Conflict Intervention as Crime Prevention
Table of Contents
Red Hook Peacemaking Program
The Red Hook Peacemaking Program (RHPP) is a specialty program of CCI operating out of the Red Hook Community Justice Center (CJC) for the past three years and targeting residents of the Red Hook East and West NYCHA developments/MAP15 Catchment Area. As a result of MOCJ’s annual support of $89,044 (FY2017), RHPP is able to provide a Peacemaking services to roughly 200 clients each year using the combined contributions of 4 staff members (0.8 FTE) and 32 active Peacemakers. As a supplement to the earlier evaluations of the RHPP ,57 overviews of its prevention-relevant programming and activities are provided below.
Launched in 2013, the Peacemaking Program empowers an isolated, historically underserved community with high rates of justice system involvement to play a role in healing its own wounds and solving its own problems. It targets residents of the Red Hook NYCHA houses, 16 to 24 year old youth, school-based conflicts that may result in exclusionary discipline, and neighbor-based or community conflicts that may escalate to violence or lead to arrest. For 2016, the Peacemaking Program annual budget is $198,637, for which it is projected to serve 200 individuals through 70 cases. Since its inception, RHPP has trained over 60 community members as volunteer peacemakers, trained two retired police detectives as peacemakers to facilitate resisting arrest referrals from Criminal Court, developed deep collaborative relationships with community and criminal justice system stakeholders, and established a credible structure for responding to many forms of community conflict and divert historically marginalized communities from further involvement with the criminal justice system. Referral relationships actively contributing to this program include: the Red Hook CJC, including judicial staff, Brooklyn Defender Services, Kings County DA’s Office, Legal Aid Society (70%); community members and CBOs (e.g. Carroll Gardens Association and Miccio Community Center; 10%); local schools (e.g. South Brooklyn Community High School and PAVE Academy; 10%); NYCHA (5%); and NYPD (5%).
Public Awareness/Education Activities
The Peacemaking Program’s public awareness and education activities include heavily recruiting volunteers from within the immediate community; attending and presenting at the local precinct council, tenant association, and various civic meetings, community events, and resource fairs; facilitating local circle processes and trainings aimed at enhancing program visibility; and organizing and sponsoring events and service projects that bring together peacemakers, community members, community-based organizations, and elected officials. Since inception, RHPP’s activities have trained 40 DOE staff members and school administrators at SBCHS; hosted stakeholder events with CBOs, DOP, local clergy, NYCHA, NYPD, and school administrators; been profiled by NYPD News; hosted ‘Night Out for Youth’ basketball tournament; and organized service events for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Black History Month, and Women’s History Month.
This dashboard presents select aspects of RHPP’s programming, prevention, and presence as reported by RHPP and various external resources.
Profiles in Prevention
Two twin brothers in their early twenties, Jerome and Terry, got into a physical altercation over space and feeling disrespected. Jerome was arrested and brought to the Justice Center. He was concerned the case would impact his job and ability to complete college. Terry previously had a serious brain aneurism in which physical trauma could prove to be fatal. The brothers shared a bedroom in their apartment and had no prospects of moving out. The relationship was so strained the brothers were not talking. The brothers took part in Peacemaking over three sessions. They resolved their issues with one another and improved their communication so they were able to live peacefully and respectfully in the same space. Terry has since obtained employment and Jerome recently called the program to report that he graduated from college.
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During a school activity at a local transfer high school, a fight broke out between several students related to affiliations with two loosely affiliated ‘sets.’ After the fight, two students, ages 17 and 18, were suspended for a minimum of a week. Family members of the students involved became embroiled in their own conflict. Peacemaking convened a circle with the young men, family members, and school staff. The initial circle revealed a volatile dynamic between the young man and his mother so Peacemaking continued to work with them on their relationship even after the conflict between the students had been resolved.
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Diego is a 29 year-old male from the Red Hook Houses who came into the Peacemaking office voluntarily after previously taking part in a session. At the time, Diego had a part-time job in the Bronx. He was upset because his commute was so far, the job was not paying the bills, and he felt that he was in a dead-end job. After Peacemaking staff sat with him and completed his intake, he stated, “I do not want to go back to selling drugs.” The pressure he was feeling to support himself and his family was immense and he reached out for help before resorting to the lifestyle he did not want to return to. He was scheduled to come back in for a Personal Advancement Session during which peacemakers and program staff assisted him with his resume and several job applications. Diego has stayed in touch with the Peacemaking program and knows it is a resource to him as he navigates his employment search and the pressures it puts on him.
“It’s rare within the criminal justice system to have a meaningful conversation with a person who has assaulted your self and your sense of security. Here, clients can explore the fullness of their experience; connect through their shared humanity; design accountable, community-supported reintegration and restoration; and create meaning out of often seemingly meaningless harm.”
- C. J., RHPP Intern and Peacemaker
Marissa is a 14 year-old girl that resides in the Red Hook Houses. She lives with her mother and her two older siblings. Her mother posted a desperate plea on Facebook, asking for help with her daughter. The mother stated that she was dealing with her daughter’s disrespect and physical abuse for quite a while and she could not deal with it anymore, especially because she was raising her daughter alone with no support from the father. A member of the community and a newly inducted peacemaker reached out to her on Facebook and recommended that she seek services from Peacemaking. The mother and daughter came in for intake, during which it became clear that the young girl was struggling with a variety of issues. She disclosed that while living in Virginia, she was a victim of bullying, which propelled her to develop aggressive tendencies herself. She also stated that she could not express herself to her mother because her mother does not listen. Marissa said that she expresses her frustration through hitting. It was decided that the Marissa should come in without her mother for some Personal Advancement Sessions, where she could talk without interruption. During the sessions, Marissa created a healing steps plan that included writing a letter to her mom, abiding by an 8:00 PM curfew, and not talking back to her mother.
“We’re not taught how to communicate. We’re taught how to react. I react emotionally when I’m in pain, and all I heard from the system was ‘CALM DOWN!’ You have no idea what that felt like. I got their opinions of who I was as a woman and as a mother; judged on my race, where I lived, how I reacted. But Peacemaking said: ‘she’s hurting, let’s make it better.’ These Peacemakers connected with us as mothers and daughters. The healing that took place between me and my daughter was profound on a spiritual level. They saved my daughter’s life and my grandchildren’s lives. We weren’t just abandoned in the system. That difference meant everything. I needed this. Young women and men in Red Hook need this. The community needs this!”
- N. G., Peacemaking client
Diana is one of the noteworthy Peacemakers who graduated with the December 2015 class of Peacemakers. Diana is 19 years old and a resident of the Red Hook Houses. The Peacemaking program first met Diana after receiving a referral from South Brooklyn Community High School. Diana had an altercation with another student that ended in her expulsion from the school. Peacemaking staff and Peacemakers successfully mediated her conflict and helped place her in a new school. Diana was impacted by her experience in Peacemaking and when the opportunity presented itself to become a Peacemaker, herself, she signed up. Diana graduated and is now a certified Peacemaker.
57. Previous evaluations of Red Hook CJC programming have been both extensive and impressive. For a review of the broader programmatic context in which the currently reviewed Catchment Area restorative justice programming is situated, see: Lee, C.G., et al. (2013); and Lambson, S.H. (2015).