The NYC Justice Corps was created as part of the City’s strategy to combat poverty. It grew out of the work of the Commission on Economic Opportunity created by Mayor Bloomberg in 2006. Building on the Commission’s work, the NYC Mayor’s Office Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) [Center for Economic Opportunity should like to http://www.nyc.gov/html/ceo/html/home/home.shtml] was created to develop a multifaceted effort to “fight the cycle of poverty in New York City through innovative programs that build human capital and improve financial security.”
One of three target populations identified by the Commission was young adults (16-24 years old) who are disconnected from work and education. [Commission should link to http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/ceo_report2006.pdf] The Commission recognized that these young adults live in some of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods of New York City and that a significant percentage of them have been involved in the criminal justice system. In response, a team was created with participants from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the NYC Department of Correction to design a program that would develop the capacity of neighborhoods to address the reentry challenges of their young adults and to instill in the young adults a sense of civic responsibility and accountability to the communities to which they return.
The program was funded by CEO and was the first New York City program to adapt the national Civic Justice Corps model pioneered in Oregon by Dennis Maloney. The NYC Justice Corps built on a central principle of the national Civic Justice Corps, which partners community groups, justice agencies and employers to invest in the development and self-sufficiency of court-involved young adults. To that end, the NYC Justice Corp incorporated practices from workforce development, reentry and service learning programs. The original model included a focus on community service and internship opportunities with stipends, followed by job placement. The initiative sought to empower cohorts of young adults to become change agents in their personal lives and throughout the broader community. [INSERT citations, PENDING]
NYC Justice Corps 1.0
The NYC Justice Corps opened in 2008. Funding from CEO supported pilot programs in the South Bronx, run by Phipps Community Development Corporation (now Phipps Neighborhoods) and in Brooklyn, run by the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (BSRC). In 2010, BSRC withdrew from participation in the NYC Justice Corps in order to pursue other program opportunities and Phipps launched a second site in East Harlem.
A Report on the Year One Implementation of the NYC Justice Corps is available here. [“here” should link to http://johnjayresearch.org/pri/2012/10/30/evaluation-report-of-the-nyc-justice-corps-the-final-report-of-year-one-implementation/]
Metis Associates authored this report, which was released in December 2009 and offers a comprehensive account of the program’s first 12 months from the initial start-up phase from July 2008 to September 2008 through the first nine months of the program’s launch (through June 2009). It also identifies challenges faced by the program which informed refinements to the model and operational policies for the second program year, which started in September 2009.
Justice Corps 2.0: Program Expansion to Four Boroughs
In 2011, the City announced the Mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative (YMI), a comprehensive effort to support programs and policies to address the disparities in outcomes for young black and Latino men—in education, employment and criminal justice. With funds from the Mayor’s Young Men’s Initiative, the NYC Justice Corps expanded from two to four programs in 2012. The NYC Justice Corps now serves 300 young adults annually in four boroughs.
Changes made to the program model along with the expansion:
–increased flexibility of the model by allowing young adults who have an approved schedule of education programming or vocational training to pursue that while they are in the program.
–required that a primary person be designated to work with each Corps Member to strengthen the youth development orientation of the program.
–increased the focus on evidence-based practices such as motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy; three of the four programs are providing cognitive behavioral interventions.
–added strategies to increase Corps Members’ social capital and ability to enter the workforce, for example by requiring that all graduates leave with not only a resume and interviewing skills but also three references who can be called by employers; graduates must also have a state-issued ID.
–added a six-month alumni phase to follow the six-month intensive phase for a 12-month program.
–added legal services as a standard feature of the program, primarily to help Corps Members clean up any errors on their rap sheets but also to address housing, child support orders, credit reports,and other legal issues. Three of the four programs partner with Youth Represent to provide legal services.
In Spring 2014, the NYC Justice Corps began using validated risk screening, assessment, and case planning instruments to increase program capacity to identify young adults who are at medium-to-high risk of re-offending and bring about lower recidivism rates. These tools are being implemented to align program services with Corps Members’ needs and nurture their strengths that serve as protective factors against recidivism.
Program partners and target communities
Brooklyn Justice Corps [link to Brooklyn Justice Corps page]—Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) [“Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES)” should link to http://www.cases.org/]
Serving East New York, Bushwick, and Brownsville
Bronx Justice Corps [link to Bronx Justice Corps page]—Phipps Neighborhoods [“Phipps Neighborhoods” should link to http://www.phippsny.org/]
Serving the South Bronx
Manhattan: Harlem Justice Corps [link to Harlem Justice Corps page]—Center for Court Innovation (CCI) [“Center for Court Innovation (CCI)” should link to www.courtinnovation.org]
Serving East and Central Harlem
Queens Justice Corps [link to Queens Justice Corps page]—Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) Serving Jamaica, Queens [“Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES)” should link to http://www.cases.org/]
Role of the Prisoner Reentry Institute
Since program inception, the Prisoner Reentry Institute of John Jay College of Criminal Justice [“Prisoner Reentry Institute of John Jay College of Criminal Justice” should like to www.johnjayresearch.org/pri] has administered the NYC Justice Corps. PRI selects qualified provider agencies to run the program, oversees operations, and provides technical assistance to promote best practices.
Aligned with the academic and research goals of John Jay College, PRI is committed to building practitioners’ skills and expanding the knowledge base in the reentry field. Since 2012, PRI has operated a Learning Community that brings NYC Justice Corps staff together to develop new skills and share strategies for engaging young adults in service, education, and employment. The Learning Community is a forum for identifying promising practices as they emerge in the daily experience of program professionals.
Interested in bringing the NYC Justice Corps model to your community? Check out the Toolbox [link PENDING] of NYC Justice Corps resources and strategies for professionals and community members seeking to replicate and adapt this model.