Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention
Table of Contents
New York Center for Interpersonal Development
The New York Center for Interpersonal Development (NYCID) is a full-service CDRC assisting Staten Island residents for the past 34 years and providing targeted services to the Stapleton NYCHA development/MAP15 Catchment Area. As a result of MOCJ’s annual support of $260,000 (FY2017), NYCID is able to provide a range of conflict engagement services to roughly 10,200 clients each year using the combined contributions of nine staff members (five FTE) and 30 active volunteers. Overviews of several of its prevention-relevant programming and activities are provided below.
Launched in 1982. NYCID’s community mediation programming provides Staten Island residents an opportunity to use mediation and/or other ADR processes (e.g. arbitration, conflict coaching, and restorative approaches) to resolve a conflict or ongoing dispute in a safe, confidential space in their home community at no cost. It targets all constituents of Richmond County. For 2016, NYCID’s community mediation programming annual budget is $321,302, for which it is projected to serve 5,000 clients through 2,250 cases. Referral relationships actively contributing to NYCID’s community mediation programming include: civil court (70%), local schools (17%), and criminal court (3%).
NYCHA Peace Ambassadors Program
Launched in October 2015, the NYCHA Peace Ambassadors Program provides conflict resolution training as an alternative to the violence plaguing Stapleton Catchment Area youth. It targets residents and stakeholders within and surrounding the Stapleton Catchment Area. For 2016, the Peace Ambassadors Program annual budget is $87,563, for which it is projected to serve 125 individuals through 84 mediation intakes (84 individuals for 42 completed mediations), up to 20 individuals through up to 24 Circle processes, 22 trainees through one basic mediation training (BMT), 22 individuals through 15 support and development sessions, and 37 peace ambassadors through four ambassador meetings. Referral relationships actively contributing to the NYCHA Peace Ambassadors Program include: Central Family Life Center, Curtis High School, Gerard Carter Center, IS49, McKee High School, NYCHA Stapleton Housing managers, PS78, and the Stapleton Union AME Church.
Peer Mediation Program / Cure Violence
Launched in 2013, NYCID’s peer mediation programs at both Curtis and McKee High Schools provide constructive outlets for student-involved conflicts and are intended to help improve local school climate and reduce the reliance upon traditional disciplinary techniques such as suspensions. These programs are overseen by an on-site adult coordinator and utilize trained student mediators who co-mediate using a facilitation- oriented model. They target Stapleton Catchment Area high school students ages 14 to 18. For 2016, NYCID’s peer mediation programming annual budget is $80,000, for which it is projected to serve 800 clients through up to 500 referrals and 400 cases. Since its inception, peer mediation programming has trained 30 student mediators, held over 50 support and development sessions with peer mediators, coordinated two faculty in-service presentations each for peer mediation and restorative processes, coordinated one PTA presentation on peer mediation, and contributed to a 15% to 20% reduction in suspensions at the participating schools. Referral relationships actively contributing to NYCID’s peer mediation programs include: school administrators and the Assistant Dean of Discipline (80%), through which faculty referrals flow, as well as students (20%).
Restorative Justice Pilot Program
Launched in February 2016, NYCID’s restorative justice pilot program is an initiative of the NYC Department of Education (DOE) intended to reduce suspensions in high schools and change school culture to reflect a more restorative approach to conflict and negative behaviors. This pilot targets 15 (4%) of the City’s 400 high schools, five of which NYCID has already actively engaged in Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. For 2016, the restorative justice pilot program annual budget is $250,000, for which it is projected 80 students will be served at the five actively engaged schools. Already this year, more than 50 school staff members have been trained in mediation and more than 100 staff in restorative processes, more than 100 students have been trained as peer mediators, and more than 200 students participated in conflict resolution workshops.
Criminal Court Mediation
Launched in 1982, NYCID’s criminal court mediation services are available DA-referred first-time offenders who receive Desk Appearance Tickets (DATs) for minor criminal offenses. It targets select defendants in local criminal court proceedings facing such charges as criminal mischief, shoplifting, and third degree assault. For 2016, it is projected to serve 90 clients. Since its inception, it has worked to increase awareness of mediation and restorative practices as a tool for crime prevention, an alternative to prosecution, an option for sentencing, and a way to reduce case workload for DAs and defense counsel. Currently, the Richmond County District Attorney (DA) Office is the only referral partner actively contributing to the criminal court mediation program.
Public Awareness/Education Activities
Launched in 1982, NYCID’s outreach programming provides free introductions to mediation and ADR processes to any entity requesting a presentation. It targets the entirety of Staten Island. For 2016, NYCID anticipates providing outreach services to 750 individuals through 50 presentation and other meetings. Since its inception, NYCID has developed strong ties with more than 35 community organizations. Referral relationships actively contributing to outreach events include: small claims court (23%), housing court (15%), local schools (12%), and other unspecified sources (50%).
NYCID’s Training Institute provides both basic and customized trainings in conflict resolution and conflict management related topics for a fee. It targets individuals and organizations throughout NYC. For 2016, the Training Institute’s anticipates training 250 individuals. Since its inception, the Training Institute has trained thousands of individuals.
NYCID also engages a number of additional prevention-relevant programs, including: the DOP-funded ARCHES and NextSteps group mentoring programs that both target justice- involved 16 to 24 year old emerging adults; youth development school programs (K-12) that provide opportunities for at-risk youth to learn conflict resolution, anger management, and new decision-making techniques in addition to life skills, work readiness, and college preparation; CC juvenile mediation; housing court mediation; and numerous others.
Figure11. Organizational Dashboard: NYCID
This dashboard presents select aspects of NYCID’s programming, prevention, and presence as reported by NYCID and various external resources.
Profiles in Prevention
At one of NYCID’s schools, a very troubled, at- risk young man had engaged in several verbal and physical altercations both in and out of the school building since his freshman year. As a result of ongoing anger issues, he had accumulated numerous suspensions. After participating in mediation and conflict coaching, his abilities to recognize conflict triggers, to refrain from escalatory behaviors, to communicate better with fellow students, and his willingness to seek help when necessary have all improved. As a result of this work, he now also sees the Dean as an approachable ally instead of a disinterested disciplinarian. All of these changes have resulted in the student being a more present, positive part of the learning community.
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A neighbor case where the neighbors were in an escalating conflict dynamic that had been going on for months over the use of certain parking spaces on the street near their houses. There had already been some damage to property that resulted from the conflict and numerous verbal altercations, often in front of children that lived on the street and played outside. Through mediation the neighbors were able to resolve this issue and repair their relationship, resulting in an end to the conflict and eliminating the possibility of a continued escalation.
“Having mediation available to address infractions means we have a process that actually holds students accountable not just for what has happened, but for what has to happen – which is actively contributing toward finding a way to co-exist every day after that infraction occurs. Honestly, it makes a huge difference for our school. I don’t know what we’d do without this program. We’d be scrambling for sure.”
- J. B., Assistant Principal of Safety and Security, Curtis High School (NYCID Community Partner)
NYCID’s March 2016 Basic Mediation Training at P.S. 78 included several newly identified Peace Ambassadors, community leaders, school officials, and residents of the Stapleton and immediate surrounding neighborhoods. Many sought the training team’s expert advice on how to apply the newly introduced skills to their personal lives and to problems currently occurring within their community. In the training’s physical context of the school environment, the proximal context of the Stapleton houses located just outside the classroom windows, and in the personal context of the attendees’ own complex lives, the training was directly resonant and immediately applicable.
“I use the Peace Ambassador training in lots of unofficial ways. Just the other day, I heard some people shouting and arguing about a small car accident. I opened my bedroom window and asked: ‘What’s going on?’ They just kept screaming louder and louder, so I went down, helped them actually hear one another, and kept the situation from becoming violent.”
- P. C., NYCID Peace Ambassador