Mar 4, 2009

NYC Justice Corps Making Headway

Persons returning from prison often lack a rich social network of relationships that support desistance from crime, sobriety, gainful employment and access to services. This state of diminshed social capital limits reentrants' ability to address their needs. Civic engagement and education through community service is a powerful way to encourage the development of productive social capital for reentrants.

Today's NY Times has an article about the newly established NYC Justice Corps, which is one such way of engaging reentrants in service work at a living wage. What is unique about this service corps? First, it is specifically designed to engage people with criminal records in employment opportunities; second, those individuals are serving in the very communities they live in, so their labor directly benefits their families and neighbors; and third, there are case management services to help participants address other challenges they may have upon return from prison to community. So far, NYC Justice Corps has seen an 85 percent retention rate through the first five months and, as the program continues, we're looking forward to hearing more about its effect on recidivism.

[For many years, the Center for Court Innovation has relied on the dedication of AmeriCorps volunteers to forge important connections between courts and communities. See here for more information on how this has worked in Red Hook, Brooklyn.]