This website gives some background on the history of Midtown Community Court located in Manhattan. It is a “problem solving” court that provides social services to those who walk through its doors that is actually aimed at reducing incarceration rates in the city of New York. Instead of immediately sentencing one to jail, they look to provide the person with services that work to address the issue they were arrested for in the first place. For example, instead of sentencing someone to jail for a drug charge, the judge will mandate them to a specific number of days in rehab. Midtown Community Court is one of the first courts of its kind and one that has a special place in my heart. Over the summer, I interned for one of their programs called UPNEXT–a fatherhood and job readiness program that helps unemployed, non custodial fathers gain job readiness skills all while reconnecting with their children. It is a fabulous program and one that I believe actually helps to prevent recidivism.
I mainly decided to write about this court because it reminded me of the activity we did at the beginning of the semester where we wrote up, as a class, what we would like a laboratory to look like. We have seen, especially in our last unit, how the criminal justice system can function as a living laboratory. For me, Midtown Community Court is a perfect example of what I want our criminal justice system to look like. Here we have a court that instead of trying to get people into jail, is actively working to provide those arrested with social services that can help them get back on their feet. They give the people that walk through their doors access to much needed drug rehabilitation programs, job readiness workshops, and counseling services that have truly made a difference in these people’s lives. Midtown Community Court gives me a glimmer of hope that one day all of our courts will follow the same formula.