewhere in the community. More than
150 boys and girls play in the league free of charge each year (New York Juvenile Justice Corps
2011).
C. COMMUNITY PROGRAMS AND PUBLIC OUTREACH
Along with its youth programming, the Justice Center engages in formal and informal
outreach activities aimed at adult Red Hook residents. In 2001, Community Advisory Board
members and Justice Center staff were instrumental in establishing the Friends of Coffey Park. The
organization cleaned up the park, which separates the “front” of the neighborhood from the “back,”
and now organizes public events such as movie screenings. The Justice Center also funds a
ReServe position and provides office space in one of its NYCHA apartments for Red Hook Women
in Touch, which makes referrals to domestic violence and employment resources and provides
professional clothing for women living in the Red Hook Houses. The judge and other court staff
attend some meetings of the police precinct councils and the Red Hook Houses tenants’
associations. To increase the Justice Center’s visibility as well as to gauge citizens’ perceptions of
safety and quality of life in the neighborhood, CCI repeats the Operation Data survey every few
years. The Community Advisory Board provides a formal vehicle for citizen feedback on court
operations and initiatives.

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In prior years, the Justice Center building was available after court hours for community
organizations and public meetings, contributing to public perceptions of RHCJC as a genuine
center of community activity and not merely a court that processed legal disputes. In recent years,
however, budget cuts have made it impossible for the court system to furnish the court officers
necessary to keep the Justice Center open after hours.
D. WALK-IN SERVICES
A defining feature of the Red Hook Community Justice Center is that its clinical, housing,
and mediation services are available to anyone, including persons without pending cases before the
court. As more than one staff member put it, “you don’t have to get arrested to get help.” The
availability of Justice Center services to the general public is made possible by the fact that the
clinic and other non-court operations are funded through CCI, not the court system; in a traditional
drug court, by contrast, clinical services are available only to qualifying defendants, who may be
required to pay for drug tests or certain other expenses. All walk-in services at Red Hook are
provided free of charge.
The Justice Center’s adult and youth clinics serve walk-in clients under a program called
Public Access to Clinical Services (PACS). PACS clients fill out a short intake form including
basic demographic information and the reason for the visit. A clinic staff member then performs an
assessment and makes referrals to drug treatment or other social service providers as appropriate.
The staff member telephones the client to follow up two weeks after the intake appointment, and
again at the two-month mark. Clinic staff estimate that they see two to three walk-in clients per
week, which may be a smaller number than program planners originally expected.
The Housing Resource Center frequently sees NYCHA tenants with repair issues who have
not yet filed court cases. In these cases, Housing Resource Center staff explain NYCHA repair and
complaint procedures, assist in documenting apartment conditions, and make referrals to public
assistance agencies and the RHCJC clinic for tenants who have apparent social service needs. For
tenants who choose to file a legal complaint against the Housing Authority, the pro se attorney can
help in navigating the process.
To prevent community disagreements, as well as family disputes not involving domestic
violence, from escalating into court cases, RHCJC offers mediation services. Two Housing
Resource Center staff members, as well as the deputy project director, are certified mediators, and
Safe Horizon provides an on-site mediation coordinator two days per week. Table 5 summarizes
mediation program activities from 2003 through 2009. In 2009, RHCJC staff accepted 47 new
cases for mediation, held 23 mediation cases, and helped the parties reach agreement in 17
disputes. Mediation caseloads have steadily declined since the program’s inception. The number of
new mediation cases accepted fell by more than two-thirds between its 2004 peak and 2009.
Corresponding drops occurred in the numbers of mediation sessions held and agreements reached.

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Year
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
Total
1

Table 5. RHCJC Mediation Cases, 2003 – 2009
New Cases Accepted
Mediation Sessions Held
Agreements Reached1
140
67
88
157
66
60
106
46
42
122
61
64
127
72
63
69
33
29
47
23
17
768
368
363

Number of agreements reached may exceed number of mediation sessions held because the parties in some
cases reached agreement before mediation, and some mediation sessions resulted in multiple agreements
pertaining to separate issues.

E. RESIDENT AND OFFENDER PERCEPTIONS OF THE RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER
The ethnographic analysis, including the community survey and resident interviews,
demonstrates the Justice Center’s success in integrating itself into the fabric of the Red Hook
community. Respondents’ observations about policing in the catchment area provide a somewhat
unanticipated contrast with their perceptions of the Justice Center.

1. Community Connections
The community survey and offender interviews reveal that the Justice Center is a more
prominent fixture in the Red Hook community, especially in the Red Hook Houses, than it is in
other catchment area communities. In the Red Hook Houses, residents were very familiar with the
Justice Center, and many knew the Justice Center’s Judge Calabrese by name. Much of the Justice
Center’s visibility in Red Hook’s public housing developments appears to be attributable to the
court’s involvement in landlord-tenant cases pitting residents against the New York City Housing
Authority (NYCHA). Many residents recounted how the Justice Center’s Housing Resource Center
had assisted them in obtaining needed repairs or addressing arrearages in their rent. The judge’s
occasional in-person inspections of repair issues in the Red Hook Houses were widely known.
Residents of the Red Hook Houses were also very familiar with the Justice Center’s youth
programs. In contrast, residents of privately owned housing in the “back” of the neighborhood were
aware of the court’s presence but less familiar with its programs and less likely to have been
personally involved with the court.
The offender interviews suggested that the Justice Center plays a much larger role in the
lives of Red Hook residents than in the lives of Sunset Park residents. Red Hook residents were
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65

significantly more likely than Sunset Park residents to have made their most recent court
appearance at the Justice Center, and were more confident that their friends and associates knew
about the services available at the Justice Center and thought they were useful.
2. Police-Community Relations
Although the resident survey and offender interviews were focused primarily on the Red
Hook Community Justice Center and the court system, many respondents—especially nonwhite
residents of public housing—were eager to discuss their experiences with the police. In accordance
with broken windows theory, an emphasis on policing of “quality-of-life” offenses—such as
marijuana possession, failure to leash a dog, trespassing in public housing, riding a bicycle on the
sidewalk, and possession of an open container of alcohol in public—is a key crime-fighting
strategy of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) (Giuliani 1998). Residents of public
housing frequently complained of police harassment, including groundless searches, discriminatory
tactics, and rough or discourteous treatment. Of the offenders who reported being stopped by the
police within the past year, 75 percent described the behavior of the police as unfair. Some
respondents characterized the fairness of proceedings at the Justice Center as a backstop to what
they perceived as the harsh tactics of the NYPD, recounting how the judge listened to their side of
the story and offered practical advice on how to avoid trouble in the future, such as always carrying
identification when walking through the hallways of the Red Hook Houses.
F. CONCLUSIONS: COMMUNITY AND YOUTH PROGRAMS
The process evaluation and ethnographic analysis reveal that the Justice Center has
succeeded in establishing strong community ties, in accordance with the legitimacy prong of its
program theory. In particular, the Justice Center’s processing of housing court cases has been
instrumental in cementing the court’s bond with the residents of public housing.
Conclusion 1: The decision to hear housing cases at the Justice Center as part of a
multijurisdictional criminal court is justified by the housing court’s contribution to the perception
that the Justice Center shares the community’s values and is a genuine community institution.
The ethnographic research and interviews with community stake holders unambiguously
identify the Justice Center’s handling of housing cases as a key element that underlies the
community’s positive perception of the court. Landlord-tenant issues are paramount in the minds of
local residents, most of who live in the Red Hook Houses. Through the housing court, the Justice
Center was able to make an immediate contribution to residents’ quality of life and provide them
with a counterweight to the policies and actions of the New York City Housing Authority. The
court’s jurisdiction over housing cases is, as intended, a key factor in remediating conditions of
disorder in the Red Hook Houses and in promoting a sense of procedural justice.
Conclusion 2: The Justice Center has successfully established a public-private partnership
involving CCI, the court system, and a wide network of community organizations.

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Whereas most problem-solving courts are operated entirely by the judicial branch of
government, the Justice Center functions as a partnership between CCI—a private nonprofit
organization—and the New York state court system. The Justice Center has successfully integrated
the two chains of command into a single efficiently run organization, apparently with very low
levels of interagency conflict. Over a period of more than a decade, the Justice Center has also
established an extensive network of connections with key community partners, including (1) the
service providers necessary to offer meaningful alternative sanctions and drug treatment, (2) local
government entities, including NYCHA and Community Board 6, whose cooperation was essential
to the Justice Center’s success, and (3) tenants’ associations and other community groups that
shape public opinion in the Red Hook neighborhood. Finally, the Justice Center has been able to
secure significant amounts of funding from private foundations and governmental sources,
including the United States Department of Justice, to support its innovative community programs
designed to reduce crime in the Red Hook neighborhood.
Conclusion 3. In accordance with the project plan, the Justice Center has demonstrated its
commitment to the Red Hook neighborhood by sponsoring new community institutions to serve the
needs of young people and the broader community.
The Justice Center offers a wide range of programs for Red Hook youth, including Youth
Court, summer internships, and arts programs. These programs serve both the intervention and
legitimacy prongs of the program theory. By providing young people with opportunities to develop
skills and establish pro-social relationships with peers and adults, youth programs are designed to
divert participants from future crime. On a larger scale, these programs demonstrate the court’s
commitment to the community, enhancing its legitimacy. The process evaluation interviews
demonstrate these programs’ popularity: when asked to describe the Justice Center, respondents
often discussed youth programs before mentioning the processing of criminal or housing cases.
Several community initiatives originally supported by the Justice Center, including the youth
baseball league and the Friends of Coffey Park, have become largely or entirely self-sustaining.

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CHAPTER 6. CRIMINAL COURT CASE PROCESSING AND SANCTIONING PRACTICES
AT RED HOOK
As a multi-jurisdictional court, the Red Hook Community Justice Center unites four distinct
court “parts” before a single judge: a criminal part that handles adult misdemeanor cases along with
some felony arraignments, a summons part that handles minor violations of the law, a family court
part that hears juvenile delinquency cases, and a housing part that handles landlord- tenant disputes
over nonpayment of rent and failure to make repairs. Each court part follows its own distinct set of
case processing procedures. This chapter describes the unique features of the Justice Center’s
multijurisdictional courtroom and discusses how the Justice Center handles cases and sanctions
offenders in adult criminal and summons cases that do not involve judicially supervised drug
treatment. The two subsequent chapters describe case processing and case outcomes in drug
treatment and juvenile delinquency cases.
Criminal matters comprise the bulk of the Justice Center’s caseload. Unlike many other
community courts, which adjourn cases to a traditional criminal court if the case is not resolved at
arraignment or if the defendant does not accept treatment, RHCJC is designed to keep
misdemeanor cases on its docket through final disposition, including compliance monitoring and
bench trials. This means that on any given day, criminal matters at all stages of disposition may
appear on the court’s calendar.
A. THE MULTI-JURISDICTIONAL COURTROOM
At the heart of the Justice Center is its multijurisdictional courtroom. Here, the Justice
Center carries out its core function of adjudicating cases, and the judge interacts directly with
community members. The courtroom provides both advantages and obstacles to the Justice
Center’s ability to achieve its mission.
The RHCJC courtroom is both physically and procedurally unique among New York City
courtrooms. In many ways, the courtroom reflects the building’s heritage as a parochial
schoolhouse. Unlike the dimly lit, dark-paneled courtrooms in traditional New York City
courthouses, the RHCJC courtroom appears pleasant and airy, filled with natural light from a bank
of windows. The floor and furnishings are made of light-colored wood, and the bench is lowered to
place the judge at eye level with the parties appearing before him.
Although the courtroom is designed to maximize perceptions of procedural justice by
facilitating direct interaction between litigants and the judge, in practice many aspects of the
courtroom’s physical design may be detrimental to procedural justice. First, the acoustics of the
courtroom render it difficult for observers, and sometimes even participants in the case, to hear and
understand the proceedings. During the course of the evaluation, researchers often found it difficult
to hear exchanges between the judge, the attorneys, and the defendant from the first row of the
gallery, and sometimes even when seated next to the judge behind the bench. Second, a large
number of personnel not directly involved with the case at hand are typically present in the well of
the courtroom. Because the resource coordinator’s only workspace is located in the courtroom, the

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resource coordinator is frequently present in the courtroom when not actively involved in a case,
along with attorneys and clinic staff who need to interact with the resource coordinator.
Furthermore, because the only indoor entrance to the court’s holding cells is located in the
courtroom next to the bench, attorneys, interpreters, clinic staff, court officers, and visitors must
frequently walk through the courtroom in order to gain access to in-custody defendants. This
extraneous activity has the potential to distract and confuse both litigants and observers, and to
create the impression that the case at bar is not the court’s most important concern. Finally, there is
no signage or other means of informing parties and members of the public about court procedures
or expectations for courtroom behavior. Persons entering the courtroom often look around as if
confused, then take a seat in the gallery without removing their hats or checking in with the rail
officer. Occasionally the rail officer will gruffly remind individuals or the audience at large to
check in or remain quiet, potentially intimidating some members of the public.
Unlike other New York City judges, the RHCJC judge hears cases of several different types
and at all stages of disposition in a single courtroom, often during the same session of court. For
most matters other than in-custody arraignments, there is a loose structure to the court calendar.
Desk appearance ticket (DAT) arraignments are held on Mondays. Summonses are returned on
Tuesday mornings, and family court cases are heard on Tuesday afternoons. Housing court is held
in the afternoon on alternate Wednesdays. Status updates in drug treatment cases are typically
heard on Thursday or Friday mornings, and trials are typically held on Fridays. Other hearings in
adult criminal cases are held throughout the week. Due to the 24-hour arrest-to- arraignment
requirement, in-custody arraignments may occur at any time.
In practice, the RHCJC docket is not rigidly segmented among case types. Status updates in
drug treatment cases are interspersed with arraignments, depriving treatment participants of the
opportunity to observe interactions between the judge and other treatment participants and to
develop mutually supportive relationships with other participants. Alternating
among different case types can be confusing and stressful for litigants who may not fully
understand what is happening, especially during housing court, when the court reporter may be
repeatedly called in to record arraignments, then dismissed as the court resumes hearing housing
cases, which employ voice recording. Occasional periods of inactivity that occur while a defendant
is being brought in for arraignment or the court is waiting for paperwork or information may also
contribute to misunderstanding and frustration among observers. According to some stakeholders,
the court’s difficulty in finding extended blocks of time to hold trials can result in multiple
adjournments and delay in bringing trials to a close, although other stakeholders note that it is also
standard practice in other New York City misdemeanor courts to hold misdemeanor trials over
multiple sessions.
Finally, the Justice Center’s mission as a demonstration project has additional potential to
detract from the relationship between judge and defendant. On any given day, RHCJC may be
hosting visiting judges or court planners from anywhere around the world. Because caseloads
require the judge to be on the bench during nearly all of the court’s operating hours, he typically
invites visitors to sit next to him on the bench while he hears cases, providing commentary and
answering questions about the community court model. Although this rare opportunity to view

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community court operations from the judge’s perspective can be invaluable to visitors, the presence
of visitors on the bench may be confusing to parties appearing before the judge, creating the
impression that the judge’s full attention is not devoted to the case at hand. In the context of Judge
Calabrese’s engaged style of interacting with litigants, this might be a very minor concern. As a
general practice, however, it is potentially disruptive to the vital relationship between judge and
defendant.
B. ARRAIGNMENTS
The Red Hook Community Justice Center’s primary function is to process misdemeanor
cases arising from arrests in the court’s catchment area, which comprises Brooklyn’s 72nd, 76th,
and 78th police precincts.22 All in-custody defendants arrested on misdemeanor or minor felony
(D- or E-level) charges in the catchment area between Sunday afternoon and noon on Friday are
intended to be arraigned at RHCJC. Because RHCJC is not open on weekends or after regular court
hours and New York case law requires that persons detained by the police be arraigned within 24
hours, in-custody defendants arrested in the catchment area between noon on Friday and noon on
Sunday are arraigned at the borough’s primary criminal courthouse in downtown Brooklyn, where
arraignments are conducted between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. seven days a week. (People ex rel.
Maxian v. Brown, 570 N.E.2d 223 (N.Y. 1991)). All misdemeanor defendants who are issued desk
appearance tickets (DATs) in the catchment area, regardless of the time or day of arrest, are
arraigned at RHCJC. The Justice Center also handles all summonses issued for non-traffic civil
infractions in the catchment area. Traffic and parking citations issued throughout New York City
are heard administratively by the Traffic Violations Bureau and the Parking Violations Bureau, so
these cases do not appear at either RHCJC or the downtown Brooklyn court.
1. Pre-Arraignment Procedures
Upon arrest, a Red Hook defendant is first taken to the police precinct house. At the
precinct, police officers fingerprint and photograph the defendant, check for existing warrants, and
prepare an arrest report. The arrest report is faxed to the DA’s Early Case Assessment Bureau
(ECAB), where an ADA interviews the arresting officer by telephone if additional information is
needed, enters the case into the DA’s computerized case tracking system, determines which
charges to file, prepares the criminal complaint, and assembles the paper court case file. At least
twice each day, an NYPD officer stationed at RHCJC picks up new Red Hook case files from the
ECAB office in downtown Brooklyn. After the file arrives at RHCJC, police officers at RHCJC
add a printout of the defendant’s criminal history and deliver the file to the RHCJC court clerk’s
office. A clerk enters the case into the computerized docketing system and delivers copies of the
paper file to the courtroom, the Red Hook ADAs, and defense counsel.
Meanwhile, the defendant is held at the precinct house until he or she can be transported to
RHCJC. Upon arriving at RHCJC’s basement holding area, the defendant is re-photographed or refingerprinted if necessary. A representative of the New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA)
22

See FIGURE 1, p. 23.

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interviews the defendant and then prepares a recommendation for the court regarding pretrial
release. In addition to the standard questions used throughout New York City to assess the
defendant’s community ties, CJA’s interviews of Red Hook defendants include questions
specifically developed for RHCJC designed to identify social service needs and to match
defendants with appropriate community service projects (New York Criminal Justice Agency
2011). If the defendant has no attorney, the Legal Aid Society is appointed to represent the
defendant at arraignment. In practice, nearly all Red Hook defendants are represented by the Legal
Aid Society: 98 percent of Red Hook misdemeanor defendants whose cases reached a disposition
during 2008 were represented by Legal Aid, with the remainder receiving appointed counsel from
outside the Legal Aid Society or retaining private counsel.23 After reviewing the case file, the
defense attorney interviews the defendant. When the case is ready for arraignment, a police officer
escorts the defendant into the courtroom.
Difficulty sometimes arises when there is delay in producing either the defendant or the
case file at RHCJC. A case cannot be docketed for arraignment until both the defendant and the file
are present in the courthouse, and it is impracticable for a defense attorney to interview the
defendant without first reviewing the file. On occasion, a defendant arrested in the catchment area
must be sent downtown for an evening arraignment because either the defendant or the paperwork
fails to arrive at Red Hook in time to meet the 24-hour deadline for arraignment.
Instead of holding a defendant in custody until arraignment, the police department may
choose to release the defendant with a DAT instructing him to report to court for arraignment on a
future date. RHCJC arraigns defendants on DATs each Monday. Because the 24-hour arrest-toarraignment requirement applies only to in-custody defendants, all defendants who are issued
DATs in the catchment area are arraigned at RHCJC, regardless of the day or time of arrest. At
arraignment, the defendant appears with the defense attorney before the judge. An ADA provides
defense counsel with notice of the People’s intent to use certain types of evidence and summarizes
the police report and the charges. The ADA may also make a plea offer at arraignment. If the
defendant chooses to plead guilty, the court takes the plea and either sentences the defendant or
imposes conditions, such as the defendant’s attendance at a class, for the eventual dismissal of the
case. If the defendant pleads not guilty, the judge makes a determination regarding pretrial release,
including whether to set bail or release the defendant on his own recognizance (ROR), whether to
impose a protective order prohibiting the defendant from contacting an alleged victim or witness,
and whether to impose other conditions of release.
2. Volume of Arraignments
Defendants who are arrested in Brooklyn outside the RHCJC catchment area or who are
arrested in the catchment area over the weekend and held in custody are arraigned in Kings County
23

2008 RHCJC statistics in this chapter refer to misdemeanor cases arraigned at RHCJC that reached a final
disposition during 2008. Cases adjourned to another court following arraignment, multiple cases involving a single
defendant, cases with defendants for whom recidivism records could not be obtained, and cases arraigned before
2006 are excluded. Five other cases were excluded for purposes related to the impact analysis. n = 1,564. See Chapter
2, Section B for a full description of the 2008 data set.

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71

Criminal Court at 120 Schermerhorn Street in downtown Brooklyn. After processing at the precinct
house, these defendants are transported to the police department’s Central Booking facility at 120
Schermerhorn Street to await arraignment. Kings County Criminal Court conducts arraignments
between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m., seven days a week. Figure 3 shows the total number of
arraignments conducted at RHCJC from 2000 through 2009, as well as counts of in-custody and
out-of-custody (DAT) arraignments. In 2001, the court’s first full year of operation, RHCJC
performed 4,013 arraignments. From 2001 through 2004, annual arraignments fell by nearly 25
percent to 3,035. Arraignments peaked again in 2006 and then fell through 2008, with a slight
uptick in 2009. The number of defendants arraigned on DATs generally moves in opposition to the
number of in-custody arraignments as well as the total number of arraignments. The volume of incustody and DAT arraignments is driven largely by police department practices regarding arrests,
detention, and the transportation of defendants to RHCJC as opposed to the downtown Brooklyn
criminal court.
Figure 3. RHCJC Arraignments by Year, 2000 – 2009

4,500

Total Arraignments

4,000
3,500
3,000
2,500

In Custody

2,000
1,500
1,000

DAT

500
0
2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

3. Precinct of Arrest
Although RHCJC was established primarily to benefit Red Hook itself, the majority of its
caseload comes from outside the neighborhood. As shown in Table 6, one-quarter of all
misdemeanor cases disposed of at RHCJC during 2008 arose in the 76th Precinct, which covers
Red Hook and the adjacent neighborhood of Gowanus. More than half of defendants were arrested
in the 72nd Precinct, which encompasses the predominantly Hispanic and Asian working-class
neighborhood of Sunset Park, along with Windsor Terrace, a mainly white residential

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72

neighborhood. Just under one-fifth of defendants were arrested in the 78th precinct, which includes
the affluent Park Slope neighborhood and Prospect Park. Despite the fact that the majority of the
court’s criminal caseload comes from outside the neighborhood, nearly all of the court’s
programming and outreach efforts are directed exclusively at the Red Hook community. This
incongruity has the potential to alienate non-residents and residents alike: Red Hook residents may
resent sharing “their” court and its resources with outsiders, whereas defendants from outside the
neighborhood may find it inconvenient to travel to Red Hook, especially given the lack of
transportation options that contributes to the neighborhood’s social and economic isolation.
Table 6. Precinct of Arrest for RHCJC Misdemeanor
Arraignments, 2008 Dispositions
Precinct of Arrest
Percentage of Arraignments
Precinct 76 (Red Hook)
25%
Precinct 72
55
Precinct 78
21
n = 1,450
Note: Percentages do not sum to 100 due to rounding.

Even as RHCJC arraigns a large number of defendants from outside Red Hook, many
defendants arrested in the court’s catchment area never make it to the Justice Center and are instead
arraigned in Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn. Table 7 breaks down the court
of arraignment for misdemeanor defendants arrested in the RHCJC catchment area by day of arrest.
As dictated by the 24-hour arrest-to-arraignment policy, most defendants arrested on Fridays,
Saturdays, and Sundays are arraigned downtown.24 However, although all misdemeanor defendants
arrested in the catchment area Monday through Thursday should be arraigned at RHCJC, 30
percent of these defendants are actually arraigned in downtown Brooklyn. These defendants may
be incorrectly routed to Kings County Criminal Court by the police department, or may be
transferred downtown from RHCJC if their case files fail to arrive in Red Hook in a timely fashion.
On the whole, only 50 percent of misdemeanor defendants arrested in the catchment area end up at
RHCJC for arraignment. This phenomenon attenuates the “community” focus of the community
court model.

24

Some defendants arrested on Friday mornings are arraigned at RHCJC before it closes on Friday, and some
defendants arrested late in the day on Sunday are held for Monday morning arraignments at RHCJC.

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Table 7. Court of Arraignment for Misdemeanor Defendants Arrested in
RHCJC Catchment Area by Day of Arrest, 2008 Dispositions
Arraignment Court
Day
RHCJC
Downtown
Sunday
40%
60%
Monday
72
28
Tuesday
73
27
Wednesday
71
29
Thursday
66
34
Friday
20
80
Saturday
9
91
Total
50
50
Sunday – Thursday
66
34
Monday – Thursday
70
30
n = 3,127

4. Caseload Composition
Table 8 breaks down Red Hook arraignments by case type for the period 2000 – 2009.
Together, marijuana and other drug offenses constituted more than 30 percent of cases. Violent
offenses, crimes against persons, and weapons offenses represented 17 percent of arraignments.
Consistent with RHCJC’s focus on processing misdemeanors, only two percent of arraignments
were on felony charges. The mixture of case types arraigned at Red Hook is much more diverse
than the cases appearing at the Midtown Community Court in its early years, where three
categories of minor property crime (petit larceny, theft of services and unlicensed vending)
together accounted for more than three-quarters of cases, and drug offenses made up just three
percent of cases (Sviridoff et al. 2000, 112). The broad range of case types appearing at RHCJC
accords with the court’s comprehensive approach to the problem of low-level neighborhood crime,
and contrasts sharply with the Midtown court’s narrower focus on a few highly visible case types.

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Table 8. RHCJC Arraignments by Most Serious
Charge, 2000 – 2009
Case Type
Percentage of Arraignments
Violent/Person/Weapon
17%
Marijuana
16
Other Drug
15
Petit Larceny
20
Other Property
10
Prostitution
50
Public Order
16
Traffic
13
Felony
20
Other
40
Total
100
n = 35,218

C. CRIMINAL CASE OUTCOMES
Unlike the Midtown Community Court, which only processes arraignments, RHCJC was
designed to handle misdemeanor cases through final disposition, including bench trials. Because
the New York City Department of Correction does not station personnel or produce defendants at
Red Hook, defendants not released on their own recognizance—in other words, those who have
bail set or who remain in custody after arraignment—have their cases transferred to the Kings
County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn following arraignment. Felony cases that are not
reduced to misdemeanors at arraignment, and misdemeanor cases in which the defendant requests a
jury trial, are also transferred. All other cases arraigned at RHCJC are intended to remain at Red
Hook through disposition and any post-disposition activity. In practice, defendants with previous
charges pending may also have their cases transferred downtown, although RHCJC prefers to have
a defendant’s existing cases transferred to Red Hook.
As shown in Table 9, the percentage of cases transferred to another court following
arraignment at RHCJC varies substantially by case type. More than three-quarters of all cases
arraigned at Red Hook remained at RHCJC through disposition; the remainder were transferred to
other courts. As expected, nearly all felony cases were transferred. More serious misdemeanor
cases (e.g., violent offenses) were more likely to be transferred than less serious cases (e.g., public
order offenses, marijuana offenses). RHCJC’s retention of the majority of misdemeanor cases
through disposition is consistent with its mission to address minor crimes within the confines of the
local community, although there appears to be some loss of cases that should theoretically remain
at Red Hook.

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Table 9. Court of Disposition for Cases Arraigned at RHCJC,
2000 – 2009
Case Type
Violent/Person/Weapon
Marijuana
Other Drug
Petit Larceny
Other Property
Prostitution
Public Order
Traffic
Felony
Other
Overall

Disposed of at RHCJC
70%
92
71
55
77
86
85
83
10
79
78

Transferred
30%
8
29
45
23
14
15
17
90
21
22

n = 35,218

The vast majority of criminal cases at Red Hook are resolved through the traditional court
process without judicially supervised treatment for drug addiction. In these cases, RHCJC’s goal is
to assign and enforce meaningful sanctions that serve as a deterrent to criminal behavior.
Elsewhere in New York City, many misdemeanor defendants are released at arraignment on an
adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) or with a sentence of conditional discharge (CD)
with the only requirement being to avoid re- arrest for a specified period of time, or they are
sentenced to time already served and released. Although a few defendants are ordered to attend
educational programs or perform community service, compliance with these sanctions is not
consistently monitored or enforced. In contrast, RHCJC’s goal is that social service and community
service sanctions be frequently imposed, closely monitored and strictly enforced.

1. Data
In order to assess whether the Red Hook Community Justice Center has achieved its goal of
changing sanctioning practices, we compare case outcomes between the Justice Center and Kings
County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn. These comparisons rely upon the comparison data
set described in Chapter 2, Section B(2)(a). The data set includes records of 1,564 cases processed
at the Justice Center and 1,563 cases processed at the Kings County Criminal Court in downtown
Brooklyn, all of which reached a final disposition in 2008. All defendants were arrested in the
catchment area and arraigned on misdemeanor charges. To compensate for any differences in the

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76

types of defendants or cases processed at the two courts, a propensity score adjustment was
implemented.
2. Time to Disposition
An important component of deterrence is celerity, or the swiftness with which sanctions are
imposed. Compared with the Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn, RHCJC brings
cases to an initial disposition about one-third faster, with a median time from arraignment to first
disposition of 14 days, as opposed to 22 days downtown (Table 10). A slightly higher percentage
of cases reach a disposition at arraignment at RHCJC than downtown (48 percent versus 46
percent). The median time from arraignment to final disposition, however, is four times longer at
RHCJC than downtown. RHCJC staff and attorneys attribute the increased time to final disposition
to RHCJC’s policy of holding cases open until defendants have fulfilled all of their obligations,
such as clearing drivers’ licenses and paying restitution. The downtown court, in contrast, advises
defendants of such obligations at the time of first disposition, but does not require defendants to
demonstrate compliance before entering a final disposition. There may be additional factors behind
the increased time to final disposition at RHCJC, but the available data provide no other insight.
Table 10. Time to Disposition by Court for Misdemeanor Cases with Arrests
in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions
Arraignment Court
RHCJC
Downtown
Disposed of at Arraignment (%)
48%
46%
Median Time to First Disposition (days)
14
22
Median Time to Final Disposition (days)
148
37
N
1,564
1,563

3. Initial Case Disposition
The certainty of receiving a sanction and the severity of that sanction are two other critical
components of deterrence. A cornerstone of the RHCJC program plan is a reduction in the number
of cases in which the defendant “walks” with no meaningful sanction, achieved through the
increased use of social service and community service sanctions. Table 11 compares the manner of
initial disposition and the sanction at initial disposition for misdemeanor cases arising in the
RHCJC catchment area handled at RHCJC and the downtown Brooklyn criminal court. A
defendant may be mandated to a social service or community service sanction as a condition of
either an ACD or a CD. An adjournment in contemplation of dismissal is not a conviction, and
results in dismissal of the charges after 180 days if the defendant complies with the mandate and
avoids re-arrest. In contrast, a conditional discharge is a sentence imposed following conviction
when the judge determines that neither jail nor probation supervision is warranted. If a defendant
sentenced to a conditional discharge fails to comply with the requirements the judge has set or is
re-arrested within one year after sentencing, the judge may revoke the conditional discharge and
impose a more severe sanction.

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The Justice Center grants fewer “walks” than the downtown court and imposes sanctions in
a larger proportion of cases. Although slightly fewer RHCJC defendants are convicted or plead
guilty at initial disposition (50 percent of RHCJC defendants versus 52 percent of downtown
defendants), convicted RHCJC defendants are much less likely than downtown defendants to
receive a CD with no conditions (15 percent of convictions versus 26 percent) or a sentence of time
served (3 percent of convictions versus 32 percent). Red Hook defendants are also less likely than
downtown defendants to have their cases dismissed (17 percent of cases versus 21 percent), or to
receive an ACD without community service or social service conditions attached (31 percent of
ACDs versus 76 percent). Although the Justice Center mandates a larger share of defendants to
community service, RHCJC’s community service mandates tend to be shorter than those imposed
in Kings County Criminal Court (an average of 2.8 days as opposed to 3.9 days, not shown in a
table).
Table 11. Initial Disposition by Court for Misdemeanor Cases with Arrests in RHCJC Catchment
Area, 2008 Dispositions
Court
Red Hook
1564

Downtown
1563

Disposition
Pled guilty/convicted
Case dismissed
Adjourned in contemplation of dismissal (ACD)

50%
17%
33%

52%
21%
27%

Sentence type (% of convictions)
N Convicted
Jail
Conditional Discharge with alternative sanction
Community service
Social service*
Both community and social service*
Drug treatment mandate
Time Served
Straight conditional discharge
Other- Fine, probation, license suspension

785
1%
78%
33%
13%
18%
14%
3%
15%
2%

819
15%
22%
12%
10%
0%
1%
32%
26%
5%

Conditions (% of ACDs)
N Adjourned in contemplation of dismissal
Community service
Social service*
Both community and social service*
Straight ACD

516
13%
44%
11%
31%

422
0%
24%
0%
76%

N Sample

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*Social service statistics for downtown cases calculated on the basis of a sample of 2008 adjournments in contemplation of
dismissal and conditional discharges.

4. Alternative Sanctions
An important component of the Justice Center’s deterrence strategy is the strict
enforcement of alternative sanctions. Immediately following the imposition of a social service or
community service mandate, a court officer escorts the defendant from the RHCJC courtroom to
the court’s Alternative Sanctions office to make arrangements to fulfill the mandate. The offender
meets with an Alternative Sanctions staff member who records the offender’s contact information
and other data, schedules the offender for the required class or community service, and helps to
arrange for child care or other needs. At the downtown criminal court, defendants who are assigned
community service or social service sanctions receive information on how to sign up for
community service or classes as they leave the courtroom, but are expected to register on their
own. RHCJC’s policy of immediate registration for alternative sanctions programs is intended to
maximize compliance by holding defendants accountable for registering, as well as by removing
logistical barriers to registration and completion of sanctions.
Social service sanctions may include attendance at an educational program offered through
the court, or (rarely) completion of one to three individual counseling sessions with a clinic staff
member. Classes typically meet for a single session of one to two hours and are usually offered
once per month on weekday afternoons. RHCJC clinic staff teach all classes other than the
Marijuana Group, which is taught by staff from the South Brooklyn Health Center, and the Quality
of Life class for summary offenders, which is facilitated by RHCJC Alternative Sanctions staff and
other court staff from outside the clinic. Some classes are also offered in Spanish. Table 12 lists the
social service classes offered at RHCJC as of January 2011. A schedule of classes is available in
the courtroom, and the judge frequently consults the schedule when setting the mandate. At the
Kings County Criminal Court, a much smaller range of classes is available. The DA’s office
provides educational programs for prostitutes and their patrons. Although the Treatment Readiness
Program (TRP), an overview of available drug treatment services, was previously offered, this
program was eliminated in 2010.
Table 12. Classes Taught as Social Service Sanctions
at RHCJC
Class
Length
Treatment Readiness Program (TRP)
2 hours
TRP: Spanish
1½ hours
Marijuana Group
2 hours
Anger Management Group
1½ hours
Anger Management: Spanish
2 hours
Life Skills
2 hours
Conflict Resolution Workshop
1 hour

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Community service is another alternative sanction frequently employed at the Justice
Center. RHCJC staff supervise nearly all community service performed by RHCJC defendants.
Individual assignments are based upon the level of supervision each offender requires. First
offenders and other defendants requiring a low level of supervision are typically assigned to offsite or outdoor projects with a 6:1 ratio of offenders to supervisors. Defendants requiring a higher
level of supervision—typically those with prior convictions—perform their community service
within the RHCJC building. A small number of high-risk offenders are referred outside RHCJC to
community service programs supervised by the New York City Department of Correction.
To maximize the chances that each offender will fulfill the community service mandate,
community service assignments begin as soon as possible, usually within one day after the mandate
is imposed. All RHCJC community service activities take place on weekdays during business
hours. This may be problematic for defendants who are employed or have child-care
responsibilities, although alternative sanctions staff work with defendants to mitigate these issues.
In-building community service assignments typically involve cleaning the courthouse. Off-site
projects include graffiti removal at private businesses, cleanups of NYCHA and Parks Department
facilities, cleaning and maintenance projects at nearby churches, and serving meals at the local
soup kitchen. To increase visibility and thereby the deterrent effect of community service,
offenders performing community service wear blue vests emblazoned with the court’s logo, and
Alternative Sanctions staff select conspicuous locations for community service projects whenever
possible. Because community service sanctions are designed to serve not simply as a deterrent but
also as a way for offenders to make restitution to the community and to help repair local conditions
of disorder, most community service sites are located within the Red Hook neighborhood.
Table 13 shows the percentage of RHCJC defendants mandated to alternative sanctions as a
condition of either an ACD or a CD at any time during the life of the case, by arraignment charge.
Overall, 35 percent of defendants were mandated to community service and 55 percent were
mandated to social service sanctions. Property, prostitution, and public order offenders frequently
received community service mandates. More than 80 percent of drug offenders, as well as around
two-thirds of persons charged with violent or prostitution-related offenses and nearly half of those
charged with public order offenses, received social service mandates.
Table 13. RHCJC Alternative Sanctions by Arraignment Charge, 2000 – 2009

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Case Type
Violent/Person/Weapon
Marijuana
Other Drug
Petit Larceny
Other Property
Prostitution
Public Order
Traffic
Felony
Other
Total

Percentage of Cases Ever Mandated
Community Service
Social Service
30%
66%
26
89
21
81
64
33
75
24
49
63
48
49
14
8
54
36
68
23
35
55

Total Cases
1,678
4,560
2,658
280
1,946
848
2,219
3,245
39
800
18,273

Note: Includes mandates imposed as conditions of an adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) or
conditional discharge (CD). Excludes defendants mandated to long-term drug treatment and cases transferred to
another court.

The Justice Center’s Alternative Sanctions office monitors compliance with social service
and community service sanctions. A staff member telephones each offender who does not appear as
scheduled for community service. An offender who continues to avoid community service
following a telephone call or who fails to attend any required educational program or individual
counseling session receives a letter warning that if he does not appear in court within 48 hours to
explain his failure to comply with the mandate, a bench warrant will be issued for his arrest.
Table 14 displays the completion rates for RHCJC community service and social service mandates
by year. The overall compliance rate for community service is 80 percent; for social service
sanctions, the rate is 69 percent. Compliance rates for both types of sanctions have been declining
since 2005.

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Table 14. Compliance Rates for RHCJC Alternative Sanctions,
by Arraignment Year
Percentage of Sanctions Completed
Year
Community Service
Social Service
2000
79%
71%
2001
82
71
2002
81
74
2003
82
72
2004
84
66
2005
85
70
2006
79
68
2007
78
66
2008
77
65
2009
72
62
Total
80
69

5. Final Case Disposition
Defendants who are returned on warrants for noncompliance with the terms of any court
mandate are resentenced to jail or another sanction. Table 15 compares the manner of final
disposition and final sanction for catchment area misdemeanors processed at RHCJC and Kings
County Criminal Court. The percentage of convicted defendants sentenced to jail at Red Hook rises
from 1 percent at first disposition (Table 15) to 11 percent at final disposition, whereas the rate of
jail sanctions in the downtown court increases by a much smaller magnitude, from 15 percent to 17
percent. The much sharper increase in the percentage of jail sanctions between first disposition and
final disposition at RHCJC is most likely the result of a fundamental difference in how the two
courts use jail sentences. Downtown, jail sentences are most frequently used as an initial sanction.
At Red Hook, however, jail is typically reserved for use as a secondary sanction in response to
noncompliance with the court’s original mandate.

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Table 15. Final Disposition by Court for Misdemeanor Cases with Arrests in RHCJC
Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions
Court

Pled guilty/convicted
N Convicted
Sentence type (% convicted)
Jail
Conditional Discharge with alternative sanction
Community service
Social service*
Both community and social service*
Time Served
Straight conditional discharge
Other- Fine, probation, license suspension
Adjourned in contemplation of dismissal (ACD)
Case dismissed
N

Red Hook

Downtown

48%
750

52%
807

11%
62%
31%
16%
15%
5%
20%
2%
32%
20%
1564

17%
20%
10%
10%
0%
32%
26%
5%
27%
22%
1563

*Social service statistics for downtown cases calculated on the basis of a sample of 2008 adjournments in
contemplation of dismissal and conditional discharges.

On the whole, the Red Hook Community Justice Center appears to sanction defendants
with greater certainty than the traditional downtown court. RHCJC allows fewer defendants to
“walk” without a meaningful sanction and monitors and enforces compliance with alternative
sanctions more stringently than the downtown court. Of those defendants who do receive a
sanction, RHCJC sends a larger share to community service and social service programs and a
smaller proportion to jail, largely reserving jail as a secondary sanction for defendants who do not
comply with the original sanction.
For the handful of Red Hook defendants who do receive jail sentences, however,
RHCJC’s sentencing practices appear to be more severe. As shown in Table 16, the average
jail sentence at RHCJC is more than twice as long as the average jail sentence downtown
(81.1 days versus 40.4 days). Across all defendants, this disparity results in greater per capita
usage of jail at Red Hook (4.75 days versus 3.06 days), and has important implications for
criminal justice system costs.

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Table 16. Jail Sanctions at RHCJC v. Kings County Criminal
Court
Court
Red Hook Status
N Sample

Red Hook

Downtown

1564

1563

1%***
10%***
11%***

15%
2%
17%

0.53***
0.67***
61.2

3.04
6.15
44.6

4.23***
8.45***
81.7**

0.05
0.45
19.29

4.75*
9.14
81.1***

3.06
6.66
40.39

USE OF JAIL
Initial jail sentence
Secondary jail (resentence)
Final jail sentence
JAIL DAYS
Initial Days sentenced to jail
All cases
All convicted cases
Sentenced to jail
Days of secondary jail (resentence)
All cases
All convicted cases
Resentenced to jail
Days sentenced to jail (total)
All cases
All convicted cases
Sentenced to jail
+p<.10,* p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.'

Unlike many community courts, the Justice Center is equipped to handle bench trials in
misdemeanor cases. Table 17 shows the number of criminal court trials held at RHCJC on an
annual basis from 2008 through 2011. On average, the Justice Center heard 21 trials per year.
Although some attorneys and court personnel assert that RHCJC is able to begin trials more
quickly than the downtown court, a scarcity of dedicated courtroom time often requires trials to be
adjourned multiple times over the course of several days or weeks.

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Table 17. Misdemeanor Trials at
RHCJC, 2008 – 2011
Year
Number of Trials
2008
27
2009
18
2010
26
2011
13
Average
21

D. SUMMONS CASES
In addition to misdemeanors and low-level felonies, RHCJC also handles local ordinance
violations that do not rise to the level of a misdemeanor criminal offense, such as drinking in
public, remaining in a park after hours, or failure to leash a dog. When charging a defendant with a
violation, the police officer issues a summons directing the defendant to appear in court on a
specified day. RHCJC hears summonses every Tuesday morning. Because defendants are not held
in custody after a summons is issued, all summons cases arising in the catchment area are intended
to be heard at RHCJC, regardless of the day or time when the summons is issued.
Figure 4 shows the total number of summons cases processed at RHCJC each year from
2001 through 2009. On average, the court heard just over 11,000 summonses per year. As with incustody and DAT arraignments, fluctuations in summons caseloads may result from shifts in
policing strategies or from underlying trends in the prevalence of minor offenses.
Figure 4. Summonses Processed at RHCJC, 2001 – 2009
16,000
14,000
12,000
10,000
8,000
6,000
4,000
2,000
0
2001

2002

2003

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2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

85

Although summonses represent the largest share of the court’s caseload in terms of
numbers, these cases constitute only a small proportion of the court’s actual workload. Many
summons cases never make it into the courtroom. When a citizen arrives at court with a summons,
he or she is given the option of avoiding an appearance before the judge by immediately attending
a social service program known as the Quality of Life group (Fagan & Malkin 2003, 934). This 30minute group discussion is designed to educate violators about what types of conduct are
prohibited in public, enabling them to avoid future citations and arrests. The program also aims to
impress upon participants the idea that their actions have negative consequences for others,
securing a normative commitment to obey the law in the future. Summons cases not resolved in
this manner typically require a single, brief appearance before the judge, during which the charges
may be dismissed or a fine imposed.
E. OFFENDER PERCEPTIONS OF PROCEDURAL JUSTICE
The legitimacy prong of the Justice Center’s program theory depends not only on the
actions of the judge as a decision-maker, but also on how these actions are perceived by litigants
and the public. The ethnographic analysis reveals that offenders perceive a high level of procedural
justice in the Justice Center’s decision-making processes. When offenders were asked to describe
in their own words how their experiences at the Justice Center differed from their experiences in
other courts, the word they most frequently chose was “respectful.” “He allows you to speak,”
explained one offender. “I got a good feel from Calabrese because of the fact that he likes to
interact and get your opinion.” Offenders often asserted that the judge and other court personnel at
RHCJC seemed genuinely interested in helping them with their individual problems, offering social
service sanctions and drug treatment instead of jail: “That experience was something new to me;
they can offer you help if you needed it, and I found that to be astounding that they were more into
trying to help people than just sending them to jail.” When asked to select from a predetermined set
of responses describing the differences between the Red Hook judge and Downtown judges, 49
percent of respondents chose “more compassionate.” Offenders also appreciated that in some minor
cases, the Justice Center offered them a choice between appearing in court or taking a class aimed
at reforming their behavior.
The offenders’ statements regarding procedural justice were corroborated by the
ethnographers’ courtroom observations. Researchers observed that there was more interaction
between defendants and court staff and officers at RHCJC than in downtown courtrooms. At Red
Hook, the judge consistently gave defendants the opportunity to speak for themselves, whereas in
traditional courtrooms, the researchers observed little direct interaction between the judge and the
defendant. In drug treatment cases, the Red Hook judge demonstrated personal knowledge of and
interest in defendants’ treatment plans, challenges, and family situations. He regularly praised
defendants for their progress in treatment and admonished them for their mistakes. Some
defendants were brought to tears as they thanked the judge and the court for encouraging them and
helping to keep them on track. Although the Justice Center and the downtown drug court were also
observed celebrating defendants’ successes in drug treatment and GED programs with praise and
applause, the Red Hook celebrations appeared much more elaborate and personalized.
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It is important to note that offenders perceived procedural justice, or the fairness of the
decision-making process, separately from distributive justice, or the fairness of the outcome. When
offenders were asked whether they received a fair decision in their last court appearance, both the
Justice Center and the downtown Brooklyn criminal court were overwhelmingly rated as issuing
fair decisions, and responses did not differ significantly between offenders whose last appearance
was at Red Hook and those whose last appearance was downtown (91 percent versus 81 percent).
In other words, offenders’ perceptions of the Justice Center differ significantly from perceptions of
the downtown court only as to the perceived fairness of the decision-making process, not the
fairness of the case outcome.
F. CONCLUSIONS: CRIMINAL COURT CASE PROCESSING AND SANCTIONING PRACTICES AT RED
HOOK
The qualitative and quantitative data support the overall conclusion that the Red Hook
Community Justice Center is processing criminal cases and sanctioning offenders in accordance
with its planners’ intentions. The Justice Center sanctions misdemeanor offenders with greater
certainty than a traditional criminal court and improves perceptions of procedural justice.
Improvements in the routing of defendants to the Justice Center following arrest and certain aspects
of courtroom operations that affect perceptions of procedural justice could bring the Justice
Center’s operations even more closely in line with the project plan.
Conclusion 1: As intended, the pattern of sentencing in the RHCJC criminal court differs
significantly from practice in a traditional misdemeanor court.
To deter crime, the Justice Center seeks to impose and enforce meaningful sanctions for
misdemeanor offenses. At the Justice Center, 78 percent of conditional discharges (CDs) and 69
percent of adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (ACDs) entered at initial disposition carry a
requirement that the defendant complete community service, a short-term social service
intervention, or both. This is in marked contrast to the pattern in the downtown Brooklyn criminal
court, where the majority of defendants receive a “walk,” or a case disposition that imposes no
obligation on the part of the offender. The Justice Center closely monitors compliance with
community service and social service requirements, achieving compliance rates of 80 percent for
community service sanctions and 69 percent for social service sanctions over a ten-year period.
The Justice Center typically reserves jail for use as a secondary sanction in response to
noncompliance with the terms of the original court mandate. Although the Justice Center sentences
a smaller number of defendants to jail than the downtown court, jail sentences at Red Hook tend to
be more than twice as long, resulting in a greater overall usage of jail beds and raising some
concerns about the cost of incarcerating Red Hook defendants.
Conclusion 2: Many defendants arrested in the catchment area are not arraigned at the
Justice Center, and the majority of cases processed at the Justice Center arise in outlying
neighborhoods of the catchment area.
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Only one-half of defendants arrested in the catchment area on eligible charges are actually
arraigned at the Justice Center. Some of this “leakage” of catchment area cases can be attributed to
the fact that RHCJC is not open on weekends, but nearly one-third of weekday arrests in the
catchment area are also routed downtown for arraignment, contrary to the project plan. Court
managers, the RHCJC judge, and both prosecutors and defense attorneys should work together with
the New York City Police Department to identify the reasons why these defendants are not
arraigned at RHCJC and to increase the proportion of eligible defendants who are arraigned at Red
Hook.
On the other hand, three-quarters of cases arraigned at the Justice Center arise in portions of
the catchment area outside the Red Hook neighborhood. Although the inclusion of other
neighborhoods in the catchment area was necessary in order to ensure a caseload sufficient to
sustain a freestanding courthouse, the primary focus of the Justice Center’s community
programming and outreach remains confined to the Red Hook neighborhood. This dichotomy
means that, although the Justice Center is very much a part of the Red Hook community, it may not
be perceived as a true “community court” by the majority of its defendants who are arrested
elsewhere in the catchment area.
Conclusion 3: Offenders perceive the Justice Center’s decision-making process as more
fair than the traditional criminal court process, although some aspects of courtroom operations
may detract from perceptions of procedural justice.
Procedural justice is a key mechanism through which the Justice Center aims to achieve
reductions in recidivism. The ethnographic analysis finds that perceptions of procedural justice, or
the fairness of the decision-making process, are higher among offenders whose cases are processed
at the Justice Center than among offenders whose cases are processed in a traditional misdemeanor
court. In contrast, there was no statistically significant difference between Red Hook defendants
and other defendants in perceptions of the fairness of the case outcome (distributive justice).
Although the Justice Center’s judge and staff strive to project procedural justice in all
aspects of court operations, additional steps can be taken to remove obstacles to parties’
understanding of and engagement in the proceedings. The Justice Center should provide a single
point of contact for all persons entering the courthouse, using either the existing information
window located next to the courtroom (which is currently open during limited hours and focuses
primarily on providing general information about social services available at the Justice Center and
in the neighborhood, rather than on assisting litigants in navigating the courthouse) or the court
officer’s desk at the main courthouse entrance. To improve parties’ and observers’ understanding
of and compliance with courtroom procedures, RHCJC should post at the entrance to the courtroom
clear instructions for courtroom behavior, including checking in with the rail officer, removing
hats, discarding refreshments and chewing gum, and remaining quiet while court is in session.
Perceptions of procedural justice could also be improved by reducing extraneous activity behind
the bench and in the well of the courtroom, amplifying the proceedings, and grouping similar types

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of hearings (e.g., misdemeanor arraignments, status appearances in drug treatment cases, status
appearances in non-treatment cases, family court cases, housing cases) together on the docket.

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CHAPTER 7. DRUG TREATMENT CASES
One of RHCJC’s most distinctive features is its use of long-term drug treatment, monitored
by the court’s on-site clinic and supervised by the judge, as a sanction in certain cases. The Justice
Center defines long-term drug treatment as a court mandate for drug treatment lasting 30 days or
longer; short-term programs such as the Treatment Readiness Program are administered and
monitored by the Alternative Sanctions office, not the clinic. Long-term treatment mandates are
designed to use the coercive power of the court to motivate lasting behavioral change on the part of
individual defendants, with the ultimate goal of averting future drug-related criminal behavior.
A. DRUG TREATMENT PROCEDURES
1. Assessment and Plea
The clinic’s involvement in a case begins with a formal assessment by a clinic staff
member, either while the defendant is in custody awaiting arraignment or after the defendant has
been released from custody following arraignment. Consent from the defendant and his attorney is
required for the administration of an assessment. Referrals for assessments come from a variety of
sources. The court’s resource coordinator reviews the files of all in-custody defendants awaiting
arraignment to identify defendants with criminal histories or current charges that may be associated
with drug addiction, or who have had previous contact with the RHCJC clinic; these defendants are
then recommended for assessments. With the consent of defense counsel, the resource coordinator
also interviews certain defendants to determine whether an assessment is warranted, using a short
questionnaire developed by clinic staff. A clinic assessment may also be requested by an ADA, the
defense attorney, the police department, the judge, the defendant, or a family member.
The RHCJC clinic uses a homegrown assessment protocol whose primary purpose is to
gather the information needed to make appropriate referrals to service providers. The protocol is
designed to identify key symptoms of addiction, psychological trauma, brain injury, and mental
illness without necessarily making a specific diagnosis; it also incorporates questions tailored to the
informational needs of service providers that regularly work with RHCJC. The assessment includes
a urine screening for drug use, unless the defendant has already disclosed drug use to clinic staff.
In-custody assessments typically last around one hour; out-of-custody assessments may take as
long as two hours.
The clinic staff member reviews the assessment results with a supervisor or co-worker to
formulate a recommended treatment mandate. A typical recommendation might include attending
outpatient drug treatment and/or individual counseling for a certain number of months, regular drug
testing by the treatment program or the RHCJC clinic, and, for teenaged defendants, monitoring of
school attendance and curfew compliance. Short-term inpatient or outpatient detoxification and/or
drug rehab may be recommended in more serious cases of addiction. A growing number of
defendants are also mandated to participate in treatment for co-occurring post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD) and substance abuse. The exact number and duration of weekly treatment sessions
is determined by each treatment provider following intake, not by the RHCJC clinic. Because
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program intake does not occur until after the defendant accepts the treatment offer, it is not possible
for the defendant to know the full extent of his obligations until after he has agreed to participate in
treatment.
The treatment recommendation is e-mailed to the resource coordinator, the clinic director,
the clinical coordinator, and the judge. The clinic also fills out a paper form known as the “barrier
sheet” to assist the DA’s office in making a decision about whether to offer treatment. Information
on the barrier sheet includes the reason for the assessment, any drugs for which the clinic is
recommending treatment, the defendant’s usage of methadone and other prescription drugs that
might interfere with drug testing, the defendant’s health insurance coverage and Medicaid
eligibility, and whether the defendant is homeless.
After reviewing the barrier sheet and mandate recommendation, the prosecutor decides
whether to offer a plea bargain that includes treatment. Although the DA’s office typically adopts
the clinic’s recommendation regarding the treatment mandate, the prosecutor is free to offer a
different treatment mandate or not to offer treatment at all. The judge and attorneys on both sides
strive to ensure that the length and terms of the mandate are proportionate to the severity of the
offense—for instance, long-term residential treatment would not typically be required on a charge
that would otherwise result in a sentence of community service. Accused drug dealers and
defendants with histories of violent offenses who are difficult to place in treatment programs are
not typically offered treatment. A treatment offer may be made either at or after arraignment,
depending largely on when the assessment is completed. If the People do not offer treatment, the
judge may still impose a treatment mandate with the defendant’s consent following a plea of guilty
to the most serious charge.
In most treatment cases, the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for a promise that an
adjournment in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) will be entered if the defendant successfully
completes the treatment mandate, allowing the defendant to avoid a criminal conviction and its
collateral consequences. In more serious cases that would otherwise result in a jail sentence, the
defendant is offered a conviction with a sentence of conditional discharge in exchange for
successful completion of the mandate. The plea may be accepted at arraignment or during a
subsequent court appearance. If there is concern about the collateral consequences of a guilty plea,
the judge may elect to impose the treatment mandate as a condition of pretrial release rather than
accept a guilty plea. If the defendant is in pre-arraignment custody when he accepts the treatment
offer, he is released on his own recognizance following arraignment.
2. Referral to Programs
After consenting to the treatment mandate, the defendant is escorted by a court officer
directly from the courtroom to RHCJC’s Alternative Sanctions office, where a staff member
interviews the defendant to gather contact information and other background data. Next, the
defendant meets with RHCJC clinic staff for referral to a treatment program. After matching the
defendant to a program, the clinic case manager sets up the defendant’s intake appointment with
the service provider and arranges for monitoring of any other components of the mandate, such as

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curfew and school attendance. The defendant—and, if the defendant is 16 or 17 years old, the
defendant’s parents—also signs releases authorizing the clinic to exchange information with
treatment providers, school authorities, the defense attorney, the court, and other justice system
partners.
RHCJC routinely works with several external providers of drug treatment, individual
counseling, and other social services. Counseling Service of Eastern District New York
(CSEDNY), a nonprofit organization that provides drug treatment services as an alternative to
incarceration, currently receives the largest number of RHCJC referrals for outpatient drug
treatment. Other frequent partners include the Exodus outpatient drug treatment program
administered by Turning Point, a religiously affiliated non-profit; the Sunset Terrace branch of
Lutheran Family Health Centers for outpatient drug treatment; and Kingsboro Addiction Treatment
Center for inpatient detoxification and rehabilitation. Safe Horizon, a nonprofit victim assistance
program that works with the New York City courts in a number of capacities, also provides RHCJC
defendants with treatment for psychological trauma using the Seeking Safety curriculum.25 In
matching a defendant with a service provider, clinic staff consider the defendant’s individual
circumstances, including Medicaid or other health insurance coverage, access to transportation, and
the defendant’s employment schedule. Each service provider also has its own set of eligibility
criteria such as age, prior criminal record, and mental health diagnosis.
Since the court does not fund treatment, health insurance can sometimes be an important
factor in the selection of a treatment program. The majority of defendants involved with RHCJC’s
clinic are eligible for Medicaid; if an eligible defendant is not already enrolled in Medicaid, clinic
staff or the staff of some treatment programs will assist the defendant in applying for benefits.
Uninsured defendants who are ineligible for Medicaid, such as undocumented immigrants, are
referred to providers capable of serving uninsured participants free of charge. Basic treatment for
drug addiction is often available to uninsured defendants, although some services, such as
Suboxone or methadone treatment for heroin addiction, diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, and
mental health treatment, are typically unavailable in the absence of Medicaid or private insurance
coverage.
Within a few days, the defendant reports to the treatment provider for intake. Intake
procedures vary by provider, but typically include both psychosocial and medical assessments. The
provider then tailors a program to the defendant’s needs. In the early stages of treatment, a provider
might typically require a defendant to attend a total of three or four individual and group treatment
sessions per week and be tested for drugs nearly every day. If necessary, the provider will refer the
defendant to an inpatient or outpatient detoxification program, to be completed before the treatment
program begins.
3. Treatment Monitoring

25

Seeking Safety is a 25-module manualized cognitive behavioral therapy program for co-occurring post-traumatic
stress disorder and substance abuse.

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The RHCJC clinic monitors the defendant’s attendance at treatment, as well as the results of
any drug tests performed by the treatment program. CSEDNY provides the clinic with a weekly email update on the status of all enrolled RHCJC defendants; other providers fax status reports or
are telephoned by clinic staff on a regular basis. The clinic also verifies school and GED program
attendance and operates a call-in system for curfew monitoring. Clinic staff record compliance
information in a database known as the Resource Coordinator Log. The Resource Coordinator Log
is directly accessible only to the resource coordinator, clinic staff, and alternative sanctions staff,
but is used to produce weekly compliance reports distributed to the judge, ADAs, and Legal Aid
attorneys. Most data are recorded in narrative form, making it impossible to produce quantitative
reports summarizing data such as program attendance and drug test results.
During the term of the mandate, the defendant is scheduled for regular court appearances to
report on his or her compliance with the mandate. There is no formal definition of compliance or
noncompliance with the treatment mandate. Early in the mandate, a defendant is typically
considered to be in compliance if the defendant is attending at least half of the sessions required by
the program, has a reasonable explanation for any missed sessions, and is passing all drug tests. If a
defendant is determined to be out of compliance, the clinic fills out a paper form recommending a
course of action such as a sanction or a change in treatment providers. During the final 30 days of
the mandate, the criteria for compliance are stricter, and the client is typically required to make up
any missed sessions before the court considers the mandate to be fulfilled.
Court staff and attorneys meet on a weekly basis to review the status of treatment
defendants scheduled to appear in court. Participants typically include the judge, the RHCJC
project director and deputy project directors, the clinical coordinator, the resource coordinator, the
alternative sanctions coordinator, one or more ADAs, and a representative from Legal Aid. The
court attorney and clinic staff members may also attend. This meeting has been dubbed the “list
meeting” because it is structured around a printed list of all clinic defendants that includes
information on charges and case status, upcoming court dates, the terms of the mandate,
compliance status, and the defendant’s progress in treatment. The list meeting focuses primarily
on defendants who are out of compliance with the treatment mandate or experiencing issues such
as attendance problems, failed drug tests, scheduling challenges, or conflict with the treatment
provider. The primary purpose of the list meeting is to inform the judge of any issues in advance of
the defendant’s court appearance. The court’s policy is that no decisions regarding sanctions are
made during the list meeting, as the defendant has not yet had the chance to tell his or her side of
the story.
Defendants in drug treatment are typically scheduled for court appearances on Thursday
afternoons or Fridays following the Thursday morning list meeting. The judge determines the
frequency of each defendant’s court appearances on an individual basis, typically ordering more
frequent appearances at the beginning of the mandate or when the defendant has been out of
compliance. On the court date, the defendant checks in at the RHCJC Alternative Sanctions office,
then proceeds to the clinic for drug testing. After testing, the defendant checks in with the rail
officer in the courtroom and waits in the gallery for the case to be called. When the case is called,
the defendant stands before the judge with the defense attorney while the resource coordinator

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reads the clinic’s report on the record. The judge then typically engages in a brief conversation with
the defendant about treatment as well as the defendant’s school attendance or employment. The
judge may also speak on the record with the defendant’s parents or other family members.
If the defendant tests negative for drug use and fulfills the other requirements of the
mandate, the judge—and frequently the prosecutor—offers congratulations and encouragement.
The judge may also reward compliance by relaxing the terms of the mandate—for instance, by
setting a later curfew. If the defendant is having trouble complying with the mandate, the judge
asks for the defendant’s side of the story as well as the input of the clinic, the prosecutor, and the
defense attorney. The judge may then order a change in the type or duration of treatment, referral to
a different service provider, or a sanction for noncompliance. No formal guidelines exist for
sanctioning noncompliant defendants; rather, the judge determines the sanction on an
individualized basis. Typical sanctions include community service or writing an essay on why it is
important to stay clean. Although short-term jail stays were used as a sanction in RHCJC’s early
days, the court no longer uses jail as a sanction; the rationale is that jail sanctions have little impact
on defendants, most of whom have spent time in jail in the past. In extreme cases of
noncompliance, such as tampering with urine samples, the DA’s office may withdraw the plea
offer. The defendant may then choose whether to take the case to trial or to plead guilty and be
sentenced to a traditional sanction. If a defendant does not appear for a scheduled court date, the
judge issues a bench warrant for the defendant’s arrest. A clinic staff member then telephones the
defendant and advises him or her to report to court immediately for a voluntary return on the
warrant. If a defendant is discharged from a treatment program before treatment is complete (e.g.,
for administrative or disciplinary reasons) the defendant is instructed to come directly to the
RHCJC clinic for assistance.
4. Final Disposition
When a defendant has successfully completed the mandate, the judge enters an adjournment
in contemplation of dismissal (ACD) or conditional discharge (CD) and presents the defendant
with a certificate of completion in the courtroom. The prosecutor, defense attorney, court officers,
and other courtroom staff offer applause and congratulations for the defendant’s achievement. If an
ACD is entered, the case is dismissed and sealed six months later, provided that the defendant has
not been re-arrested.
5. Comparison to Traditional Drug Court Procedures
Elsewhere in Brooklyn, the closest analogue to the RHCJC long-term drug treatment
program is the Misdemeanor Brooklyn Treatment Court (MBTC) housed at the Kings County
Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn. A comparison of the MBTC program with the JusticeCenter’s drug treatment program illustrates the differences between the RHCJC model and the
traditional drug court model. Unlike RHCJC, MBTC has strict eligibility criteria for treatment, a
uniform and structured set of requirements that must be met before charges are dismissed, and
formal guidelines for sanctioning defendants who violate these requirements. Whereas eligibility
for treatment at Red Hook is determined by the prosecutor and the judge on a case-by-case basis,

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MBTC eligibility is limited to defendants facing nonviolent class A misdemeanor charges who
have twelve or more prior misdemeanor and/or felony convictions or who were on probation or
parole at the time of arrest on the instant charge, with no prior violent felony, arson or sex crime
convictions (MBTC Policy and Procedures Manual, 6). In order to participate in MBTC, a
defendant must plead guilty and agree to serve a specified jail sentence if he or she fails to
complete the program; successful completion of the program results in dismissal of the charges. In
contrast, not all Red Hook treatment participants are required to plead guilty in order to enter the
program, no Red Hook defendant agrees up front to a specific sentence for failure to complete the
treatment mandate, and cases in which treatment is unsuccessful will proceed to a full sentencing
hearing or, depending upon the circumstances, a trial. Like treatment participants at Red Hook,
each MBTC participant is assessed by court clinic staff, assigned a court clinic case manager, and
referred to an outside service provider for drug treatment.
Upon entering the MBTC program, a defendant signs a contract consenting to the MBTC
requirements, as well as the jail sentence he will serve should he fail to complete the program. Each
MBTC participant must successfully navigate four phases of treatment. To complete each phase,
the defendant must consistently test free of drugs and alcohol and avoid court sanctions for a
specified number of consecutive days (ranging from 30 to 90 depending on the phase), attend
treatment and self-help group meetings, achieve other goals such as obtaining a job, and obtain
recommendations for phase advancement from his court case manager and treatment provider.
Participants attending outpatient treatment must also attend drug court at least once every two
weeks for the first two months of the mandate and a minimum of once per month thereafter;
participants in residential treatment programs attend court once per month. Like court appearances
for RHCJC treatment participants, MBTC sessions typically involve direct dialogue between the
judge and the defendant about the defendant’s progress, although at MBTC the resource
coordinator and clinic staff do not typically speak on the record as they do at Red Hook.
During each phase, there is a specified set of graduated sanctions for noncompliance with
the requirements of MBTC or the defendant’s treatment program. Sanctions include observing drug
court sessions from the jury box, inpatient detox or rehab, an increase in the frequency of case
manager visits or court appearances, and short-term jail time. Each violation also results in a return
to the beginning of the phase, resetting the time clock. Serious or repeated violations of drug court
requirements result in termination from the program and imposition of the jail sentence agreed
upon in the original plea bargain. Program requirements and sanctions are clearly delineated in a
handbook distributed to all MBTC participants. A minimum of eight months’ time is required to
complete all four phases and graduate from MBTC, although most participants take about one year
to complete the program. Each graduate is presented with a certificate and a handbook of
employment resources on the final court date; graduates are also recognized at a formal ceremony
held twice a year.
As compared with MBTC, the Red Hook treatment program casts a much wider net. MBTC
serves a narrow population of nonviolent multiple recidivists charged with serious misdemeanor
offenses, whereas RHCJC determines eligibility for treatment on an individual basis and is free to
offer treatment to first offenders and those with lesser charges. Due in part to the greater range of

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offenders and offenses the RHCJC clinic serves, treatment mandates at Red Hook are more varied
than MBTC mandates, both in length and in substance. Whereas MBTC’s standards for compliance
and sanctions for noncompliance are standardized, Red Hook defines compliance and sets
sanctions on a case-by-case basis. Red Hook’s flexibility allows greater tailoring of mandates and
sanctions to a defendant’s individual needs, but also increases the potential for similarly situated
defendants to receive dissimilar sanctions. Finally, MBTC’s uniform usage of dismissal of the
charges as an incentive for successful program completion, along with its policy of specifying
potential jail sentences at program entry, provides MBTC with greater leverage to motivate
defendants to comply with the terms of the court mandate. In contrast, RHCJC’s practice of
determining the sentence only after a defendant fails to complete the treatment mandate raises
some due process concerns, while mitigating others. After repeated in-court interactions with the
defendant over a period of several months and having gained extensive knowledge of the
defendant’s background and treatment history, the judge at Red Hook may find it difficult to
disregard legally irrelevant factors at sentencing. Furthermore, the judge may feel a personal stake
in the defendant’s failure to successfully navigate treatment (NACDL 2009, 28). On the other hand,
RHCJC’s stated policy of allowing each case to proceed to a full sentencing hearing—or,
occasionally, even a trial—following a treatment failure allows the defendant to avoid waiving due
process rights in order to accept an offer of treatment.
B. DRUG TREATMENT CASELOADS
Figure 5. Percentage of RHCJC Defendants
Mandated to Long-Term Drug Treatment, 2000 – 2009
10%

8%

6%

4%

2%

0%
2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

n = 27,451; note: Includes only cases arraigned and disposed of at RHCJC.

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Although a large share of court resources and publicity are devoted to drug treatment cases,
the RHCJC clinic serves only a small minority of defendants. As shown in Figure 5, the share of
RHCJC defendants receiving long-term drug treatment has ranged between 4 percent and 6 percent
over time, with a slight overall decline. The percentage of cases assigned to treatment varies by
case type, ranging from just under one percent for traffic and marijuana cases to a high of 22
percent for non-marijuana drug offenses (Table 18). The frequency with which particular types of
cases are assigned to drug treatment appears to be related to the severity of the potential penalty for
the offense as well as to the tendency for the offense to be related to drug addiction. For example,
marijuana and traffic offenses carry relatively light sentences, making a long-term treatment
mandate disproportionate to the severity of the offense. On the other hand, non-marijuana drug
offenses carry longer sentences and are frequently committed by drug addicts, so a long-term
treatment mandate is both proportionate and appropriate in many of these cases. Prostitution and
petit larceny, two other offense categories that frequently result in treatment mandates, are often
committed in order to support a drug addiction.
Table 18. RHCJC Defendants Mandated to Drug Treatment by
Arraignment Charge, 2000 – 2009
Cases Assigned to Drug
Treatment
Case Type
Number
Percentage
Violent/Person/Weapon
113
3%
Marijuana
38
1
Other Drug
795
22
Petit Larceny
45
9
Other Property
93
3
Prostitution
107
7
Public Order
206
4
Traffic
32
1
Felony
5
6
Other
18
2
All Case Types
1,452
5
n = 27,451
note: Includes only cases arraigned and disposed of at RHCJC

C. TREATMENT MODALITIES
As shown in Tables 19 and 20, nearly half of RHCJC defendants in long-term drug
treatment are assigned to more than one type of treatment while under court mandate.26
26

Tables 19 through 21 should be interpreted with caution due to the large number of treatment cases with missing
modality data (246 out of 968 for the years 2003 – 2009). Cases arraigned between 2000 and 2002 were not included
these tables due to insufficient data on treatment modality.

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Treatment modalities include inpatient or outpatient detoxification, long-term inpatient or
residential drug treatment, intensive inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, outpatient addiction
treatment, and non-drug treatment such as mental health services and trauma counseling. The
proportion of defendants assigned to multiple treatment modalities varies substantially by case type
(Table 19). In general, case types less likely to be referred to treatment (e.g., marijuana and traffic
cases) are also less likely to be assigned to multiple forms of treatment, while case types associated
with a higher level of treatment need (e.g., other drug offenses, prostitution) are more likely to be
assigned to multiple treatment modalities.
Table 19. Number of Treatment Modalities for RHCJC Defendants Mandated
to Long-Term Drug Treatment by Case Type, 2003 – 2009
Number of Treatment
Modalities
Case Type
1
2
3 or More
Number of Cases
Violent/Person/Weapon
79%
18%
3%
68
Marijuana
65
29
6
17
Other Drugs
47
23
30
401
Petit Larceny
67
11
22
27
Other Property
48
24
28
58
Prostitution
42
31
28
36
Public Order
45
20
35
83
Traffic
75
13
13
24
Felony
33
33
33
3
Other
80
0
20
5
All Case Types
52
22
26
722
Note: Modality data are missing for 246 additional defendants mandated to long-term
treatment between 2003 and 2009.

The Justice Center’s propensity to mandate defendants to multiple forms of treatment has
also varied over time (Table 20). In 2003, fewer than half of clinic-involved defendants received a
single treatment modality during the course of the mandate. This number rose to around two- thirds
in 2004 and 2005 and then fell to 40 percent by 2009.

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Table 20. Number of Treatment Modalities for RHCJC Defendants Mandated to Long-Term
Drug Treatment by Arraignment Year, 2003 – 2009
Number of Treatment Modalities
Case Type
1
2
3 or More
Number of Cases
2003
44%
20%
36%
104
2004
63%
17%
20%
114
2005
66%
20%
14%
128
2006
53%
21%
26%
121
2007
43%
33%
23%
90
2008
42%
20%
38%
85
2009
40%
28%
33%
80
All Years
52%
22%
26%
722
Note: Modality data are missing for 246 additional defendants mandated to long-term treatment between 2003 and
2009.

Table 21 shows the percentage of defendants with long-term drug treatment mandates
assigned to each treatment modality. Long-term outpatient drug treatment is the most common
modality, with nearly 70 percent of defendants assigned to this form of treatment while under court
mandate. Usage of other forms of treatment has fluctuated considerably over time. In 2004 and
2005—the same years in which the total number of treatment modalities per defendant fell— the
share of defendants receiving intensive detoxification and rehabilitation services fell by half. Usage
of these services rebounded in 2006 and peaked in 2008. The use of long-term inpatient treatment
has fallen over time, from 22 percent of defendants in 2003 to 8 percent in 2009, with a short-term
spike in 2004. At the same time, the percentage of defendants mandated to non-drug treatment
services has more than tripled since 2003, to 50 percent in 2009. Fluctuations over
time in the number and types of treatment modalities to which defendants are mandated may be
attributable to changes in clinic leadership as well as in the court’s overall philosophy regarding
treatment—for instance, the court’s recent interest in trauma as an underlying cause of addiction
appears to have increased the number of concurrent referrals to trauma counseling, and the court’s
gradual shift away from reliance on long-term inpatient treatment may be associated with increased
usage of short-term detoxification and rehabilitation programs. Changes in the types of services
mandated may also be associated with changes in the treatment programs available in the Red
Hook area.

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Table 21. Treatment Modality by Arraignment Year for RHCJC Defendants With Long-Term
Treatment Mandates, 2003 – 2009
Percentage of Defendants Assigned to Modality
Year
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
All Years

Detox
39%
19
23
36
38
51
33
33

Rehab
39%
19
15
31
30
39
31
28

Long-Term
Inpatient
22%
32
22
20
13
12
8
19

Long-Term
Outpatient
74%
67
66
70
72
64
71
69

Non-Drug
16%
20
23
17
28
31
50
25

n=722
Notes: Percentages for each year do not sum to 100 due to the use of multiple treatment modalities for some
defendants. Modality data are missing for 246 additional defendants mandated to long-term treatment between
2003 and 2009.

D. DRUG TREATMENT CASE OUTCOMES
Table 22 displays the available data regarding the completion of treatment mandates at
RHCJC. Fewer than half of defendants were recorded as successfully completing their mandates,
and this figure declined to less than 40 percent in 2007 and 2008.27 The apparently low completion
rate suggests that the court may not have sufficient leverage over defendants to motivate them to
fulfill the strict requirements of drug treatment programs—in other words, the threatened sentences
in the misdemeanor cases RHCJC handles may be too light to motivate compliance. It is believed
that even defendants who do not complete their mandates, however, may still benefit from
participating in treatment and interacting with the judge (Berman & Feinblatt 2005, 156-57).

The reliability of the completion data is questionable. It is unclear whether the terms “Closed—Other” and “Not
Closed” actually denote a failure to successfully complete the treatment mandate. The proportion of mandates
designated as “Not Closed” also appears high.
27

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Table 22. Final Status of Mandate by Arraignment Year for RHCJC Defendants with LongTerm Treatment Mandates, 2003 – 2008
Percentage of Defendants
Year
Completed
Failed
Closed-Other
Not Closed
2003
42%
21%
24%
13%
2004
49
23
12
16
2005
47
17
14
23
2006
48
13
13
27
2007
38
9
27
26
2008
34
20
11
36
All Years
44
18
17
22
n = 708
Note: Final status is missing for 139 additional defendants mandated to long-term treatment between 2003 and
2008.

Tables 23 and 24 explore the manner of case disposition for defendants with long-term
treatment mandates. The vast majority of clinic defendants plead guilty prior to entering treatment:
91 percent eventually enter a guilty plea, with 60 percent pleading guilty at arraignment (Table 23).
A small minority of cases are continued (1 percent at first disposition) or receive an ACD (4
percent at first disposition) while the defendant participates in treatment. At the conclusion of
treatment, charges are dismissed for more than one-third of defendants (34 percent, with an
additional 1 percent adjourned in contemplation of dismissal at the time of data collection). A
conviction is the final disposition for more than half of defendants who opt for treatment, and in 12
percent of cases a bench warrant is issued due to noncompliance with treatment or failure to appear
in court.
Table 23. Manner of Disposition for RHCJC Cases with Long-Term Treatment Mandates,
2003 – 2008
Percentage of Cases
Continued/Pending Convicted ACD Dismissed Warrant Issued
Arraignment
39%
60%
1%
0%
0%
First Disposition
1
91
4
4
0
Final Disposition
N/A
53
1
34
12
N/A: not applicable at this stage of case processing
n = 837

Table 24 breaks down the manner of final case disposition according to the status of the
treatment mandate. Although charges are dismissed for the majority of defendants who
successfully complete their treatment mandates, convictions remain on the records of more than

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one-third of these defendants. For defendants who do not successfully complete their mandates
(completion status recorded as Failed, Closed—Other, or Not Closed), the most common result is a
conviction or the issuance of a bench warrant.
Table 24. Manner of Final Disposition by Status of Mandate for RHCJC
Cases with Long-Term Treatment Mandates, 2003 – 2008
Percentage of Cases
Status of Mandate
Convicted
Dismissed/ACD
Warrant Issued
Completed
34%
64%
2%
Failed
77
3
20
Closed - Other
56
37
7
Not Closed
64
8
29
All Cases
52
36
12
n = 700

Table 25 compares the median time from arraignment to disposition for RHCJC cases with
and without long-term treatment mandates. Both the median time to first disposition (e.g., the entry
of a guilty plea) and the median time to final disposition are substantially longer for cases with
treatment mandates. The longer time to first disposition for treatment cases may be associated with
the amount of time required to complete an assessment and formulate a treatment plan in cases that
are not resolved at arraignment.28 The increased time to final disposition presumably results from
the amount of time defendants spend in treatment.
Table 25. Time to Disposition for RHCJC Cases,
2008 Dispositions
Median Time to Disposition (days)
With Long-Term
Treatment Mandate

Without Long- Term
Treatment Mandate

17

1

205

138

First
Disposition
Final
Disposition
n = 1,548

28

The increased time to first disposition for treatment cases does not, however, appear to result from any difference in
the proportion of cases that are disposed of at arraignment. Regardless of whether a treatment mandate was imposed,
about one-half of RHCJC cases with final dispositions in 2008 reached a disposition at arraignment.

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E. CONCLUSIONS: DRUG TREATMENT CASES
The Justice Center’s drug treatment program reaches a minority of defendants, and, as
intended, differs from the standard drug court model in some important respects. The program’s
highly individualized nature, however, has the potential to detract from its effectiveness.
Conclusion 1: Long-term drug treatment involves a small fraction of the Justice Center’s
overall caseload, but requires a large share of court resources.
Although only about 5 percent of defendants participate in a program of judicially
supervised drug treatment lasting 30 days or longer, these defendants consume a large share of
court resources, both inside and outside the courtroom. In Chapter 9, we examine whether this
investment of resources leads to a measurable impact on recidivism among defendants who have
participated in drug treatment.
Conclusion 2: The Justice Center’s drug treatment program is highly individualized in
comparison with typical programs of judicially supervised treatment, but this relative lack of
structure carries risks for the program’s effectiveness.
As compared with the traditional drug court paradigm, the Justice Center’s drug treatment
program is designed to be highly individualized. Eligibility determinations are made on a case-bycase basis. Each treatment mandate is tailored to the defendant’s needs and circumstances. The
definition of compliance is not uniform, and there are no formal guidelines for the administration
of sanctions and rewards. Recordkeeping in treatment cases is limited to narrative descriptions of
the defendant’s progress. RHCJC treatment participants do not regularly interact with one another,
as there are no court-affiliated treatment programs or support groups, and participants are not
required to attend court together during a dedicated treatment docket.
Although this flexibility allows the court the freedom to offer treatment in a wide range of
cases and to adapt its treatment program to meet defendants’ individual needs, the program’s loose
structure may lessen its effectiveness, as defendants lack a clear understanding of the program
requirements as well as the consequences for meeting or failing to meet those requirements. The
Justice Center should work with the DA’s office and attorneys from the Legal Aid Society to
develop a set of written policies and operating procedures for long-term drug treatment, as well as a
handbook for defendants with long-term treatment mandates. These policies should include a
standard definition of compliance with the treatment mandate and graduated list of possible
sanctions for noncompliance. Increased standardization of policies will enable the court to
communicate expectations and potential consequences to defendants more clearly, potentially
improving compliance. The RHCJC clinic should also expand its recordkeeping in drug treatment
cases to include detailed quantitative data regarding program attendance, court attendance, and the
results of drug tests, and make these data available to the judge and other participants in the list
meeting. Improved communication regarding the defendant’s compliance history will facilitate
judicial decision-making regarding sanctions and incentives, and will enhance the court’s ability to
analyze the effectiveness of the drug treatment program. Finally, RHCJC should make efforts to

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ensure that defendants in long- term drug treatment appear in court on a dedicated treatment docket
so that they may benefit from observing their peers’ interactions with the judge, as well as from
developing mutually supportive relationships.29

The judge currently tends to schedule these appearances so as not to interfere with the defendant’s employment and
other commitments, an approach that also has advantages.
29

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CHAPTER 8. FAMILY COURT
The family court component of the Red Hook Community Justice Center is an important
part of its multi-jurisdictional mission, created in response to specific needs of the youth population
of Red Hook as identified by Red Hook residents during the planning process. The RHCJC family
court part hears juvenile delinquency cases involving youth aged 15 or younger at the time of
arrest. RHCJC does not hear other types of family court cases, such as child protective, custody, or
support proceedings.
A. HISTORY OF THE RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER FAMILY COURT
The Justice Center began hearing juvenile delinquency cases in April 2001, one year after
the opening of the criminal court. The later implementation date for the family court was part of an
overall plan to phase in family court and housing court operations after the RHCJC criminal court
was operating smoothly. According to Adam Mansky from the Center for Court Innovation (CCI),
planning for inclusion of family court cases began at the earliest stages of development for the
RHCJC:
“The intention to include family court cases and make the Justice Center multijurisdictional and include juvenile delinquency cases dates to the earliest stages of
planning . . . and can be attributed to the interests of the community; an interest in
testing out the concept of a multijurisdictional court; and pragmatic opportunities”
(Adam Mansky, personal communication, February 2012).
As part of the planning process for the RHCJC, the Jefferson Institute for Justice Studies
conducted a series of focus groups in the Red Hook neighborhood. It was clear that including
juvenile delinquency cases in the court’s jurisdiction would address many of the concerns residents
raised. During the course of the focus groups, participants were asked, “What would you like to
happen if a 14-year old is selling [drugs] (even selling to his parents) and is brought into the justice
center?” Participants tended to favor a “case management” response:
“I would like a real case management model so the kid doesn’t have to go through
80 million people to start, and you have someone who is looking at him as a whole
human being, including spiritual, whatever. What is going on with this human being
now? Why is he here? What are his needs? How do we begin to address them? So
we talk about jobs. We also may need to talk about education. Some people already
have a college education. You’re trying to help them step out a little bit. You have
somebody who may need the basic skill education. So you’re really looking at all of
that, looking at the family. Is there a way to bring the family in? I think that is the
key to any other work we’ve done. You can’t just look at it as the criminal element.”
“I think that case management could be used in the community court as a focal point
of stopping the child from going further into the system. If there was the right kind

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of intervention, you might have a team of case managers who would work with you.
You might even have someone who has been in the criminal justice system to assist
you.” (Jacoby and Ratledge 1994).
In addition to concerns about juvenile crime, focus group participants articulated a strong
desire for the Justice Center to provide positive opportunities for youth. Failure to address both
issues would prevent the RHCJC from achieving its full value to Red Hook residents. The
RHCJC’s Youth Court and other positive youth development programs piloted by CCI were
designed to respond to the community’s interest in proactive youth programming and to provide
balance to the RHCJCs interactions with neighborhood youth. The Justice Center planners also
took advantage of the opportunity presented by the RHCJC to test important concepts about multijurisdictional courts:
From the beginning of my involvement in Red Hook, the Center's planners, John
Feinblatt, Greg Berman and Michele Sviridoff, spoke of the artificiality of dividing
families and even individuals up by New York's dysfunctional court jurisdictions.
The concern was that the challenges of the court process would be compounded in a
system where one family of litigants could be whipsawed back and forth between
criminal, family and housing courts -- from a situation that could potentially have
arisen from one set of facts (Adam Mansky, personal communication, February
2012).
A single judge hearing different types of cases would provide a potential remedy to this
situation. Theoretically, such a judge would have more complete information about defendants and
their families than a single-jurisdiction judge, and would consequently be in a position to make
more informed decisions. This approach reflects one of the central tenets of problem-solving
courts, that judges should have sufficient information to make informed decisions that will promote
effective outcomes.
The Justice Center planners also saw the incorporation of a family court component into the
RHCJC as an opportunity to demonstrate the general applicability of community courts and
problem-solving justice beyond low-level adult criminal matters. Supporters within the judiciary
hoped that the RHCJC would demonstrate the value of a multi-jurisdictional court over the
artificially separated status quo. Finally, the inclusion of juvenile delinquency cases was intended
to help ensure a sufficient caseload to support the placement of a full-time judge in Red Hook.
In the spirit of a demonstration project, CCI intended the RHCJC family court to be
significantly different from its business-as-usual alternative, the Kings County Family Court in
downtown Brooklyn. Specifically, there would be:
• Increased use of “adjustment” (diversion): In New York City, youth arrested on juvenile
delinquency charges are first interviewed by a probation officer to determine eligibility
for “adjustment,” or diversion without the filing of a court case. According to CCI
management, at the time when RHCJC began to hear family court cases, about 10 percent

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of juvenile delinquency cases referred to the probation department citywide were
adjusted; the remainder were referred to the New York City Corporation Counsel for
prosecution in family court. CCI felt that the proportion of cases adjusted could be
increased by locating a probation officer in the Justice Center, in close proximity to youth
social workers and other social service providers.
It was hoped that this arrangement would encourage information-sharing and a sense of
shared purpose, consequently increasing the probation officer’s confidence in the
capabilities of the social workers to whom the adjusted cases would be assigned. Greater
confidence would, in turn, encourage the probation officer to adjust cases more
frequently. This scenario unfolded as anticipated. From the start, the RHCJC family court
generated adjustment rates considerably higher than in the rest of the city -- often as high
as 50 percent. This high adjustment rate, in conjunction with robust services and
supervision provided to the adjusted cases, enabled RHCJC to demonstrate that
adjustment was a less restrictive, more meaningful option than adjudication. The success
of this approach at the RHCJC family court may have encouraged the New York City
Department of Probation to increase the use of adjustment across the entire city (Adam
Mansky, personal communication, February 2012).
• Increased use of youth and family services: Along with the efforts to increase the use of
adjustment, the RHCJC family court was also designed to process more serious cases than
the Justice Center’s adult criminal court part. This required the provision of an enhanced
set of services. The juvenile clinic, with its staff of specially trained social workers, was
intended to promote greater use of social services by the court and to be a resource for the
judge and court. Each juvenile respondent is assessed by the clinic, then provided with a
range of service mandates, including education support, social programs (including youth
court), and – in a feature rarely found in traditional family court settings – family
services. Family services were intended to provide assistance to the larger family unit,
rather than just to the child who ended up in court. The on-site provision of family
services was designed to encourage cultural change in the court and to promote the
provision of services to other types of cases as well. In the course of its efforts to
individualize the provision of services, the Justice Center developed its own clinical
assessments and protocols to enable client needs to be matched with services. The RHCJC
family court has consistently strived to provide a therapeutic approach, a philosophy
counter to the prevailing juvenile justice culture in 2000, a time when some academics
(see e.g., Diulio, 1995) raised the alarm about an impending “explosion” of juvenile crime
and "wolf packs" of young malefactors terrorizing neighborhoods. CCI management also
reported that an important component of this approach is the handiwork of the judge who
gets to know the young people -- and their families -- better than most stakeholders in a
traditional court setting. On-site case management services for the family court were
initially provided by Good Shepherd Services. Youth clinic services were eventually
taken over by the RHCJC clinic, then separated from adult clinical services and placed
within the purview of the director of community and youth justice. The unification of
youth clinic services and other youth programs under a single manager was one of the

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Justice Center’s first steps in implementing the positive youth justice model for juvenile
delinquency interventions (Butts, Bazemore, and Meroe 2010). As implementation of the
model progresses, the youth clinic is also expected to take over case management for
criminal court defendants aged 16 and 17.
• Better compliance monitoring: The usage of an on-site clinic to monitor compliance with
all terms of the court mandate encourages accountability. In addition to increasing
respondents’ compliance with the mandate, these efforts are intended to foster confidence
in the use of social services on the part of the judge, the presentment agency, and the
defense attorney.
B. FAMILY COURT PROCESS
Family courts in the state of New York have jurisdiction over a variety of case types,
including child abuse and neglect, juvenile delinquency, persons in need of supervision, adoption,
guardianship, foster care, custody and visitation, family offenses/domestic violence, paternity,
support, and consent to marry. Due in part to the Justice Center’s finite resources, the Red Hook
family court part hears only juvenile delinquency cases. Juvenile delinquents are persons over
seven and less than 16 years of age (at the time of arrest) who have committed an act that would
constitute a crime if committed by an adult. In practice, the youngest family court respondents
appearing at the Justice Center are 12 years of age.
Only youth arrested in the 76th, 72nd, and 78th police precincts who are also not held in
custody are eligible for processing at the RHCJC. Youth who are detained, either because the
arresting officer was unable to contact a parent or because the youth is deemed to pose a risk to
public safety, are sent to the Kings County Family Court in downtown Brooklyn. Youth arrested
for sex offenses, gang initiations, and/or high-level felonies are not eligible for processing at
RHCJC. If a youth arrested in the catchment area has an existing case pending before the Kings
County Family Court in downtown Brooklyn, the new arrest is processed downtown rather than at
RHCJC. In addition, both Corporation Counsel and the probation officer stationed at Red Hook
have the discretion to route other types of delinquency cases downtown based upon to individual
circumstances.
Figure 6 (Center for Court Innovation 2011) provides a schematic of caseflow through the
RHCJC family court. A case begins with the issuance of a Desk Appearance Ticket (DAT) by a
police officer to a youth suspected of committing a delinquent act in the catchment area. As shown
in Table 26, between 101 and 162 new juvenile arrests were referred to the RHCJC each year
between 2002 and 2007.

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Figure 6: Red Hook Family Court Case Flow

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Table 26. Juvenile Arrests Referred to RHCJC Family Court and
Percent Attempted Adjustment, 2002-20071
Year
New Juvenile Arrests
% Attempted Adjustment
2002
144
28%
2003
162
27
2
2004
104
52
2005
101
62
2006
162
41
2007
162
33
1

Compiled from the Red Hook Community Justice Center Quarterly, SemiAnnual, and Annual Reports 2003-2007.
2
Does not include second quarter due to change in record-keeping system.

As shown in Figure 6, youth referred to the family court by means of a DAT subsequently
report to the RHCJC probation officer for an intake interview. At this point, the probation officer
may choose to “adjust” the case, or resolve it informally without court action. An adjusted case
may be held open for up to four months while the youth fulfills requirements set by the probation
officer. These requirements may include family and youth counseling, drug treatment, community
service, mediation, conflict resolution programs, participation in Youth Court, and the RHYTHM
drug abuse prevention program.30 Data from RHCJC reports for the years 2002-2006 indicate that
the most common adjustment requirements were Youth Court, RHYTHM, and community service.
Adjustment is attempted in a large share of juvenile delinquency cases referred to the RHCJC
family court (see Table 26). As shown in Table 27, adjustment attempts were successful at annual
rates that varied from 51 to 90 percent between 2002 and 2007.

Year
2002
2003
20041
2005
2006
2007

Table 27. Adjustment Outcomes
Total Adjustment Outcomes
Percentage Successfully Adjusted
42
86%
37
88
79
90
40
78
62
69
45
51

1

Does not include second quarter due to change in record-keeping system.

If the youth fails to complete the adjustment requirements, or if the probation officer
determines that the case is too serious for adjustment, the case is referred to the New York City
Law Department, also known as Corporation Counsel. After reviewing the case for legal
30

Red Hook Youth Together in Harmony and Motivation (RHYTHM) is a five-session youth-centered drug prevention
program, run at RHCJC by Phoenix House staff, focusing on consequential thinking and goal setting.

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sufficiency and appropriateness for the RHCJC family court, Corporation Counsel may elect to file
the case in family court at RHCJC or in downtown Brooklyn, or may decline to present the case. 31
Over the period 2002-2005, around 100 Law Department actions were taken annually, with about
half resulting in a referral to the RHCJC family court (see Table 28). A large proportion of cases
arising in the catchment area were filed in downtown Brooklyn rather than at Red Hook.
Table 28. Law Department Actions Taken 2002-2005
Year
2002
2003
20042
2005
1
2

Law Department
Actions Taken1
72
117
122
84

% Declined to Present
10%
20
8
4

% Filed at
RHCJC
53%
43
53
53

% Filed at
Downtown
38%
38
47
47

Includes activities on cases initiated before and during the year.
Does not include second quarter due to change in record-keeping system

The total number of juvenile delinquency cases resulting in a court filing at RHCJC is quite
small (Table 29). The number of filings increased from 2002-2004 to an annual peak of 62 and
then declined sharply. Although data are not available for 2008 and subsequent years, anecdotal
information from the process evaluation interviews confirms that annual filings have remained low
since 2007.
Table 29. Law Department Filings to RHCJC 2002-2007
Year
Number of Filings at RHCJC
2002
38
2003
50
1
2004
62
2005
30
2006
42
2007
21
1

Does not include second quarter due to change in record-keeping system

After the petition is filed, the respondent is assigned a Legal Aid attorney and arraigned in
court. The case is held in a pre-fact-finding status, meaning that the respondent has not entered a
plea and the court has not determined whether the respondent committed the alleged act of
delinquency. The shorter time to filing enables RHCJC to provide offenders with services more
quickly than its business-as-usual alternative.

31

Reasons why a catchment area case might be filed downtown instead of at the Justice Center include the existence of
a pending case against the youth or a co-respondent in Kings County Family Court, the severity of the charges, and
concerns about the length of time required to dispose of a family court case at RHCJC.

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Following arraignment, the respondent undergoes a comprehensive assessment by RHCJC
clinic staff. In 2011, the juvenile clinic adopted an evidence-informed screening and assessment
process it developed in consultation with the Vera Institute of Justice Family Justice Program. The
new process was adopted to make the assessment process more “strengths-based” than previous
assessment protocols, which tended to be more “deficit-based.” Deficit-based approaches focus on
management of risk factors while strengths-based approaches focus on strategies that support
healthy development in the face of adversity (“resilience”) and provide youth with positive
opportunities to learn, serve, and benefit from their interactions with pro-social adults and
communities (Butts et. al. 2010).
The assessment process begins with the Diagnostic Predictive Scale (DPS). The DPS is a
validated mental health and substance abuse screening tool that was initially adopted by two
alternative-to-detention programs that CCI runs for youth facing delinquency charges in Queens
and Staten Island (see Figure 6). If the DPS screening indicates that additional assessments are
warranted to investigate issues related to substance abuse, mental health, and/or trauma, the clinic
conducts these assessments.
Following the DPS and any additional assessments, each youth is interviewed by a case
manager while his or her parents are interviewed by the clinic director. Two tools known as
“Genograms” (McGoldrick, Gerson, and Petry 2008) and “Ecomapping,” (Harthman 1978) are
used to perform a strengths-based assessment. The Genogram maps out the youth’s family history,
focusing on strengths, risks, and relationships. It provides details about family members and
relatives on matters such as current or prior incarceration, mental health problems, employment
status, level of education, history of trauma, whether parents live together or are separated, and
whether the youth has relatives who are business owners. It includes both biological and stepparent family histories. The Ecomap identifies the youth’s “extended family” of extra-familial
social connections including schools and teachers, counselors, after-school programs, friends, and
other non-biological associates.
The clinicians use the information from both phases of the assessment to develop
recommendations that form the basis for a 120-day contract that the youth and his or her family
will review with clinic staff (see Figure 6). The contract specifies the terms of the recommended
court mandate, which may include drug treatment, counseling, a curfew, and monitoring of school
attendance. Once the youth and his or her family have approved the contract, it is presented in court
to the judge, Corporation Counsel, and the youth’s attorney. The clinic’s recommendations carry
considerable weight in making decisions about the case and are generally unchallenged, although
the judge frequently makes marginal adjustments. Upon approval by all parties, the contract is
signed and implemented.
Once a contract is signed, the case is turned over to a clinic case manager. The youth meets
with the case manager on a weekly basis to discuss progress toward successful completion of the
contract, as well as toward other relevant goals not being monitored by the court. The case manager
also meets with the youth’s family every two weeks. Each RHCJC youth case manager typically
carries a caseload of about eight youth. Case management during the pre-fact-finding stage focuses

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on using the “power of positive factors to overcome the negative.” “Supportive Inquiry” (similar to
Motivational Interviewing) is used by the case manager, who invites the youth to imagine a
different set of outcomes than his or her current circumstances and to take steps to realize them.
The youth is asked “miracle questions” (e.g., “What would an ideal family look like? An ideal
school?”) to help him or her conceptualize different outcomes. “Scaling Questions” are used to
help the youth assess how close he or she is to the “ideal” situation. “Resilience Questions” are
used to determine previous instances during which the youth displayed resilience, and the youth is
asked to consider how he or she can use these experiences to address current problems. Additional
services may be ordered as needed.
The youth is also required to appear periodically before the judge to report on his or her
progress on the conditions in the contract. Family court is usually held on Tuesdays between
2:30 and 5:30 or 6:00 p.m. Hearings are preceded by a recently implemented case conferencing
meeting. The case conferencing meeting includes clinic staff, the probation officer, Corporation
Counsel, Legal Aid attorneys, and the judge. During this meeting, the team discusses family court
cases, and responses to non-compliance are formulated using a newly developed list of graduated
sanctions. At the Justice Center, family court participants appear on average about 15 times in front
of the judge, in contrast to an average of seven appearances for juvenile delinquency respondents in
Kings County Family Court, suggesting greater supervision for the former than the latter group (see
Table 27 for the details). If the youth successfully fulfills the terms of the contract, the case is
settled by an ACD (Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal) or a CD (Conditional Discharge).
As shown in Figure 6, the case manager and the youth will then create an aftercare plan focusing
on education, employment, and ongoing family and community connections. If the youth does not
successfully meet the contract conditions, the youth may be admitted to a residential treatment
facility or otherwise placed in alternative programming. Following release, the case manager and
the youth will create an aftercare plan.
As shown in Table 30, juvenile delinquency cases tend to be filed more quickly at RHCJC
than in Kings County Family Court, but remain open for a longer period of time.32 From 2002
through 2007 (see Table 30), the average time from arrest to filing was about 27 days in RHCJC
juvenile delinquency cases, in contrast with nearly 62 days for similar juvenile delinquency cases
filed downtown. The New York Family Court Act requires Corporation Counsel to bring the case
to court and obtain a finding (case disposition) within 60 days of filing. The shorter time to filing
enables RHCJC to provide offenders with services more quickly than its business-as-usual
alternative. In the downtown family court, a plea is taken at arraignment. If the respondent pleads
not guilty, a fact-finding hearing is held to determine whether the respondent committed the alleged
delinquent acts. If the defendant pleads guilty or is found to be delinquent, a disposition hearing is
held to determine whether the youth should be placed on probation, sent to an out-of-home
32

All comparisons between the Red Hook Community Justice Center and Kings County Family Court rely on the
comparison data set described in Chapter 2, Section B.2.b. The data set includes records of 102 juvenile delinquency
cases processed at the Justice Center and 102 juvenile delinquency cases processed at Kings County Family Court in
downtown Brooklyn. All respondents were arrested between 2006 and 2008. To eliminate any selection bias resulting
from differences between the types of cases or respondents processed at the two courts, propensity score matching was
used to select the cases in the Kings County Family Court group.

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placement, ordered to participate in services, or returned home. Services are provided following the
disposition hearing, and are typically supervised by the probation department rather than by the
judge.
In Red Hook, in contrast, juvenile respondents receiving court-mandated services have their
cases held in a pre-fact-finding stage for an extended period of time, and are supervised by the
court rather than the probation department. Consequently, the time average from arrest to
disposition for RHCJC cases (235 days) was considerably longer than the time required for similar
downtown cases (116 days), as shown in Table 30.
Although RHCJC respondents typically waive the time requirement, the lengthy time to
disposition at Red Hook may contribute to the Law Department’s apparent reluctance to file
juvenile delinquency cases at RHCJC. Another potential concern is that the longer a case remains
open, the greater the chances are that the respondent will be re-arrested while under court
supervision, jeopardizing the “favorable resolution” of the original case promised in the family
court contract in exchange for the successful completion of the mandate. To ameliorate these
concerns, the Justice Center recently adopted a 120-day limit on family court contracts.

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Table 30. Family Court Case Processing Statistics, 2006-20081
Sample
Court
Red Hook Status
Red Hook Downtown
N Sample
102
102
N Convicted (Initial disp)
33
41
CASE PROCESSING
Days, arrest to filing
Days, arrest to disposition
Number of appearances

27.4***
235.3***
15.0***

61.8
116.1
6.83

DISPOSITION
Disposition type
Pled guilty/convicted
Case dismissed
Adjourned in contemplation of dismissal
Settled or withdrawn

***
32%
6%
30%
31%

40%
21%
28%
11%

SENTENCE
Sentence type (if convicted)
Placement
Probation
Conditional Discharge

28%
39%
33%

22%
57%
22%

+p<.10,* p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.
1
Red Hook and Downtown samples after propensity score matching.

In some cases, the RHCJC clinic may not offer a treatment recommendation, and no family
court contract is implemented. Such cases follow the traditional family court process and proceed
directly to fact-finding and disposition hearings, sometimes combined. Likewise, if the youth does
not successfully meet the contract conditions, the traditional family court process is followed. The
youth may be admitted to a residential treatment facility or otherwise placed in alternative
programming. Following release, the case manager and the youth will create an aftercare plan.
Fact-finding hearings, however, are rare events in the RHCJC family court (see Table 31).

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Table 31. Fact-Finding Hearings at the
RHCJC Family Court
Year
Number of Fact-finding Hearings
2008
3
2009
9
2010
5
2011
1

As shown in Table 30, about one-third of juvenile respondents whose cases were processed
at RHCJC between 2002 and 2007 pled guilty or were convicted, about one-third had their cases
adjourned in contemplation of dismissal (ACD), about one-third had their cases settled or
withdrawn, and a handful had their cases dismissed. Many of the non-conviction dispositions likely
occurred after the respondent successfully completed the requirements of the court mandate.
Downtown, 40 percent of respondents pled guilty or were convicted, with the remainder receiving
a dismissal, ACD, settlement, or withdrawal.
Several differences in the nature of sentences pronounced on adjudicated delinquents
emerged between the two courts and though none of these differences were statistically significant,
they nonetheless reflect real differences between the philosophies of the two courts. RHCJC was
more likely than the downtown court to sentence respondents to out-of-home placement (28
percent of convictions versus 22 percent). On the other hand, RHCJC was also more likely to
sentence respondents to a conditional discharge (33 percent versus 22 percent) and less likely to
sentence respondents to probation (39 percent versus 57 percent). It thus appears that the Kings
County Family Court relies more heavily on the probation department to provide supervision and
services to juvenile respondents than does the Justice Center, which seems more inclined to
become directly involved in the provision of supervision and services, both in the pre-fact-finding
stage and related to conditional discharges.
C. FAMILY COURT PARTICIPANTS
Table 32 shows the distribution of charges for the 162 new juvenile delinquency arrests
referred to the Justice Center in 2007, the only full year that such data was reported in CCI
statistical reports (see Table 32). While 22 percent of the charges for the new arrests were not
recorded, the most frequent charges were assault, theft/larceny, burglary, and criminal mischief.

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Table 32. Charges for New Juvenile Arrests
Referred to RHCJC Family Court
Charges
# Charged % of Arrested
Criminal Mischief
21
13%
Theft/Larceny
28
17
Burglary
22
14
Assault
34
21
Graffiti
15
9
Marijuana
7
4
Not Reported
35
22
Total
162
100

Regarding the severity of these charges, 37 percent were felonies, 42 percent Class A
misdemeanors, and seven percent Class B misdemeanor charges, with severity not reported for 14
percent (Table 33).
Table 33. Severity of Juvenile Charges, 2007
Severity
Percentage of Charges
Class A Misdemeanor
42%
Class B Misdemeanor
7
Felony
37
Not Recorded
14

Table 34 compares demographics, criminal history, and current charges for Red Hook and
downtown family court respondents, before propensity score matching. The unmatched downtown
sample is used in order to provide a valid comparison of the types of cases and respondents that are
processed in each court.33

33

Propensity score matching is used to compensate for any differences between the samples in terms of baseline
characteristics, in order to avoid bias in the analysis of impacts such as sentencing and recidivism. Here, we wish to
analyze the differences in baseline characteristics rather than impacts, so it is appropriate to use the full downtown
sample instead of the matched sample.

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Table 34. Red Hook Family Court Baseline Measures, 2006-2008
Sample:
Original
Red Hook Status:
RH
Downtown
Number of Cases
102
493
DEMOGRAPHICS
Female
Age
Mean age
Age categories
12
13
14
15
Race
Black
Hispanic
White/Other
CRIMINAL HISTORY
Prior Arrests
Prior Arrest?
Prior Felony Arrests
Prior Felony Arrest?
Prior Misdemeanor Arrests
Prior Misdemeanor Arrest?
Prior VFO Arrests
Prior VFO Arrest?
Prior Robbery Arrests
Prior Robbery Arrest?
CURRENT CRIMINAL CASE
Arrest Charges
Arrest Charge type
Assault
Robbery
Other property related
Drugs or Marijuana

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0.25

0.22

14.27

14.27

4%
13%
35%
58%

4%
17%
28%
51%

56%
34%
10%

74%
18%
8%

0.37***
24%***
0.19***
15%***
0.19***
15%***
0.11***
10%***
0.06***
6%***

0.89
46%
0.47
29%
0.41
29%
0.28
19%
0.18
13%

30%
20%
27%
12%

30%
25%
24%
10%

118

Weapons
Other
Arrest Severity

8%
4%
*
Sample:
Red Hook Status:

Felony?
Arraignment Charge
Assault
Robbery
Other property related
Drugs or Marijuana
Weapons
Other
Arraignment Severity
Felony?
Disposition Judge
Judge Calabrese
Judge A
Judge B
Judge C
Judge D
Other Judge

8%
4%

Original
RH
Downtown
44%
53%
**
33%
30%
14%
32%
29%
17%
12%
10%
8%
7%
4%
3%
0.23***
***
100%
0%
0%
0%
0%
0%

43%
0%
29%
23%
22%
25%
2%

The age and gender distributions of respondents in the two samples are very similar. Justice
Center respondents, however, were less likely to be African-American and more likely to be
Hispanic than downtown family court respondents. Also, before propensity-based adjustment,
juvenile offenders processed by the Justice Center had less extensive offense histories across the
board than their downtown counterparts. Differences in the probability of and the number of prior
arrests, felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests, violent felony arrests, and robbery arrests were all
highly significant, demonstrating that Justice Center participants possess significantly less serious
offense histories than do their downtown counterparts. About 24 percent of the Justice Center
reported a prior arrest, 15 percent reported felony and misdemeanor arrests, 10 percent reported a
prior violent felony arrest, and six percent a prior robbery arrest.
Assault, other property-related offenses, robbery, and drugs or marijuana were, in that
order, the most frequently occurring offenses at arraignment for juvenile offenders processed at the
Justice Center. With slight differences in some offense categories, the data in Table 34 are
generally consistent with that reported in the 2007 statistical report. The pattern for the downtown
sample was similar except that a much larger proportion of cases were arraigned for robbery (the
second most frequently occurring downtown category) and fewer for “other property-related” (the

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third most frequently occurring downtown category). Table 34 also shows that nearly 23 percent of
the arraignment charges at the Red Hook were for felonies, a significantly smaller proportion than
reported for the downtown family court. This suggests that police and Corporation Counsel are
using their discretion to make sure that more serious cases are being filed in the downtown family
court.
Further insight into the characteristics of juvenile delinquency respondents at Red Hook can
be obtained by looking at data from the RHCJC youth clinic database covering January 2009
through April 2010, providing information on 34 youth referred for a clinic assessment following
arraignment on delinquency charges. Their average age was 14.8 years (ranging from 12 to 16
years, with a modal age of 15 years), and 77 percent were male. The majority of these youth were
African American/Black (53 percent), followed next in frequency by Latino Americans (38.2
percent), while the remaining 8.8 percent were White/Caucasian. Additionally, 46 percent of the
juveniles (29 reporting data) lived in public housing and one-half were from families who rely
upon public assistance for their incomes (30 reporting data).
At intake, 62 percent were enrolled in high school, 35.3 percent in middle school, and only
one (2.9 percent) was not in school. Most were enrolled in ninth grade (52.9 percent), followed by
eighth grade (23.5 percent), though grade levels varied from sixth through tenth. Around 79 percent
of juveniles were described as “chronically disengaged” with school at intake.
All juvenile respondents in this group received an assessment from the juvenile clinic.
Three of the 34 received short-term mediation services. Long-term services were more plentiful. At
least one long-term service was received by 79 percent of the juveniles (Table 35). Most received
outpatient mental health services, while one in four received drug treatment. About one in four
received curfew monitoring, and less than 20 percent went to residential placements. Comparable
information on services received is not available for juvenile respondents whose cases were
processed downtown.
Table 35. Type of Long-Term Services Received by
RHCJC Clinic Referrals, 2009-2010
% Receiving
Service1
Type of Service
Outpatient Mental Health Services
56%
Drug Treatment
27
Curfew Monitoring
24
Residential Treatment
18
Education Advocacy
15
Extra Curricular/After-School
9
1

Percentages do not total to 100 percent because juveniles can
receive multiple services.

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D. CONCLUSIONS: FAMILY COURT
The Justice Center’s family court increases the use of diversion and the availability of
youth and family services in juvenile delinquency cases, although there are issues regarding the
coverage of juvenile delinquents from the Red Hook neighborhood and the timeliness of case
dispositions.
Conclusion 1: The Justice Center has succeeded in increasing the use of pre-filing
diversion and the availability of youth and family services in juvenile delinquency cases.
The success of the Justice Center and its partners in the probation department in adjusting
(diverting) juvenile delinquency cases has helped to inspire the increased use of adjustment in
juvenile delinquency cases throughout New York City. All youth whose juvenile delinquency cases
are heard at the Justice Center have access to a wide range of social services, including family
services.
Conclusion 2: The Justice Center’s family court and youth clinic reach only a small number
of youth whose juvenile delinquency cases are not diverted.
Only about one-half of juvenile cases arising in the RHCJC catchment area that are referred
for prosecution end up being filed at the Justice Center, with the remainder being filed in Kings
County Family Court in downtown Brooklyn. This makes it difficult to conclude that the family
court is achieving its core goal of retaining and treating juvenile offenders in the local community.
The small number of juvenile delinquency cases processed at the Justice Center is also problematic
in light of the concentration of resources, such as the juvenile clinic, devoted to these cases. To
increase family court caseloads, Justice Center leaders should work with the New York City Law
Department to identify and mitigate obstacles to the filing of juvenile delinquency cases at Red
Hook, including the length of time required to achieve a final case disposition.

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CHAPTER 9: IMPACT ON RECIDIVISM AND ARRESTS
The two previous chapters conclude that the Red Hook Community Justice Center has been
implemented largely according to plan, achieving its goals of increasing the certainty of
meaningful sanctions for misdemeanor offenses, enhancing perceptions of procedural justice, and
forging strong ties with the Red Hook community. This chapter examines whether these activities
have resulted in the intended changes in the behavior of offenders and potential offenders. It seeks
to answer the following questions:
1. Recidivism: As compared with traditional courts, has the Justice Center reduced the
incidence of reoffending among adult criminal defendants and juvenile delinquency
respondents?
2. Neighborhood Crime: Has the Justice Center contributed to an overall reduction in
crime in its catchment area?
In addressing the first question, this evaluation takes a quasi-experimental approach that
compares cases processed at the Justice Center with similar cases processed in Kings County
Criminal Court (adult misdemeanor cases) or Kings County Family Court (juvenile delinquency
cases). Propensity score adjustments were used to ensure that the Red Hook and comparison group
samples were comparable in terms of baseline characteristics such as demographics (age, race, and
sex), criminal history, and current charges. The recidivism analysis was conducted using survival
analysis techniques, which focus on the length of time from arraignment to case disposition. To
investigate the Justice Center’s influence on the overall level of crime in the catchment area,
Bayesian change point analysis was used to examine arrest trends in the catchment area and the
adjacent police precincts.
A. RECIDIVISM ANALYSIS: CRIMINAL COURT
One way in which the Red Hook Community Justice Center seeks to reduce crime in the
community is by reducing recidivism among defendants. This evaluation uses a simple comparison
of re-arrest rates as well as two forms of survival analysis to examine the impact of case processing
at RHCJC on the risk of recidivism among adult misdemeanor defendants. The data also allow us
to test some of our hypotheses about the mechanisms through which RHCJC brings about any
reduction in recidivism, including the deterrence hypothesis and the community connections prong
of the legitimacy hypothesis. The data show that RHCJC appears to reduce the two-year recidivism
rate among adult criminal defendants by 10 percent in comparison with similarly situated
defendants prosecuted in a traditional misdemeanor court. The survival analysis reveals that
RHCJC defendants face a lower risk of recidivism than comparable defendants whose cases are
processed in a traditional court, but fails to lend any support to either the deterrence hypothesis or
the community connections hypothesis. The process evaluation and ethnographic analysis point to
procedural justice as the most plausible alternative explanation for RHCJC’s impact on recidivism.
1. Data

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The criminal court recidivism analysis relies upon the comparison data set described in
Chapter 2, Section B(2)(a). The data set includes records of 1,564 cases processed at the Justice
Center and 1,563 cases processed at the Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn, all
of which reached a final disposition in 2008. All defendants were arrested in the catchment area
and arraigned on misdemeanor charges. To compensate for any differences in the types of
defendants or cases processed at the two courts, a propensity score adjustment was implemented.34
2. Measuring Recidivism
The two most commonly used measures of recidivism are re-arrest and reconviction. For
purposes of this evaluation, recidivism is defined as the occurrence of a new arrest. Re-arrest is a
broader measure of recidivism than reconviction, as not all arrests result in convictions. In some
cases, the charges are dropped because there is insufficient evidence that the defendant committed
a crime (Ostrom et al. 2002, 60). In many misdemeanor cases, however, the charges are dismissed
for reasons other than a lack of evidence, such the defendant’s completion of an alternative
sanction or avoidance of re-arrest for a specified period of time. For example, of the combined
RHCJC and downtown defendants in the final impact analysis sample, only 50 percent were
convicted in the original criminal case; 30 percent of defendants’ cases were adjourned in
contemplation of dismissal (ACD), and 21 percent of defendants had their charges dismissed
outright (n = 3,127; percentages do not add to 100 due to rounding). In order to capture as many
actual recidivistic events as possible, we therefore chose to use re-arrest rather than reconviction as
the measure of recidivism.
3. One-Year and Two-Year Re-Arrest Outcomes
a. All Defendants
Table 36 compares the percentage of RHCJC and downtown defendants in the final sample
who were re-arrested within one year and two years after arraignment on the initial offense. Over a
one-year period, RHCJC defendants appeared less likely to be re-arrested than the downtown
sample (28 percent vs. 31 percent), and were also arrested fewer times on average (0.57 vs. 0.66).
These differences were statistically significant at the .10 level, but not at the .05 level.
Over a two-year period, differences in recidivism between RHCJC and downtown court
defendants were somewhat larger and reached statistical significance at the traditional .05 level.
RHCJC defendants were significantly less likely than downtown defendants to be re-arrested (36
percent vs. 40 percent) and averaged significantly fewer re-arrests (0.95 vs. 1.16). RHCJC
defendants were also significantly less likely to have a misdemeanor re-arrest (28 percent vs. 34
percent), a violent felony re-arrest (5 percent vs. 8 percent), a violent misdemeanor re-arrest (8
34

See Appendix A for details on the calculation of propensity scores. A covariate adjustment was used in the
comparisons of one-year and two-year re-arrest rates. Including the propensity score as a covariate rather than
controlling directly for all variables that predict outcomes has been shown to bias the estimated effects of the
explanatory variables in nonlinear models; therefore, the Cox survival models of time to re-arrest (survival analysis) do
not control for the propensity score and instead include background and offense variables directly (Austin et al. 2007).

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percent vs. 10 percent), or a property re-arrest (15 percent vs. 20 percent) than their downtown
comparisons.

Table 36. Re-Arrests for Catchment Area Misdemeanor
Defendants, RHCJC v. Kings County Criminal Court
Court
Red Hook Status

Red Hook

Downtown

N Sample

1564

1563

RECIDIVISM
One Year
# re-arrests
Any re-arrest

0.57+
28%+

0.66
31%

0.95**
36%*
0.32
19%+
0.63*
28%**
0.4
21%
0.07+
5%**
0.09**
8%**
0.31*
15%**

1.16
40%
0.37
22%
0.78
34%
0.43
22%
0.10
8%
0.14
10%
0.42
20%

Two Years
# re-arrests
Any re-arrest
# felony re-arrests
Any felony re-arrest
# misdemeanor re-arrests
Any misdemeanor re-arrest
# drug re-arrests
Any drug re-arrest
# violent felony re-arrests
Any violent felony re-arrest
# violent misdemeanor re-arrests
Any violent misdemeanor re-arrest
# property re-arrests
Any property re-arrest
+p<.10,* p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.

b. Drug Treatment Defendants
To investigate the impact of court-mandated drug treatment at RHCJC on recidivism, we
also conducted a sub-sample analysis comparing 252 defendants who received a drug treatment
mandate of three months or longer at the RHCJC to a matched sub-sample of 252 otherwise similar
cases drawn from the original downtown sample. Twelve of the 252 downtown defendants

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participated in the MBTC drug court program, but otherwise, the process evaluation research
makes clear that very few downtown cases received a treatment intervention.
As shown in Table 37, the results did not indicate any statistically significant differences
between the samples (and the raw differences trended towards slightly higher, rather than lower, rearrest rates in the RHCJC sample). For example, the overall two-year re-arrest rate was 48 percent
among RHCJC defendants and 43 percent among the matched downtown defendants. Other
comparisons (see Appendix C) that examined felony, misdemeanor, drug-related, violent, and
property-related re-arrests similarly did not detect any significant differences. Possible explanations
for these unexpected outcomes will be discussed below. In general, these results suggest that type
of drug treatment intervention used in Red Hook—as opposed to deterrence and legitimacy—may
not be one of the primary mechanisms contributing to the RHCJC’s overall effectiveness in
reducing recidivism.
Table 37. Impact of Drug Treatment at
RHCJC on Re-Arrests
Court
Red Hook Downtown
N Sample
252
252
RECIDIVISM
One Year
# re-arrests
Any re-arrest

1.01
40%

0.85
36%

Two Years
# re-arrests
Any re-arrest

1.83
48%

1.48
43%

+p<.10, * p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001

4. Survival Analysis
To provide a more nuanced analysis of RHCJC’s impact on recidivism, we employed two
techniques: Kaplan-Meier bivariate survival analysis and Cox multivariate survival analysis. The
Kaplan-Meier technique provides a readily interpretable graphical presentation of the difference in
recidivism over time between the treatment and comparison groups. The Cox technique models the
influence of multiple explanatory variables, such as age, gender, criminal history, and sanctions
imposed, upon the risk of recidivism over time.
a. About Survival Analysis

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The term “survival analysis” originated in the field of biostatistics, where this group of
techniques was developed for the purpose of analyzing how long patients survived after receiving
medical treatment. In the social sciences, survival analysis is sometimes known as “event history
modeling” (Box-Steffensmeier and Jones 2004, 7). In any type of survival analysis, the dependent
variable is the amount of time the subject “survives” in one state (e.g., life) before experiencing
“failure,” or making a transition to another state (e.g., death). In the context of recidivism, failure is
defined as the occurrence of a recidivistic event, typically re- arrest or conviction on a new offense;
survival is defined as the amount of time between the initial offense and the recidivistic event.
In practice, it is not possible to observe the event of failure for each individual in a sample,
because some individuals will not fail until after the study has concluded, and others may never fail
at all. For these individuals, the observed survival time ends when the study’s follow-up period
ends, which is earlier than the actual point of failure. Such observations are called “censored
observations.” Because the observed survival times of the censored observations are shorter than
their actual survival times, classical linear regression will produce biased estimates of the effects of
the independent variables on survival time. (Box-Steffensmeier and Jones 2004, 16). Unlike linear
models, survival models take censoring into account, eliminating the associated bias.
For each defendant in the sample, a complete New York State arrest record was obtained
for the time period beginning at arraignment on the initial offense and ending on May 22, 2011.
Survival time is calculated as the number of days elapsed between arraignment on the initial
offense and re-arrest or the end of the follow-up period, whichever comes first. Censored
observations are those in which no re-arrest was observed. It was possible for a defendant to be rearrested more than once during the follow-up period; 28 percent of defendants in the sample were
re-arrested multiple times. In these cases, survival time is calculated to the date of the first re-arrest.
Because an incarcerated defendant is not at risk for re-arrest, it was necessary to adjust the
survival times to compensate for jail sentences imposed as a result of the initial conviction.
Data on the actual number of days served in jail were unavailable; however, the length of
each defendant’s sentence was known. New York state law makes a defendant eligible for parole
after serving two-thirds of a sentence of incarceration; therefore, for each defendant sentenced to
jail on the initial offense, two-thirds of the number of days in the jail sentence were subtracted from
the survival time.
In all, 43 percent of defendants in the sample were re-arrested at least once; the remaining
57 percent of observations were censored. The 3,127 defendants in the sample spent a total of
2,414,258 person-days at risk for re-arrest. On average, each defendant was observed for 772 days
until re-arrest or censoring; the longest period of observation was 1,891 days.
b. Kaplan-Meier Analysis
In this evaluation, we employ two different survival analysis techniques to examine the
Justice Center’s impact on recidivism: bivariate Kaplan-Meier analysis and multivariate Cox

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regression. The Kaplan-Meier technique estimates the survivor function for the study subjects by
calculating the cumulative probability of survival at each observed failure point. Observations in
the data set are first ordered by survival time. For each interval between failures, the number of
observations surviving at the end of the interval is divided by the number of observations surviving
at the beginning of the interval, producing the conditional probability of surviving until the end of
the interval given that the individual has already survived until the beginning of the interval. This
conditional probability is then multiplied by the cumulative probability of surviving until the end of
the previous interval, yielding the cumulative probability of surviving from the beginning of the
study until the end of the current interval. This calculation is repeated for each successive interval
between observed failures. Censored observations are counted as survivors for as long as they are
observed; when they leave the data set, censored observations simply cease to be factored into the
calculations rather than being counted as failures.
An important advantage of the Kaplan-Meier estimator is that it is nonparametric; that is, it
relies upon no a priori assumptions regarding the form of the survivor function, estimating the
function entirely on the basis of the available data and eliminating the possibility of bias due to
faulty assumptions about the functional form. The Kaplan-Meier method also produces an intuitive
visual representation of the survivor function. By plotting separate survivor functions for different
groups of observations, it is possible to conduct simple bivariate analyses of survival data. The
construction of confidence intervals around the survivor functions and the log- rank test allow
statistical assessment of whether the survival functions are equal (Cleves, Gould and Gutierrez
2002, 106-08).
Figure 7 plots the estimated survivor function for misdemeanor defendants processed at
RHCJC versus the estimated survivor function for the downtown comparison group. The horizontal
axis represents survival time, and the vertical axis represents the cumulative probability of survival,
or an individual’s probability of surviving up to a given point in time. The Kaplan-Meier procedure
produces survivor functions with a stepped appearance. Each downward step indicates a point in
time at which one or more units in the sample failed—in this case, a point at which one or more
defendants in the sample were re-arrested. The horizontal lines between steps represent points in
time when no failures are observed.35 The endpoint of each estimated function coincides with the
last observed survival time.
The bands around the estimated survivor functions illustrate the 95 percent confidence
interval for each function. The downtown survivor function is lower than the Red Hook survivor
function, indicating that at any given point in time, the cumulative probability of survival without
re-arrest is lower for an offender originally processed downtown than for one whose original case
was handled downtown—in other words, that defendants whose cases are processed at RHCJC
reoffend at a lower rate than do comparable offenders whose cases are heard downtown. The
confidence intervals do not overlap, indicating that the result is statistically significant at the .05
level. The log-rank test rejects the hypothesis of equality of the survivor functions at a significance
35

The Kaplan-Meier procedure assumes that the risk of failure remains constant during these periods. This assumption,
however, is not a parametric assumption about the overall form of the survivor function.

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level of less than .001, confirming that the difference between the two functions is statistically
significant.

Figure 7. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest by Court for
Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions

note: Survivor functions estimated using Kaplan-Meier procedure.
n = 3,127; 1,331 failures

c. Cox Multivariate Survival Analysis
Although the Kaplan-Meier procedure provides a compelling graphical illustration of the
difference in recidivism between RHCJC and downtown misdemeanor defendants, it is only
capable of accommodating one explanatory variable at a time. The Cox method, in contrast, allows
us to model survival as a function of multiple independent variables, including age, gender,
criminal history, and sanctions imposed, upon the risk of recidivism over time. The Cox model also
allows us to examine some of our hypotheses about the causal mechanisms underlying the Justice
Center’s impact on recidivism.
i. The Cox Proportional Hazards Model
The Cox model is a semi-parametric model that assumes that each independent variable
causes a proportional increase or decrease in the risk of failure that does not vary over time. Like
the Kaplan-Meier estimator, however, the Cox model makes no assumptions about the shape of the
underlying survivor function and estimates this function directly on the basis of the available data.

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Because it is capable of accommodating multiple explanatory variables, the Cox model allows us to
control for the influence of important explanatory variables such as the offender’s personal
characteristics and the nature of the original offense.
We estimated two separate Cox models of time to recidivism. The first model, which we
will call the basic model, is designed to show the average effect of case processing at RHCJC on
recidivism, holding the defendant’s background characteristics and the arraignment charge
constant. The primary variable of interest in this model is an indicator for RHCJC cases (reference
category = downtown). The defendant’s demographic background is represented by a set of racial
indicators (reference = white), gender (reference = male), and the defendant’s age at arrest (meancentered).36 To account for the connection between a history of criminal behavior and future
criminal activity, the model includes the numbers of previous felony and misdemeanor arrests, as
well as dummy variables indicating whether the defendant has been the subject of a bench warrant,
a probation revocation, or a parole revocation in a previous criminal case. Because bench warrants
and probation and parole revocations are typically issued in response to a defendant’s failure to
comply with court requirements such as conditions of release, these events are expected to be
associated with an increased risk of recidivism. Defendants with previous arrests are also expected
to face a higher risk of recidivism. The remaining explanatory variables include a set of dummy
variables for the most serious charge at arraignment (reference = public order, including
prostitution), an indicator for cases involving domestic violence37 (reference = non-domestic
violence case), and an indicator for defendants arrested in the 76th Precinct, where RHCJC is
located.
The second model, which we will call the full model, is intended to disaggregate the impact
of various case processing practices and to test hypotheses about the mechanisms by which RHCJC
is intended to reduce recidivism. This model includes all of the covariates from the first model. To
test the certainty and severity prongs of the deterrence hypothesis, the model includes dummy
variables for community service and jail sanctions. Because RHCJC attempts to enforce
community service sanctions more strictly than the downtown court, an interaction between
community service and RHCJC serves as an additional indicator of the certainty of punishment. If
the certainty and severity hypotheses are valid, then community service, jail time, and the RHCJCcommunity service interaction should all be associated with reductions in recidivism. Finally, to
test the hypothesis that the Justice Center’s various efforts to build affective ties to the Red Hook
community deter future criminal behavior on the part of defendants who live in the Red Hook
neighborhood itself, an interaction between arrest in the 76th Precinct and case processing at
RHCJC was included in the model. If the community connections hypothesis is valid, then
defendants arrested in the 76th precinct and processed at RHCJC should be less likely to be rearrested than either defendants from other precincts processed at RHCJC or defendants arrested in

36

In order to facilitate interpretation of results, age has been mean-centered by subtracting the mean age of all
defendants in the data set (32.48 years) from each defendant’s age. A positive mean-centered age indicates that the
defendant is older than the average defendant; a negative value indicates that the defendant is younger than average.
37
Domestic violence is not a distinct case type, so each domestic violence case is also coded under the primary
criminal offense.

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any precinct and processed downtown. Table 38 summarizes the hypotheses about causal
mechanisms to be tested in the full model.

Table 38. Hypotheses Concerning Mechanisms By Which RHCJC Reduces Recidivism, As
Operationalized in Full Model
Expected
Variable
Hypothesis
Hazard Ratio
Deterrence
Sentenced to jail
Community service
Community service x
RHCJC
Legitimacy/Community
Connections
Arrested in 76th Precinct
x RHCJC

Meaningful sanction deters future criminal behavior
Meaningful sanction deters future criminal behavior
More certain enforcement of sanctions increases
deterrence

< 1.0
< 1.0

RHCJC's strong connections to the Red Hook
community lead to greater reductions in recidivism
for neighborhood residents

< 1.0

< 1.0

ii. Hazard Rates, Hazard Ratios, and The Proportional Hazards Assumption
Closely related to the survivor function is the hazard function, which describes an
individual’s instantaneous risk of failure, or hazard rate. Whereas the survivor function equals the
cumulative probability of survival until a particular point in time, the hazard rate equals the
instantaneous probability of failure within a given time interval, conditioned upon the fact that the
subject has survived until the beginning of that interval.
The effects of the independent variables in an estimated multivariate survival model are
frequently expressed as hazard ratios. All subjects are assumed to face the same baseline risk of
failure, or baseline hazard; each individual’s specific risk varies from the baseline risk based upon
the effects of the independent variables. A hazard ratio is the ratio of the hazard rate associated
with a one-unit change in an independent variable to the baseline hazard rate, holding the values of
all other covariates constant at zero. A hazard ratio greater than 1 indicates that an increase in the
value of the covariate increases the probability of recidivism; a hazard ratio less than 1 indicates
that an increase in the value of the covariate decreases the probability of recidivism. The Cox
model assumes that each independent variable increases or decreases the hazard rate by a fixed
amount that does not vary over time—in other words, the explanatory variables may shift the
overall level of the hazard function, but do not alter its shape. This assumption is known as the
proportional hazards assumption. If the proportional hazards assumption does not hold, and the
effect of one or more independent variables changes over time, then the Cox estimates of these
variables’ effects will be biased (Box-Steffensmeier and Jones 2004, 132).

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Figure 8 illustrates the concepts of the hazard rate and function, the hazard ratio, and
proportional hazards. The vertical axis represents the hazard rate, or the probability of re-arrest at a
given point in time; time is represented on the horizontal axis. The estimated hazard functions are
from Model 1, which includes explanatory variables related to the offender’s demographic
background, criminal history, and current charges, as well as an indicator for cases processed at
RHCJC.38 The solid line represents the baseline hazard function, or the risk of re-arrest when the
value of all explanatory variables equals zero. The dashed line represents the hazard function for
female offenders. Because being female decreases the probability of re-arrest, the hazard function
for females is lower than the baseline hazard function, and the hazard ratio is less than 1 (.72, to be
precise). Because the relationship between the two hazard functions is proportional, the hazard
ratio remains constant over time.

.0004
0

.0002

Hazard rate

.0006

Figure 8. Estimated Risk of Re-arrest for Catchment Area Misdemeanor Defendants,
Baseline v. Female

0

500

1000

1500

Survival time (days)
Baseline

Female

The proportional hazards assumption can be tested by analyzing the residuals from the
estimated Cox model (Grambsch and Therneau 1994). To correct violations of the proportional
hazards assumption, each independent variable whose effect is found to vary over time can be
interacted with a function of time, allowing the effect of the covariate to vary over time while
preserving the proportional hazards structure of the Cox model (Box-Steffensmeier and Jones
38

Because the Cox cumulative hazard function is a step function, it is technically impossible to calculate hazard rates
based upon an estimated Cox model. For illustrative purposes, the Cox survivor function has been smoothed to allow
the calculation of the hazard function. (Cleves, Gould and Gutierrez 2002, 123).

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2004, 136). In both models, the variables for any prior bench warrant, any prior probation
revocation, arraignment on a marijuana charge, and arraignment on a DWI charge were found to
violate the proportional hazards assumption. In the second model, the jail sentence variable was
also found to violate the proportional hazards assumption.39 For each of these variables, a new
variable was calculated by multiplying the original variable by the natural logarithm of the
subject’s survival time. Each of these interaction terms was then included in the models along with
the original forms of the variables.

39

In order to avoid overspecification of the model, we defined a violation of the proportional hazards assumption as a
rejection of the hypothesis of proportionality at the .01 level.

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iii. Cox Regression Results
Table 39 displays the two estimated Cox models.40 In addition to the indicator for RHCJC
cases, both models include the background variables related to the offender’s demographic
characteristics, criminal history, and most serious charge at arraignment; the full model adds the
variables designed to test hypotheses about the mechanisms by which RHCJC influences
recidivism.

40

The models were estimated using the Efron procedure for handling tied survival times (StataCorp 2009, 129; BoxSteffensmeier and Jones 2004, 55-59).

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Table 39. Relative Risks of Re-arrest for Misdemeanor Defendants Arrested in RHCJC
Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions
Basic Model
Full Model
P>
P>
Variable
Hazard ratio
|z|
Hazard ratio
|z|
RHCJC (reference = downtown)
0.8
<.01
0.74
<.01
Race (reference = white)
Black
1.48
<.01
1.49
<.01
Hispanic
1.19
0.05
1.17
0.07
Asian
1.04
0.83
1.09
0.63
Female
0.72
<.01
0.76
<.01
Age
0.97
<.01
0.98
<.01
Criminal history
Number of prior felony arrests
1.02
0.01
1.02
0.01
Number of prior misdemeanor arrests
1.04
<.01
1.03
<.01
Any prior bench warrant
1.52
0.04
0.78
0.27
Any prior probation revocation
0.57
0.05
0.43
<.01
Any prior parole revocation
1.2
0.06
1.09
0.4
Arraignment charge (reference = public order)
Drug offense, other than marijuana
1.18
0.07
1.19
0.05
Marijuana
0.27
<.01
0.38
0.01
Crime against person
0.71
<.01
0.75
0.01
Property crime
1.02
0.83
1.01
0.94
Driving while intoxicated
0.04
<.01
0.04
<.01
Other
0.73
0.03
0.76
0.06
Domestic violence case
0.92
0.53
0.98
0.91
Arrested in 76th precinct
1.04
0.57
1
0.96
76th precinct x RHCJC
1.11
0.39
Community service sanction
1.32
0.03
Community service x RHCJC
1
0.99
Sentenced to jail
12.97
<.01
Time-varying effects*
Any prior bench warrant
1.11
0.01
1.25
<.01
Any prior probation revocation
1.15
0.02
1.21
<.01
Arraignment charge
Marijuana
1.29
<.01
1.24
<.01
Driving while intoxicated
1.64
0.01
1.65
0.01
Sentenced to jail
0.68
<.01
number of defendants
2988
2988
number of defendants re-arrested
1280
1280
*Variables with time-varying effects interacted with ln (survival time).

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The effect of each independent variable is reported in the form of a hazard ratio, or the ratio
between the hazard rate associated with a one-unit increase in the value of the explanatory variable
and the baseline hazard rate, holding all other covariates constant at zero. For example, the hazard
ratio of .97 for the mean-centered age variable in the basic model implies that a defendant who is
one year older than the average defendant is 3 percent less likely to be re-arrested at any given
point in time than a defendant of average age, holding all other factors constant. For dummy
variables, a hazard ratio greater than 1 indicates that a defendant with the specified characteristic is
more likely to be re-arrested than a defendant without the specified characteristic, and a hazard
ratio less than 1 indicates that a defendant with the specified characteristic is less likely to be rearrested than a defendant without that characteristic. For instance, the hazard ratio of .72 on the
“female” variable in the basic model indicates that, at any given point in time, a female defendant
is 28 percent less likely to be re-arrested than a similarly situated male defendant. A p-value is
reported for each hazard ratio. The p-value is used to test the statistical significance of the effect of
the independent variable. A p-value of less than .05 denotes strong evidence against the null
hypothesis that the hazard ratio is exactly 1.0 and the variable has no effect on the probability of
recidivism. A p-value of .05 or greater indicates that the result is not statistically significant.
In the basic model, the Red Hook indicator is the primary variable of interest. The hazard
ratio of .80 indicates that, at any given time, a defendant whose case was processed at RHCJC is 20
percent less likely to be re-arrested than a similarly situated defendant whose case was processed in
the downtown Brooklyn criminal court. This result is statistically significant.
Although the basic model suggests that the Justice Center does reduce recidivism, it offers
no clues as to why this might be the case. The full model addresses this question by directly testing
some of the hypotheses about the mechanisms through which RHCJC impacts recidivism. In the
full model, the hazard ratio on the Red Hook variable is .74, somewhat lower than the hazard ratio
estimated in the basic model. As in the basic model, the RHCJC effect is statistically significant.
The full model provides no support for the deterrence hypothesis. On the contrary, both
community service and jail sanctions are associated with statistically significant increases in the
risk of recidivism. In the case of jail sanctions, this effect likely results from selection bias: because
defendants with a high risk of recidivism are most likely to be sentenced to jail, and it is not
possible to measure all risk factors for recidivism and incorporate them directly into the model, the
apparent impact of jail sentences on recidivism results at least in part from this unmeasured risk
rather than from any effect of the jail sanction itself.41 Holding all other factors constant,
community service is associated with a statistically significant 32 percent increase in the risk of
41

The hazard ratios on the indicator variable for jail and the time-interacted jail variable should be interpreted in
tandem. Broadly, the hazard ratio of 12.97 on the jail dummy indicates that the overall risk of recidivism is much
higher for defendants sent to jail, whereas the hazard ratio of .68 on the jail * ln(time) interaction indicates that the risk
of recidivism levels off more quickly for defendants sentenced to jail than for the general population of defendants. In
all, 90 percent of defendants sentenced to jail were re-arrested during the follow-up period, as compared with 39
percent of defendants who were not sentenced to jail.

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recidivism. As with jail sanctions, judges may be more likely to impose community service
sanctions on defendants who are already at a higher risk of recidivism, although this conclusion is
more speculative for community service sanctions than for jail sentences. At any rate, the available
data offer no evidence that either jail or community service sanctions deter future offending.
There are many possible reasons why community service sanctions might not produce a
deterrent effect. Community service may not be a severe enough punishment to outweigh the
potential gains from crime, it may not be imposed soon enough after the offense to be clearly
connected to the crime in the offender’s mind, or it may not be carried out with sufficient certainty.
The Justice Center endeavors to maximize the deterrent power of community service through the
immediate scheduling and strict enforcement of community service sanctions. To measure any
increase in deterrence associated with these practices, the full model includes an interaction term
that identifies RHCJC cases involving community service sanctions.
The effect of the interaction term is best understood by plotting the estimated survivor
functions for four separate groups of defendants: defendants processed in the downtown Brooklyn
criminal court without community service sanctions, downtown defendants with community
service sanctions, RHCJC defendants without community service sanctions, and RHCJC
defendants with community service sanctions. In Figure 9, the gray curves represent the survivor
functions for downtown defendants, and the black curves represent the survivor functions for
RHCJC defendants. Solid lines denote defendants without community service sanctions, and
dashed lines denote defendants with community service sanctions. As expected, the likelihood of
survival for each group of RHCJC defendants (with community service/without community
service) is greater than the likelihood of survival for the corresponding group of downtown
defendants. For each court, the survivor function for defendants mandated to community service
lies below the survivor function for defendants without community service mandates, reflecting the
increase in the risk of recidivism associated with community service sanctions.42 If the Justice
Center enforces community service sanctions with greater certainty, and this greater certainty
produces a deterrent effect, then the distance between the two survival curves for RHCJC cases
should be less than the distance between the survival curves for downtown cases. This is not the
case: in fact, the distance between the RHCJC survivor functions is almost exactly as large as the
distance between the downtown survivor functions. The hazard ratio of 1.00 on the community
service-RHCJC interaction term underscores this result.

42

Because the increase in the risk of recidivism associated with community service sanctions is roughly equal to the
decrease in recidivism associated with case processing at RHCJC, the survivor function for RHCJC defendants
mandated to community service is nearly identical to the survivor function for downtown defendants not mandated to
community service.

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Figure 9. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest By Court and
Sanction Type for Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008 Dispositions

The possible presence of selection bias makes it impossible to give a definitive answer to
the question of the extent to which jail and community service sanctions deter, or fail to deter,
recidivism. The full model does, however, imply that RHCJC’s efforts to ensure swiftness and
certainty in the enforcement of community service sanctions do not produce any additional
deterrent effect. Between 2000 and 2009, 80 percent of RHCJC defendants mandated to
community service successfully completed their mandates. The Justice Center's relative success in
enforcing community service sanctions suggests a failure of theory rather than a failure of
implementation when it comes to community service. In other words, the failure of community
service sanctions to deter recidivism may result from the fact that community service is simply not
burdensome enough to make a former defendant think twice about reoffending, rather than any
failure of the Justice Center to ensure that offenders complete their sanctions.

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Another hypothesis regarding the mechanisms by which RHCJC reduces recidivism is that
the Justice Center's close ties to the Red Hook neighborhood increase its legitimacy and thereby
strengthen residents’ normative commitment to obey the law. Because the Justice Center's
community outreach efforts are targeted almost primarily at the Red Hook neighborhood itself, the
impact of the court's community ties might be expected to be confined to the 76th Precinct, which
covers the Red Hook neighborhood. Consistent with this expectation, offender interviews
conducted as part of the ethnographic analysis component of this evaluation suggest that residents
of Sunset Park, one of the outlying neighborhoods in the catchment area, perceive the Justice
Center as a less prominent force in the community than do Red Hook residents.
To test the community connections hypothesis, the full model includes a dummy variable
for defendants arrested in the 76th Precinct and an interaction term identifying defendants arrested
in the 76th Precinct and arraigned at RHCJC. If the hypothesis is valid, then residents originally
arrested in the Red Hook neighborhood and arraigned at RHCJC should be less likely to be rearrested than RHCJC defendants originally arrested outside the neighborhood. Figure 10 shows the
estimated survivor functions for RHCJC defendants arrested in the 76th Precinct, RHCJC
defendants arrested elsewhere in the catchment area, and downtown defendants. Both groups of
RHCJC defendants were less likely to be re-arrested than downtown defendants. Contrary to
expectations, however, RHCJC defendants originally arrested in the Red Hook neighborhood itself
were slightly more likely to be re-arrested than RHCJC defendants originally arrested outside the
76th Precinct. The hazard ratios on the 76th Precinct dummy and the interaction term are not
significantly different from 1.00, indicating that the difference in the risk of recidivism between the
two groups of RHCJC defendants is not statistically significant. The model therefore provides no
support for the community connections hypothesis.

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Figure 10. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest By Court and
Precinct of Arrest for Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment Area, 2008
Dispositions

5. Procedural Justice and Recidivism
The multivariate Cox survival models provide evidence that the Red Hook Community
Justice Center does indeed reduce recidivism as compared with "business as usual" processing of
misdemeanor cases, but there is no evidence to support either the deterrence hypothesis or the
community connections hypothesis as operationalized in the full model. The process evaluation and
ethnographic analysis, however, point to procedural justice as the most plausible alternative
explanation for the observed reduction in recidivism among RHCJC defendants.43 As discussed in
43

The intervention hypothesis is not a plausible alternative. Between 4 and 6 percent of RHCJC defendants are
mandated to long-term drug treatment, and these defendants do not appear less likely to recidivate than similarly
situated defendants whose cases are processed in a traditional criminal court. Although a larger number of RHCJC
defendants are mandated to educational programs of two hours or less in duration, such short- term interventions are
not expected to produce any impact beyond motivating some participants to seek additional treatment on their own (see
pp. 6-7).

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Chapter 6, the process evaluation and ethnographic analysis provide evidence that defendants
perceive a high level of procedural fairness in the Justice Center’s decision-making processes. The
judge is widely viewed as trustworthy, genuinely concerned with the well-being of the parties
appearing before him, neutral, respectful, and committed to allowing defendants a meaningful
voice in court proceedings. Although defendants perceive the results of cases processed at the
Justice Center and in traditional criminal courts as equally fair, they believe that the procedures
used to arrive at those results at the Justice Center are more fair than the procedures employed in
traditional court. The procedural fairness hypothesis is further corroborated by a previous study of
procedural justice at the RHCJC, which indicated that defendants whose cases were processed at
RHCJC had more favorable perceptions of procedural justice than defendants whose cases were
processed at the downtown criminal court. This study also found that favorable perceptions of the
RHCJC judge were the most important contributor to defendants’ overall positive perceptions of
procedural justice at RHCJC, as would be expected under procedural justice theory (Frazer 2006).
Furthermore, the theory of procedural justice, corroborated by previous empirical work by
Tom Tyler and numerous others, predicts that the greater perceptions of procedural fairness held by
RHCJC defendants should translate into improved compliance with court orders and increases in
future law-abiding behavior (Tyler 2006). Data from the ethnographic analysis hint that this
mechanism is at work in Red Hook. When asked whether and why they had changed their behavior
since their most recent court appearance, respondents whose last court appearance had been at
RHCJC and those whose last appearance had been in the downtown Brooklyn criminal court
responded similarly, with one notable exception: a substantial minority of RHCJC defendants
specifically cited respect for the judge as a reason for their changes in behavior, while virtually no
downtown defendants gave the same answer. The ethnographic interview evidence also suggests
that another possible explanation for the differences in recidivism is not credible: there is no
significant difference in the extent to which defendants perceive they experienced fair outcomes.
Although the ethnographic analysis relies purely on defendants’ own statements and cannot tell us
whether or why defendants have in fact changed their behavior, the frequency with which Red
Hook defendants mentioned respect for the judge in connection with behavioral change is notable.
Although RHCJC clearly promotes a high level of perceived procedural fairness among
offenders, it is impossible to disentangle the impact of the Justice Center as an institution on
procedural justice from the impact of the judge himself on procedural fairness. On one hand, the
Justice Center’s commitment to procedural justice results partly from an organizational culture that
extends from the judge and court management down to the clinic staff, the court officers, the
alternative sanctions staff, and every other employee in the courthouse. On the other hand, the Red
Hook Community Justice Center is also a one-judge court, and Judge Calabrese is its face. His
name is well known in the community, and he is a frequent participant in public meetings and
community events. For many Red Hook residents, Judge Calabrese personifies the Justice Center’s
mission. As one respondent to the offender survey put it, “He’s the man back here.”
For court planners and policymakers, the primary lesson is clear: a commitment to
procedural justice in all aspects of court operations appears to be essential in order for a community
court to achieve a reduction in recidivism among misdemeanor offenders. The selection of a judge

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with a proven history of procedural justice in decision-making is one important ingredient in the
formula; other ingredients may include defendants’ interactions with court staff and attorneys and
the physical design of the courthouse.
B. RECIDIVISM ANALYSIS: FAMILY COURT
In addition to adult criminal cases, the Red Hook Community Justice Center hears a small
number of juvenile delinquency cases in its family court part. Respondents in these cases are
between 12 and 15 years old at the time of arrest. As with adult misdemeanor cases, we employed
survival analysis techniques to examine the impact of case processing at the Justice Center on the
risk of recidivism for juvenile respondents. Although a lower risk of recidivism was observed for
juveniles whose cases were processed at Red Hook than for juveniles whose cases were processed
in a traditional family court, this result was not statistically significant.
1. Data
The family court recidivism analysis relies on the comparison data set described in Chapter
2, Section B(2)(b). The data set includes records of 102 juvenile delinquency cases processed at the
Justice Center and 102 juvenile delinquency cases processed at Kings County Family Court in
downtown Brooklyn. All respondents were arrested between 2006 and 2008. To eliminate any
selection bias resulting from differences between the types of cases or respondents processed at the
two courts, propensity score matching was used to select the cases in the Kings County Family
Court group.44
2. One-Year and Two-Year Re-Arrest Outcomes
As with adult misdemeanor cases, to examine the impact of case processing at the Justice
Center we employed simple comparisons of re-arrest outcomes as well as survival analysis
techniques. Although a lower risk of recidivism was observed for juveniles whose cases were
processed at Red Hook than for juveniles whose cases were processed in the traditional family
court, this result was not statistically significant.
Table 40 presents our findings for the impact of the Red Hook Family Court on re-arrests
over one-year and two-year periods after the initial case was filed, with specific results for
misdemeanor, felony, and violent felony re-arrests over two years. The one-year re-arrest rate for
youth processed at RHCJC was about one-quarter lower than the downtown sample (33 percent vs.
44 percent). The two-year analysis suggests, similarly, that RHCJC defendants averaged a lower
re-arrest rate (48 percent vs. 60 percent) as well as fewer total re-arrests (1.09 vs. 1.58). Although
all findings fell short of formal statistical significance due to the small sample size (102 youth in
each group), the consistent direction of the RHCJC impact throughout all re-arrest comparisons
suggests that the Justice Center is likely to be effective in reducing recidivism among juvenile
delinquency respondents.
44

See Appendix B for details on propensity score matching.

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Table 40. Family Court Impact on Re-Arrests
Court
RHCJC Downtown
N Sample
102
102
N available for the twoyear recidivism analysis
RECIDIVISM
One Year
# re-arrests
Any re-arrest
Two Years
# re-arrests
Any re-arrest
# felony re-arrests
Any felony re-arrest
# misdemeanor re-arrests
Any misdemeanor rearrest
# violent felony re-arrests
Any violent felony rearrest

97

85

0.66
33%

0.85
44%

1.09+
48%
0.39
23%
0.7+

1.58
60%
0.58
32%
1

40%+

54%

0.26

0.31

16%

22%

+p<.10,* p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.

3. Survival Analysis
As with the adult criminal court data, we employed both Kaplan-Meier survival analysis
and Cox multivariate survival analysis in order to make full use of all available data on time to rearrest while accounting for the fact that the event of re-arrest was not observed in every case.
Because juveniles whose cases are referred to the Justice Center are typically released with a desk
appearance ticket instead of being held in custody for evaluation by the probation department,
survival times are calculated from the date of arrest. Survival time is defined as the number of days
from the original arrest to the first subsequent arrest or the end of the follow-up period, whichever
is shorter. Because no data were available on the amount of time youth spent in detention, survival
times were not adjusted for time spent in juvenile detention facilities following case adjudication.

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Sixty-six percent of youth in the sample were re-arrested at least once. The 204 youth spent
a total of 124,845 days at risk for re-arrest. The average survival time was 612 days; the longest
period of observation was 1,612 days.

a. Kaplan-Meier Analysis
Figure 11 plots the Kaplan-Meier survivor functions for youth whose juvenile delinquency
cases were handled at RHCJC and those in the matched downtown comparison group, along with
the 95 percent confidence interval for each curve. The survivor function for Red Hook cases lies
above the survivor function for downtown cases, indicating a lower risk of recidivism for youth
whose cases were processed at the Justice Center. The overlapping confidence intervals, however,
reveal that this result is not statistically significant. The log-rank test fails to reject the hypothesis
that the survivor functions are equal (p-value = .11). Again, the lack of statistical significance may
result from the small sample size, and it is possible that the result would appear statistically
significant given a larger sample size.
Figure 11. Cumulative Probability of Survival Without Re-arrest by Court for
RHCJC and Comparison Group Juvenile Delinquency Cases

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b. Cox Multivariate Survival Analysis
As with the adult criminal court analysis, we also estimated a multivariate Cox survival
model of time to re-arrest for juvenile offenders. The primary covariate of interest is an indicator
for cases processed at RHCJC. Background variables include race (reference category = white),
gender (reference = male), the youth’s age (centered at 14 to facilitate interpretation), the numbers
of prior felony and misdemeanor arrests, the offense category (reference = property offense, other
than robbery), and an indicator for felony cases.45 None of the covariates were found to have timevarying effects.
Table 41. Relative Risk of Re-Arrest for Family Court Respondents
Hazard
Variable
Ratio
P > |z|
RHCJC (reference = downtown)
0.7
0.07
Race (reference = white)
Black
1.1
0.77
Hispanic
0.8
0.51
Female
1.14
0.6
Age
0.96
0.76
Criminal history
Number of prior felony arrests
1.5
0.03
Number of prior misdemeanor
arrests
1.33
0.1
Arraignment charge (reference = property crime, other than robbery)
Assault
0.69
0.19
Robbery
1.79
0.12
Drug offense
2.02
0.03
Other
1.33
0.36
Felony arraignment charge
0.7
0.23
number of respondents
number of respondents re-arrested

204
114

Table 41 displays the estimated model. The hazard ratio on the Red Hook indicator is .70,
indicating that juveniles in the sample whose delinquency cases were processed at RHCJC faced a
30 percent lower risk of recidivism than juveniles in the matched comparison group whose cases
were processed downtown. This result, however, is only marginally significant (p-value = .07). As
Unlike its adult criminal court part, the Justice Center’s family court part retains jurisdiction of felony cases beyond
the arraignment stage.
45

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with the Kaplan-Meier analysis, it is possible that a larger sample size would produce a result
significant at the .05 level.
Based on these findings, we conclude that the Red Hook Family Court may reduce
recidivism by a noteworthy magnitude. Nonetheless, small sample size limited our capacity to
detect effects as statistically significant. Furthermore, even if the Justice Center does succeed in
reducing recidivism among juvenile offenders, the Red Hook family court’s extremely small
caseload renders quite modest any overall benefit to public safety.
C. CHANGE POINT ANALYSIS OF CATCHMENT AREA ARRESTS
The Red Hook Community Justice Center was designed to reduce the overall level of
felony and misdemeanor crime in its catchment area. Reducing recidivism rates is one way in
which such an impact might be accomplished. The advent of a community court might also result
in a change in the behavior and strategies of the local police that, in turn, leads to a reduction in the
level of crime. To provide a broader perspective on the Justice Center’s general impact on crime
and policing, we carried out what is referred to as a change point analysis to compare trends in the
number of felony and misdemeanor arrests in the RHCJC catchment area with those in five
adjacent Brooklyn precincts. Change point analysis also allows us to identify where statistically
significant changes occurred in the overall level of arrests in each precinct. The change point
analysis reveals that the total number of arrests in each of the three catchment area precincts fell
dramatically around the time when the Justice Center opened, and remained relatively stable
thereafter. This change was most pronounced for misdemeanor arrests, although a smaller decrease
in felony arrests also occurred. In contrast, no similar changes were observed in the adjacent
precincts. The implementation of the Justice Center therefore appears to be associated with an
overall decrease in the volume of arrests in the catchment area, as well as increased stability in the
number of arrests over time.
1. Data
We obtained monthly data on the numbers of felony and misdemeanor arrests in each of the
three catchment area police precincts (the 76th, 72nd, and 78th precincts). For comparison, we also
obtained monthly counts of felony and misdemeanor arrests in each of five Brooklyn precincts
adjacent to the catchment area (the 66th, 68th, 70th, 71st, and 84th precincts). Each data series
covers the period January 1998 through December 2009.46
2. Change Point Analysis

46

For some arrests made in the borough of Brooklyn, data on the precinct of arrest were not available; any of these
arrests that did occur in one of the eight precincts under study were therefore omitted from our analysis. In 1998,
precinct data were missing for 7.1 percent of arrests made in Brooklyn; in subsequent years, 1.5 percent or fewer of
Brooklyn arrests were missing precinct data. Despite the higher rate of missingness in 1998, it was necessary to include
the year 1998 in our analysis in order to allow a sufficient period of observation before RHCJC opened in mid-2000.

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We employed a Bayesian product partition model (Barry and Hartigan 1993) to detect
changes in the level of arrests in each precinct over time. Bayesian estimation methods allow us to
compare the likelihood of a change in arrest levels during one month relative to other months
within the period for which we have data. Change point analysis divides a series of data into a
sequence of blocks, each of which has a constant mean. The number and location of change points,
or breaks between blocks, are selected to produce the best “fit” of the observed data within each
block to the mean of that block without breaking the series into too many blocks. Another
advantage of the product partition model is that it is possible to examine simultaneously multiple
data series for common trends. The Bayesian implementation of the product partition model also
allows us to consider the probability that a significant change point is located at any particular
point in time, rather than testing the statistical significance of one or a handful of preselected break
points.47
a. Hypotheses Regarding Changes in Arrests
The number of arrests in an area is not driven solely by the prevalence of crime in that area;
arrest trends are also affected by general police department policies and strategies as well as the
decisions of individual officers. For example, if misdemeanor crime has increased, but police
resources are focused on investigating serious felony cases, the number of misdemeanor arrests
may remain constant or even decrease. Similarly, if police officers perceive that the court system
tends to release misdemeanor defendants without meaningful consequences, they may choose not
to make an arrest in every misdemeanor case. We therefore hypothesized that the Justice Center
might have two competing effects on arrests in the catchment area. First, the court’s efforts at
deterrence, intervention, and enhancing the legitimacy of the justice system were expected to
reduce both misdemeanor and felony crime, leading to a decrease in the number of arrests in the
catchment area. Second, the increased certainty of sanctions for misdemeanor offenses was
expected to motivate police officers to make arrests in these cases, potentially leading to an
increase in the number of misdemeanor arrests in the catchment area. Such an increase might also
be associated with a belief by police officers that the services available at RHCJC would alleviate
problems such as homelessness and addiction.
b. Impact of RHCJC Implementation on Arrests
Figure 12 plots monthly misdemeanor arrests in each of the three catchment area precincts,
from January of 1998 through September of 2009. Prior to the Justice Center’s opening in June of
2000, the number of arrests in each precinct is quite variable, with large increases visible in the
months leading up to the court’s opening. Arrests in each precinct drop off sharply just before the
Justice Center’s implementation in the summer of 2000, and remain comparatively stable
thereafter. In contrast, misdemeanor arrests in the adjacent precincts not served by RHCJC evince a
general upward trend and a high degree of variability throughout the period of observation (Figure
13).

47

See Appendix D for a complete technical description of the methodology employed in the change point analysis.

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Jan-98
Jun-98
Nov-98
Apr-99
Sep-99
Feb-00
Jul-00
Dec-00
May-01
Oct-01
Mar-02
Aug-02
Jan-03
Jun-03
Nov-03
Apr-04
Sep-04
Feb-05
Jul-05
Dec-05
May-06
Oct-06
Mar-07
Aug-07
Jan-08
Jun-08
Nov-08
Apr-09
Sep-09

Figure 12. Monthly Misdemeanor Arrests for RHCJC Catchment Area Precincts,
1998 – 2009

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

P72

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P76
P78

147

Figure 13. Monthly Misdemeanor Arrests for Precincts Adjacent to RHCJC
Catchment Area, 1998 – 2009
400
350
300
250
200
150
100
50

Jan-98
Jun-98
Nov-98
Apr-99
Sep-99
Feb-00
Jul-00
Dec-00
May-01
Oct-01
Mar-02
Aug-02
Jan-03
Jun-03
Nov-03
Apr-04
Sep-04
Feb-05
Jul-05
Dec-05
May-06
Oct-06
Mar-07
Aug-07
Jan-08
Jun-08
Nov-08
Apr-09
Sep-09

0

P66

P68

P70

P71

P84

Figures 14 through 16 plot estimated mean monthly felony and misdemeanor arrests, along
with the estimated probability that a change has occurred in the means of both series, for each
month from January 1998 through September 2009. In each graph, the solid line represents the
estimated monthly mean for felony arrests, and the dashed line represents the estimated monthly
mean for misdemeanor arrests. The shaded area represents the estimated probability of a change
point. In each of the catchment area precincts, the product partition model estimates a 100 percent
probability of a change point at the time of the RHCJC opening, accompanied by a dramatic
decline in estimated average arrests.48 This result is echoed in Figure 17, which shows the
estimated monthly mean total arrests and the estimated change point probability for all three
catchment area precincts. In comparison, Figure 18 does not show a comparable decrease in
estimated mean arrests, or a high probability of a change point, in the adjacent precincts in the
spring or summer of 2000. The decrease in arrests observed in the catchment area therefore appears
to be associated with the implementation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, rather than a
part of any trend affecting Brooklyn as a whole.
48

Each change point probability reflects the estimated likelihood of a change in the following time interval. Precincts
76 and 78 have estimated change point probabilities of 100 percent for March 2000, indicating a change in the number
of arrests in April 2000, the month when RHCJC began arraigning defendants arrested in the 76th Precinct. Precinct 72
has an estimated change point probability of 100 percent in May 2000, indicating a change in the number of arrests in
June 2000, the month when RHCJC began arraigning defendants arrested throughout the catchment area.

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On balance, the opening of RHCJC appears to be associated with an overall reduction in the
volume of catchment area arrests, as well as an increase in the stability of the catchment area arrest
trend, that did not occur in the adjacent police precincts. Although change point analysis is not
capable of establishing causality between any particular event and a change identified in a trend,
we were unable to identify any plausible alternative explanation for the changes observed the
catchment area arrest trends.
The process evaluation and ethnographic analysis provide no evidence that the changes in
the arrest trends in the catchment area resulted from direct coordination between RHCJC and the
police, either at the command level or with street-level officers. The primary forms of collaboration
between RHCJC and the NYPD appear to consist of attendance by the judge and other court staff at
precinct council meetings, and partnerships to put on educational programs and community events.
Evidence of limited communication between the court and the police surrounding the
transportation of defendants to RHCJC for arraignment suggests that coordination regarding larger
issues such as policing strategies is unlikely. The ethnographic analysis reveals that local residents
and offenders do not perceive any such coordination between the Justice Center and the police; on
the contrary, many respondents described the court as a backstop against unpopular police practices
such as “stop and frisk” searches and trespass arrests of visitors to the Red Hook Houses. The
observed changes in arrest trends in the catchment area precincts are therefore likely to have
resulted from a combination of other factors, which might include changes in underlying crime
trends in the Red Hook area that coincided with the opening of the Justice Center, the overall
renewal of the Red Hook neighborhood, and/or individual police officers’ perceptions of the
usefulness of prosecuting processing defendants at the Justice Center.
c. Other Influences on Arrests
Following the RHCJC implementation, the estimated change point probabilities for the
three catchment area precincts generally remain quite low. Two other notable change points were
observed in the arrest trends: a decrease in arrests that affected most precincts in the aftermath of
the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and a spike in felony arrests in the 76th Precinct in the
spring of 2006.
The September 11 attacks coincide with dips in the arrest trends in all of the non-catchment
area precincts, and an estimated change point probability approaching 50 percent in these precincts.
The decrease in arrests most likely results from a shifting of police resources away from routine
patrol duties to security operations and other similar matters. In the catchment area precincts, the
probability and magnitude of a change point associated with the attacks are much smaller, probably
because the catchment area is more distant than the adjacent precincts from the epicenter of the
attacks in Manhattan, as well as from the bridges and tunnels connecting Brooklyn to Manhattan.
Finally, Figure 14 shows a large but short-lived increase in felony arrests, with an estimated
change point probability of around 90 percent, in the 76th Precinct during the spring of 2006. This

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spike in felony arrests coincides with a police raid on the Red Hook Houses in April of 2006,
which involved 450 law enforcement officers and resulted in more than 150 arrests (Jacobs 2006).

Figure 14: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 76
160

1
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0

140
120
100
80
60
40
20

Probability

Felony

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

Jan-98

0

Misdemeanor

Figure 15: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 72
250

1
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0

200
150
100
50

Probability

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

Felony

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

Jan-98

0

Misdemeanor

150

Figure 16: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 78

Probability

Felony

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

1
0.9
0.8
0.7
0.6
0.5
0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0
Jan-98

100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0

Misdemeanor

Figure 17: Estimated Means and Changepoint Probabilities: Total Arrests,
RHCJC Precincts, 1998 – 2009

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151

Probabilities

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn
P72
P76

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

Jan-98

450
1

400
0.9

350
0.8

300
0.7

250
0.6

200
0.5

0.4

150
0.3

100
0.2

50
0.1

0
0

P78

152

Figure 18: Estimated Means and Changepoint Probabilities: Total Arrests,
Non-RHCJC Precincts, 1998 – 2009
450

1

400

0.9
0.8

350

0.7

300

0.6
250
0.5
200
0.4
150

0.3

100

0.2

50

0.1

Probabilities

P66

P68

P70

P71

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

0
Jan-98

0

P84

D. CONCLUSIONS: RECIDIVISM AND ARRESTS
The analysis of recidivism and arrests provides encouraging evidence that community
courts can have a positive impact on offenders, their communities, and the criminal justice system.
The data demonstrate that the Justice Center does indeed reduce recidivism among adult
misdemeanor offenders, and suggest that the Justice Center also has a broader influence on the
general level of crime in the catchment area.
Conclusion 1. The Red Hook Community Justice Center appears to bring about a robust
and sustained decrease in recidivism among adult misdemeanor offenders.
The results of our multivariate survival analysis indicate that, at any given point in time, a
defendant whose misdemeanor case was processed at the Red Hook Community Justice Center is
20 percent less likely to be re-arrested than a similar defendant whose case was processed in a
traditional criminal court. This effect is statistically significant and persists over time.

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153

Conclusion 2. Procedural justice appears to be a key mechanism through which the Justice
Center reduces recidivism among adult misdemeanor offenders.
The observed decrease in recidivism among RHCJC defendants may result from deterrence,
social service interventions such as drug treatment, or enhanced defendant perceptions of the
court’s legitimacy brought about through the court’s community connections and by procedural
justice in court decision-making. The available data provide no evidence for the deterrence,
intervention, or community connections hypotheses as operationalized in our models. Evidence
from the process evaluation and ethnographic analysis, however, points strongly to procedural
justice as a critical factor behind the court’s success in reducing recidivism. The community
survey, offender interviews, and courtroom observation all provide evidence that defendants
perceive a high level of procedural fairness in the Justice Center’s decision-making processes. The
judge is widely viewed as trustworthy, genuinely concerned with the well-being of the parties
appearing before him, neutral, respectful, and committed to allowing defendants a meaningful
voice in court proceedings. Furthermore, all aspects of court operations, as well as the courthouse
itself, were designed to preserve individual dignity and support perceptions of procedural fairness
in the court process as a whole.
These findings suggest that community court judges should be selected for their ability to
project a high degree of procedural fairness. Judicial training in the principles and practices of
procedural justice may produce similar benefits for traditional courts.
Conclusion 3. The Justice Center’s juvenile delinquency caseload is too small to allow for a
conclusive evaluation of the program’s impact on juvenile offenders.
Although multivariate survival analysis estimates that a youth whose juvenile delinquency
case was processed at Red Hook faces a 30 percent lower risk of re-arrest at any given point in time
than a similarly situated youth whose case was processed in a traditional family court, this result is
not statistically significant at the .05 level. The apparent lack of a significant effect may result from
the small sample size (n = 204), and it is possible that a statistically significant effect might be
detected in a larger sample. The number of juvenile delinquency cases processed at Red Hook,
however, is small and steadily declining. Unless steps are taken to increase the Justice Center’s
family court caseload, the overall public safety benefit of, or cost savings from, any reduction in
recidivism would therefore be quite small.
Conclusion 4. The implementation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center was
associated with a decrease in both felony and misdemeanor arrests in the catchment area, along
with long- term stability in arrest trends.
Both felony and misdemeanor arrests in the catchment area precincts dropped substantially
upon the Justice Center’s opening. Since that time, arrest trends in the catchment area have
remained relatively stable, in sharp contrast with the fluctuating arrest trends observed in
neighboring precincts. These effects appear to be associated with the presence of the Justice

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

154

Center, although they do not seem to result from any formal coordination between the Justice
Center and the New York City Police Department.

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155

CHAPTER 10. COST EFFICIENCY ANALYSIS
The impact evaluation demonstrates that criminal case processing at the Red Hook
Community Justice Center produces a robust and sustained effect on recidivism relative to case
processing in a traditional misdemeanor court. Over the two-year period following arraignment,
Red Hook defendants were 10 percent less likely to be re-arrested than comparable defendants
whose cases were processed at Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn. Survival
analysis confirms that the reduction in the probability of recidivism persists over time and after
taking into account characteristics of the offender and the offense. Having established that the
Justice Center achieved its goal of reducing recidivism, good public policy requires us to ask the
next logical question: Does the benefit to the public justify the investment of resources required to
bring about this effect? After all, there are many potential alternative uses for the money invested in
the Justice Center (“opportunity costs”) that would also benefit the citizens in the Justice Center
catchment area, such as school improvements, public health initiatives, or public works projects. In
this chapter, we report on a quantitative analysis and comparison of RHCJC costs and benefits.
A. METHODOLOGY
The analysis described in the following is designed to ascertain whether continued funding
of the RHCJC criminal court is cost-efficient. It does not attempt to answer the related and more
difficult to answer question, “Has the RHCJC criminal court been cost-efficient over its lifetime?”
Doing so would require a comprehensive comparison of costs and benefits of the criminal court
across the lifetime of the project, including start-up costs. Although we provide information about
start-up costs, they are not, by definition, part of the current analysis.
To determine whether continued funding of the RHCJC Criminal Court is cost-efficient,
we employed a cost/benefit approach that requires a comprehensive tallying of RHCJC and
Downtown Criminal Court costs and benefits. All costs and benefits are determined from the
taxpayer’s perspective. In some cases, the many partner agencies provide their services to the
RHCJC without charging a fee to the RHCJC but nonetheless an expense is accrued to the
taxpayer. Other approaches to cost-efficiency analysis such as cost-effectiveness analysis
(comparing cost per unit change in some outcome variable such as recidivism) or marginal
cost/benefit analysis (analysis of the benefits and costs of the marginal unit of a good or input,
e.g., an additional 1% reduction in recidivism) were considered but deemed not as informative as
cost/benefit analysis.
In our analysis, costs were classified as either “fixed” or “variable.” On the expenditure
side, almost all of the reported expenses can be classified as “fixed” as opposed to “variable” costs.
Fixed costs refer to those that are relatively invariant regardless of the number of court cases or
other users of the RHCJC—for example, rent (Levin and McEwan 2001). In other words, most of
the Justice Center’s expenses would remain relatively unchanged whether the court processed
many cases or just a few. Variable costs (e.g., long-term drug treatment) are a function of the

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

156

number of users of a good or service.49 Many of costs of external service providers to the RHCJC
can be considered to be variable costs.
The costs of typical property and violent crimes were based on estimates made by Miller,
Cohen, and Wiersema in 1996, adjusted for inflation using a calculator available from the Bureau
of Labor Statistics website. 50 These are the same estimates used by Waller, Carey, Farley, and
Rempel (2013) for determining the effectiveness of the Judicial Diversion Program in New York.
We experienced only partial success in obtaining information about the costs and benefits
of the business-as-usual alternative to the RHCJC Criminal Court, the Kings County Criminal
Court in downtown Brooklyn. We were unable to obtain defendant-level data about the type and
dosage of services provided by the downtown court. However, based on our interviews with
personnel at the downtown court, it is clear that downtown defendants rarely receive services of
any kind. The primary exception would be offenders processed by the Brooklyn Misdemeanor Drug
Court, which in 2011 had an average daily caseload of 170 cases. We were also unable to obtain
budget information from the Downtown Brooklyn Court that would enable us to calculate fixed
and variable costs.
We were, however, able to compare costs and benefits for some specific activities (e.g., use
of jail) that will be described below. We were able to calculate the marginal cost of jail usage,
property victimization, and personal victimization between the RHCJC and the downtown court as
well as the marginal value of community service work between the two courts. If the differences in
marginal costs favor the RHCJC they are counted as positive “benefits” or “avoided costs”
following the procedure, for example, of Waller et. al. and Carey and Finigan (2004). Then, these
benefits or avoided costs were compared to the RHCJC program costs, fixed and variable combined,
for a determination of cost-efficiency. We did not have the data required to do a similar calculation
for the Downtown Criminal Court. Generally, although the cost-efficiency analysis described in this
chapter cannot provide a comprehensive tally of program costs to be compared to a similar tally of
tangible benefits, it does provide sufficient information to draw a tentative conclusion about the
cost efficiency of the adult criminal court component of the RHCJC project.
B. COSTS
1. Start-Up Costs

49

Transactional and Institutional Cost Analysis, or TICA (Crumpton, Carey, and Finigan 2004), provides a powerful
framework within which to analyze such “variable” costs. TICA was developed to better estimate the cost of drug
courts and other problem-solving courts. The TICA approach would be appropriate to identify the cost of transactions
between the RHCJC and external organizations that provide services to RHCJC Criminal Court participants on a percase basis. To the extent that we could, we implemented TICA (e.g., taking the taxpayer’s perspective when
determining costs and benefits) but ultimately were unable to obtain all of the information that would be required to
fully implement TICA. Consequently, alternative methods were used to estimate variable costs.
50
That calculator is available at: http://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

157

The current analysis attempts to determine whether continued funding of the RHCJC is
cost-beneficial, and therefore does not take start-up costs into account. Because we were able to
compile data on RHCJC’s start-up costs, however, we present these data to provide general
information on the costs of establishing the program that might prove helpful to other community
court planners.
Table 42 provides a summary of the Justice Center’s start-up costs and the sources of
funding for these costs for fiscal years (FY) 1994 – 2000, prior to the court’s opening in April of
2000. Funds were initially provided solely by private donors and foundations, but the total project
budget quickly grew from $35,000 to over $7 million with the addition of funding from New York
City, New York State, and the Bureau of Justice Assistance. Three types of expenditures dominated
the start-up costs, which totaled $7,358,714: construction (63 percent), contract services (architects,
construction site management, and program consultants) (19 percent), and personnel (14 percent).

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158

Table 42: Start-up Costs for the RHCJC 1994-2000
Project Funds
BJA (construction soft costs)
OJJDP
NYS DCJS
NYS UCS
NYC EDC
NYC DDC (construction hard costs)
Foundations/Donations
TOTAL PROJECT FUNDING

Project

Project

Project

Project
402,699

Project
504,698

Project Total
387,028

Project Total
89,562

89,369
148,682
34,862

45,138

35,000

50,000

223

35,000

84,862

45,360

Project
74,420
24,559
98,979

Project
31,531
11,194
42,725

165,689
8,297

4,068,200
73,136

411,118
132,085
1,242,111
28,543

402,699

678,684

4,766,414

1,903,420

Project
121,307
43,064
164,371

Project
253,200
83,556
336,756

Project Total
269,511
90,213
359,724

164,658
56,101
220,758

115,276
100,983
7,500
223,759

91,104
800,077
57,848
949,029

44

7
2,562
624
310
479
250
150
4,597
76
1,040

547

1,705
306
225
226
2,428
1,126

492
445

1,308
1,441

40,130

18,059

*
Project
7,300
2,409
9,709

Project Costs
Subtotal Personnel
Fringe
Total Personnel
OTPS
CONTRACTUAL
Architect
Construction Site Management Services
Program Consultants
CONTRACTUAL SUBTOTAL
Art-Photography
Audit
Special Mailing
Car Rental
Cleaning Services
Accommodations
Conference Fees
Duplication
Equipment Maintenance
Food
Design and Mechanics
Furnishings
Insurance
Legal
Meals
Memberships
Messenger
Postage
Printing
Publications
Rent
Space Allocation
Supplies
Telephone
Temporaries
Travel (Local)
Travel (Long Distance)
Gratuities
Software (Misc)
Construct/Renovation
Want Ads - Recruiting
Office Repairs/Maintenance
Educational Fees
Stipends
Video Expense
Application Fee
Supplies - Program
Supplies - other
Consultant Expense
Professional Services
Equipment Acquisition
Electric
Donations/Gifts
Facilities
Indirect Service Charge
TOTAL OTPS
TOTAL PROJECT COST
Excess Expenditures over Revenues

254

343
14

360
185

-

77

610

26

1,509
263
194
322
592

1,303
742
202

64

87
60
217

45

3,296
35

10

34
5

95
706

6

275
468

618
472
6

36

72
2,590
795
844

4,087
1,670

22

1,164
6,105
120
977
501
20
61,136
811
270
200
2,560
269

150
1,752
1,706
2,800
1,717

4,026

36,086

36,086

265

10,354
343
2,744

1,200

707
160
32
483
6,389
1,257
138
8,615
1,015
4,764
1,591
143
3,337,824
1,527
417

330
1,008
612

1,242,111
1,107

8,500
200
1,091
9
17,084

1,209

4,981
242
53
869

956

6,622

2,568

7,188

18,007

2,635

238,327

341,928

4,406,690

1,301,460

16,897

116,986

45,360

402,699

678,684

4,766,414 *

1,331,673

(18,103)

32,124

(0)

12,277

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

(0)

1

(0)

7,916,440

Excludes operating expenditures
Project Total
TOTAL
22,298
779,567
7,916
262,910
30,213
1,042,477

338
797
124
3,715
273
11,094

TOTAL
1,383,987
89,369
559,800
212,085
5,476,000
195,199

407,124
957,161
65,348
1,429,632
598
2,562
1,142
310
2,183
899
735
6,530
3,258
3,517
322
3,203
59,630
742
690
60
1,721
283
7,088
801
17,482
1,587
1,509
19,029
1,134
8,077
3,876
26
143
4,645,159
2,338
3,487
200
11,060
269
350
4,052
1,715
27,438
3,143
13,469
242
53
2,069
22,422
6,316,237
7,358,714
(557,726)

159

2. Funding and Expenditures for Justice Center Operations
The Center for Court Innovation (CCI) provided the FY 2010 budget for the RHCJC
project, which totaled $2,219,423, to the research team. The project receives about one-third of its
funding from federal agencies, in particular the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), and the Office of National and Community
Services, which funds the AmeriCorps program at the RHCJC. The project also receives about 40
percent of its funding from two New York State agencies: the Division of Criminal Justice Services
and, the Unified Court System. Another 21 percent of the RHCJC’s funding comes from the New
York City Economic Development Corporation. Finally, about six percent of the project’s funding
out of private foundation grants and donations.
Nearly all of the reported expenses can be classified as “fixed” as opposed to “variable”
costs.” In other words, most of the Justice Center’s expenses would remain relatively unchanged
whether the court processed many cases or just a few.
Turning to expenditures, personnel and associated fringe benefits expenses account for the
bulk of the charges (56 percent). Table 43 lists the CCI project personnel and their FTE status.
Personnel expenses are distributed among project administrators (30 percent), clinic staff (20
percent), alternative sanctions staff (10 percent), community and youth programs staff (28 percent),
technology staff (3.6 percent), and research staff (8.5 percent).
Table 43: RHCJC Project Personnel
Position
Project Director
Deputy Project Director
Deputy Project Director
Office & Facilities Manager
Clinical
Clinic Coordinator
Social Worker
Case Manager
Avodah Case Manager
Social Worker
Alternative Sanctions
Community Service Supervisor
Community Service Supervisor
Coordinator, Alternative Sanctions
Community & Youth Programs

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

FTE
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%

160

Director, Youth & Family Services
Asst Program Coordinator

100%
100%

Table 43: RHCJC Project Personnel
Position
Hsg Resource Ctr Coord. & Mediation
Intake Specialist
Americorps & Youth Prog Director
Community Outreach Organizer
ReServ Member
ReServ Member
ReServ Member
ReServ Member
Technology
Technology Lead
Programmer/Manager
Research
Research Director
Associate Director, Research
Sr Research Associate
Sr Research Associate

FTE
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
100%
25%
20%
5%
10%
20%
100%

Other categories of fixed costs, shown in Table 44, include those related to RHCJC
programs such as stipends, program supplies, food, local travel, and professional fees. Collectively,
this accounts for 4.8 percent of all expenditures. Other categories include capital and equipment
costs (1.6 percent), expenses related to AmeriCorps 1 (19.8 percent), and indirect costs (15.2 percent
of all expenditures).
Table 44: Other Overhead
Costs
Training Fees
Conference Fees
Dues/Membership Fees
Printing
Postage
Special Mailing

1

Including FICA for AmeriCorps members, stipends-payroll, health and accident insurance.

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161

Travel (long Distance)
Telephone
Telephone Maintenance Contract
Table 44: Other Overhead
Costs
Internet line Charge
On-line services
Equipment Maintenance
Contract
Equipment Maintenance
Equipment Rentals/Leases
Insurance
Office Supplies
Office Maintenance/Repairs
Furnishings
Janitorial Supplies
Building Maintenance/Repairs
Donations/Gifts
Facilities/Retreats/Events
The costs described in this section do not include expenses incurred by RHCJC “partners,”
most of which are essential to the operation of the court. For example, the most prominent partner
was the NYS Office of Court Administration, which paid for almost all court personnel. While it
may seem somewhat counterintuitive to consider the court system to be a “partner”, the RHCJC is
a CCI project, conceived of and administered by this organization. Partner costs are explored
further in the next section.
3. Partner Expenses
Community courts, like other problem-solving courts, are complex organizations that rely
on a variety of federal, state, and municipal agencies as well as private organizations. Tables 45 and
46 below list the justice system partners and the principal community partners of the RHCJC,
respectively, and the contributions that they make to the Center. All fixed partner expenses total
$4,244,627, almost twice the size of the Justice Center’s internal operating budget—a significant
contribution of resources.

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162

Table 45: Red Hook Community Justice Center Community Fixed Justice System Partner
Expenses FY 2010*
% of Total
Number of
Partner
Organization/Personnel
Personnel
FTE
Expenses
6.3%
NYS Office of Court Administration
Judge
1
100%
Clerks & Clerical
7
100%
Interpreter
1
100%
Reporter
1
100%
Court Officer
13
100%
Court Officer (Lt.)
2
100%
Court Officer (Sgt.)
2
100%
Resource Coordinator
1
100%
7.7%

Legal Aid
Attorneys
Paralegal

3
1

100%
100%

District Attorney
ADA
Bureau Chief
Administration

3
1
2

100%
100%
100%

2
5

100%
100%

1

1 day/mo

Probation
Officer
Administration

1
1

100%
100%

NYC Criminal Justice Agency
ROR Interviewer

2

100%

NYPD
Sergeants
Officers
Officers for class (“What to do when
stopped by police”)

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

8.2%

15.9%

2.7%

1.5%

163

Table 46: Red Hook Community Justice Center Community Fixed Community
Partner Expenses FY 2010*
% of Total
Number of
Partner
Organization/Personnel
Personnel
FTE
Expenses
1.8%
Dept. of Ed.
GED Teacher
1
100%
Safe Horizon
Mediation Coordinator
Victim Advocate
Childcare Teacher

Housing Coordinator
Pro Se Court Attorney

Opportunities for a Better Tomorrow

1.8%
1
1
1

40%
100%
100%

2.7%
1

100%
24 weeks/3
days

1.3%

*We do not provide salary information because that might reveal the compensation of specific individuals or a
group of individuals.

These fixed partner expenses are not “additional” costs to the taxpayer because in the
absence of the RHCJC, nearly all of these resources would have been expended on processing
the same cases at Kings County Criminal Court in downtown Brooklyn. These costs, however,
need to be included in a comprehensive tally of costs and benefits.
Table 47 lists additional partner agencies serving clients referred by RHCJC for which we
had no cost data and which were, with the exception of the South Brooklyn Health Center
(whose costs are estimated below), not subsequently included in the cost/benefit analysis.
Relatively few offenders processed at the RHCJC will be served by these organizations that are
onsite for only limited periods of time.
Table 47: Red Hook Community Justice Center Community Partners FTE FY 2010 (No Cost Data)
Organization/Personnel
South Brooklyn Health Center
Health First
Fortune Society
-HIV testing
NYC Human Resources Administration
Adult Protective Services
Falconworks
-Police teen theater

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

FTE
3 hrs/week
2 days/week
1 day/month
1 day/week
Summer
Periodic

164

Most of the services that incur variable costs are of very short duration and are provided
relatively inexpensively on an “outpatient” basis (e.g., treatment readiness). The largest variable
cost will be for the small percentage of offenders referred to long-term drug treatment. Given
that only 4.3 percent of dispositions result in a referral to long-term drug treatment, it is likely
that no more than 135 of the 3,210 defendants arraigned at RHCJC in 2008 would receive such a
referral. The costs of funding long-term referrals are measured through an estimate developed in
New York for determining the effectiveness of the Judicial Diversion Program (Waller et.al.) of
$5,971 per offender throughout the course of treatment. If 135 offenders receive this treatment,
the total cost will be $806,085, as shown in Table 48 below. This represents as an upper estimate
of the cost of such services to the taxpayer, as the proportion of cases referred to long-term drug
treatment is calculated based on dispositions, and some cases arraigned at the Justice Center are
transferred downtown for disposition.
Table 48: Estimated Cost of Long-Term Drug Treatment for 2008 RHCJC Arraignments
Total
Number of
Arraignments
3,210

Percent Referred
to Long-Term
Drug Treatment
4.3%

Estimated Number of
Arraignments Referred
to Long-Term Drug
Treatment
135

Cost of LongTerm Drug
Total Cost of
Treatment per
Long-Term
Participant
Drug Treatment
$5,971
$806,085

Nearly all of the classes to which offenders are referred by the court are staffed internally
and are consequently included in the fixed cost tally. The exception is the fixed cost for the
Marijuana Group which is taught by staff from the South Brooklyn Health Center.1 Staff (usually
one person) from the latter are at the RHCJC facilitating the Marijuana Group 3 hours per week.
If we assume conservatively that this class will be offered 52 weeks per year that will involve
156 hours. The average salary of a licensed substance abuse counselor in New York City is
$59,000 per year (http://www.indeed.com/salary/q-Substance-Abuse-Counselor-l-New-York,NY.html ) or assuming 252 working days in a year, $234 a day or (assuming an 8 hour work
day) $29.25 per hour. Thus we estimate the cost of this class to be ($29.25 per hour) X (3 Hours)
X 52 weeks or $4, 563 per year, as shown in Table 49 below.
Table 49: Estimated Fixed Costs For South Brooklyn Health Center's Marijuana Group
Annual
Weekly
Estimated Number of
Number of
Estimated Hourly
Total Cost
Hours for
Weeks per Year that
Hours of
Wage of Licensed
of
Marijuana
Marijuana Group is in
Marijuana
Substance Abuse
Marijuana
Group
Session
Group
Counselor
Group
3
52
156
$29.25
$4,563.00

Narco Freedom currently runs the adult treatment readiness group at a nearby treatment facility in Red
Hook, and CSEDNY runs the adolescent marijuana group at a treatment facility in downtown Brooklyn.

1

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Table 47 (above) lists other fixed-cost services that are provided to RHCJC criminal court
defendants by external agencies for which specific cost data could not be obtained. All of these
services are provided onsite at the RHCJC, which makes office space available to the providers.
The resources used by these agencies consist almost entirely of personnel, and the total staffing
of these services appears to add up to less than one full-time equivalent employee.
4. Other Costs and Benefits
Including both the Justice Center’s operating budget and the fixed expenses incurred by
partner organizations, the total fixed cost of operating the Justice Center, including the cost of the
marijuana group was $6,468,613in FY 2010. Adding $806,085 for variable costs yields a total
estimated cost to taxpayers of around $ 7,274,698 for FY 2008, which is probably slightly
exaggerated given that the operating budget for FY 2010 was almost certainly larger than the
similar budget for FY 2008. We were unable to get exact budget figure for FY 2008 because a
change in accounting software at CCI made this highly problematic. Because we are missing
costs for the services listed in Table 47, and in an effort to not underestimate costs, we increase
our estimate of the cost of the RHCJC to taxpayers to be $7,500,000.
C. BENEFITS
1. The Cost of Jail Use
Red Hook defendants are far less likely than downtown defendants to receive an initial
sentence of jail, and initial jail sentences handed down at Red Hook are shorter on average.
The Justice Center, however, uses secondary jail as a sanction for noncompliance with social
service and community service mandates far more frequently than does the downtown court,
and these “secondary jail” sentences tend to be considerably longer than sentences imposed at
the downtown court. As shown in Table 50, taking into account both primary and secondary
jail sanctions, the average number of jail days served by all defendants is higher at Red Hook
than downtown (4.75 days versus 3.06 days).
Table 50: Comparison of RHCJC and Downtown Court Use of
Jail per 3,210 Defendants
Red Hook

Downtown

Average Number of Days Sentenced to
Jail
4.75
3.06
Total number of jail days for 3,210 defendants 15,248
9,823
Cost of Jail-Day
$187.02
$187.02
Total Cost of Jail
$2,851,681 $1,837,098
Difference
-$1, 014,583

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The FY 2011 NYC Mayor’s Management Report indicates that the cost of keeping an
offender one day in a New York City jail is $187.02. Table 50 shows that for every 3,210
offenders (total FY 2008 arraignments at RHCJC) processed by the RHCJC and for every 3,210
processed downtown, jail expenses for RHCJC will exceed those of the downtown court by
slightly more than $1 million. We treat this as a negative benefit, rather than a cost, because
avoided jail is typically considered a benefit in most cost/benefit analyses of problem-solving
courts.
2. Value of Community Service
Both the RHCJC and the downtown court provide a benefit to their communities in the
form of community service provided by supervised offenders. RHCJC participants are more
likely to receive a sentence to community service than their Downtown counterparts although, if
they receive such a sentence, it will be shorter than the typical Downtown mandate. Table 51
shows that for every 3,210 offenders processed by the RHCJC and the downtown court,
respectively, RHCJC participants will return about $64,000 more in community service than
their Downtown counterparts. In this analysis, we assumed that the 77% compliance rate for
community service at the RHCJC also held for the downtown court, but this is almost certainly
an overestimate because community service is monitored more stringently at the RHCJC than
Downtown and defendants at the former are consequently more likely to actually perform the
work than those from the latter.
Table 51: Comparison of Value of Community Service Provided by RHCJC
and Downtown Defendants per 3,210 Defendants

% Sentenced to Community Service
Assuming 3,210 Offenders in Each Group, Number
Sentenced to Community Service
Average Length of Mandate (days)
Total Number of Days of Community Service
77 percent compliance rate X Community Service
Days
NY Minimum Wage 2008 ($7.15/hour) X 8 hours
Value of Community Service
Difference

Red Hook
33%

Downtown
12%

1,059
2.803
2,969

385
3.914
1,508

2,286
1,161
$57.20
$57.20
$130,759.20 $66,409.20
$64,350.00

3. Avoided Victimization Costs
The reduced recidivism rate for RHCJC participants relative to their Downtown
counterparts produces savings to the criminal justice system and to victims of crimes. Because
we were not able to obtain the data required to do a complete accounting of criminal justice
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system costs, this part of the cost-efficiency analysis is speculative. Costs to the criminal justice
system for offenders processed in the RHCJC and the downtown court (e.g., arrest, prearraignment detention) will be similar up to the point of arraignment. However, any differences
in the initial cost of processing offenders between the RHCJC and the downtown court will be
in part offset by the reduced cost to the criminal justice system that results from the lower
recidivism rate found for the RHCJC relative to the downtown court.
We are able to estimate the costs avoided related to victimization resulting from
reoffending. Offenders processed by the RHCJC demonstrated significantly lower recidivism for
both property and violent offenses than their Downtown counterparts. Tables 52 and 53 show
that these differences in recidivism produced more cost-avoidance of victimization costs for the
RHCJC relative to the downtown court for both property re-arrests and violent re-offending. The
costs of typical property and violent crimes are based on estimates made by Waller et. al (2012).
When victimization costs for property and violent offenses are combined, 3,210 offenders
processed in the RHCJC will generate $15,266,760 in avoided victimization costs relative to a
similar number of offenders processed at the downtown court.
Table 52: Comparison of Victimization Costs for Property ReArrests

1

Average Number of Property Re-Arrests
Victimization Cost for a Property Re-Arrest
Total Cost
Average Victimization Cost Avoided
Total Cost Avoided for 3210 RHCJC Participants
1

Red Hook
0.31
$12,881
$3,993

Downtown
0.42
$12,881
$5,410
$1417
$4,548,570

Re-arrest within two years of arraignment.

Table 53: Comparison of Victimization Costs for Violent Re-Arrests

1

Average Number of Violent Felony Re-Arrests
Average Number of Violent Misdemeanor Re-Arrests
Total Number of Violent Re-Arrests
Victimization Cost for a Violent Re-Arrest
Total Cost
Average Victimization Cost Avoided
Total Cost Avoided for 3,210 RHCJC Participants
1

Red Hook
0.07
0.09
0.16
$41,728
$6,676

Downtown
0.1
0.14
0.24
$41,728
$10,015
$3,339
$10,718,190

Re-arrest within two years of arraignment.

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4. Other Costs and Benefits
The RHCJC does not enjoy the economies of scale that the larger, more conveniently
located downtown court enjoys, increasing the costs of case processing for the former relative to
the latter. The RHCJC is located in an isolated neighborhood, resulting in large fixed costs
relative to the number of offenders that it processes. Transporting offenders and their paperwork
to RHCJC was often noted as a problem in our interviews with stakeholders. Many offenders
eventually processed by the RHCJC are initially detained at the downtown court while others
require paperwork (e.g., the case file) that must be transported from the downtown court to the
RHCJC manually, not electronically. Finally, because offender compliance is monitored more
closely at RHCJC than the downtown court and cases take longer to receive a disposition in the
former than the latter, it is likely that initial court processing costs for the RHCJC will exceed
those of the downtown court.
On the other hand, it is likely the close case monitoring at RHCJC produces a higher
proportion of offenders paying fines than is the case downtown counterparts because of closer
case monitoring. Also, pre-trial detention, at an average cost of $19,000, is less likely to be used
at the RHCJC than the downtown court. Defendants at the downtown criminal court are 15
times more likely to have bail set than their RHCJC counterparts.
There are also intangible benefits realized through RHCJC’s contribution to the ongoing
revitalization of the Red Hook neighborhood. It is not possible, however, to estimate the size of
its contribution or to subsequently associate its contribution with a dollar amount. The
revitalization of the Red Hook neighborhood occurred almost in front of the research team’s eyes
during repeated site visits and was quite striking. The presence of IKEA and the Fairway grocery
store as well the emerging artists’ colony attest to the change. Anecdotally, many of those
interviews by the research team, both of court personnel and local residents and business people,
feel that the RHCJC is an important contributor to the change.
The RHCJC also generates intangible value as a demonstration site for other jurisdictions
considering community courts. The court hosts many visitors, domestic and international, who
are interested in learning more about community courts. Some of these visitors have used the
RHCJC as a model for their own community courts. Because it is a demonstration site, the
RHCJC incorporates several features that increase its fixed costs, such as an on-site research
presence, that would not necessarily be included in other courts replicating the RHCJC model.
Likewise, potential replicators should carefully weigh whether the potential value added by an
on-site clinic is worth the investment. The clinic’s functions could be performed by an external
party by contract in such a replication.
5. Summary of Benefits
Table 54 provides a summary of the estimated benefits that we were able to monetize,
generated by the 3,210 FY 2008 arraignments at the RHCJC relative to their counterparts at the
downtown court. These benefits total more than $14 million.

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Table 54: Value of Benefits Generated for 2008 Arraignments

Benefits
Costs Avoided:
Jail
Property
Victimizations
Personal
Victimizations
Community Service
Total

Value

Value per
Arraignment

-$1,014,583.00

-$316.07

$4,548,570.00

$1,417.00

$10,718,190.00
$64,350.00
$14,316,527.00

$3,339.00
$20.05
$4,459.98

D. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Because we lack precise information about variable costs at either the RHCJC or the
downtown court, as well as costs to the criminal justice system (including courts) for reoffending, we cannot provide a comprehensive comparison of costs and benefits for either the
RHCJC or the downtown court. However, we have presented sufficient data to form some
tentative conclusions.
As shown in Table 55, total estimated costs for the RHCJC and its community partners
amounted to $7,500,000 during FY 2010, including $ 6,693,915 in fixed costs and an estimated
$ 806,085 in variable costs. We regard this as an upper-limit estimate of the total cost to
taxpayers of the RHCJC. We took several steps to avoid underestimating costs and exaggerating
benefits, including:
– Basing estimates of the costs of long-term drug treatment on the number of arraignments
(as opposed to dispositions, because good data was not available for the latter)
– Likely overestimating the extent of compliance with community service by Downtown
defendants, thereby reducing the value of this benefit
– Likely overestimating the number of times that the marijuana group is in session,
increasing the cost for this service

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– Adding $225,302 to our estimates of cost to account for the missing costs described in
Table 47 plus any other we have missed.

Table 55: Comparison of Costs and Benefits Generated by 2008
Arraignments at RHCJC
Costs
Fixed
Variable
Total Costs
Benefits

Value
$6,464,050.00
$1,000,000.00
$7,464,050.00

Costs Avoided:
Jail -$1,014,583.00
Property Victimizations $4,548,570.00
Personal Victimizations $10,718,190.00
$64,350.00
Community Service
$14,316,527.00
Total Benefits
$6,852,477.00
Net Benefit
1.92
Ratio of Benefits to Costs

Value per Arraignment
$2,013.72
$311.53
$2,325.25

-$316.07
$1,417.00
$3,339.00
$20.05
$4,459.98
$2,134.73
1.92

Table 55 also provides a summary of monetized benefits generated by the 3,210
RHCJC arraignments in FY 2008 (when our sample of cases was selected), relative to their
downtown court counterparts. The table shows benefits totaling $14,316,527. Despite the
small difference in time frames used to calculate these statistics, the estimated benefits exceed
the total costs of the RHCJC and its community partners by a factor of nearly 2 to 1. In
addition, the criminal justice system avoided costs as a result of the lower recidivism rate for
the RHCJC relative to the downtown court are likely to be significant, further off-setting any
differences in the cost of initial processing between the two courts. Thus, RHCJC is almost
certainly cost-effective relative to the downtown court.
Clearly, our analysis rests heavily on the difference in victimization costs between the
RHCJC sample and the comparison group. Because victimization costs are at best, estimated
using, principally, victimization data, this approach may leave some readers uncomfortable.
However, an element which missing from our analysis, costs to the criminal justice system
(including courts) for re-offending, will clearly favor RHCJC over the comparison group
because of the latter’s lower recidivism rate. If this benefit was added to the analysis and
victimization costs excluded, it is still likely that the RHCJC will produce a positive cost benefit
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ratio. To just break even in such an analysis, cost savings per arraignment (for all criminal
justice system processing costs excluding jail, which is already explicitly accounted for in this
analysis) for RHCJC participants relative to the comparison group would only have to exceed
$296. Because this is likely, given the difference in recidivism rates, we conclude that the
RHCJC is likely cost-effective even when victimization costs are excluded from the analysis.
From a strictly economic perspective, the impact of the significant amount of fixed costs
the RHCJC incurs could be lessened if additional defendants were processed there. This would
reduce the cost per defendant if the fixed costs remained the same. It might prove the case,
however, that additional staff might be needed to accommodate a larger caseload without
sacrificing the quality of justice at RHCJC. This suggests that consideration be given to
identifying ways to improve the efficiency of RHCJC’s operation in ways that might permit it
to serve a larger caseload without sacrificing individual justice. This report identifies a number
of potential opportunities for increasing efficiency. For example, delay in getting the case file
and sometimes the defendant from the downtown court to the RHCJC occurs regularly, and, if
corrected, could permit more cases to be processed in Red Hook.

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CHAPTER 11. CONCLUSIONS AND OBSERVATIONS
In 2001, the Red Hook Community Justice Center opened its doors in an abandoned
schoolhouse in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The goal was to create a
criminal court that would halt the “revolving door” of the traditional criminal justice system by
providing a constructive response to crime, as well as by working closely with the community to
prevent crime before it occurred.
The Justice Center’s planners sought to reduce crime through three separate but
interrelated mechanisms: deterrence, intervention and enhanced legitimacy. Deterrence was
expected to result from the certainty of meaningful punishment for misdemeanor offenses,
including follow-up sanctions in response to a defendant’s noncompliance with the court’s
original mandate. Intervention for juveniles and some adult defendants would involve judicially
supervised treatment for drug abuse and other factors that originally led to the defendant’s
involvement in crime. Legitimacy was expected to arise from the practice of procedural justice in
judicial decision-making, as well as through the cultivation of close ties to the community, and
would lead to voluntary compliance with the law.
Nearly a decade later, the National Institute of Justice funded a comprehensive
independent evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. The research was conducted
by the National Center for State Courts in partnership with the Center for Court Innovation and
the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The evaluation is a rigorous multi-method investigation
that includes (a) a process evaluation to document the planning and operations of the Red Hook
Community Justice Center and determine if the program plan was implemented as intended; (b) a
comparison of defendants processed at the Justice Center with similarly situated defendants
processed in a traditional criminal court in downtown Brooklyn to measure differences in
sentencing practices and the risk of recidivism; (c) an analysis of arrest levels in the Justice
Center’s catchment area and surrounding neighborhoods to detect changes in the overall level of
crime associated with the opening of the Justice Center, (d) a cost-efficiency analysis to estimate
whether the Justice Center’s impact on recidivism justifies the investment of taxpayer dollars,
and (e) an ethnographic analysis to examine community and offender perceptions of the Justice
Center.
This chapter has three objectives. First, it distills and connects the principal findings that
emerged from our multi-method evaluation of the Justice Center. Second, it steps back from
findings specific to the Justice Center to consider what lessons the Red Hook experience holds
for anyone interested in community courts specifically or problem-solving courts generally, as
well as for policymakers and practitioners interested in the role of procedural justice in justice
system reform. Finally, it offers guidance on how some of the policies and practices that have
proven effective in community courts can be applied in the setting of a centralized misdemeanor
court.
A. PRINCIPAL FINDINGS
Six principal findings emerge from our evaluation research.
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First, the Justice Center was for the most part implemented in close accordance with the
original program plan and, more than a decade after its opening, continues to operate in a manner
consistent with this plan.
Second, offenders processed at the Justice Center are significantly more likely than
defendants in traditional misdemeanor courts to receive meaningful sanctions that are carefully
monitored for compliance.
Third, the Justice Center reduces the rate of re-arrest within two years by 10 percent in
comparison with the re-arrest rate for similar defendants whose cases were processed in a
traditional criminal court.
Fourth, the level of crime in the Justice Center’s catchment area, as indexed by the
number of arrests, dropped sharply upon the opening of the Justice Center and has remained
relatively stable since that time. This is in marked contrast to arrest levels in the adjacent police
precincts, which did not display a similar decrease at the time of the Justice Center’s opening,
and have fluctuated considerably throughout the entire period of observation.
Fifth, the Justice Center achieves these reductions in recidivism and arrest levels in a
manner that is cost-efficient from the perspective of taxpayers.
Finally, based on the available evidence, it appears that the Justice Center’s impact on
crime and recidivism results primarily from the Justice Center’s ability to project its legitimacy
to offenders and the local residential community rather than from strategies of deterrence or
intervention. The Justice Center’s legitimacy arises primarily from the exercise of procedural
justice in judicial decision-making, but also from its perceived status as a genuine community
institution that shares and upholds the values of local residents. This legitimacy appears to
motivate offenders and residents to obey the law voluntarily, rather than out of fear of
punishment.
1. Fidelity to the Program Theory in the Implementation Process
The qualitative and quantitative evidence gathered during the course of the process
evaluation demonstrate that the Justice Center was implemented, and continues to operate,
largely as intended by its planners and in accordance with the program theory. There have been
some departures from the project plan over the years, but these include revisions to the plan
based on opportunity and experience.
Before it could open, the Justice Center needed to have in place an array of resources,
internal management mechanisms, and inter-organizational relationships to facilitate the planned
changes in sanctioning practices, reinforce perceptions of procedural justice, and support a wide
range of youth and community programming. In support of the goal of deterring crime through
meaningful sanctions, the Justice Center’s alternative sanctions office connects defendants with
opportunities to fulfill community service and short-term social service mandates and monitors

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compliance with these mandates. In support of the Justice Center’s goal of intervention, the court
clinic is capable of making assessments, linking defendants and juvenile delinquency
respondents with community-based providers of services such as drug treatment, and assisting
the judge in monitoring and enforcing treatment mandates. A wide array of youth and
community programs provides intervention services to residents not involved in court cases, and
aids in establishing the court’s legitimacy as a community institution. The Justice Center’s
physical design is capable of accommodating a wide range of services not usually found in a
misdemeanor court. The building also provides the setting for a decision-making process that
meets the expectations for procedural justice, although some minor changes in the courtroom
itself (e.g., amplification of sound) could further enhance participants’ understanding of and
engagement in the proceedings. Program planners also took steps to ensure that a cadre of court
officers committed to the program theory would be stationed at the Justice Center.
Jurisdiction over landlord-tenant disputes involving residents of public housing was a
critical way in which the Justice Center’s crime reduction strategy was tailored to fit the
distinctive features of the community. Whereas such disputes initially accounted for a substantial
share of the overall caseload, housing cases now occupy just a half-day on the court’s calendar
every other week. Nonetheless, our research strongly suggests that housing court has been a
major factor in the Justice Center’s success in establishing legitimacy in the eyes of the residents
of the Red Hook Houses, largely by demonstrating that the Justice Center is responsive to
residents’ values and concerns.
The Justice Center’s most significant divergence from its project plan is a lack of
alignment between the cases it hears and its target population. On one hand, nearly one-third of
weekday arrests in the catchment area are routed to downtown Brooklyn rather than to the
Justice Center for arraignment, representing a significant loss of potential program participants.
At the same time, three-quarters of cases arraigned at the Justice Center arise in areas of the
catchment area that lie outside the Red Hook neighborhood itself. The inclusion of other
neighborhoods in the catchment area was necessary in order to ensure a caseload sufficient to
sustain a freestanding courthouse, but the primary focus of the Justice Center’s community
programming and outreach remains confined to the Red Hook neighborhood. This dichotomy
means that, although the Justice Center is very much a part of the Red Hook community, it may
not be perceived as a true “community court” by the majority of its defendants. This dilutes the
Justice Center’s ability to make a difference in the lives of offenders by engaging them in their
community.
Finally, although a significant share of the Justice Center’s resources are devoted to the
adult and juvenile clinics, these clinics serve approximately 5 percent of adult criminal
defendants and only a few dozen juvenile delinquency respondents each year. The apparently
small proportion of adult defendants participating in treatment may reflect the overall rate of
drug addiction among misdemeanor offenders whose cases are processed at the Justice Center,
the court’s lack of legal leverage over these low-level offenders, or implementation issues such
as the selection of which defendants to screen for drug addiction or the assessment process itself.
It should be noted, however, that the proportion of defendants receiving long-term treatment at

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the Justice Center is significantly larger than in the downtown courts, where it is a rare
occurrence.
2. Sanctioning in the Criminal and Family Courts
As intended, the pattern of sanctioning in the Justice Center’s criminal court differs
significantly from sanctioning practices in a traditional misdemeanor court. The primary goal is
to replace short-term jail and “walks” (case dispositions that impose no further obligation upon
the offender) with meaningful sanctions such as community service and short-term social service
interventions. At the Justice Center, 78 percent of conditional discharges (CDs) and 69 percent of
adjournments in contemplation of dismissal (ACDs) entered at initial disposition carry a
requirement that the defendant complete community service, a short-term social service
intervention, or both. This is in marked contrast to the pattern in the downtown Brooklyn
criminal court, where the majority of defendants receive “walks” or short-term jail sanctions.
The Justice Center closely monitors compliance with community service and social
service mandates, resulting in completion rates of more than two-thirds. Although the Justice
Center rarely uses jail as an initial sanction, it does impose jail as a follow-up for noncompliance
with the terms of the original mandate. These secondary jail sentences tend to be longer than the
jail sentences imposed (mostly at initial disposition) in the traditional criminal court located in
downtown Brooklyn, resulting in a greater usage of jail bed days by Red Hook defendants.
(Defendants who receive a community or social service sentence at the Justice Center are
commonly told up front that they will face jail time should they fail to comply.) The overall
result is that the Red Hook Community Justice Center sanctions defendants with greater
certainty, but generally with less severity, than a traditional misdemeanor court.
In juvenile delinquency cases, the Justice Center has succeeded in increasing the rate of
“adjustment” (pre-filing diversion) and the availability of youth and family services. When
adjustment fails or is deemed inappropriate, however, only about one-half of juvenile
delinquency cases arising in the catchment area that are referred for prosecution are filed at the
Justice Center, with the remainder being filed in a traditional family court. This limits the Justice
Center’s ability to meet its goal of retaining and treating juvenile offenders in the local
community.
3. Recidivism Among Adult Misdemeanor Defendants
The Red Hook Community Justice Center appears to bring about a robust and sustained
decrease in recidivism among adult misdemeanor offenders. The rate of re-arrest within a twoyear period following arraignment is 10 percent lower for misdemeanor defendants whose cases
are processed at the Justice Center than for similar defendants whose cases are processed in a
traditional criminal court. The 10 percent reduction in re-offending is comparable to other proven
criminal justice interventions, many of which are of long duration. Multivariate survival analysis
concludes that at any given point in time, a defendant whose case was processed at Red Hook
faces a 20 percent lower risk of re-arrest than a defendant whose case was processed in a
traditional court. This effect is statistically significant and persists over time.
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A similar analysis of family court cases estimates that a youth whose juvenile
delinquency case was processed at Red Hook faces a 30 percent lower risk of re-arrest at any
given point in time than a similarly situated youth whose case was processed in a traditional
family court. This finding is not statistically significant at the .05 level, perhaps as a result of
small sample size, but its magnitude renders it substantively relevant.
4. Crime Rates
Around the time of the Justice Center’s opening, there were sharp decreases in the levels
of both felony and misdemeanor arrests in the catchment area precincts. Subsequently, arrest
trends in the catchment area remained relatively stable. Similar patterns are not apparent in the
adjacent police precincts, where decreases were not observed at the time of the program’s
implementation, and arrest patterns remained highly variable throughout the observation period.
Although the data do not allow us to establish a causal relationship between the Justice Center’s
opening and the observed changes in catchment area arrest trends, the timing of the changes and
the lack of similar phenomena elsewhere in Brooklyn are striking.
5. Cost Efficiency
The cost efficiency analysis asks whether continued funding of the Justice Center makes
sense from the taxpayer’s point of view. In estimating costs and benefits, the research team was
careful to avoid either underestimating costs or exaggerating benefits, but was confronted with
significant gaps in the relevant information available both at the Justice Center and the traditional
courts used for comparison. Our upper-limit estimate of the costs to taxpayers incurred by the
Justice Center and its community partners during fiscal year (FY) 2010 is $7,500,000, nearly all
in the form of fixed costs. We estimate that for the 3,210 adult criminal arraignments held at Red
Hook in FY 2008 (when our case samples were selected), taxpayers realized $14,316,000 worth
of additional benefits beyond those that would be achieved through traditional case processing.
The benefits occurred primarily in the form of lower victimization costs associated with
reductions in recidivism. Because the marginal benefit of processing cases at the Justice Center
outweighs the program’s total cost by a factor of nearly two to one, we are confident in the
conclusion that the Justice Center is producing its impact in a cost-efficient manner.
6. Mechanisms Responsible for the Justice Center’s Success
This evaluation documents the Red Hook Community Justice Center’s success in
realigning sentencing patterns, reducing recidivism and stabilizing arrest rates. This raises a key
question: which aspects of the program theory contributed the most to the Justice Center’s
impact? Based upon the available evidence, the practice of procedural justice appears to be the
key mechanism through which the Justice Center reduces recidivism among adult misdemeanor
offenders. We considered the plausibility of two standard instrumental explanations for decreases
in recidivism: intervention through short-term and long-term treatment for drug addiction and
other criminogenic needs, and deterrence in the form of greater certainty of sanctions. In the
context of a community court, the strength of community connections may also be expected to
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promote voluntary compliance with the law by enhancing the court’s legitimacy. Although the
Justice Center achieved most of its goals in implementing the intervention, deterrence, and
community connections portions of the project plan, the evidence suggests that it is procedural
justice that plays the most important role in achieving the observed impacts on recidivism and
arrests.
The pivotal role of procedural justice at Red Hook is supported by evidence gathered
during the course of the process evaluation and ethnographic analysis. The community survey,
offender interviews, and courtroom observation all provide evidence that defendants perceive a
high level of procedural justice in the Justice Center’s decision-making processes. The judge is
widely viewed as trustworthy, genuinely concerned with the well-being of the parties appearing
before him, neutral, respectful, and committed to allowing defendants a meaningful voice in
court proceedings. The ethnographic analysis finds that perceptions of procedural justice, or the
justice of the decision-making process, are higher among offenders whose cases are processed at
the Justice Center than among offenders whose cases are processed in a traditional misdemeanor
court. In contrast, there is no statistically significant difference between Red Hook defendants
and downtown defendants in their perceptions of the fairness of the case outcome (distributive
justice).
Although the interaction between the judge and the individual defendant lies at the core
of procedural justice, at Red Hook the procedural justice effect appears to extend beyond the
judge-defendant interaction. Other aspects of court operations, as well as the courthouse itself,
are designed to preserve individual dignity and support perceptions of procedural justice in
judicial decision-making. On a larger scale, programs such as the housing court appear to have
fostered perceptions among the community at large that the Justice Center makes decisions
through fair processes, treats residents with respect, offers them a voice, practices neutrality, and
has trustworthy motives. It is the element of trustworthiness, perhaps the most complex
component of procedural justice, that may be making the greatest difference: the qualitative
evidence suggests that residents believe the Justice Center shares their values and is not simply
another government outpost placed in their midst.
Further research using more precise indicators of deterrence, intervention, and
community effects is needed to confirm our conclusions about the predominance of procedural
justice in explaining how the Justice Center has reduced crime and recidivism. However, our
findings regarding the role of procedural justice are consistent with a growing body of criminal
justice research concluding that seeking voluntary compliance with the law is more effective
than instrumental strategies that rely upon deterrence or intervention (Sunshine and Tyler 2003;
Jackson et al. 2012).
B. LESSONS FOR POLICY AND PRACTICE
The evaluation results offer guidance on effective responses to a variety of issues likely
to arise in the planning, implementation, or operations of a community court. (Lessons for
applying community court practices in mainstream misdemeanor courts appear in Part C of this
chapter.) It is important to keep in mind that community courts tend to differ more from one
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another than do other types of problem-solving courts. Red Hook is a unique community;
although other communities may have social, economic, and housing conditions similar to those
in Red Hook during the planning and implementation process, none will have the identical needs.
Instead of attempting to precisely replicate the Red Hook Community Justice Center, court
planners and managers should look to this evaluation for lessons that can be adapted and applied
in the unique context of their courts’ own communities.
1. Issue: Selecting Community Court Judges
A community court judge should be chosen carefully; presiding over a community court
requires judicial qualities and interpersonal skills that are not taught as part of conventional legal
or judicial education. Based on the research team’s work at the Justice Center and in other
community courts, we have identified a short list of attributes that tend to be shared by
successful community court judges. These attributes may be difficult to express in a job
description because they cannot be specified in terms of measurable factors such as prior judicial
experience, knowledge of the law, or ability to manage a docket; they can, however, be identified
through interviews, reputation, and court observation.
First, a community court judge must be comfortable interacting directly with offenders.
Within the bounds of due process, community court judges are expected to interact with
defendants themselves, not only with their attorneys, and to demonstrate from the bench a
personal interest in the outcome of the case and the well-being of the offender.
Second, a community court judge should have a temperament that allows him or her to
serve simultaneously as a source of encouragement and motivation for the offender and as a
strict enforcer of the court’s orders.
Third, presiding over a community court docket requires a considerable amount of
patience. Judges in community courts tend to see the same offender repeatedly over an extended
period of time and cannot expect that one or two interventions will make a lasting difference in
the offender’s behavior. The ethnographic analysis suggests that it is repeated interaction with
the same judge, perhaps over the course of several separate cases that creates a lasting
impression in the minds of some defendants that may inspire them to alter their behavior.
Fourth, community court judges must be able to receive, process, and make use of
considerably more information about offenders than is typically available in misdemeanor courts.
The difference is not only in the sheer amount of information, but also in the diversity of
information sources: community courts draw information from criminal justice, social service,
and treatment agencies. A successful community court judge must be able to comprehend all of
these data, and then apply this additional knowledge in the context of the legal proceeding.
Fifth, a community court judge must have the ability to step out from behind the bench
and engage in ground-level interaction with the community at large. Judge Calabrese’s regular
demonstrations of his commitment to the community have encouraged neighborhood
commitment to the court. Such demonstrations include the judge’s well-known tours through the

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neighborhood, sometimes on court business (e.g., visiting public housing projects to view repair
issues firsthand), and sometimes on his way to lunch at a local restaurant, greeting and being
greeted by residents and shopkeepers along the way. He is also a frequent presence at meetings
of community boards, tenant associations, and other local organizations. In short, Judge
Calabrese is the face of the Justice Center in the Red Hook community. It is difficult to be a
community court judge while remaining aloof from the life of the neighborhoods served by the
court.
Sixth, community court judges should welcome the assignment. Many community courts
have benefited from being seen as high-profile judicial assignments that provide an opportunity
to do meaningful work and the potential for developing a reputation as a leader. Where such
incentives and motivations are not present, community courts have had difficulty in recruiting
judges well suited to the role, and may be forced to accept the assignment of judges with little
interest in or commitment to the program. This can have devastating consequences for the
court’s success (Cheesman et al. 2009). Other things being equal, a judge whose philosophy is
more strictly focused on issues of legal process and just deserts, or who may be more reticent to
engage in community outreach, to speak directly to defendants, or to make open demonstrations
of caring and compassion from the bench, may experience difficulty in settling into the role of a
community court judge.
2. Issue: Benefits and Costs of Being Multijurisdictional
By design, the Justice Center is a multijurisdictional court that includes criminal, family
(juvenile delinquency), and housing parts. Its multijurisdictional nature has proven to be an
advantage, although not in the anticipated manner. The expected benefits were improved
outcomes resulting from the ability to combine information across multiple cases involving a
single individual or family. While most of what we know is anecdotal, there is no evidence that
these expected benefits were realized.
Instead, the evaluation identified two other major benefits associated with the Justice
Center’s multijurisdictional design. First, the Red Hook experience suggests that a
multijurisdictional court may be better able to address a variety of local concerns than a singlejurisdiction one. Arguably, the inclusion of the housing court is a major reason why the Justice
Center became closely identified with the Red Hook neighborhood and its residents, bringing the
judge into the community to inspect conditions in housing units. Acknowledging the importance
of public housing for the quality of the local peoples’ lives was a powerful symbolic statement of
the Justice Center’s concern and sincerity and no doubt increased the credibility of both the
judge and the court in the Red Hook neighborhood. Second, hearing housing cases also clearly
made Judge Calabrese far more knowledgeable about local conditions than would otherwise have
been possible—for example, in criminal trespass cases, his knowledge of the location of crack
dens in the Red Hook Houses has helped him to distinguish legitimate visits from trips to
purchase drugs. These benefits were likely idiosyncratic, products of the unique composition of
the Red Hook neighborhood.

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The process evaluation also revealed the potential disadvantages of being a
multijurisdictional court. The processing of housing disputes or other civil cases can distract a
community court from its focus on criminal and juvenile cases. Moreover, the politics of
landlord-tenant relationships can be subtle and complex, presenting the danger of a misstep from
which a community court may have difficulty recovering its credibility. Finally, finding a judge
with the requisite legal knowledge and experience to hear a mixture of case types (e.g., juvenile
delinquency or family law cases as well as civil cases) may be difficult. Perhaps most
importantly, in a court which primarily processes criminal cases, other case types may become a
secondary priority. Other community courts considering a multijurisdictional model should
carefully consider whether they have sufficient resources to fully implement such a court,
including whether a single judge can effectively and efficiently hear all case types. Court rules
and dockets should be designed so that matters related to one type of case will not routinely be
interrupted by emergency hearings stemming from the other types of cases in the court’s docket.
3. Issue: Staffing a Community Court
Community courts can be complex workplaces. They require the assembly of an
interdisciplinary team located in the same building but whose members are often not court
employees. Treatment and social service providers, for example, are often on assignment to the
court from other agencies. At the Justice Center, the composition of the staff is complex because
the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) is the direct employer of many but not all of the treatment
and social service staff, as well as the manager of the non-traditional features of the court such as
on-site research services, youth programming, and building maintenance. On the other hand, the
standard misdemeanor court complement of court officers (bailiffs), clerks, and others report to
the New York City Criminal Court. This presents a significant management challenge. The
various components of a community court need to move in a common direction with a common
understanding of the court’s mission and program theory. The Justice Center has met that
challenge through careful planning, diplomacy, and the promotion of a shared work culture
across the courthouse. Continuity due to a low rate of staff turnover has also aided in the
establishment of a distinctive work culture.
A unity of purpose is fully shared by the court officers. RHCJC’s planners took steps to
ensure that the court officers would support the program theory. While it is unlikely that court
staff acting in even the most procedurally fair manner can compensate for the negative impact of
a judge who does not demonstrate procedural justice in decision-making, it is reasonable to
expect that when both the judge and the staff act in a procedurally fair manner, a positive effect
is enhanced. The Justice Center achieved buy-in by recruiting court officers to transfer to
RHCJC well in advance of the court’s opening, encouraging word-of-mouth recruitment among
court officers, and weeding out officers who did not take to the RHCJC culture. Some of the
original court officers assigned to the RHCJC facility before it opened were longtime
neighborhood residents. These steps are similar to those previously taken by the Midtown
Community Court, which carefully selected supervisors and placed them in charge of newly
recruited officers who had not already been inculcated into traditional approaches and attitudes.
The community court culture has also been enhanced by the voluntary, and in some cases longterm, assignment of prosecutors and defense attorneys to the Justice Center.

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4. Issue: Establishing a Community Identity
The Justice Center experience provides the best evidence we have that a community court
can become a part of a community in a fundamental way, present in spirit as well as physical
location. The Justice Center is viewed by Red Hook residents as a community institution
belonging to the neighborhood itself, not as an outpost of city government placed there by
policymakers with little understanding of the community’s needs and priorities. The process
evaluation and the ethnographic analysis indicate that this sense of ownership is not as strongly
held in the other neighborhoods within the court’s catchment area, some of which were located
more than three miles from the courthouse. Physical distance is not the only factor: housing cases
arising from the other large public housing projects in the RHCJC catchment area are heard in
the downtown housing court. Still, awareness of the RHCJC, including knowledge of how it
operates, is widespread throughout the catchment area in the context of what is known from
other studies of public awareness of community courts’ existence. For example, in the evaluation
of the Midtown Community Court, only 20 percent of local residents were aware of the Court’s
existence, and almost none were familiar with how it operated (Sviridoff et al. 2002). In contrast,
resident interviews conducted as part of the ethnographic research found that 87 percent of Red
Hook residents knew about the RHCJC, a figure similar to the 93 percent of residents who
reported knowing about the Justice Center in the Justice Center’s 2009 neighborhood survey
(Swaner, 2010).
What forged the strong connection between RHCJC and community residents?
Procedural justice offers one possible explanation. A community court can arguably demonstrate
procedural justice by embodying qualities such as respect and trustworthiness both in the
conduct of one-on-one interactions with defendants in the courtroom and in the court’s
interaction with the broader residential and business community. The process and ethnographic
evaluations suggest that this has taken place in Red Hook.
Community courts may serve geographical areas that range from an entire city (Hartford,
Connecticut), to a mixture of business and residential areas (the former Philadelphia Community
Court), to a set of historically distinct neighborhoods (as in the Red Hook Community Justice
Center). There is no formula that can establish the optimal size and degree of heterogeneity for a
community court’s community. As noted under Issue 7 below, community court planners and
managers often have little control over the court’s geographic and case type jurisdiction. Some
community courts (notably those located in Washington, D.C. and Hartford) hear cases from
several different neighborhoods in a central location. Our research suggests that such an
arrangement may still be effective to the extent that procedural justice characterizes the
relationship between the judge and defendants.
The Red Hook experience suggests that the beneficial effects associated with a style of
judge-offender interaction that is consistent with procedural justice can be replicated in other
community courts. An ability to communicate a high level of trustworthiness is perhaps the key
to identifying who is likely to be an effective community court judge. Both defendants and the
community need to see evidence that a community court judge is benevolent, caring, motivated

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to treat people fairly, and sincerely concerned about people (Tyler 2004, 447). The latter
attribute, the ability to be perceived as a trustworthy institutional decision-maker by an entire
community, seems to have been realized at RHCJC. The court’s multifaceted engagement with
the community tends to reassure defendants that the court will be better able to consider local
conditions and circumstances in its decision-making. However, it is uncertain whether a
centralized community court can foster such a connection with individual neighborhoods.
5. Issue: The Importance of Local Knowledge
Judges in community courts tend to accumulate considerable knowledge of the
neighborhoods within their jurisdiction. Critics of community courts have argued that these
judges will tend to develop sentencing practices that differ from those applied by other
misdemeanor courts in the city because local sentiment is taken into account. The result could be
systematic variations among courts in sentencing practices. The impact of local sentiment on
sentencing practices, however, must be distinguished from the impact of the judge’s knowledge
of what is happening in the community. Community court judges have access to local knowledge
through their presence at community meetings and other off-bench interactions with local
residents. At the Justice Center, the research team heard several times that the judge’s knowledge
of local conditions, achieved in large part through his hearing of housing cases, provides
contextual understanding that aids in more accurate decision-making. Such differentiation in the
sentencing of cases based on factors that shed light on the nature of the offense, such as the
judge’s knowledge of the location where the offense occurred, is consistent with the principles of
due process of law.
6. Issue: Serving as a Resource for the Local Community
The RHCJC houses a wide array of programs and resources available free of charge to
any resident of its catchment area. These programs and resources were developed in response to
needs expressed by Red Hook residents in surveys, focus groups, and interviews conducted by
court planners. Precise statistics about community residents’ use of services and resources are
not available, although the voluntary use of the opportunities appears high for some offerings
such as youth programs, but low for others such as drug treatment.
7. Issue: Meeting the Caseload Imperative
It is rarely possible to implement a community court in a manner that serves a single,
cohesive community. Politics, practicalities, and policy decisions may alter the intended
geographical and case type jurisdiction of a community court, especially in the time immediately
surrounding its opening. Whatever the ambitions of court planners and their community partners,
community courts must typically carry a proportional share of the entire court system’s caseload.
In order to be fiscally and politically feasible, a community court must resolve as many cases per
judge as is typical in the primary courthouse. A community court like the Justice Center is in
reality a replacement for some of the case processing capacity of the centralized court. Ensuring
a sufficient flow of incoming cases for a new community court will almost certainly involve
tinkering with the community court’s geographic boundaries and with its subject matter
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jurisdiction in a manner that may compromise the planners’ original intentions. To secure a
sufficient number of cases, the catchment area may need to be widened beyond the target
neighborhood, as in Red Hook, or the pool of defendants for a targeted case type may need to be
enlarged by directing such cases from the downtown court to be adjudicated in the community
court, as with prostitution cases at the Midtown Community Court.
8. Issue: Courtroom Design
The Justice Center courtroom was designed with a number of distinctive features, most
notably the placement of the bench on the same level as the courtroom well and audience gallery.
As in other community courts such as those in Midtown and Philadelphia, however, the physical
structure of the courtroom can undermine the intended differences between adjudication in a
community rather than in a traditional court. Defendants and litigants, as well as the
professionals providing support to them, have difficulty seeing or hearing what is taking place in
the well of the courtroom—as do researchers evaluating the court. When the proceedings are
neither visible nor audible, the court as “theater,” in which all defendants observe the treatment
of others, is ineffective. Because procedural justice is a critical component of the community
court model, community courts must endeavor to make their courtrooms physically conducive to
the parties’ and observers’ understanding of the proceedings, as well as to direct and respectful
interaction between the judge and the parties appearing before her or him.
9. Issue: Working with Local Law Enforcement
Planners of community courts should be attentive to the potential role that local law
enforcement can play in reinforcing their program plan. Achieving coordination with the police
has practical benefits. Patrol officers, for example, have significant influence over whether in
practice defendants are adjudicated at the community court as intended rather than in its
traditional counterpart. More generally, the Midtown Community Court demonstrated the
benefits of establishing an early and close operational bond with local police officers at all levels.
Court personnel and NYPD officers shared a sense of common purpose and a belief that each
organization was making the other more effective. Joint programs were undertaken to improve
quality of life in the area. Similarly, an evaluation of the Philadelphia Community Court found
that an effective liaison with local police precincts was one of the main factors that made it
possible for the court to function as long as it did. While our research at the RHCJC did not
directly address this issue, the ethnographic and process evaluations suggest that the Justice
Center does not have a comparable depth of connection with rank and file police officers. While
the priority and extent of any coordination with the police will vary among community courts,
planners should consider the merits under their circumstances of placing priority on developing
ties with the police officers who patrol the streets.
10. Issue: External Support for Community Court Programs and Management
The ambitious goals of the Red Hook Community Justice Center are supported by a
unique partnership between the Center for Court Innovation (CCI) and the New York State
Unified Court system. In effect, CCI is the employer and manager of all Justice Center staff who
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do not fill traditional courthouse roles, such as the staff of the clinic and youth and community
programs. Many aspects of the Justice Center’s success depend on the quality and durability of
that relationship, as well as CCI’s ability to find the financial and other resources needed to
support the Justice Center’s non-traditional functions. While CCI provides significant resources
and leadership to the Justice Center, it requires a large and costly staffing structure that may not
be needed in every community court. Many community courts may find it possible to establish
these connections without relying on a non-court organization to perform essential management
functions.

C. IMPLEMENTING COMMUNITY COURT PRINCIPLES IN CENTRALIZED MISDEMEANOR
COURTS
In our review of the defining features of community courts, many also emerged as good
practices that can be adopted by any misdemeanor court. Five such possibilities include the use
of assessment tools, monitoring and enforcement of court orders, the use of information
technology, procedural justice, and expanded sentencing options.
1. Use of Assessment Tools
Community courts typically gather more information about offenders than do traditional
criminal courts, especially during pre-arraignment interviews by pretrial services personnel and
social service screenings by court staff. This allows the community court judge to make more
informed decisions in selecting alternative sanctions. Traditional courts can increase the amount
of information available to judges by expanding pretrial services questionnaires and conducting
additional pre-arraignment screening of defendants who appear to have social service needs.
2. Monitoring and Enforcing Court Orders
The RHCJC, like other community courts, takes steps to maximize the likelihood that
offenders will comply with court orders. With alternative sanctions like community service,
monitoring begins at the point at which offenders are given an order to report to the office that
will give them their specific community service assignment. Community courts often escort
offenders from the courtroom to the community service office. Once community service is
started, attendance is rigorously monitored. Non-attendance is quickly identified and sanctioned.
Central courthouses face challenges in enforcing community service and other alternative
sanctions. While a community court is typically located in a standalone building, other criminal
courts are located in buildings containing multiple courtrooms that all refer offenders to a central
community service assignment office. In a large courthouse, clear and official procedures for
monitoring and enforcing alternative sanctions have the potential to increase compliance rates.

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3. Use of Information Technology
Specially designed case processing information systems are one reason that community
courts can effectively make the level of monitoring and enforcement more stringent than in most
misdemeanor courts. Central courthouses can review those systems and make incremental
changes to their existing case processing software to make it more effective or, when
opportunities arise, implement features from community court information systems into their
own updated system.
4. Procedural Justice
Procedural justice perceptions at Red Hook are a recurring theme in this report.
Procedural justice is a social psychological theory and an associated set of practices that explains
whether decision-recipients comply with decisions made by a decision-maker. Community
courts appear to provide a type of court venue that is conducive to achieving procedural justice
effects. The principles of procedural justice, however, are at play in any interaction between a
decision-maker and a decision-recipient. A community court is not required for experimentation
with ways in which to maximize the contribution that procedural justice can make to offender
behavior. Indeed, procedural justice has been called the ‘organizing theory for which 21st
Century court reform has been waiting” (Rottman 2008, 32), with broad application in all aspects
of court policy and operations.
Community court judges can serve as models for the types of interactions between a
judge and offenders that improve offender satisfaction with the court and willingness to comply
with its orders. Video recordings showing community court judges on the bench are one way in
which judges within the centralized court system can make self-assessments of their style of
communication on the bench and consider how closely that style conforms to the principles of
procedural justice. Self-improvement efforts based on procedural justice principles are already
underway in courts around the country (Wolf and MJ Yim 2012). By viewing video recordings
of effective community court judges and then comparing and evaluating recordings of their own
interactions with defendants, judges can gauge the degree to which they are effective in applying
procedural justice principles.
5. Expanding sentencing options
Traditional misdemeanor courts can benefit from replacing sentences without real
consequences or that involve incarceration with a greater reliance on alternative sanctions. There
is already a trend in which mainstream courts make greater use of community service. While
expanding the range of sentences imposed is a worthwhile step, any advantage will depend
primarily on adopting a strict policy on non-compliance with alternative sanctions.

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6. Mechanisms for Incorporating Community Court Practices into Mainstream Courts
Potential mechanisms for encouraging the transfer of community court practices to
mainstream courts include rotation of staff between locations, programs that bring other judges
and court staff to the community court to observe new practices that could be implemented at the
main courthouse, as well as active participation on the part of the community court judge in
meetings of the main court’s judiciary. Those same mechanisms will help ensure that the oftern
physically isolated community courts do not become the stepchildren of the larger court system
of which they are part.
D. PRIORITIES FOR FUTURE RESEARCH ON COMMUNITY COURTS
This evaluation represents the fourth effort to combine the research methods associated
with process evaluations, ethnographic research, and impact analysis to a community court. Our
experience from conducting this evaluation and the evaluations of the Midtown Community
Court (CCI/NCSC collaboration) in the 1990s and the Philadelphia Community Court in the late
2000s, along with the recent findings from a comprehensive evaluation of a community court in
Melbourne, Australia, leads us to suggest some directions for future research on community
courts.
First, comprehensive evaluations of an individual community court like the one on which
we are reporting are inherently costly and long in duration. The wide variety of contexts in which
community courts have been established may in itself justify additional case studies. In the
medium term, however, such intensive studies of a single court should be complemented by
comparative research, applying identical research methods to a sufficiently large number of
community courts in order to capture the main ways in which they vary. In this way, a research
design can be implemented that holds some factors constant across the subject courts and allows
some factors to differ. Research questions for a multi-site study might include what features or
elements are most directly associated with lower recidivism rates, whether some types of
offenders fare better than others by being processed at a community court, and what types of
“communities” are best suited for different community court models, or, indeed, for any
community court. The act of designing such a comparative study would enhance the rigor in how
we think about community courts by establishing a standard for the kind of data that should be
collected.
Second, opportunities should be sought to conduct process evaluations that focus on the
networks community courts establish with local treatment and service providers, business and
civic leaders, and other local institutions. This might require sophisticated forms of network
analysis to measure the frequency and intensity of these relationships. The development and
maintenance of these networks is arguably a defining characteristic of community courts,
distinguishing them from traditional misdemeanor courts. One contribution of such research
would be to provide more complete cost information from service and treatment providers than
we were able to collect for use in our cost-benefit analysis of the Justice Center.

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Third, perhaps the most difficult aspect of a community court to study is how it is
perceived by the community it serves on a fundamental level. The Justice Center appears to
differ from other community courts in the extent to which it is seen as and acts like a part of the
community rather than as just another government institution located near where residents live.
In tackling this research topic, Tom Tyler’s work, which has proved so helpful in guiding our
understanding of the Justice Center, may again be helpful (see Sunshine and Tyler 2003). Further
research is needed to document and understand the various ways in which a community court
can demonstrate procedural justice, not only to offenders but also to communities.
Fourth, targeted research is needed on the interaction between community courts and
police precincts in their catchment areas. Existing evaluations paint very different pictures of the
nature and depth of that interaction. The Midtown Community Court and the adjacent police
precinct house developed a close, collaborative relationship that included joint programs. The
patrol officers were supportive of the court and its mission. The Red Hook experience, in
contrast, is one in which court-to-police interaction appears to be is sporadic and largely
confined to the command level. On the surface, there is little evidence of close collaboration
beyond participation by individual officers in a few programs such as the baseball league and
Police-Teen Theater. There is no evident sense of a larger partnership in responding to crime
problems in Red Hook. The Philadelphia Community Court (PCC) took steps to build a positive
relationship with the police department by hiring a retired and highly respected police sergeant as
liaison. Even there, the PCC faced difficulties when a captain from an adjacent precinct chose to
push misdemeanants from his area into the PCC’s catchment area, affecting crime statistics.
With hindsight, we realize that we should have looked more closely at the perceptions local
patrol officers have about the Justice Center, a gap we hope other researchers will fill.
Fifth, research is needed on the nature of community service, the most common form of
sentencing in a community court, to understand its meaning and value to offenders, local
residents, businesses, and service providers. A key research question is under what
circumstances, if any, do community service sanctions have a deterrent or re-integrative effect on
offenders. Another questions related to the use of community service is to what extent it serves
to improve the physical landscape of the community of have concrete effects on the local
conditions of disorder.
Sixth, there is a need for additional research on procedural justice in the community court
setting. In recent decades the majority of significant new research on procedural justice in
criminal justice has been set in law enforcement contexts. Students of trial courts, including
community courts, should pay attention to the findings from these studies and seek to replicate
them when possible. For example, a recent randomized experiment demonstrates that even a very
brief encounter with police—at traffic roadblocks—can make not only a short term difference in
perceived police legitimacy but also the global view a person holds on the legitimacy of the
police as an institution (Mazerolle et al. 2013). The average police-citizen encounter lasted for
about 20 seconds. Community courts also often involve relatively brief encounters between
defendants and the judge. How deep and long-lasting an impact can be provoked by experiencing
procedural justice in a misdemeanor court? The possibility of conducting such research on

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procedural justice in community courts should be considered as a priority despite the difficulties
of designing an experimental or quasi-experimental study.
Finally, it is critical that any future community court evaluation closely examines not
only whether the court has any impact on crime or justice system costs, but also the exact
mechanisms by which this impact is achieved. Like this evaluation, future research on
community courts should begin with the formulation of a program theory that clearly articulates
the causal mechanisms through which the court is believed to bring about its intended outcomes
and then systematically test as many of these causal hypotheses as possible. Our research would
have been stronger had we systematically compared procedural justice perceptions among
Justice Center and downtown defendants and among Red Hook and other neighborhoods served
by the Justice Center.
E. CONCLUSION
This comprehensive evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center demonstrates
that a community court can reduce recidivism and achieve other key criminal justice objectives
by improving upon the traditional model for processing misdemeanor offenses. Moreover, the
evaluation demonstrates that those improvements can be cost-effective from the viewpoint of the
taxpayer. These are impressive findings.
For those interested in learning from the RHCJC experience, our report describes in some
detail the structure, operations, and programming that were implemented. To an impressive
degree, the intentions of the RHCJC’s planners were realized in the implementation of the
Justice Center and were still present a dozen years later. Not everything went exactly as planned,
but some of the divergences were positive and others can be remedied by periodic monitoring of
the Justice Center’s caseload.
We know that a community court can dramatically change the pattern of sentences
imposed and, arguably as a consequence, reduces recidivism and keeps crime rates low. The
report also provides a tentative answer to the question of which features of the RHCJC are
responsible for producing results significantly better than those of traditional misdemeanor
courts. Procedural justice as practiced in the courtroom and in the court’s relationship to the
community emerges as the component of the program theory that can most plausibly explain
why the Justice Center enjoys an advantage over the downtown courts in recidivism rates and
other desired criminal justice impacts. The ethnographic research, which provides us with insight
into the perceptions of RHCJC held by offenders and community residents, also gives us
confidence that procedural justice is the best explanation for the outcomes and impacts we
measured. Further confidence comes from the extent to which our focus on procedural justice is
consistent with recent research findings on adult drug courts, as well as prior research carried out
to compare the Justice Center with the downtown courts.

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APPENDIX A. PROPENSITY SCORE MODELING, CRIMINAL COURT
Propensity score modeling for the adult criminal court analysis proceeded as follows. We
first conducted bivariate comparisons between the Red Hook and downtown samples on all
baseline characteristics for which we had data. As shown below in Table A.1 (left-most columns),
we found several substantively small, though statistically significant, differences in defendant
demographics (age, sex, and race). Furthermore, across many individual measures, the Red Hook
sample averaged fewer prior arrests and convictions and fewer prior instances of noncompliance
(e.g., warrants or supervision revocations) than the downtown sample. The samples also differed in
their breakdown of arrest and arraignment charges, with a higher proportion of marijuana cases in
the Red Hook sample and a higher proportion of DWI and domestic violence cases in the
downtown sample. Due to our relatively large sample sizes (1,576 Red Hook and 1,671 downtown
cases), many of the differences we observed, although statistically significant, were modest in real
magnitude. Still, the samples were clearly not comparable in their criminal history and current
charges, justifying the application of propensity score modeling methods.
We next entered select baseline characteristics into a backward stepwise logistic regression,
for which the dependent variable was sample membership (0 = downtown sample, 1 = Red Hook
sample). The independent variables were those for which the bivariate sample difference yielded a
p-value of .50 or higher. Such a liberal variable inclusion criterion can maximize the balancing
effect of the resulting propensity scores (see Rosenbaum 2002; Rubin and Thomas 1996). We then
added a backward stepwise removal criterion of .50 as well, again seeking to maximize the array of
variables that the final regression model would take into account.
For 326 cases that were missing data on one or more independent variables, propensity
scores were computed based on more limited models that omitted certain variables (Rosenbaum
and Rubin 1984). In practice, it was necessary to compute three total models, although the first of
these generated propensity scores for the vast majority (95 percent) of cases (regression results in
Table A.2). We did opt to delete 11 downtown cases at this stage due to systematic missing data
across a large number of baseline characteristics.
Table A.1. Background Characteristics of Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment
Area, 2008 Dispositions
Unadjusted
Adjusted
RHCJC Downtown RHCJC Downtown
Number of Cases
1564
1563
1564
1563
Precinct of Arrest
Precinct 72
Precinct 76
Precinct 78
Age
Female

55%
25%
21%
32.3
18%

56%
26%
18%
32.7
19%

55%
25%
19%
32.6
18%

56%
25%
19%
32.4
18%

Race/Ethnicity
White
Black/African-American
Hispanic / Latino

19%
22%
54%

15%
25%
54%

17%
24%
53%

17%
24%
53%

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

1

Table A.1. Background Characteristics of Defendants Arrested in RHCJC Catchment
Area, 2008 Dispositions
Unadjusted
Adjusted
RHCJC Downtown RHCJC Downtown
Asian
5%
7%
6%
6%
Prior Criminal History
# prior arrests
Any prior arrest
# felony arrests
Any felony arrest
# misdemeanor arrests
Any misdemeanor arrest
# violent felony arrests
Any bench warrant on a prior case
Any prior probation revocation
Any prior parole revocation
Arrest year
2006 or earlier
2007
2008
Arraignment Charges
Arraignment charge type
Drug charge
Marijuana charge
DWI charge
Crime against person charge
Petit larceny
Other property charge
Prostitution charge
Other public order charge
Other
Domestic violence case

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

4.14
47%
1.57
33%
2.57
43%
0.49
34%
7%
5%

5.65
55%
2.3
43%
3.35
49%
0.7
38%
9%
8%

4.85
51%
1.90
38%
2.96
46%
0.59
37%
7%
6%

4.89
51%
1.94
38%
2.96
46%
0.6
36%
8%
7%

2%
18%
80%

1%
20%
79%

2%
19%
79%

1%
19%
80%

20%
16%
2%
27%
5%
9%
1%
15%
5%
6%

20%
11%
7%
24%
3%
9%
1%
17%
8%
11%

21%
14%
5%
26%
4%
8%
1%
16%
7%
9%

20%
14%
5%
25%
4%
9%
2%
16%
6%
9%

2

Table A.2. Logistic Regression For Propensity Score Model Predicting Court
Of Case Processing (RHCJC V. Kings County Criminal Court)1

N sample
N Red Hook defendants
N Downtown defendants
POLICE PRECINCT
Precinct 72
DEMOGRAPHICS
Age
Age categories
16-19 years
20-25 years
26-35 years
36-45 years
Female
Race/Ethnicity
White
Hispanic / Latino
CRIMINAL HISTORY
Prior Arrests
# prior arrests
Any prior arrest
# drug arrests
Any drug arrest
# felony arrests
# misdemeanor arrests
# violent felony arrests
Any weapons arrest
# child victim arrests
# sex offense arrests

3155
1572
1583
Odds Ratio
.787*

.982
.438+
.371*
.450**
.753
.885
1.462**
1.241*

.954**
.619*
1.065**
0.862
0.959
1.584*
1.074
0.83
1.226
0.862

Prior Convictions
Any prior conviction
0.761+
Any drug conviction
0.794
# weapons convictions
1.670*
Any weapons conviction
.507+
# youthful offender convictions
1.112
Table A.2. Logistic Regression For Propensity Score Model Predicting
Court Of Case Processing (RHCJC V. Kings County Criminal Court)

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

3

Table A.2. Logistic Regression For Propensity Score Model Predicting Court
Of Case Processing (RHCJC V. Kings County Criminal Court)1

N sample
N Red Hook defendants
N Downtown defendants
Prior Warrants and Supervision Revocations
# of prior cases with bench warrants
Any prior probation revocation
Any prior parole revocation
CURRENT CRIMINAL CASE
Arrest year
2006 or earlier
Arrest Charges
Arrest charge type
Drug charge
DWI charge
Crime against person charge
Petit larceny
Prostitution charge
Other Public order charge
Other
Charge severity
B or U misdemeanor
A misdemeanor
Arraignment Charges
Arraignment charge type
Drug charge
Marijuana charge
Crime against person charge
Other
Charge severity
B or U misdemeanor

3155
1572
1583
1.074*
1.168
0.756

.400***

1.339+
.066***
.331***
1.854**
.407*
1.286
1.225
2.358***
1.981***

.899**
.599**
4.251***
.537**
2.009***

Domestic Violence Status
Domestic violence case

.418***

Constant

2.14

+p<.10, * p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.
¹Stepwise removal from propensity score model: prior felony conviction, # prior drug convictions, public order arrest,
number felony convictions, year 2007, # prior violent felony convictions, other arrest, prior felony arrest, other
property arraignment, prior bench warrant ordered, probation violation - technical, prior youth arrest, prior conviction,
prior violent felony conviction, prostitution arraignment, public order arraignment charge, prior violent felony arrest,
marijuana arrest charge, prior misdemeanor conviction, black, age66, prior weapons arrest.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

4

From examining the resulting propensity scores, 88 downtown cases had lower propensity
scores than the lowest score to be found in the Red Hook sample; and four Red Hook cases had
higher propensity scores than the highest score to be found in the downtown sample. These total
cases lacked “common support” across both samples and were thus deleted. Furthermore, realizing
that there were some cases whose arrest year was much earlier than the disposition year, especially
in the downtown sample, we decided to eliminate 28 cases that were arrested prior to 2006, because
they were not generalizable to the experience of most criminal court cases. (Cases arrested earlier
than 2006 had disappeared on a warrant for an extremely lengthy period before finally returning to
court custody and having their case resolved in our target disposition year of 2008). The final
samples included 1,564 Red Hook and 1,563 downtown cases.
We next had to select a propensity score adjustment method. Matching is typically preferred
when starting with many more comparison than treatment cases. In such a situation, only those
comparisons that provide a statistical match to a treatment case are retained, and the remaining
comparisons are deleted. However, matching was unfeasible, given that we began with nearly
identical numbers of cases from each sample (i.e., we lacked excess downtown cases from which to
choose the best matches). We opted instead for a covariate adjustment—controlling for the
propensity score itself as a single, scalar covariate in all impact analyses (see Rosenbaum and
Rubin 1983).
Confirming that a covariate adjustment would be effective in controlling for baseline
differences, we performed all of the same comparisons of baseline characteristics that we had
conducted initially—but after inserting propensity score as a control variable. As shown in Table
A.1, after controlling for propensity score, every one of the many significant differences that
initially existed between the samples was eliminated. To see this effect, compare the results in the
right-most and left-most columns of the table, which provide the same baseline comparisons preadjustment and then post-adjustment.
The covariate adjustment is employed in the cost-effectiveness analysis and the one-year
and two-year re-arrest comparisons. Including the propensity score as a covariate rather than
controlling directly for all variables that predict outcomes has been shown to bias the estimated
effects of the explanatory variables in nonlinear models; thus, the Cox survival models of time to
re-arrest (survival analysis) do not control for the propensity score and instead include background
and offense variables directly (Austin et al. 2007).

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

5

APPENDIX B. SAMPLING AND PROPENSITY SCORE MATCHING, FAMILY COURT
1.

Sampling Frame

Our research sample included 595 cases, 102 processed in the Red Hook Family Court and
493 processed in the downtown Brooklyn Family Court. These youth were all arrested from 2006
through 2008, but unlike the Criminal Court analysis, the arrest for comparison cases could have
taken place outside the Red Hook catchment area—but within Brooklyn, New York.
It is important to note that the sampling frame includes only those cases that were filed in
court. Not all juvenile delinquency arrests result in the filing of a court case. Rather, delinquency
cases may first be diverted for a number of reasons along the way. When a juvenile is arrested, he
or she first meets with a probation officer, who has authority to “adjust” the case. Adjustment is a
form of pre-filing diversion whereby, if the juvenile complies with probation-ordered services,
probation may exercise its authority to close the case. Approximately 30 to 40 percent of cases are
referred for adjustment (see Table 26, p. 104). We were unable to obtain any usable data from the
city’s Department of Probation about cases that were adjusted. If a case is not adjusted, probation
refers the case to the New York City Corporation Counsel, which is the prosecutorial agency for
juveniles. Corporation Counsel may also opt not to file the case in court, due to insufficient
evidence or for other reasons. If, however, the case makes it through Corporation Counsel’s case
screening procedures, the case is filed with either the Kings County Family Court in downtown
Brooklyn or the Red Hook Family Court. Red Hook delinquency cases may arise from felony or
misdemeanor arrests. The primary official requirements for a case to be sent to Red Hook are that
the youth was arrested in the Red Hook catchment area, and that the youth is not detained. Most
juveniles held in pretrial detention following the initial court appearance are held because they are
deemed to be at high risk of additional criminal behavior. Some low-risk juveniles are also detained
overnight following arrest because the arresting officer is unable to contact a parent. Even though
these respondents are typically released from detention following the initial court appearance, their
cases are also processed downtown.
Respondents who would otherwise be eligible for the Red Hook Family Court may also
have their cases processed downtown at the discretion of the Department of Probation and/or
Corporation Counsel, based upon the characteristics of the respondent or the offense. The Red
Hook Family Court is known for keeping delinquency cases open for a much longer time than the
downtown court. Over the past few years, as seen in the process evaluation data, the number of
juvenile cases sent to Red Hook has decreased, and Red Hook’s program staff is exploring possible
explanations. But it is clear that discretion on the part of the Corporation Counsel— discretion that
does not exist for the prosecutorial agency in the case of Red Hook’s adult criminal court—plays a
role in leading many cases to be re-routed downtown.
We received our initial dataset from the Department of Technology (DOT) of the New York
State Unified Court System. DOT staff drew cases from a statewide family court database, known
as the Family Court Universal Case Management System (UCMS). Based on sample eligibility
criteria that we provided, DOT sent us data on 8,432 cases, all of which were filed in Brooklyn
with an arrest date from 2006-2008, and 209 of which were Red Hook cases. We first eliminated
those cases that had no charge listed. We lost 51 of the 209 Red Hook cases for a lack of any
charge data. We then eliminated all downtown respondents that were arrested on a charge that was

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

6

wholly unrepresented in the Red Hook sample or was also missing charge data and lost well over
2,000 cases this way (but ensured a better matched comparison sample through this exclusion).1
In order to avoid violating standard independence assumptions in our planned statistical
analyses, we required the final sample to include a maximum of one case per individual respondent.
When the same respondent had multiple eligible cases, our final sample included the first, based on
arrest date. We eliminated 29 additional Red Hook cases, but obviously did not lose any
defendants, for this reason. At this point, we still had 4,018 downtown family court cases, which
was a much larger comparison sample than we could possibly use. Using a random selection
method, we selected a sample of 1,114 comparison cases for which to request recidivism data.
In order to conduct our analysis, we requested data from the New York City Criminal
Justice Agency (CJA), a nonprofit agency that runs all pretrial services in New York City and
maintains a comprehensive dataset on both juvenile and adult city arrests. Since juveniles are not
assigned a formal person-based identification number when they are arrested, cases were matched
to the CJA dataset using name, date of birth, and incident date. This laborious and imperfect
method of matching led to an additional loss of usable cases, resulting in a final sample of 102 Red
Hook and 493 downtown cases.
2.

Propensity Score Matching

To reduce selection bias in the comparison group, we implemented a standard propensity
score adjustment, using the methods previously described in Chapter 2, Section B(2)(a) and (b) as
shown in Table B.1 (left-most columns). Prior to implementing our adjustment, we found a
statistically significant difference between the samples in race, criminal history, and arraignment
charge. The Red Hook sample averaged fewer prior arrests and convictions than the downtown
sample across a number of specific measures. The samples also differed in their breakdown of
arraignment charges, with a higher proportion of certain property-related charges in the Red Hook
sample and a higher proportion of robbery in the downtown sample. We concluded that the
application of propensity score modeling methods was justified.
At the propensity modeling stage, we had to compute two propensity models, with the
second model omitting the variable of race, which was missing data for 1 percent of cases. From
examining the resulting propensity scores, 29 downtown cases had lower propensity scores than the
lowest score to be found in the Red Hook sample. These 29 total cases lacked “common support”
across both samples and were deleted. With the cases that remained (102 Red Hook and 464
downtown cases), we relied on a one-to-one matching algorithm. (Each Red Hook case was
matched to the nearest downtown case among those that had not already been matched.) This
algorithm was successful in eliminating baseline differences between the samples (see Table B.1,
right-most columns). The final samples included 102 Red Hook Family Court and 102 matched
downtown family court cases. Because there were a sufficient number of comparison group cases
to permit one-to-one matching of Red Hook cases to comparison group cases, it was not necessary
to implement a covariate adjustment for the propensity score. However, because relying on
propensity score matching without controlling directly for all variables that predict outcomes has
been shown to bias the estimated effects of the explanatory variables in nonlinear models, the Cox
survival models of time to re-arrest reported in Chapter 2, Section B(4) include background and
offense variables as covariates (Austin et al. 2007).

1

Cases that were eliminated were missing charge data. Other case characteristic variables were not available at this
point in the analysis.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

7

Table B.1. Baseline Characteristics for Juvenile Delinquency Respondents,
Original and Matched Samples
Sample:
Original
Matched
Red Hook Status:
RH
Downtown
RH
Downtown
Number of Cases
DEMOGRAPHICS
Female
Age
Mean age
Age categories
12
13
14
15
Race
Black
Hispanic
White/Other
CRIMINAL HISTORY
Prior Arrests
Prior Arrest?
Prior Felony Arrests
Prior Felony Arrest?
Prior Misdemeanor Arrests
Prior Misdemeanor Arrest?

CURRENT CRIMINAL CASE
Arraignment Charge
Assault
Robbery
Other property related
Drugs or Marijuana
Weapons
Other
Arraignment Severity
Felony?

102

493

102

102

25%

22%

25%

23%

14.27

14.27

14.27

14.26

4%
13%
35%
58%
**
56%
34%
10%

4%
13%
28%
51%

4%
13%
35%
48%

1%
20%
31%
48%

74%
18%
8%

56%
34%
10%

57%
33%
10%

0.37***
24%***
0.19***
15%***
0.19***
15%***

0.89
46%
0.47
29%
0.41
29%

0.37
24%
0.19
15%
0.19
15%

0.38
23%
0.02
17%
0.19
13%

**
33%
14%
29%
12%
8%
4%

30%
32%
17%
10%
7%
3%

33%
14%
29%
12%
8%
4%

31%
15%
28%
10%
10%
7%

23%***

43%

23%

21%

+p<.10, * p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

8

APPENDIX C. IMPACT OF DRUG TREATMENT ON TWO-YEAR RE-ARRESTS FOR SPECIFIC CHARGE
TYPES

Table C.1 Impact of Drug Treatment on Two-Year
Re-Arrests for Specific Charge Types
Court

N Sample
Two Years
# felony re-arrests
Any felony re-arrest
# misdemeanor re-arrests
Any misdemeanor re-arrest
# drug re-arrests
Any drug re-arrest
# violent felony re-arrests
Any violent felony re-arrest
# violent misdemeanor re-arrests
Any violent misdemeanor re-arrest
# property re-arrests
Any property re-arrests

Red Hook

Downtown

252

252

0.44
24%
1.39+
44%
0.82
35%
0.07
6%
0.07
7%
0.73
28%

0.41
25%
1.05
37%
0.69
29%
0.06
6%
0.10
8%
0.54
24%

+p<.10, * p<.05, ** p<.01, ***p<.001.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

9

APPENDIX D. CHANGE POINT ANALYSIS OF RED HOOK ARREST SERIES
Among the data made available to analyze the impact of the Red Hook Community Justice
Court (RHCJC) were several time series of monthly arrests in Kings County precincts from 1995 to
2009. In all, data from eight precincts were included, three from the RHCJC catchment area (the
76th, where the court is located, the 72nd and the 78th) and five adjacent precincts in the same
county for comparison (the 66th, 68th, 70th, 71st and 84th). The series tabulated the number of
arrests overall per month in each precinct as well as felony and misdemeanor arrests separately. In
order to explore whether the opening of the RHCJC had any effect on arrests, we subjected the data
series to a change point analysis, a technique intended to identify the position and (potentially)
number of structural breaks and use this information to organize the time series into one or more
sequential blocks of data within which distributional parameters are consistent (Chen and Gupta
2000). Specifically, we used a Bayesian product partition model (Barry and Hardigan 1993) to
detect changes in the mean of the series. The method is implemented in the R statistical software
environment (R Development Core Team 2011).
We hypothesized that the implementation of the RHCJC would have an influence on arrest
rates in the catchment area of the court, in particular on misdemeanor arrests. The specific
mechanism for this influence was proposed to be the level of police confidence that their arrests
would result in meaningful consequences for the arrestees (Wilson and Kelling 1982). One of the
objectives of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) was to increase the certainty of
meaningful consequences for the offender, which it has accomplished as borne out by the data.
Thus, we hypothesized that after some short period of time, during which the police were becoming
aware of differences between the RHCJC’s and business-as-usual sanctioning, police would
eventually come to appreciate the high probability of meaningful sanctions for cases processed by
the RHCJC and that arrests would tend to increase over time, eventually leveling off at a new,
higher (than before implementation of the RHCJC) arrest rate. Conceivably, this new higher arrest
rate could impact crime rates and arrests in the long-run could decrease, realizing that crime rates
are influenced by a complex array of factors, of which law enforcement is only one. In total, this
ambitious hypothesis suggests an inverted U-shaped relationship between arrests and time in the
catchment area of the RHCJC.
Before analyzing the series, a missing data problem needed to be addressed. Approximately
3.5 percent of the arrests in Kings County from 1995 to 2009, 41,578 arrests, did not have precinct
information. The arrests could be attributed by year, but not month or precinct, and there was no
information about which precincts were missing data. Fortunately, the majority of arrests without
month or precinct data were in the period from 1995 to 1998, during which the percent of countywide arrests with missing information were 20.2 percent, 15.1 percent, 13.8 percent and 7.1 percent
respectively. Missingness in subsequent years never rose above 1.5 percent. Without being able to
determine which of our sampled precincts in which months were missing arrests, or the proportion
of arrests missing, we decided not to use the data from 1995 to 1997. Although 1998 had a
substantially higher rate of missingness than the subsequent years, we decided to use the data from
that year in order to have a series leading up to the mid-2000 opening of the RHCJC long enough to
identify any patterns or trends preceding the event.
The resulting data series are presented in Figures D1 through D4. Figure D1 graphs monthly
felony arrests in the five non-RHCJC precincts, Figure D2 contains felony arrests in the three Red
Hook precincts, and Figures D3 and D4 display misdemeanor arrests for the same groups,
respectively. In order to more rigorously examine whether there were substantial changes in the
pattern of arrests, we applied a Bayesian change point method to detect shifts in the level of the
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

10

data series, or in the estimated mean of the distribution from which monthly observations are drawn
(Barry and Hartigan 1993). The problem addressed by Barry and Hartigan is identifying the
position(s) of one or more partitions that divide a set of ordered observations into contiguous sets or
blocks with constant mean within each block (Barry and Hartigan 1993, 309). Given a series of
observed values, n, the values could be divided into a number of contiguous blocks from one (the
distribution of the series does not change) to n (each observed value is its own block.) The change
point problem, essentially, is arriving at a set of points dividing the series into blocks that produce
the best “fit” of the observed data within each block to the mean of that block, without breaking the
series into too many blocks.2 In contrast to other approaches to analyzing time series data, change
point analysis allows us to identify if and when a series undergoes a significant change, without
having to specify where we believe the change has taken place.
The product partition model, one of several possible solutions to change point problems,
arrives at estimates of the number and location of change points, as well as the mean at each point
in time, by iteratively sampling from a distribution of partition indicators given the data, the current
partitions, and the product of prior “cohesions,” representing the similarities between contiguous
observations. The draws form a Markov chain, with transition probabilities (the likelihood of
observing a change point at a given month, given a null prior) a function of the cohesions and the
relative sizes of the sums of the between-block sums of squares and within-block sums of squares.
Estimated means, which function as a smoothed representation of the data series similar to local
regression, and other parameters at each point in the series are updated from these sums of squares
(Erdman and Emerson 2008).3
Change point analyses were done for each precinct, eight in all, entering felony and
misdemeanor arrest series together, and two analyses using total arrest series, one for the group of
three RHCJC catchment precincts together and one grouping the five non-RHCJC precincts. This
permits us to compare overall trends in the Red Hook districts with whatever trends are apparent in
the collection of comparison precincts. Figures D5, D6, and D7 present the estimated means over
time (the line graphs indexed on the left axis) for the felony and misdemeanor arrest series and the
change point probabilities (the shaded areas rising from the x-axis and indexed on the right axis).
Turning attention to these RHCJC precincts, some clear patterns emerge. All three analyses
uncover a change point with 100% probability in early 2000, accompanied by dramatic declines in
estimated average arrests. Precincts 76 and 78 both demonstrate such a spike in March 2000, the
month before the RHCJC opened, while Precinct 72 has such an indicator in May of that year.
Since the probabilities reflect the likelihood of a change in the following time interval, precincts 76
and 78 appear to have experienced a substantial change in average arrests in the month the court
2

Obviously, the best fit of change points to the data would be to define each time period as the mean of its own block.
The Bayesian product partition model has several advantages over similar methods. First, it allows one to adjust the
prior expected likelihood of observed changes (set higher if a large number of change points are anticipated) and a prior
for the signal-to-noise ratio (set higher if change points are indicated by smaller absolute changes in value.) The model,
estimated via Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), produces as output the probability of a change point at every time
interval in the series (characterized by the proportion of iterations of the Markov chain in which a change point is fitted
at each position.) Thus, the researcher can decide what threshold to use when identifying a mean shift in the series.
Also, the product partition model has been extended to multivariate series by Erdman and Emerson (2011), so
information from more than one series, such as misdemeanor and felony arrests for a precinct or the total arrests from
several precincts, can be used simultaneously to identify when a change in arrest patterns occurs. The product partition
model for change point problems has been implemented in R by the package bcp (Erdman and Emerson 2011). Priors
for the signal-noise ratio and change point probabilities were set to the default values (.20, .20) recommended in Barry
and Hartigan (1993), based on MCMC simulations. Default values were also used for the burnin iterations (the number
of links in the Markov chain permitted for convergence) and the links used to characterize the posterior distributions.

3

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

11

opened, while in the 72nd the decline occurred two months after the court began operations.
Moreover, the periods following those change points are characterized by relatively unusual
stability. In Precinct 72, the probability of a change point only rises above 10 percent once between
June 2000 and the end of 2009—in August 2001. The estimated average arrests during this long
stable period are similar to those observed at the beginning of the time series, before a number of
step-like increases observed between September 1998 and the end of 1999.
The other two precinct graphs of the RHCJC catchment feature similarly profound change
around the time the court opened, but more activity in the years following. The Precinct 76 graph
has a dramatic, but short-lived, spike in felony arrests observed in March and April 2006. The
arrest series for Precinct 78 are largely flat, except for a rise in misdemeanor arrests in the early
months of 2005, peaking in March of that year. The estimated arrest average in Precinct 76, like
that for Precinct 72, falls to about the same level as seen at the very beginning of the series two
years earlier. Also, the level seen before the mid-2000 drop rose in several steps in 1998 and 1999.
A possible explanation for the unusual rise in felony arrests estimated in March and April
2006 is a police raid on the Red Hook Houses in April. As reported in the New York Times (Jacobs
2006), the raid involved 450 law enforcement officials and produced 153 arrests, with additional
arrests following. According to a statement from Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly referenced
in the article, arrests were expected to continue as additional suspects were tracked. The mean
estimates for Precinct 76 suggest that whatever additional arrests took place within the precinct
were primarily for misdemeanor offenses, as the felony arrest average returned to the same level
observed in the month before the raid almost immediately, while the level of misdemeanor arrests
tapered down over more than a year after rising appreciably in May, 2006. The Times article also
refers to a three-day sweep in 1998, month unspecified, but a change point probability above 50%
appears in June of that year in Precinct 76.
The results provide no evidence of the effects hypothesized earlier. While there does appear
to be a change in the level of arrest activity corresponding with the introduction of the community
court, the change is a dramatic drop in arrests that occurs in one step and persists for all or most of
the remaining years examined. No increase in arrests, misdemeanor or felony, is evident in these
smoothed trend lines, except for short term spikes the 76th and 78th precincts more consistent with
a concerted police action than a change in behavior.
We performed another pair of analyses grouping the total arrest series for the Red Hook
precincts together and the comparison precincts together. The results of these can be seen in
Figures D8 and D9.
The first thing noticeable from the non-Red Hook precincts graph is that the most likely
change point appears in the late summer of 2001. The timing and direction of the change suggest
the impact of 9/11. Another consistent movement occurs around the beginning of 2005. Several of
the precincts see upward swings of different magnitudes at this point, and the most pronounced of
them, in the 70th and 71st precincts, persist at or above the new level. The arrest averages of
Precinct 84 are almost flat for the entire period of study. Overall, no change points are indicated
with much certainty.
The combined Red Hook precincts graph in Figure D9 evinces several increases in arrests in
the first two years under observation, followed by a dramatic and sustained fall in arrests around
the time that the Red Hook court opened. In each case, the “equilibrium” level of arrests following
the early-2000 change points are at about the same numbers observed at the onset of the time series
in 1998, although the 1998 data may have substantially more unattributed arrests, so the level
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

12

shown may be lower than what was actually occurring in 1998. In comparison with the first thirty
months of the series, the remaining years are very still. No change points are indicated with more
than 20 percent likelihood and the estimated average arrest series are flat. All three precincts see a
small increase around the end of 2004 to beginning of the next year, but the three arrest averages
are notable for how closely they mirror each other throughout this time. Differences between the
two graphs can be seen rather clearly. The estimated means of the non- RHCJC precincts drift up
and down over the period observed, and the spikes in change point probabilities are spread across
the decade, reaching a zenith that corresponds with 9/11. That high point approaches 50 percent, a
stark contrast with the peak change point probabilities observed for the Red Hook districts. The
relative uncertainty of change points identified in the non-Red Hook precincts, despite the greater
volatility found in the estimated means, is a result of the cohesion parameters in the product
partition model, which allow for more short-term variation within blocks based on the overall
variability in the series. The comparative stability of arrest levels in the Red Hook districts allows
for a much more confident identification of the primary change points in that graph.
Without a qualitative analysis of events occurring in the precincts at the time that these
arrests were performed, it is not possible to deduce what produced the patterns observed here.
Possible explanations for the remarkable stability of the arrest rates in the RHCJC precincts after
the court opened include a greater degree of coordination between the courts and police after the
opening of the community court, decreases in the crime rates, an increase in informal social
controls, or more certainty in sentencing, incarceration and supervision, leading to fewer re-arrests
of the same offenders. The change point analysis singled out the opening of the Red Hook court as
a pivotal time period, but it cannot answer the question of why such a change would take place. The
smoothed average arrest trends, meanwhile, do not conform to the expectations hypothesized for
the RHCJC.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

13

Jan-98
Jun-98
Nov-98
Apr-99
Sep-99
Feb-00
Jul-00
Dec-00
May-01
Oct-01
Mar-02
Aug-02
Jan-03
Jun-03
Nov-03
Apr-04
Sep-04
Feb-05
Jul-05
Dec-05
May-06
Oct-06
Mar-07
Aug-07
Jan-08
Jun-08
Nov-08
Apr-09
Sep-09

Jan-98
Jun-98
Nov-98
Apr-99
Sep-99
Feb-00
Jul-00
Dec-00
May-01
Oct-01
Mar-02
Aug-02
Jan-03
Jun-03
Nov-03
Apr-04
Sep-04
Feb-05
Jul-05
Dec-05
May-06
Oct-06
Mar-07
Aug-07
Jan-08
Jun-08
Nov-08
Apr-09
Sep-09

Figure D1: Felony Arrests for Non-RHCJC Precincts
by month, 1998 - 2009

200

180

160

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

0

P66

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn
P68

P72
P70

P76
P71
P84

Figure D2: Felony Arrests for RHCJC Precincts
by month, 1998 - 2009

140

120

100

80

60

40

20

0

P78

14

Jan-98
Jun-98
Nov-98
Apr-99
Sep-99
Feb-00
Jul-00
Dec-00
May-01
Oct-01
Mar-02
Aug-02
Jan-03
Jun-03
Nov-03
Apr-04
Sep-04
Feb-05
Jul-05
Dec-05
May-06
Oct-06
Mar-07
Aug-07
Jan-08
Jun-08
Nov-08
Apr-09
Sep-09

Jan-98
Jun-98
Nov-98
Apr-99
Sep-99
Feb-00
Jul-00
Dec-00
May-01
Oct-01
Mar-02
Aug-02
Jan-03
Jun-03
Nov-03
Apr-04
Sep-04
Feb-05
Jul-05
Dec-05
May-06
Oct-06
Mar-07
Aug-07
Jan-08
Jun-08
Nov-08
Apr-09
Sep-09

Figure D3: Misdemeanor Arrests for Non-RHCJC Precincts
by month, 1998 - 2009

400

350

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

P66

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn
P68

P72
P70

P76
P71
P84

Figure D4: Misdemeanor Arrests for RHCJC Precincts
by month, 1998 - 2009

300

250

200

150

100

50

0

P78

15

Probability

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

Felony

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Felony
Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Felony

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Probability
Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

Jan-98

Probability

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

Jan-98

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

Jan-98

Figure D5: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 72

250
1

200
0.8

150
0.6

100
0.4

50
0.2

0
0

Misdemeanor

Figure D6: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 76

160
140
120
100
80
60
40
20
0
1

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0

Misdemeanor

Figure D7: Probability of Changepoint, Precinct 78

100
1

80
0.8

60
0.6

40
0.4

20

0.2

0

0

Misdemeanor

16

Figure D8: Estimated Means and Changepoint Probabilities
Total Cases, Non-RHCJC Precincts 1998 - 2009
450

1

400

0.9

350

0.8
0.7

300

0.6

250

0.5
200

0.4

150

0.3

100

0.2

50

0.1

Probabilities

P66

P68

P70

P71

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

0
Jan-98

0

P84

Figure D9: Estimated Means and Changepoint Probabilities
Total Cases, RHCJC Precincts 1998 - 2009
450

1

400

0.9

350

0.8
0.7

300

0.6

250

0.5
200

0.4

150

0.3

100

0.2

50

0.1

Probabilities

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

P72

P76

Jul-09

Jan-09

Jul-08

Jan-08

Jul-07

Jan-07

Jul-06

Jan-06

Jul-05

Jan-05

Jul-04

Jan-04

Jul-03

Jan-03

Jul-02

Jan-02

Jul-01

Jan-01

Jul-00

Jan-00

Jul-99

Jan-99

Jul-98

0
Jan-98

0

P78

17

APPENDIX E: ETHNOGRAPHIC REPORT: THE RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

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A COMMUNITY COURT GROWS IN BROOKLYN:
A COMPREHENSIVE EVALUATION OF THE
RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER
Date: June 28, 2013
Ethnographic Report: the Red Hook Community Justice Center

Authors:
Ric Curtis, John Jay College
Sarah Rivera, John Jay College
Rachel Swaner, Center for Court Innovation
Anthony Marcus, John Jay College
Avram Bornstein, John Jay College
This project was supported by Award No. 2009-IJ-CX-0016 awarded by the National Institute of
Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings and
conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of
the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
Recommended citation to full report:
Lee, C., F. Cheesman, D. Rottman, R. Swaner, S.H. Lambson, M. Rempel & Ric Curtis (2013)
A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center. Williamsburg VA:
National Center for State Courts.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

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Table of Contents
A Comprehensive Evaluation of the Red Hook Community Justice Center .......................... 1
Volume II: Ethnographic Report: the Red Hook Community Justice Center ...................... 1
I. Introduction ............................................................................................................................... 1
II. Research Design ....................................................................................................................... 5
A. Field observation.................................................................................................................. 6
B. Community Survey .............................................................................................................. 8
C. Offender Survey................................................................................................................... 9
III. Results ................................................................................................................................... 17
A. Observations ...................................................................................................................... 17
B. Community Survey ............................................................................................................ 21
C. Offender interviews ........................................................................................................... 24
IV. Conclusions ........................................................................................................................... 43
V. Bibliography ........................................................................................................................... 46
Appendix 1: Residential Survey ................................................................................................... 48
Appendix 2: Offender Survey Instrument..................................................................................... 49

List of Tables
Table 1: Resident survey - What problems or annoyances would you like to see changed in the
neighborhood?............................................................................................................................... 22
Table 2:

Resident survey - own or rent? ................................................................................... 23

Table 3:

Offender Demographics .............................................................................................. 25

Table 4:

Offender Arrests and Court Appearances ................................................................... 26

Table 5:

[In your last court appearance] would you describe [the judge’s] actions and
decisions as fair? ......................................................................................................... 27

Table 6:

How would you describe the differences between the RHCJ Court and the
downtown court?........................................................................................................ 30

Table 7:

How would you describe the differences between the judge the Red Hook CJC
and the judge at the downtown court? ........................................................................ 32

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

20

Table 8:

Which of the following best describes their [the police’s] behavior: friendly and
encouraging, professional and courteous, hurried and distant, rude and disrespectful.
............................................................................................................... 36

Table 9:

Since that [your last court] experience, have you continued doing the things
that got you there in the first place? ............................................................................ 40

Table 10: Which of the best describes your reason for/to change: obligation/respect to
the judge, just the right thing to do, everyone just stopped doing it, shame
from your friends/family, fear of re-incarceration? .................................................... 40

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21

ETHNOGRAPHIC REPORT: THE RED HOOK COMMUNITY JUSTICE CENTER
A. INTRODUCTION
The Red Hook Community Justice Center is located in a neighborhood that had long been
the home of Italian, Irish and Puerto Rican families who worked at the docks and related jobs. The
neighborhood was the setting for Elia Kazan’s well known film On the Waterfront (1954), starring
Marlon Brando. More recently it was featured in Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer (2012). The
majority of the population in Red Hook lives in the Red Hook Houses, public housing constructed
for working class families in 1938 as part of Roosevelt's Federal Works Program. But
neighborhood demographics changed. In 1958, a new shipping container port opened in nearby
Elizabeth-Newark, New Jersey that, in just a few years, decimated employment in the harbors of
New York and turned them into rotting piers, abandoned warehouses and rusting factories.
Simultaneously, government programs like building highways and insuring housing mortgages
encouraged white, working families to flee from center cities to suburban homes with gardens.
Largely excluded from suburbs, many people of color were left behind in forsaken spaces like Red
Hook that were suddenly cut off from the rest of Brooklyn by the new highways that had been
built. By the 1970s, Red Hook became home largely to low and middle-income African American
and Latino residents. In the 1980s, Red Hook saw little of the recovery from the great New York
City fiscal crisis that had defined the mid-1970s, and the neighborhood deteriorated significantly
and became infamous for drug-related crime. Later, in the 1990s, Red Hook became the target of
intensive and aggressive policing.
Even as crime rates dropped in the 1990s, scholars noted the persistence of legal cynicism
and a subcultural tolerance of deviance (Sampson & Bartusch 1998). In addition to perceived
failures in the courts and the penal system, in New York City aggressive policing, which was
being celebrated by some, came to be seen as a problem by many, especially those who suffered
its costs. Street protests over "police brutality" came to be endemic in the late-1990s, especially
after high-profile incidents such as the severe abuse of a Haitian immigrant in a stationhouse and
the killing of an unarmed Guinean immigrant in the vestibule of his apartment building. The
public sense of legitimacy of the criminal justice system suffered. The Red Hook Community
Justice Center was promoted as an experimental alternative to the strictly retributive justice
model of mainstream courts.
Opened in 2000, the Red Hook Community Justice Center (RHCJC) is unlike other
problem-solving community courts which focus on single issues like drugs, mental health or
domestic violence. Instead it has a multi-jurisdictional approach combining criminal, family,
juvenile and housing into one court. The judge has access to a variety of sanctions and services for
offenders such as community restitution projects, job training, drug treatment and mental health
counseling. The judge takes a holistic approach and tries to address the underlying reasons that
defendants end up in court, hold them accountable, and provide restitution to victims where
possible. The courthouse staff also works proactively by sponsoring programs on crime
prevention, victim assistance, and community building such as job training, mediation, health
services and volunteer community service projects. Additional programs offered by the court
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

22

include a peer-driven youth court, and a variety of workshops, such as "What to do when stopped
by the police" and drug rehabilitation groups.
This research, led by the National Center for State Courts and the Center for Court
Innovation, and conducted by faculty at John Jay College, sought to find out how the community
court was functioning in relationship to neighborhood concerns. Criminologists from the National
Center for State Courts and the Center for Court Innovation used institutional data to compare
RHCJC rates of compliance with court orders, prevention of recidivism, and cost savings
(including arrest to arraignment savings, increased arraignment disposition savings, jail savings,
reduced recidivism and the community service contribution) with those of more traditional,
retributively-oriented courts. However, institutional data does not reveal if the court’s actions
translate into public confidence in government justice. Has knowledge about the court permeated
the streets? An ethnographic field study was needed to solicit the attitudes and orientations of
community members and explore litigants’ perceptions of the courts, the law and justice.
This ethnographic report describes the impact of the RHCJC on community residents in
the immediate neighborhood and on the offenders who appear in court. This report is based on
three kinds of data: a survey of 107 Red Hook residents, a survey of 200 offenders conducted in
Red Hook and Sunset Park (which is part of the RHCJC’s catchment area), and direct
observation by a team of over a dozen researchers who spent many hours in the courthouse and
on the streets of the neighborhoods. Results indicate that residents perceive RHCJC as a benefit
to the community. Researchers found that the sole judge for the court, Judge Alex Calabrese,
who was first appointed as a judge to the Criminal Court in 1997 and has presided at the RHCJC
since 2000, is considered someone who will help at-risk youth, low-level offenders, and public
housing tenants struggling with housing management. On the whole, those in Red Hook’s public
housing depend on the judge to mitigate the damage done to individuals and the community by
poverty in general and perceived heavy-handed police tactics in particular. While the RHCJC
mitigates problems with the police and public housing and offers a variety of beneficial services
that community residents use, the impact of the RHCJC seems to be most evident in adjacent
areas and somewhat less evident in areas on the periphery of the catchment areas, such as in the
adjacent neighborhood of Sunset Park.
B. RESEARCH DESIGN
The research team was led by Professor Ric Curtis, Avram Bornstein, and Anthony
Marcus of the Department of Anthropology, John Jay College, CUNY. This team has, between
them, seven decades of experience conducting qualitative and quantitative research within urban
settings on five continents. Of particular relevance to this project was Professor Curtis' research in
the mid-1990s on the community-level effects of the Midtown Community Court in Manhattan
(Sviridoff et al. 1997) and a 2007-2008 process evaluation of the Philadelphia Community Court
that he conducted for the National Center for State Courts. The Midtown Manhattan Community
Court research included extensive observation in the catchment area of the court and in-depth
interviews with a variety of misdemeanor offenders (including illegal vendors, sex workers, drug
users and dealers, and gamblers) to capture their attitudes, orientations, and recollection of their
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

23

illegal behaviors and the criminal justice system as a result of the court's introduction and
sustained presence. The Philadelphia Community Court evaluation involved interviews with more
than 200 misdemeanor offenders that were recruited in downtown Philadelphia, but the study did
not include the extensive observations that were a prominent component of the Midtown study.
In contrast to studies of both the Midtown and Philadelphia Community Courts, the Red
Hook study sought to broaden the evaluation beyond offenders to include a wide variety of
community stakeholders within the immediate environs of the courthouse and in the larger
catchment area as a whole, which covers the neighborhoods of Red Hook and parts of Sunset
Park, Park Slope and other Brooklyn neighborhoods. For such an endeavor it was decided that a
mixed-method study would be employed, involving quantitatively-oriented questionnaires, openended interviews and participant observation to provide a variety of quantitative and qualitative
data about the RHCJC. This data was elicited from community members, including long-time
residents, recent residents, and individuals who work in the neighborhood, but do not live there.
Interviews with local residents, combined with observations in the community and in the RHCJC
were useful in helping to understand the structure, function and roles that it has played in the
community over the last decade, but the centerpiece of the study was data collected from
offenders who were recruited and interviewed in Red Hook and Sunset Park. Using Respondent
Driven Sampling (RDS) sampling methods and techniques, two hundred offenders - one hundred
in the immediate Red Hook area and one hundred in the Sunset Park catchment area - were
recruited and interviewed about their criminal justice experiences, especially with the RHCJC
and other courts in the New York City area.
The research team deployed more than a dozen volunteer student researchers recruited
from John Jay’s undergraduate, graduate, and locally-affiliated Americorps program to help
complete the project. A team of roughly twenty-five students with varying time commitments and
research portfolios were involved in the entire ethnographic project, including pilot visits, field
observation, the creation and revision of questionnaires, the design of recruitment material, the
administration of the interviews, and the transcription and analysis of data collected.
1. Field observation
Preparation for data collection began with a workshop for student volunteers on "thick
description," a form of finely-grained ethnographic research and writing that has come to be seen
as a key anthropological contribution to complex evaluation studies. Anthropologists have long
described court performances, often “operating in situations of cultural diversity and unequal
power,” as rituals that symbolically signify and reinforce the authority of the state (Merry 1994:

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

24

40). Hearings are rituals that are formal and dramatic performances of messages about class,
gender, and race: “If judges belong to the dominant racial group and speak with the accent of
educated people, as they do in my example, these features of social hierarchy contribute to the
authority of their pronouncements” (Merry 1994: 36). Students were sent to Brooklyn
neighborhoods to take notes on RHCJC cases and the public life of the communities. In addition,
students were expected to log several hours observing the downtown court in Brooklyn as a way
of gaining direct exposure to the more traditional forms of justice administration to which the
RHCJC was being compared. Although observations were done at different times of day and
week, and included observations in the major sections of the neighborhood and of the core
institutions that were of interest to the study, they were conducted in an exploratory fashion,
without a systematic predetermined rubric. Instead, students and faculty posted their field notes
on a project website so that the entire group could enrich their understanding of the institutions
and communities that they were studying and the emergent issues that they might encounter
during fieldwork.
The judge eagerly invited a student researcher to sit beside him in the courtroom, and he
invited questions and offered detailed descriptions of what happened in his court. The student
wrote that:
The judge in his khakis, in chambers, which was just a regular office in any city
building, with the windows that looked like they hadn't been cleaned in years
blurring the already bleak afternoon skyline, showing me the computer-software
that allows him to check the progress of every single open case is what stands
out. He referred to the defendants with familiarity, he could tell you all about
their treatment progress and pitfalls without looking at the files.
2. Community Survey
In March 2010, the study sought to extend beyond observation in the neighborhood and
unstructured conversations with residents, and attempted to organize focus groups with civic
leaders, businesspeople, and other key stakeholders to discuss the RHCJC's impact over the last
several years on the neighborhood in terms of crime and businesses. The focus groups were
intended to help formulate questions for individual interviews and select appropriate blocks for
systematic observations and interviews with local residents. Professors and students created a list
with the help of RHCJC staff, and students made phone calls to arrange two separate focus
groups. Unfortunately, despite commitments made on the telephone, only one person showed up
at either focus group - a New York City Parks Department employee who worked in the
neighborhood, but did not live there. What did this mean? The research group decided that the
lack of attendance at the focus group sessions suggested that local community leaders were not
deeply invested in the activities of the court and therefore had little buy-in to our project. But it
also suggested that there were no pressing complaints and/or concerns about the RHCJC that they
might have wanted to raise, and as such, it indicated an overall comfort with the RHCJC. The
group resolved to pursue this question in more detail over the course of the study in interviews
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

25

with residents and offenders. It also meant that researchers had to select the locations for the
resident surveys without the assistance of community stakeholders. Based on researchers'
collective observations in Red Hook over several weeks, three blocks of residential row-houses
on the west side, usually called “The Back,” and two blocks on the east side (in the Red Hook
Houses), usually called “The Front,” were selected for door-to-door and intercept interviews.
These were supplemented by intercept interviews from respondents recruited on Van Brunt
Street, a main thoroughfare that is currently showing gentrification. These different locations
were chosen because they represent the main divisions of the neighborhood: between the mostly
white residents on the west side and the mostly residents of color on the east side. True random
recruitment of the local population for a survey was beyond the capacity of this project and may
well be impossible even with unlimited resources, but the survey that the project did complete of
100 local residents allowed researchers to engage in conversations with local residents from the
major sections of the neighborhood and enabled researchers to draw out and understand the
contested community discourses that make up “local knowledge.”
A standard questionnaire containing 10 closed-ended and five open-ended questions was
developed by faculty and students in a series of meetings that asked residents to tell us about
their knowledge of and opinions about the RHCJC, use of the RHCJC services, and changes in
the Red Hook community over the last decade (see Appendix 1). Students and faculty
administered the community survey in teams, usually one faculty member and several students,
in the spring and summer of 2010. In west Red Hook, where there are few people on the streets
and few usable public spaces, teams generally went house-to-house ringing apartment buzzers at
varying times of day, usually on the weekend when working people are more likely to be home.
Interviews were conducted on the doorstep or the sidewalk. In east Red Hook, in public housing,
there is a greater density of people and little pocket parks between buildings where the teams
were able to approach people sitting on the benches to conduct interviews.
3. Offender Survey
In autumn 2010, faculty and students developed a 115-item questionnaire for offenders
that asked about their involvement with the criminal justice system, experiences with police,
familiarity and experiences with the RHCJC, and comparisons between the Justice Center and
downtown courts (see Appendix 2). As part of the evaluation of the RHCJC, the questions aimed
to compare types of courts and the theories of social control on which they are based. Tom
Tyler's (2006) procedural justice model argues that when decision-making procedures and the
quality of treatment are experienced as just, people "accept social rules, and voluntarily engage
in self regulatory behavior" (Tyler 2006: 309). He suggests that it is the legitimacy of an
authority, a law or an institution that "leads others to feel obligated to obey its decisions and
directives and suspend personal considerations of self interest" (Tyler 2006: 311). Furthermore,
if they fail to obey, they should feel guilty (313). The main question being investigated in the
offender survey was the relationship between procedural fairness and compliance and how that
compares with the relationship between compliance and the risk of punitive sanctions (Tyler
2006: 312).
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

26

The team administered a survey to 200 misdemeanor offenders that were recruited from
within the catchment area of the RHCJC using Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS). Although
the goal was to recruit only those who been arrested in the last three years, we did not invalidate
those that we later discovered were not in the 3-year window because we reasoned that they
would know people who were eligible. RDS is a methodology that is used to recruit statistically
representative samples of hard to reach groups, like criminal offenders, by taking advantage of
intragroup social connections to build a sample pool (Abdul-Quader, et al. 2006; Heckathorn
1997, 2002; Heckathorn, et al. 2002; Robinson, et al. 2006). RDS starts with a small number of
initial research subjects, called "seeds," who are recruited, interviewed by the researchers, and
paid for their time and effort, in this case $20. Following these interviews, the seeds receive three
numbered coupons with instructions to pass them to friends or associates who are also
misdemeanor offenders (in the last three years). When coupons are redeemed by eligible research
subjects, their recruiter is compensated $10 for each coupon redeemed. The eligible subjects
referred by the seeds comprise the first wave of the sample; they are each interviewed, paid $20
and given three coupons to recruit the next wave of study participants. Study participants are
recruited in this fashion until the desired sample size is reached. If recruitment chains do not
develop as expected, additional seeds may be recruited as replacements. Using RDS, the
researchers are introduced to each new, unnamed research subject by a friend or associate who
can describe the non threatening nature of study participation beforehand and vouch for the
researchers' good faith, thereby facilitating recruitment and participation.
RDS is like the well-known and often used recruitment strategies of "snowball sampling"
(Goodman, 1961) and "chain referral sampling" (Erickson, 1979). Like those methods, the
potential savings of time and money that RDS affords the data collection phase of a project
(Abdul-Quader et al. 2006; Robinson et al. 2006) was attractive, given the limited resources
available for this component of the overall project. Using traditional ethnographic methods or
recruiting eligible respondents from field sites where misdemeanor offenders were said to be
prevalent was likely to take much longer and recruit far fewer study participants than RDS
methods, which have been shown to recruit large numbers of study participants in a very short
amount of time (Abdul-Quader et al. 2006; Robinson et al. 2006).
The numbers on the coupons allow the researchers to identify each research subject
(names are not used), prevent duplication, identify who recruited each participant, and keep track
of recruitment patterns using the RDS "Coupon Manager" software that is downloadable for free
at www.respondentdrivensampling.org. RDS has been shown to improve upon previous chain
referral and snowball sampling methods by employing a systematic recruiting scheme and
mathematical modeling techniques during data analysis in order to mitigate, estimate, and correct
for biases, including those due to 1) selection of the initial sample; 2) volunteerism (higher levels
of participation from cooperative and interested participants); 3) problems related to the how
chain referral takes place (e.g., problems with inaccurate contact information and differential
recruitment); and 4) homophily (the tendency of seeds and subsequent referrals to recruit those
like themselves) (Heckathorn 2002). As recruitment chains go through many waves of referral,
the biasing effects of initial seed selection are minimized (Heckathorn 2002; Salganik &
Heckathorn 2004).
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

27

The first 100 offender interviews were done in Coffey Park, which sits between east and
west Red Hook, and is adjacent to the RHCJC and the Red Hook Houses. Interviews were
conducted in a small community room in the semi-indoor concrete park building that housed
public restrooms, park maintenance equipment and the office of the park custodian. The space
was generously donated by the NYC Parks Department. The support and forbearance of the park
custodian allowed the interviews to be completed in a short period of time, five days, in
October, 2010.
The second 100 offender interviews were completed over three days in November, 2010,
at the far end of the Justice Center's catchment area in the community room of a building that
housed Sunset Park's Community Board 7. This Sunset Park location is over three miles away
from the RHCJC facility, in a city that is famous for its highly localized conceptual geography,
making three miles into what many see as “another world.” Sunset Park is also in a different
police precinct – the 72nd instead of the 76th – and both neighborhoods have experienced
considerable change over the last decade, including some gentrification. However, Sunset Park
has also seen an influx of a variety of Latino immigrants (primarily from Mexico and Central
America) and the growth of a substantial Asian community. The addition of these many and
varied new residents and ethnic communities make Sunset Park a far more complex and diverse
community than Red Hook.
On the first day of data collection for the offender interviews, October 8, 2010, the
research team sought to begin the process by recruiting three "seed" cases as litigants exited the
RHCJC. However, it was still early in the morning and although offenders were waiting to enter
the RHCJC, none had left the court yet. Rather than wait for litigants to exit the RHCJC,
Professor Curtis entered a bodega (New York for Latino grocery store) near the Red Hook
Houses and recruited two young men who said that they had been arrested in the previous twelve
months. Meanwhile, Professor Marcus found a woman with a baby carriage who he had
interviewed several months earlier as part of the community study, who had at the time informed
him of a recent arrest. From these three seeds the Red Hook RDS referral chains began. These
initial recruits were asked to walk across the street to the Coffey Park, and within several
minutes, the researchers were busy conducting interviews with them. These initial interviews
took about 30 minutes to complete, and recruits soon returned with acquaintances that they
referred to the project. By the end of the first day, more than a dozen interviews with offenders
were completed. The number of people who showed up to get interviewed quickly ballooned: on
the second day, more than 20 interviews were completed and a large crowd of people jockeyed
for position outside the building where the research team was working, hoping to be next. The
research team used their discussions with these shifting crowds of offenders waiting for their
interviews to gain informal context on the formal interviews that were being administered.
The research team completed more than 100 interviews in Red Hook in about five days.
In November, data collection began in offices belonging to Community Board 7 in Sunset Park.
As in Red Hook, the first seeds were recruited from the sidewalks near the building by Professor
Curtis. These seeds were interviewed, sent back into their communities with coupons and
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

28

over100 coupons came back in three days of interviewing. Unlike in Red Hook, where all
interviews were done in English, Sunset Park, with its diverse and recent Latino migrant
communities required the team to guarantee the presence, at all times, of Spanish speaking
interviewers. No other language needed translation during the research.
All potential research subjects were first asked to consent to participate in the study. To
preserve their anonymity, research subjects were allowed to orally waive written documentation
of their informed consent to participate in the study. They were allowed to do this because the
research team believed that the main threat to their confidential participation as “offenders” was
the existence of written documentation of their participation in the study, such as would be
created by signing a traditional informed consent form. Further, the researchers believed that the
study presented no more than minimal risk of harm to participants beyond the risk that they
already faced, and involved no procedures for which written consent was normally required
outside of the research context. Potential participants were read the "Documentation of Consent
and Waiver of Written Consent," and they were offered an “information sheet” that described
the project and the procedures that were to be followed.
In all, three distinct forms of data were collected in the project: qualitative, quantitative
and network data derived from the sampling chains themselves. This report provides descriptive
statistics of the study population that will answer some of the basic questions that the researchers
posed about the impact of the RHCJC on offenders and the community. Narrative/qualitative
data has been coded and analyzed. Coding allows for the searching of large texts according to
basic meaning units and helps to uncover (through propinquity and patterned use) relationships
among meaning units (Patrizi 2005) while providing the opportunity for user-created "relational"
searches (Alexa and Zuell 2000). In this way, it aids in producing conceptual maps of key terms
and concepts used by the research population (Bruner 1997). In addition, relationships among
variables suggested by regression analysis (discussed above) can be checked for local
understanding by exploring textual interrelations of the suggested topics. The reverse may be true
as well, where textual affiliations may suggest potential relationships among variables that could
be explored more fully via statistical analysis – thus together providing a dialogue between
qualitative and quantitative data sets.
Offender interviews went rather smoothly, so smoothly, in fact, that managing the crowd
of offenders waiting for their turn to be interviewed may have been the most laborious part of the
research. Initially, about a 35 percent response rate for redeeming coupons was anticipated, but
the RDS caught on exceptionally quickly and there were relatively few respondents that failed to
redeem all three coupons that were allotted to them. As a result of the enthusiastic response, more
than 100 offender interviews were completed in five days of interviewing in Red Hook, with an
additional 100 completed in Sunset Park in three days. With several interviews voided because
of ineligibility, a total sample of 200 offenders was recruited from both sites. The advantage of
recruiting in this fashion was that the research team was able to recruit a demographically diverse
sample from both sites that represented a wide range of offenses in a very short amount of time, a
fact that was appreciated by our collaborators who had generously donated space for us to
conduct the study. The disadvantage of this approach, however, was that it undermined one of the
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

29

strengths of an RDS study in that recruitment did not strictly proceed through the existing
networks of offenders that might be expected in an RDS study that was done over a longer period
of time, where respondents have an opportunity to seek out their closest friends and associates to
recruit. Because there was such a large crowd of potential respondents in the vicinity of where
the study was being conducted, people that finished an interview and had three coupons to give to
their network members could easily find eligible respondents among the waiting crowd. And
though they almost always knew the people that they recruited into the study, in some cases, the
people that they gave their coupons to did not appear to be members of their primary network of
friends and associates, but rather other people from the neighborhood who they knew would be
eligible for the study. Because the RDS trees were built in this fashion the typical types of
analyses that might be done with an RDS-recruited sample (for example, measures of homophily)
would make little sense to attempt.
The incredible ease with which such recruitment occurred in Red Hook is, in itself, an
important finding, in that it suggests that residents are eager to talk about how aggressive policing
is ubiquitous to this community and in certain respects has come to define its identity and
boundaries. It also suggests the degree to which Red Hook is an excellent site for testing
questions of the efficacy of procedural justice, since an environment of such aggressive policing
is exactly the type for which community courts were developed.

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30

C. RESULTS
1. Observations
a. The Neighborhood
Observations revealed that like other parts of Brooklyn, Red Hook is a neighborhood of
contrasts. The “Back,” on the west side, is industrial mixed with residential areas displaying a
variety of building styles, mostly multi-story attached homes. Some have been rehabilitated by
young investors moving into an older, mostly white, working class neighborhood. The
businesses on the avenues also vary, from those servicing industrial businesses to those
servicing the more expensive tastes of new residents. An Ikea and a large gourmet discount
warehouse store have taken advantage of the decaying industrial edge in the southern
waterfront, hoping to draw customers by car to their locations well off the pedestrian path. The
“Front,” on the east side, is dominated by parks and by the still heavily-policed Red Hook
Houses, a public housing project. Except for little leagues on Saturday mornings, children of
color from the nearby Red Hook Houses do not fill the parks.
The bifurcation of the neighborhood into a gentrifying white one, with old and new
residents of various means, and a poorer one populated by people of color is evident in several
ways. In the gentrified area the streets are cleaner and lined with bicycles and gardens. Cafes,
wine shops and boutiques are among the many new businesses. Aside from the bus stops, big
businesses, and area nearer to the RHCJC, there are not many people around. The
neighborhood is peaceful, quiet and quaint, with many cobble-stone streets and a great variety
of row houses. There is also a difference in patterns of crime and policing. The overwhelming
majority of police stop-and-frisk activity is around the Red Hook Houses. Even in the whiter,
western areas of Red Hook, the majority of those stopped are black or Hispanic. Not unlike
other gentrifying zones in New York City, one young woman may passionately describe police
harassment and brutality, unemployment and gun violence, while another just blocks away
describes what a nice place Red Hook is to raise a family.
b. The Courtrooms
The downtown courthouse in Brooklyn is a large building with many floors and
courtrooms. Red Hook is a one room court house. Passing through Red Hook more than once
yields interactions with the same people, whereas one could visit the downtown courthouse on
many occasions and likely never see the same people. The courthouse, courtrooms and
proceedings downtown are formal. The halls of the building are quiet and complex to navigate.
While the drug courts downtown are similar to the Red Hook court in many ways, particularly in
their approach, the court rooms and proceedings have a much more official feel. The layout of
the downtown courtrooms is such that they have the judge’s bench, jury box, tables, equipment
for defense and prosecution, and benches. Defendants in custody are brought in one by one, in
handcuffs, escorted by court officers. On occasions when the downtown courts were observed,
there was limited dialogue between defendants and officials.
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

31

Red Hook, lacks a jury box and much of the equipment found in other courts, though the
court itself is new. Defendants in custody are brought into the courtroom in groups, and there is
constant dialogue between staff themselves, as well as between staff and defendants, and
defendants and family/friends, though the latter is minimal. The courtroom itself has a more
familiar and relaxed feel, though this varies depending on which court officers happen to be
stationed in the courtroom and the judge’s mood at a given time. Observations inside the RHCJC
revealed that unlike regular downtown courts where there is little interaction between the judge
and offenders, in Red Hook, proceedings were fairly friendly, and typically defendants were
given an opportunity to speak for themselves. In the RHCJC, Judge Alex Calabrese, especially in
cases that involve treatment, was observed asking the offending person how their treatment is
going, why they missed a day, or if they like their counselor. The judge was observed to inquire
about family members, educational progress and work plans. As he shared his bench with a
student-researcher, the judge read and discussed his email from a guidance counselor regarding
two children who are coming home (to Brooklyn) from juvenile detention facilities upstate. The
judge wanted to make sure that he selected the high schools where they would have the best
chance of long term success. He beamed, extraordinarily full of hope for these kids as he talked
about how well they were doing. The judge's demeanor is, in most cases, supportive, like a
friendly counselor, or just neutral. Defendants were regularly praised for progress and verbally
admonished for slip-ups. Middle-aged men and women cried while thanking the judge and the
court for encouraging them and keeping them on track.
On some occasions, unique rituals were observed. For example, at about 10:30 one
morning while the court was in session, one of the court officers quietly asked the few people
spaced out across the second pew to clear the row and sit in other seats. He motioned to the
window on the courtroom door for someone to come in. Six young men of color, probably all
teenagers, dressed in baggy pants and hoodies, came in the doors and took the bench that had
been reserved for them. A second judge entered the room from the lawyers' doors, and Judge
Calabrese motioned to him to come and sit next to him on the bench. The court proceeded
through another case.
Then, the judge announced that sometimes they stop everything to recognize someone
who has completed their GED. He explained that there is a GED program on the second floor.
The judge called out the name of the young man they were celebrating. He came up to the
defendant area. The judge asked his parent to come up. The young man's father joined him. The
judge called for a round of applause, and it was more enthusiastic than polite. The judge praised
the young man for his accomplishment and asked him what his future plans were. The young
man responded that he wanted to get a degree and work in computers.
The judge asked a woman, who had a camera hanging from her shoulder and who stood
next to the young man, if she wanted to say a few words. She described the man's performance
and diligence despite obstacles. The judge asked one of the court officers, an older white woman,
to speak. She said words of praise and jokingly said, "It boggles my mind that you're going to
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

32

work with computers. Promise me that you'll come back and help those of us who don't know
anything about them, okay? Do you promise?" The visiting judge who sat next to Judge
Calabrese then made a short statement about the young man's accomplishment and ended saying
that "If there is anything that [I] can do, just let me know." There was another somewhat
enthusiastic round of applause. The young man approached the bench, shook hands with the
judges, and had his picture taken with the teacher and his father. Looking happy, the young man,
his father, and the teacher left the room. The row of six teenagers got up and, also looking happy,
followed out the door. Several other people also left at that point, suggesting they had been there
for that event, including two middle-aged people in business attire and a white-haired, sightimpaired man with a cane. Then a court clerk called the next case and business went back to
normal.
Similar applause was observed downtown for a middle-aged woman who completed
her GED while in drug treatment, and downtown judges also offered praise for defendants who
were succeeding in treatment. Judges in both courts sometimes reprimanded those who were
not in compliance with their mandates, assuming a “tough love” approach. However, the
RHCJC ritual of recognition was much more elaborate and personalized than the downtown
court. The RHCJC is much smaller, the interaction is in the more intimate space of a renovated
schoolhouse, where the engagement of justice occurs between a single judge and the
community.
The judge in Red Hook was also very supportive in Housing Court and Family Court, and
dismissed most low level offenses (open container, park after closing, etc.). His role was often as
a resource for the community. Through the judge, the court could serve as a link to services, such
as housing repair, local programs, outreach, etc. Housing and family court were not observed
downtown, so it was difficult to make comparisons, but downtown all procedures (including
merely entering the building) were much more formal.
2. Community Survey
a. Contact with the RHCJC
The community survey revealed that there are differences in the perceived benefits
from the RHCJC. Researchers interviewed 107 people in a survey of residents. Those
residents were 45 percent male, 55 percent female, 37 percent black, 24 percent Latino, 27
percent white, and 12 percent other.
The overwhelming majority of them, about 85 percent, feel safe in Red Hook. When
asked an open-ended question about the problems they have in their neighborhood, as shown in
Table 1, 30 percent of responses referred to activities associated with offenders (i.e., crime and
police issues combined), followed closely by 28 percent saying “none” or “other” (nonneighborhood problems). Twenty-seven percent by complaints about city services, and 14
percent cited problems with the police. The single most significant problem named, at 19
percent, was traffic/parking. Clearly, there was still a fear of crime and other offending

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

33

behaviors, but given the attention paid to this subject in the media, and the fact that respondents
knew the survey was about the courts, crime was not an overwhelming concern or fear.

Table 1: Resident survey - What problems or annoyances would
you like to see changed in the neighborhood?
N=96*
None
19%
Traffic/parking
19%
Noise/loud music
5%
Fighting/drugs/need more police
22%
Aggressive police
8%
Trash
6%
Housing/gentrification
6%
Other public services
6%
Other
5%
*Some respondents named more than one problem.

b. Community Opinions of the RHCJC
Most residents of Red Hook, 87 percent, knew about the RHCJC as a result of an
experience with the court or through hearing about the services that it offered from others in the
neighborhood. When asked about the use of services at the RHCJC, there was racial disparity in
the responses. While 39 percent of blacks and 53 percent of Latinos said that they knew someone
who had attended the RHCJC’s programs, only three percent of whites knew such a person. As
shown in Table 2, The survey also revealed a striking racial difference in rates of housing
ownership; 44 percent of whites owned their homes in Red Hook, while only five percent of
blacks and 11 percent of Latinos owned. Most blacks and Latinos interviewed lived in public
housing.
Table 2: Resident survey - own or rent?
RH Residents (n=107)

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

Rent

Own

Other

Total

34

Black/African

92%

5%

3%

100%

Hispanic/Latino

88%

13%

0%

100%

White

52%

44%

4%

100%

Other

82%

18%

0%

100%

American

In the “Back” (west) of Red Hook, where researchers went house to house, ringing
buzzers, a few of these residents had received summonses for illegal bike riding or urination, but
most of these relatively affluent residents, compared to those in the Red Hook Houses, had little
interaction with the courts or the police. In east Red Hook, in the Red Hook Houses public
housing development, residents were very familiar with the RHCJC; many knew Judge
Calabrese by name. There was a great deal of praise for the way the court operates and how the
Judge "really cares." One women went as far as to say, "it's home." This is in contrast to the way
they spoke about the criminal courts, which was largely without affection. Many of those
interviewed in east Red Hook had been involved in RHCJC-sponsored youth programs, some
had gone for help with the public housing administration, and some had appeared there as a
result of a summons or arrest by police.
Of the 107 residents interviewed, 15 had been to RHCJC, seven to criminal court, and
five to civil court; of those who had been to civil court, one was in small claims court, one was in
family court, and three were in housing court. The overwhelming majority, about 78 percent, of
the community residents who had been to court or had close family or friends who had been to
court said they were treated fairly.
The survey in the community suggests that the Judge and the RHCJC are widely praised
by residents in the “Front” of Red Hook, which is more heavily policed than the “Back.” Many
residents praised the RHCJC because they received fair treatment when the judge, from their point
of view, threw out charges from the police. However, residents, particularly those in public
housing, often spoke of a fear of the police from which the RHCJC could not protect them. At one
point during the research, a man died in his residence under mysterious circumstances while
police were inside. The area was closed off by police, and the death was never represented in the
news. A neighborhood service provider described feelings of bitterness and resentment, such as
"The cops killed another one of us and it isn't even in the paper."
While those in the more affluent “Back” were mildly approving, the RHCJC was
especially important in the “Front” because many people there felt that they had been abused by
police and other agencies of government. In this context, the powerful paternal ear of the RHCJC
becomes an important and necessary location to gain attention and restore a sense of respect.
Additionally, the RHCJC and other neighborhood service providers benefit each other in that they

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

35

can supply each other with volunteers (i.e., community service and otherwise), GED program
placement, educational workshops and similar community programming.
3. Offender interviews
a. Demographics of Offender Survey
Table 3 presents the demographics of the 200 offenders recruited via RDS.
Table 3: Offender Demographics
Demographics
Age
Mean
Median
Minimum
Maximum
Male
Race/Ethnicity
Hispanic
Black
Multiracial
White
Percent born outside of the U.S.
Years of School Completed
Median
Minimum
Maximum
Working Part-time or Full-time
% Receiving Public Assistance
Mean number of children
Current neighborhood
Red Hook
Sunset Park
Other

N=200*
39 years
41 years
18 years
68 years
73.0%
49.0%
42.0%
5.0%
3.5%
22.5%
11.00 years
0 years
19 years
47.0%
29.0%
1.76
45.5%
38.5%
16.0%

*N may be 199 for some variables due to missing data

The demographics of the 200 offenders recruited via RDS was 73 percent male, 42
percent black, 49 percent Hispanic, five percent mixed and less than four percent white. The age
range was between 18 and 68, with the mean age and median age around 40. Most of those
interviewed lived in the two neighborhoods in which the interviews took place, but 16 percent
lived elsewhere and most of those were contacted in Sunset Park.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

36

More than half of the men (n=87) reported that they had “part time” or “full time” work,
but only seven of 54 women reported any work at all. More than a quarter of the respondents
said they received transfer payments (SSI, SSD, welfare, food stamps) and proportionally, they
tended to be women.
Table 4 presents data on the offenders’ arrests and court appearances.

Table 4: Offender Arrests and Court Appearances
N=200*
Had been arrested in last 3 years
Been to court
Mean # of times
Median # of times
Had been to the RHCJC
Court of last appearance
RHCJC
Downtown Brooklyn Criminal
Other

82.0%
11.6
6.0
76.5%
47.2%
37.7%
15.1%

*N may be 199 for some variables due to missing
data

The recruitment methods were aimed at offenders and, consequently, most of the people
in the sample, 82 percent, had been arrested in the last three years: 78 percent of the females and
84 percent of the men. Respondents had been to court an average of 11.9 times, but the median
was six times and the mode four times in court. Most of the respondents had been to the RHCJC
(76 percent, n=153), with males and females in our sample appearing at roughly the same rate
(female at 78 percent and males at 76 percent). Nearly half of the respondents (46 percent, n=94)
said that the RHCJC was the last court they were in, but Red Hook residents were far more
likely to go there than residents of Sunset Park.
Of the 200 offenders in the sample, 83.5 percent (n=167) said that they last time they
appeared in court, it was either at the RHCJC (n=94) or the downtown criminal court (n=73).
Those in the Red Hook sample (n=85) were much more likely to have had their last court
appearance in the RHCJC (72 percent), while those surveyed in Sunset Park (n=60) were more
likely to have last appeared in Brooklyn Criminal Court (58 percent). This suggests that
proximity to the court was a factor in offenders’ involvement in the RHCJC. There is a
possibility that Sunset Park offenders get arrested more on the weekends, which would preclude
them from going to the RHCJC. The perception among the researchers while conducting the
study was that the RHCJC was less prominent in the lives of people in Sunset Park than those
that lived in Red Hook.

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

37

b. Opinions about Downtown Criminal Court
Respondents were asked if they would describe the judge’s actions from their last court
appearance as fair. Table 5 presents those results.
Table 5: [In your last court appearance] would you describe [the judge’s] actions
and decisions as fair?
% Saying Judge was
Fair
All Courts (N=186)
84.4
% Red Hook (N=90)
91.1
% Downtown Brooklyn Criminal (N =73)
82.2
% Downtown Brooklyn Family (N=6)
% Downtown Brooklyn Housing (N=1)
Other Court (N=16)

50.0
0.0%
75.0%

Despite the fact that 81 percent of the offenders whose last court appearance was at the
Downtown Court said that the outcome was “fair,” it was common to hear that people had bad
experiences at the Downtown Criminal Court, especially among those that had been to court
multiple times. For example, one unemployed, 20-year old, multiracial male in Sunset Park (who
lives with his aunt in Crown Heights) told the researchers that he had previously been to court at
least 10 times and that he had been stopped and frisked 20 times by the police in the last year. He
said that during his last visit to the Downtown Criminal Court, he had a "bad interaction" with the
judge. Asked what he learned about the law, he replied that "The law has two sides; what they
show to the people and the crooked side." Others told similar stories that also included
descriptions of the conditions at the Downtown Criminal Court.
I went to Brooklyn criminal court before Red Hook, horrible place, horrible.
They should do a tour there, just so people could see. I wouldn't wish that
place on my enemy. Red Hook is 100 times better. A bum, a homeless person
on the street would feel comfortable in the criminal court.
However, some respondents recognized that their own behavior warranted the criminal
courts intervention. As a 57-year old African American male explained,
I went to 120 Schermerhorn last time I went to court for throwing a machete
at someone. The charge was possession of a weapon, harassment and assault.
I was drunk, I was high and I had an altercation with someone….The judge
did what he needed to do. I would say he was fair. It could have been worse.
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

38

He said that, as a result of that experience, he learned that “you can't be in the street, on
the corner drinking.” It is interesting that the proportion of respondents who said that they
received a fair decision in the RHCJC and in Brooklyn Criminal Court in response to the fixedchoice question tend to be somewhat similar, but the narratives that people told about the two
courts were quite different. This might be because the perceived fairness of the outcome of the
case (the decision) is only part of an individual’s experience of the court.
c. Opinions about RHCJC
The survey asked respondents to describe in their own words the differences between the
Downtown Court and the RHCJC. The RHCJC was likely to be seen as preferable simply
because it is a misdemeanor court, rather than a criminal one. Several of the offenders mentioned
that they preferred taking a class aimed at reforming their behavior to punitive measures.

[Officers of the RHCJC] explained to me that I had a choice, did I want to go
on or take the class? That experience was something new to me; they can offer
you help if you needed it and I found that to be astounding that they were more
into trying to help people than just sending them to jail…..but I still walk my
dog off the leash.
Similarly, one man expressed his satisfaction that by taking advantage of the option to
attend a class at the court, he avoided having a criminal record.
They had us take a class; they took attendance. They had us speak on why we
was here. It was either that or pay the summons and have that on my criminal
record. The judge basically told me not to do it again. The interaction that I
had with the judge was pretty bad. It was embarrassing. Given the minor thing
that I was there for compared to what other people were there for was a waste
of time. The judge was very lenient, at least with me. He was good.
Praise for the court was effusive among the respondents interviewed for the study. The
words most often used to describe the difference between the courts were that Red Hook was
“respectful.” There was much praise for Judge Calabrese, and confirmation that the individual
concern he shows helps in “shaping a new life,” “like your mom would,” “with anything.” For
example, one young man who was last in the RH CJC in 2003 for petty larceny (shoplifting) was
pleasantly surprised by his experience at the court and his interaction with the judge:
He allows you to speak. I got a good feel from Calabrese because of the fact
that he likes to interact and get your opinion. I don't get the feeling that he's
one of those judges that that looks down on people. To me, he's fair, I'll put it
that way. The court officers treat you like a person too, not like that other court
A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

39

over there. I learned that there's two different types of ways that courts treat
people. You have these obnoxious goons and then you have those that look at
you like, ok, you made a mistake.
Like many respondents, he expressed gratitude when discussing how the RHCJC handled
cases. Another respondent, a 31-year old Latino male, talked about how he got into trouble with
drugs and was fortunate to go to the RHCJC rather than the criminal court.
About 5 years ago, I got in trouble for some drugs, and instead of putting me
in jail, [Judge Calabrese] put me in a drug program. If they bring you to 120
Schermerhorn, you're going to jail. Over there [in Red Hook], it's a lot better.
Several respondents remarked that after participating in RHCJC programs or being in
RHCJC, court employees were friendly in casual encounters, inquiring about their personal
wellbeing as well as that of their children. Table 6 presents the full results of that question.
Table 6: How would you describe the differences between the RHCJC and the
Downtown Court?
N=123
Leniency
Faster/Less Crowded
Respect
Attitudes
Programs
No Difference
Cleanliness
Other

%*
39.0%
22.0%
16.3%
13.8%
11.4%
8.1%
4.9%
13.8%

*Percentages do not add to 100 because answers were non-exclusive

d. Opinions about the Judge
Opinions about the RHCJC were most often expressed in comments about the judge, who
was repeatedly praised by those that appeared before him. One woman, a 39 year old African
American who went to the RHCJC about a year ago for non-payment of rent explained how she
learned from her mistakes,
I went to the Red Hook court last year, housing court for rent. Judge
Calabrese was good; the best judge I've ever seen.
One man described his reaction to the judge:

A Community Court Grows in Brooklyn

40

Judge Calabrese tried to help me. I'm not saying that he cares for you like a
friend, but he tries to help you. And the court officers are a lot different from
downtown. Some of them, being that they know me from being there so
frequently, they see me on the bus and come sit by me and ask me about my
son. So, I catch up with them on the bus and they're very courteous. Even
when I'm being detained, they treat me with respect. The Red Hook court got
me into the methadone program…That helped me; I'm not shooting no more
heroin.
Others praised the judge for his tendency to sentence offenders to community service
instead of jail for minor drug infractions
The judge, Calabrese, he was real lenient at first, but now he's not playing.
But he's one of the best judges I've dealt with in my life. He will give you a
break,
but when you f- up, you did it to yourself. But he gives you break, believe me,
he gives you breaks. I got busted with 36 bags of dope and he gave me
community service; usually, you go to jail. I've been there so many times that
the court officers know me.
As much as respondents spoke fondly of the judge, he also has the legitimacy to make
people feel shame.
Going in front of the same judge all the time is like, oh my god, you know? It
could be the littlest thing, but you expect the worst from this judge because
he's seen you so many times and it gets sickening. I don't want to keep seeing
this judge, I don't want to be stressing my family out. 30 or 35 years old, sitting
in jail, and you have kids that look up to you; I can't tell my children that I'm
in jail. I don't want my children to follow in my footsteps. I want them to be
better.
Respondents were asked the question “How would you describe the differences between
the judge in the Red Hook Community Justice Center and the judges at the downtown courts?”
As shown in Table 7, people felt the judge in Red Hook was more compassionate and more fair.

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Table 7: How would you describe the differences between the judge at the RHCJC and the
judge at the Downtown Court?
RH judge is… (N= 117)
More compassionate
More fair
No difference
More connected to people
More lenient
Other

%*
48.7%
27.4%
17.9%
11.1%
6.8%
12.8%

*Percentages do not add to 100 because answers were non-exclusive

e. Opinions about Services
Respondents were appreciative that RHCJC provided programs, particularly jobs for
youth. One respondent remarked that, "They give jobs for kids; they get a check I think the 15th
of every month. I was supposed to go, I was in training." The Summer Youth Program was
among the most well-known of the RHCJC’s offerings.
Just over 27 percent (n=55) said they had been to one of the programs at the RHCJC.
Although the majority of the offenders interviewed (n=89) had not personally utilized any of
the programs at the RHCJC, when asked if their friends and acquaintances knew about the
RHCJC, the majority (n=166) answered affirmatively and said that the help offered at the
RHCJC was useful (n=126). GED training and especially drug rehabilitation options were also
well known and viewed as positive assets for the community.
People were especially appreciative of the help that Judge Calabrese provided with
problems in public housing. A 52-year old African American female who went to court for a
housing complaint remarked that “everyone” knew about RHCJC and thought of it as fair and
useful. When asked how the Justice Center was useful, she stated, "Whatever help they needed,
they helped them and they followed up. They followed up. It was good. All good." Respondents
in Red Hook were more confident than those in Sunset Park that their friends knew about the
services and thought they were useful (89 percent vs. 77 percent, respectively).
f. Opinions about the NYPD
Of the 147 respondents who had been stopped by the police in the last year, 110 (74.8
percent) reported that the police behavior was not fair. Some respondents who said they made a
living engaged in illegal activities, especially selling drugs, complained of not being told why
they were stopped, being repeatedly stopped by the same officer(s), and being stopped when they
had not done anything warranting the stop:

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Out here, they just stop you when they want to; I mean, whenever they get
ready or they need a bust or whatever. They don't care where they see you at if
they know your face. I was coming from my uncle's funeral; didn't do nothing
wrong, but I had drugs on me. They said I didn't look right. They busted me;
they caught me. Comin' from a funeral, they said that I looked suspicious and
I got locked up. So, they allowed to do that, which is not right.
Or similarly, this 22-year old African American male who grew up in Red Hook and lives
with his mom, said,
In the last year, I've been frisked a lot, a lot. They just keep comin'. They be
circling the block all day. He get out and walks over to you, "Oh, what did we
tell you? No standing on the stoop." But I pay rent here. I don't gotta get off
the stoop. So, I'm talking to them and now they're puttin' the cuffs on me.
"For what? "Are you resisting arrest? Are you resisting arrest?" Now my boy
comes downstairs and says, "I live here. I pay rent. You want me to show you
proof, what?" "Oh, no, no," and sometimes they say some slick stuff to try
and set you off, and then you'd get arrested for hitting an officer.
The last time they approached us it wasn't fair. There was no reason for that.
We were just sitting on the stoop with my headphones on, listening to music,
and they come, about to hit me with a ticket, backin' out their pad for nothin'.
For what? I'm sitting on my stoop. So, now you're going to write me a
summons for sitting here listening to music? 'Cause I'm sitting there not
bothering nobody, not sayin' nothin', I'm not yellin' and makin' noise, I'm not
doing anything but listening to music with headphones. That's rude; that's
real rude. If you unplug it, they're really going to turn it up, like turn your
barbecue, knock your grill over, turn your grill off…like they be doing things
to try and make somebody hit them. What they do, that's pickin'; they walkin'
through the park pickin' on people.
All individuals are entitled to their Fourth Amendment and Terry protections, which
means they should not be subject to stops and searches without reasonable suspicion that a crime
is in progress regardless of their prior convictions; however, police would be pleased to know that
those who make a living in illegal street-ways feel that they are always being watched and are
likely to be stopped at any moment.
Red Hook residents who do not make their living from criminal activities also complain
about frequent stops by the NYPD who use “quality of life” enforcement as a strategy to reduce
crime reports in high crime neighborhoods. Several people ended up in court because of public
drinking. One 26-year old African-American female who lives in Red Hook with her
grandmother described her alcohol summons:
I went to the Red Hook court in 2008. We were all hanging out outside. I'm
not going to say that people were not drinking; people were drinking.
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Everyone had the same foam cups, but some people had them and some did
not have them. But they came over there and gave everybody a ticket, even the
ones that didn't have a cup. I felt that it should have been only the people that
were drinking that got a summons. It was just a waste of time to write
everybody a ticket because everybody wasn't drinking.
Violations and arrests relating to possession of marijuana were another common
complaint, as one young man explained, “I was buying a Dutch at the store and they stopped me
for that, so I had weed on me. They stopped me just when I came out of the store. They put me in
the car and then called the van to come and pick me up. They took me to the 72nd Precinct. The
judge let me go on six months probation.”
When police stop people not in their own building and suspect them of criminal intent,
they can issue a court appearance summons for trespassing. One African-American man
described the policy as he believed the police intended it to work:
I went into the building, and my intentions were to get a bag of weed, but the
guy was not at home. So, I came back out of the building and the cops asked
me who I came to see and I told them "a friend of mine." And they said, "No
you wasn't, you was copping drugs." And they searched me and they didn't
find no drugs and then he took me in for trespassing.
Heavy enforcement of these quality-of-life conditions, like open alcohol violations, bike
riding on the side walk, trespassing, possession of marijuana and other violations, has been
pursued by the NYPD for almost two-decades as their key crime fighting strategy: enforce the
small violations and thereby minimize the big crimes. For residents of high crime areas, police
enforcement activity feels like targeted harassment.
Many respondents discussed what they perceived as the hostile and discourteous manner
of the police. As shown in Table 8, the majority of respondents characterized police behavior as
rude and disrespectful.
Table 8: Which of the following best describes their [the police’s] behavior: friendly and
encouraging, professional and courteous, hurried and distant, or rude and
disrespectful.
(N=145)
Rude and disrespectful
Hurried and distant
Professional and courteous
Friendly and encouraging

%
76.6%
11.7%
11.7%
3.4%

*Percentages do not add to 100 because answers were non-exclusive

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I was walking out of a building, my friend's building. A police officer asked
me for an ID. I showed it to him. He started asking questions about where I
was going and they searched me and I didn't have anything. And the cops
started to get kinda nasty. One of the officers threw the cuffs on me and was
dragging me, literally, out of the building. He was also, in a way, kinda hitting
me when I got into the car. He was calling me racist names, things like that.
Some of interviews suggest that few officers are doing the majority of the harassment:
That one cop; he's sneaky, he harasses people…. People know, watch out for
this one guy. He don't give people his name, he hides his badge number. He's
really a trouble maker.
Indeed, a frequent complaint is that police stop and search people with something less
than reasonable suspicion:
A police officer pulls me over and I say, "what's the problem? Did somebody
call 911? Did you get a description over your radios to pull me over?" You
can't just drive through the neighborhood and pull people over and because
they look like they got something or they look like a child molester or they
look like a drug dealer. You can't just do that, you have to go with the facts.
Or, quite similarly, this African-American man explains,
They do a lot of racial profiling in Red Hook. You could be just going to the
store and the cops will stop you. I said, "this is illegal," but you know, they
came out with that new law, you know, stop and frisk, and they said that it's
legal. But it's illegal. How you gonna just stop me and I ain't doin’ nothing,
and ask me where I'm going? I told him, "I know the law better than you,
you're wrong.”
These experiences are identified as harassment, and they are usually recounted with anger.
Some respondents also discussed feelings of shame relating to their treatment by the police,
I mean you just embarrassed me in front of everybody, and everyone’s looking
like, ‘Oh, what did you do? And then you just walk away, get in the squad car
and drive off. How do you think I feel when you just drive off like that [after
searching me for no reason or searching me and not finding anything]? I
could see if I was the bad guy at that point, but I wasn't. You're left with
animosity towards them.
Feelings about the police are important to understanding community perceptions of the
RHCJC because their experience with these two institutions are related. Except for those who
come seeking services or help with housing, the individual defendant’s or offender’s experience
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of coming to court begins with the police. For example, a 48 year old African American female
from Mississippi, who has seven kids and has lived in Red Hook for 25 years, describes her only
arrest:
The last court that I went to was Red Hook for criminal trespassing. Right
across the street from my building, I went to my girlfriend's house. Let me tell
you, they were already in the building. I seen 'em in the hallway. I was on the
fifth floor. I'm going to the lobby, and there' no need for me to stop on the third
floor. They pushed the elevator button and it stopped on the third floor. They
asked me where I was going and I said that I was coming from my girlfriend's.
They said, "no you're not. You pressed this floor." I said, "No, you pressed the
elevator." I said, "listen, let me take you upstairs so that you can see where I
came from," and they said, "no." I came home the next day. When I went to see
the judge, Calabrese said to make sure that I carry ID with me when I'm
walking in the buildings. He's cool. I like Calabrese .
Similarly, a woman walking in the park in the evening and walking a dog without a leash
tells this story:
Do you know that my last summons was for being in the park after dark? Did
you know that they could give a summons for that? I was coming from the bus
stop; me and my boyfriend, he was walking with me. And do you know that the
cops stopped us? They threw him on the freakin' bench like he was a murderer
or something. They sprained my wrist. It was such a big thing; I hate these
police. Somebody needs to do something about them. They threw him on the
bench and they threw me down on the floor. They did a search and didn't find
any warrants for us, so they had to give us a desk appearance ticket for being in
the park after dark. Do you know that Judge Calabrese made them apologize?
'Cause I went in with a wrist band. Yeah, they don't care over here. They was
just rollin' by out there like they was ready to jump out. They suck. A bunch of
jerks. But Judge Calabrese, he's the man back here.

g. Influence of Court on Behavior
The survey asked if since their last court appearance in RHCJC or Brooklyn Downtown
Court, the respondents had changed the behavior that had gotten them into trouble with the cops
and courts. The overwhelming number of respondents said that they were not continuing to do
what had gotten them in trouble, while a minority of respondents said that they were continuing
their behavior. In a few cases individuals admitted that they continue to shoplift or that they may
fight again, but most of those who continue illegal behavior were admitting to continued drug use,
often to smoking marijuana. Others claimed that they were never doing anything wrong in the
first place.

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Table 9: Since that [your last court] experience, have you continued doing the things
that got you there in the first place?

All Courts (N=171)
Red Hook (N=80)
Downtown Brooklyn Criminal (N =68)
Downtown Brooklyn Family (N=6)
Downtown Brooklyn Housing (N=1)
Other Court (N=16)

% Saying Yes
74.3%
73.8%
75.0%
66.7%
100.0%
75.0%

The majority of respondents, who said they were not continuing their unlawful behavior,
explained their behavior in a variety of ways, as shown in Table 10.
Table 10: Which of the best describes your reason for/to change: obligation/respect to
the judge, just the right thing to do, everyone just stopped doing it, shame from your
friends/family, fear of re-incarceration?
(N=98)
Just the right thing to do
Fear of incarceration
Shame from your family/friends
Obligation/respect to the judge
Other

%
52.0%
30.6%
20.4%
14.3%
9.2%

*Percentages do not add to 100 because answers were non-exclusive

“Just the right thing to do” was the most commonly cited reason, but fear of re-arrest and
shame before family and friends were also common. In narrative sections of interviews, the
danger of re- arrest and responsibility to family, especially one’s children, were the most
common ways offenders explained their desire for change. The RHCJC and the Downtown
Criminal Court were not significantly different with regard to these narratives of change. The one
obvious difference was that respect for the judge was an additional reason for ceasing illegal
behavior given by those who had last been RHCJC; this was rarely given as a reason for ceasing
illegal behavior by respondents had last been at the Downtown Court.
Among those interviewed in Red Hook and those in Sunset Park, “respect for the judge”
was selected more often when describing the RHCJC as compared with respondents’ experiences
at the Brooklyn Criminal Court. Indeed, not a single offender among the 24 respondents from
RHCJC whose last court experience was in the Brooklyn Criminal Court said that “respect for the
judge” was the reason why they had changed their behavior. This is perhaps more of a
commentary on the prominence of the judge in Red Hook than a sign of disrespect or disregard of
judges in the Brooklyn Criminal Court, but it also underscores how the role of the judge in Red
Hook was a significant factor in offenders’ opinions about the courts
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The answers to questions about continued illegal behavior were possibly skewed by a
socially-desirable answer bias. Many individuals may have wanted to portray themselves as
conforming to the law. Because is the survey was self-reported, the actual number of respondents
who had actually changed their behavior is, therefore, not reliable. However, this does not
discount the importance of the reasons the interviewees gave to explain their change in behavior.
It tells us what they believe to be a good reason for changing their behavior, whether they are
successful or not.
When asked about what they had learned about the law from their experience, most
people who had a coherent answer for this question said that they learned about the “long arm”
of the law, meaning either that they realized they are likely to get caught and punished, or that
they believe the system, usually the police, is unfair. A smaller number said they had learned
proper behavior, meaning knowledge of what the law is. Others said nothing in response. One
difference in responses between offenders from the two courts was that those coming from the
downtown court were more likely to not answer or not have a coherent answer this question.

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D. CONCLUSION
Several points of summary emerge from resident and offender interviews. First, the study
makes evident widespread affection and respect for Judge Calabrese and the RHCJC. They
appreciate the RHCJC’s offering of classes and the variety of social services.
Second, while there are obviously many people who make the court work and who provide
the court- related services, the personification of the court is Judge Calabrese. The personification
of the court in an individual judge enhances that judge’s power of giving ritual recognition to those
who come into the court Residents in the Red Hook Houses and offenders recognized and
articulated an appreciation for the judge’s individualized interaction with them. Researchers’ direct
observations in the RHCJC courtroom recorded conversations and rituals in which the judge
demonstrated individualized compassion. A major difference between the downtown court and the
RHCJC is that in Red Hook, neither the court nor the defendant is anonymous. The judge is a
community figure with a visible face, and the court staff endeavor to ensure that the people who
come through the court are also treated as unique individuals. The human connection between
court staff and those who use court services may be the most unique difference between the
RHCJC and downtown Brooklyn courts.
Third, the role of the court cannot be understood without understanding the experience and
opinions of residents and offenders regarding the police and policing, which are central to their
experience with the criminal justice system. Although interviewees recognized the dangers that are
present in impoverished neighborhoods, they expressed fear of the police. To these individuals, the
RHCJC is an institution that mitigates some of the damage done by law enforcement and acts as a
check and balance against the potentially capricious exercise of power by police. The strong
positive emotional response that people had about the judge and the RHCJC is partly connected to
their antipathy for the police; questions about the courts often produced stories that highlighted
negative encounters with police.
Fourth, our analysis of the data supports but complicates Tyler's (2006) model of how
procedural justice legitimizes state actors and the law. More attention should probably be paid to
distinctions between different state actors and different laws. Our data suggests that Judge
Calabrese’s success in performing individualized concern and fairness brings greater legitimacy to
the court and the legal process as a whole. However, this does not necessarily mean that this
legitimacy is shared by the police. To the contrary, a key part of what enables the judge to
legitimize the court is his ability to “stand up to the police.” Interviewees also expressed a
complicated relationship with the law. The man waving a machete easily recognized that he
should not have done it and that the legal prohibition of such behavior is legitimate. The same
cannot be said for many accused of “quality of life” crimes such as public drinking or possession
of drugs like marijuana. Ruling in favor of defendants where appropriate is key to the court’s
legitimacy, but it does not appear to enhance the legitimacy police or specific laws that were
viewed as illegitimate.

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Fifth and finally, the RHCJC serves a more well-defined community in Red Hook than do
the community courts in Midtown Manhattan and downtown Philadelphia, though it is less wellconnected to the further reaches of its catchment area, like the edges of Sunset Park. Community
residents and offenders in the Red Hook Houses were aware of the activities at RHCJC and it is
prominent as valued neighborhood institutions. This unique prominence within the neighborhood
has a special role in relieving the pressures of aggressive policing and the more punitive courts by
providing restorative alternatives, but also by giving respect to individuals whose stories remain
largely untold.
There are several limitation to this study that point to areas for further research. First,
although observations produced clear descriptions of the performance of procedural justice, court
room performances were not systematically observed to see if differences in this performance were
evident depending on the type of case or characteristics of the defendants. Second, while the
community interviews generate a picture of community discourses about the court, the number of
participants and the depth of the interviews do not make clear how differently situated individuals
view the court and how they employ these discourses differently. Virtually no demographic
information was collected in the community study beyond ethnicity, relationship to the
neighborhood, and length of time in Red Hook. Third, nearly all of the stories from offenders in
this report are from the formal setting of a single 5 or 15 minute interview with no follow up. A
more representative survey of residents and more in-depth interviews with residents and with
particular types of offenders would improve the quality of the data.

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V. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Abdul-Quader, A., Heckathorn, D., McKnight, C., Bramson, H., Nemeth,C., Sabin, K.,
Gallagher, K., Des Jarlais, D. 2006. “Effectiveness of respondent-driven sampling for
recruiting drug users in New York City: findings from a pilot study.” Journal of Urban
Health 83(3):459-76.
Alexa, M. and C. Zuell. 2000. “Text Analysis Software: Commonalities, Differences and
Limitations.” Quality and Quantity 34: 299-321.
Bruner, J. 1997. “A Narrative Model of Self-Construction.” In J.G. Snodgrass and R.
Thompson (eds.), The Self across Psychology: Self-Recognition, Self-Awareness and
Self-Concept, Annals of the New York Academy of Science, vol. 818. New York:
New York Academy of Science, pp. 145-161.
Erickson, B. H. 1979. “Some problems of inference from chain data.” Sociological
Methodology 10:276-302.
Goodman, L. 1961. “Snowball Sampling.” The Annals of Mathematical Statistics, Vol. 32,
No. 1, pp. 148-170.
Heckathorn, D. 1997. “Respondent driven sampling: A new approach to the study of hidden
populations.” Social Problems, 44 (2), 174-199.
Heckathorn, D. 2002. “Respondent-Driven Sampling II: Deriving Valid Population Estimates
from Chain-Referral Samples of Hidden Populations.” Social Problems 49(1):11-34.
Heckathorn, D., Semaan, S., Broadhead, R. S., & Hughes, J. J. 2002. “Extensions of respondent
driven sampling: A new approach to studying injection drug users aged 18-25.” AIDS
and Behavior, 6(1), 55-67.
Merry, S. 1994. Courts as Performances, in Contested States: Law, Hegemony, and Resistance.
Mindie Lazarus-Black and Susan Hirsch, eds. Pp. 35-58. New York: Routledge
.
Patrizi, P. 2005. “Deviant Action and Self-Narration: A Qualitative Survey through ATLAS.ti.”
Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior 35(2): 171-188.
Robinson, W., Risser, J., McGoy, S., Becker, A., Rehman, H., Jefferson, M., Griffin, V.,
Wolverton, M., Tortu, S. 2006. “Recruiting injection drug users: a three-site comparison
of results and experiences with respondent-driven and targeted sampling procedures.”
Journal of Urban Health 83 Suppl. 7: 29-38.

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Salganik, M., & Heckathorn, D. 2004. “Sampling and estimation in hidden populations using
respondent-driven sampling.” Sociological Methodology, 34(1):193-240.
Sampson, R. & Bartusch, D. 1998. “Legal Cynicism and (Subcultural) Tolerance of
Deviance: The Neighborhood Context of Racial Difference.” Law & Society Review
32(4):777-404.
Sviridoff M., D. Rottman, B. Ostrom, R. Curtis. 1997. Dispensing Justice Locally: The
Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court. National Institute of
Justice. New York: Harwood Academic Publishers
.
Tyler, Tom 2006 "Restorative Justice and Procedural Justice: Dealing with Rule Breaking."
Journal of Social Issues Vol. 62, No. 2, pp. 307-326.

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APPENDIX 1: RESIDENTIAL SURVEY
Red Hook Community Resident Interview

Street Address:

Date:

Interviewer:
Time:

M

F

1. Age
2. Race/ethnicity
3. Years of education
4. Employment (full time, part time, unemployed, retired, other)
5. Number of people in household
6. Own/rent
7. Number of years in neighborhood
8. Do you feel safe in this neighborhood?
9. Do you know about the Red Hook Community Justice Center?
10. What problems or annoyances would you like to see changed in the neighborhood?
11. Have you ever had any reason to go to a courthouse in NYC? Which one?
What happened?
12. Has a close friend or family member had any reason to go to a NYC courthouse?
Which one? What happened?
13. Were you/they dealt with too lightly, fairly, or too harshly?
14. Do you know what programs are available at the Red Hook Community Justice
Center?
If so, can you tell me about them?
15. Do you know anyone that has benefitted from the RHCJC’s GED program, DV
counseling, drug treatments, etc. programs? If so, can you tell me about them?

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APPENDIX 2: OFFENDER SURVEY INSTRUMENT

1. Coupon Number:

2. Interviewer Name:

3. Interview Date

4. Interview Time:

5. Coupons Offered:

6. Location:

1)
2)
3)

Respondent Information
7. Have you been arrested in the last 3
years?
Yes

No

9. How old are you:

8. Have you been to the Red Hook
CJC?
Yes

No

10. Gender:
Male

Female
Other

11. What is your race or ethnicity?
O Black/AfrAmer
O White
O Asian/Pac
Islander
O Other

12. Country of birth:

O Hispanic/Latino
O Multi-Racial
O Native American
O N/A

13. State of birth:

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14. City of birth:

54

15. Where did you grow up:

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16. What neighborhood do you
currently live in:

55

17. How long have you lived there:

18. Who do you live with:

19. Who pays the rent:

20. How many places have you lived in
the last 5 years:

21. What is the highest grade you
completed in school:

22. How many children do you have:

23. What drugs do you currently use :

24. How much do you spend on
drugs and cigarettes per day?

25. How do you get money:

26. What kind of hustle do you have:

27. How much time do you spend
doing it?

28. How much money do you make in a
week:

29. What's the first thing that you
buy/pay when you get
money(clothes, food, rent, etc):

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30. What other sources of income do you have:

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31. If unemployed, how do you spend your time? / If employed, how do you spend
your free time?

32. Where do you hang out or spend time with others?

Court Experiences
33. How many times have you been to court?

34. What courthouse did you go to last time?
O Brooklyn Criminal downtown
O

Family Court downtown

O Treatment Court downtown
O Housing Court downtown
O Red Hook CJC
O Other

35. For what charges?

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36. Tell me what happened:

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37. Describe the interaction that you had with the judge in that last experience.

38. How would you describe his/her behavior?

39. Would you describe his/her actions and decisions as fair?
Yes

No

40. Which of the following best describes his/her behavior:
O friendly and encouraging O
professional and courteous O
hurried and distant

O rude and disrespectful
41. How would you describe the behavior of the court officers?

42. Which of the following best describes their behavior:
O friendly and encouraging O
professional and courteous O
hurried and distant

O rude and disrespectful

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43. What did you learn from that experience? (social responsibility, CJ
process, yourself, the world)

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44. Since that experience, have you continued doing the things that got you there
in the first place?
Yes

No

45. Since that experience, have you stopped doing other things that can get you
in trouble? If so, tell me about them:

46. Why did/didn’t you make that change?

47. Which of the best describes your reason for/to change:
O obligation/respect to the judge
O just the right thing to do
O everyone just stopped doing it O
shame from your friends/family O
fear of re-incarceration

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48. What did you learn about the law from that experience?

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Now I want to ask you about your experiences before the one you just described.

(For those whose last experience was at the RHCJC)
49. What courthouse did you go to before the Red Hook Court?
O Brooklyn Criminal downtown
O

Family Court downtown

O Treatment Court downtown
O Housing Court downtown
O Other
O None

(For those whose last experience was not the
RHCJC)

51. When?

50. Have you ever been to the Red
Hook Court?
Yes

No

52. Tell me what happened (including the charges):

53. Describe the interaction you had with the judge in that last experience:

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54. How would you describe his/her behavior?

55. Would you describe his/her actions and decisions as fair?
Yes

No

56. Which of the following best describes his/her behavior:
O friendly and encouraging O professional and
courteous O hurried and distant

O rude and disrespectful

57. How would you describe the behavior of the court officers?

58. Which of the following best describes their behavior:
O friendly and encouraging O professional and
courteous O hurried and distant

O rude and disrespectful

59. What did you learn from that experience? (social responsibility, CJ process, yourself, the world)?

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65

60. Since that experience, have you continued doing the things that got you there in the first place?

61. Since that experience, have you stopped doing other things that can get you in trouble? If so, tell

62. Why did/didn’t you make that change?

63. Which of the best describes your reason for/to change?:
O obligation/respect to the judge
O just the right thing to do
O everyone just stopped doing it O shame from your friends/family O fear of re-incarceration

64. What did you learn about the law from that experience?

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66

For those who have been to RHCJ Center
65. How would you describe the differences between the RHCJ Court and the
downtown court?

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67

66. How would you describe the differences between the judge the Red Hook CJC and
the judge at the downtown court?

67. Have you been in any of the Red Hook Court Programs?
Yes

No

68. What happened?

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Next, I'm going to ask you about the people you come in contact with
69. How many other people do you know who do what you do?

70. How many are
men:

71. How many are women:

72. How many are
Black:

73. How many are White:

74. How many are
Hispanic:

76. How many are Asian:

75. How many are multi racial:

77. How many are Native American:

78. How many of your associates/friends know about the Red Hook CJC?
O All
O Most O Some O Few O None

79. What do your associates/friends say about how they were treated at the Red
Hook CJC?

80. Do they say that the assistance that they offer there is useful?

Yes

No

81. If yes, how is it useful?

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69

•

How easy do they say it is to “get over” on the process?

•

Very Easy

•

Somewhat Easy

•

Not so Easy

•

Hard

•

Very Hard

82. How do they do this?

Experience With the Police
83. How many times were you stopped by the police in the last year that did NOT result in a summon
DAT, or arrest?

84. How many of those times were you frisked by the police?

85. How many times that you were frisked, were you given a palm card that explained why you were
frisked?

86. Describe the interactions that you had with the police on these occasions.

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70

87. Which of the following best describes their behavior:
O friendly and encouraging O
professional and courteous O
hurried and distant

O rude and disrespectful
88. Would you describe their actions and decisions as fair?
Yes

No

Unsure

89. What did you learn from that experience? (social responsibility, CJ
process, yourself, the world)

90. What did you learn about law enforcement from that experience?

91. How many times have you been arrested:

92. At what age was your first
arrest?

93. What were you arrested for:

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71

94. How many arrests were for drugs?

95. When was the last time that
you were arrested on misdemeanor charge
this area:

96. When was the last time you saw a doctor?

97. What kind of health-related problems, if any, do you have:

98. What social service agencies, if any, do you know about in this area:

99. Have you ever gone to a social service agency
for help with something?
Yes

No

100. Were they able to help
you?
Yes

No

101. What service(s) did you go for:

102. When was the last
violent dispute that
you witnessed?

103. Where did this
happen?

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72

104. Can you tell me what
happened?

105. When was the last
violent dispute that
you were part of?

106. Where did this happen?

107. Can you tell me what
happened:

108. In your opinion, is the neighborhood more or less violent today than it was last
year?
More violent

Less violent

About the same

109. Do you feel safe in the
neighborhood?
Yes

No

Unsure

110. If things have changed, why do you think that this has happened?

111. How many people do
you know that own a
gun?

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73

112.

Do you own a gun?
Yes

No

No response

113. If you wanted to get a
gun, how long would it
take for you to get one?

114. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

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74

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