Jersey City court program pushes community service, rehab for low-level offenders

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Jersey City Community Solutions, the city’s local community court program, provides alternative sentences for low-level offenses in hopes of holding offenders accountable while reducing recidivism, aiding victims, and increasing public confidence in the justice system.

Jersey City Municipal Court. Photo via adultspytool.com.
Jersey City Municipal Court. Photo via adultspytool.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“By providing certain offenders with services instead of sentences, we’ll better tackle the underlying issues which contribute to criminal behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.

“We’ve collaborated with our community residents to get their input to best address our goals.”

Eligible program participants undergo a needs assessment, attend recommended social services, and must engage in restorative community service projects which serve as meaningful sanctions for their offenses, the city said in a news release.

Community service is performed at collaborating institutions and nonprofit organizations across the city including food pantries, senior care organizations, and the city’s own Department of Public Works, among many others.

Additionally, more than a dozen social service organizations offer coordinated services to ensure offenders can get back on track.

Since the program pilot began in October of 2017, 45 percent of participants have successfully completed the program, and current enrollees are actively working toward program completion.

Under the new program, offenders are offered a variety of services to help with rehabilitation including drug treatment, job training, and TASC (formerly GED) classes.

Jersey City was one of 10 municipalities nationwide selected for a competitive $200,000 U.S. Department of Justice grant in 2016 to develop and implement a community court program to reform its court system when dealing with lower-level crimes.

Overall, JCCS seeks to accomplish its goals by using visible community service sentences to send a message to the community that the justice system will address quality-of-life harm done by offenders.

The list of partners is not exhaustive and JCCS is still seeking partnerships with organizations in an effort to serve the residents of our community. Interested organizations can email JCCS at jccommunitysolutions@jcnj.org or call 201-209-6734.

The current social and community service partners are as follows:

Community Service

Jersey City Department of Public Works

The Sharing Place

St John’s Lutheran Church Food Pantry

Let’s Celebrate

Garden State Episcopal CDC

Grace Church Van Vorst

Liberty Humane Society

NAACP Chapter of Jersey City

Hudson Pride Connection Center

Angela Cares

Social Service

Organization/Service Type

City of Jersey City, Health and Human Services Health/Medical

City of Jersey City, Office of Veterans Affairs Veterans

City of Jersey City, Office of Welcoming Communities Immigration

Jersey City Employment and Training Program Education/Job Training

Women Rising Employment/Job Training, Family

C-Line Community Outreach Services Addiction/Co-Occurring Treatment

Khaleidoscope Health Care, Inc. Addiction/Co-Occurring Treatment

Covenant House Youth Homelessness Services

Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services Mental Health Treatment

Collaborative Support Programs of NJ Mental Health-Drop In Center

Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corp. Homelessness/Housing Resources

The Waterfront Project Legal Advocacy

Northeast New Jersey Legal Services Legal Advocacy

Urban League of Hudson County Family Services

Hudson Pride Connection Center LGBTQ Advocacy/Minority Health

Metropolitan Family Health Network, Inc. Health/Medical

The Royal Men Foundation Mentoring/Support Group