Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Enriching the Community through Service

By Mohammed Alam

Launched in 1993, the Midtown Community Court was founded not only to reduce crime and incarceration, but to administer humane justice and respond to the needs of the surrounding neighborhoods. 

Differing from most criminal courts, we promote alternatives to incarceration rather than jail for those convicted of quality-of-life offenses. This model seeks both to help defendants to better themselves as well as to give back to the very community they impacted. To this end, we created a community service program shortly after the Midtown’s founding. Community service at Midtown is designed to help and enrich the neighborhoods that have been affected by vandalism, graffiti, increased litter, and many other quality-of-life issues. Once a defendant has been mandated to community service, they receive an assignment with one of our partners, such as Times Square Alliance or the Lincoln Square Business Improvement District, often to be performed the next day. Those unable to perform physical labor have the option of preparing mailing materials for local organizations through a related Midtown initiative, Times Square Express.

Midtown defendants painting over graffiti. 

Midtown’s dedicated Facilities Department manages the community service program. Their hard work has allowed us to establish partnerships with various city agencies and community organizations to assist in the expansion and impact of our service program. 

Recently, we worked with the NYC Department of Transportation to beautify concrete road dividers helping to make the community more welcoming. We have worked with local artists to design and paint murals on bridges and vandalized walls. In an effort to make our communities more environmentally friendly and aesthetically pleasing, our community service members have also worked with the Department of Parks and Recreations to plant bulbs and trees while also putting up new protective guards for existing trees.

Midtown defendants painting and designing road dividers. 

Midtown’s community service program has also partnered with UPNEXT, a fatherhood engagement and workforce development program hosted at the court. The fathers graduating from this program are often in need of job placement. We offer fellowships to a select few outstanding graduates of each UPNEXT class. For six weeks, they help to facilitate and supervise the community service program, gaining valuable experience and leadership skills in the workforce.

Midtown defendants planting trees and setting up protective guards. 

Last year, defendants from Midtown Community Court performed more than 35,000 hours of community service. That is 35,000 hours of community improvement through painting, cleaning, planting, and many other forms of neighborhood enrichment. 

To learn more about our community service program and the Midtown Community Court, follow us on Facebook, on Twitter, and subscribe to our blog