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Working Together: How a Neighborhood Justice Center in Harlem is Building Bridges and Improving Safety

NCJ Number
Carolyn Turgeon
Date Published
18 pages
This paper examines a neighborhood justice center in Harlem, New York City.
The Harlem Courthouse located in Harlem, New York is a vibrant neighborhood resource, home to an unusual experiment in neighborhood justice, the Harlem Community Justice Center. This paper provides information on a unique experiment in community justice, from planning to ongoing operations; highlights are provided regarding the key lessons of the Harlem Community Justice Center experience. Testimony is offered proving that a court and community can work together to generate neighborhood renewal. Since the late 1800s until 1961, the Harlem Courthouse housed the Municipal and magistrate's Courts; after New York City's courts were centralized, the building fell into disuse and was largely forgotten. Decades later, when court planners were looking for a location for a new community court, the courthouse seemed an ideal location. The center features a multi-jurisdictional courtroom that hears a mix of Family and Housing Court cases, along with an assortment of unconventional programs, including mediation, community service, and reentry initiatives.