This study examined the implementation and effects of the Midtown Community Court in New York City, which was created in response to multiple problems, including high concentrations of quality-of-life crimes, community dissatisfaction with the court system's response, and an insufficient range of sentence alternatives for these offenses.
Established as a demonstration project, the court aimed to design sentences that emphasize immediacy and certainty. It was designed to be accessible to the public, and a Community Advisory Board was created to help guide the experiment. Offenders were to pay back the community through visible work projects performed in the Midtown area. The court augmented the New York City Police Department's community policing program by providing an array of problem-solving tools, including community work projects and services for drug addicts, prostitutes, and the homeless. The court has worked with local residents, businesses, social service organizations, and law enforcement to forge creative, cooperative solutions to quality-of-life problems. Another intent of the court is that by understanding the magnitude, scope, and nature of local quality-of-life crimes, the court can address the neighborhood's problems. Process analysis revealed relatively few barriers to the implementation of the Midtown Court. By the end of the first 18 months, the project had achieved its operational goals. Project planners anticipated that the court would have impacts in four areas: case outcomes, rates of compliance with intermediate sanctions, community conditions, and community attitudes. The analysis of preliminary impacts shows that, in its early months, the Midtown Court had substantial effects in all four areas. 57 tables and charts, 53 references, appended research methods and case flowcharts, six informative attachments, and a glossary of terms
Date Published: January 1, 1997