Dec 3, 2009

NYC Justice Corps Making Difference

By: Amelia Thompson, Project Administrator & Debbie Mukamal, Director, John Jay College Prisoner Reentry Institute.

The NYC Justice Corps brings young adults involved with the criminal justice system together with their communities to identify and address unmet community needs. Through meaningful and reparative service to their communities, internships and jobs, and educational opportunities, the Justice Corps provides members with practical skills, social support and leadership training. By actively partnering with the Justice Corps, communities own the success and reintegration of their young people as contributing members of society. One of 40 anti-poverty initiatives developed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Commission on Economic Opportunity, the NYC Justice Corps was spearheaded by Commission member Jeremy Travis, President of John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and Martin Horn, former Commissioner of the New York City Departments of Correction and Probation. The Justice Corps launched in September 2008 in two target neighborhoods -- Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and the South Bronx. This year, the Justice Corps will serve 250 young adults.
Combining best practices in workforce development, service learning and youth development, the NYC Justice Corps is a six-month model that transitions Corps members in cohorts through training (1 month), community benefit project service (10-14 weeks), and internships (minimum of 6 weeks). The goal is to place Justice Corps graduates in permanent employment and/or in school, and reduce rates of poverty and recidivism in the target communities. While enrolled in the Justice Corps, Corps members receive weekly stipends for their participation.
The Justice Corps also seeks to instill in Corps members the importance of developing a positive relationship to their own community. Corps members develop and work on community benefit service projects, including renovating interior public office space, weatherizing low-income housing, and painting socially conscious and inspiring public murals. The Justice Corps has demonstrated success in recruiting and maintaining the engagement of young adults in its rigorous program model. In the first program year, 276 Corps members were served, 97% of whom completed the job readiness/service learning phase, 81% completed three months of community benefit project service, and 50% completed internships. A rigorous outcome evaluation based on a random assignment design is being conducted to determine the long-term impact of program engagement and completion on the Corps members and their communities.
The Justice Corps welcomes opportunities to partner with employers interested in hosting Corps interns or employing Corps graduates. Community-based organizations are also welcome to host meaningful service projects that support community development in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and the South Bronx.
The Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College manages the development of the NYC Justice Corps. Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corps and Phipps Development Corp. provide direct services to young adults in their neighborhoods. The Center for Employment Opportunities provides technical assistance to the two community-based organizations.For more information about the NYC Justice Corps, see or contact Ali Knight, Director of the NYC Justice Corps at the Prisoner Reentry Institute at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (; 646.557.4532).