Skip to main content

The Community Court Difference


Jackie Soto & Stephanie Lovett
 
As many readers of this blog already know, the Red Hook Community Justice Center has the privilege of hosting over 200 visitors each year (as project director, facilitating site visits is a significant part of my job).  Although their interests and objectives vary considerably, most visitors are eager to hear something about the Justice Center's core commitment to community engagement. 
In response, we generally talk a lot about the stuff we do outside of the formal court process, e.g., the Red Hook Youth Court, arts programming, the baseball league, and a broad range of community improvement projects.  In other words, when it comes to community engagement, we are quick to remind visitors that we are more than just a courthouse.  Too quick.
Jackie Soto and Stephanie Lovett have run the Justice Center's Alternative Sanctions Office (more commonly known as "intake") for over 10 years.  Among many, many other things, intake is the first stop for anyone sentenced to community, social, or clinical services as an alternative to incarceration.  And in a bustling community court like ours, that's a whole lot of folks.
Technically, Jackie and Stephanie screen individuals to determine appropriate services, schedule them for obligations, rigorously monitor their compliance, and work closely with the Justice Center's court partners to ensure the swift and fair administration of justice.  But circling back to this idea of community engagement, I want to focus less on what they do... and more on how they do it.
Heart.  If I had to sum it up in one word, I think that’s the one I would choose.  In a fast-paced department that demands constant attention to detail and court process, Jackie and Stephanie never lose sight of why the Justice Center is here in the first place:  to serve the community with care, respect, and dignity.  Somehow they manage to do it with every single person who walks through the door, every single day, despite the relentless demands and pressures of the moment.  Spend an hour or a day in intake, and you will see two professionals who take the time to engage, to listen, and to do what they can to provide meaningful assistance in the lives of folks in crisis.  And they do it in a way that is so genuine, so natural, at times even self-effacing, that it often goes undetected – except where it matters most:  in the lives of the countless individuals they have collectively served. 
Now that’s what I call community engagement.
If I was a sports guy (which after years of denial and posing, I can now admit to the world, I am not), I would probably compare Jackie and Stephanie to some athlete(s) who make something difficult look easy, etc.  But that sort of analogy doesn’t quite capture it, even if I had the knowledge and credibility to pull it off, which I don’t.  No, as much as Jackie and Stephanie have mastered their craft and do their jobs with an effortless grace, that’s not the quality that sets them apart.  I think it comes down to a deep-felt care and commitment to the residents of Red Hook.  I think it comes down to heart.
Hope this finds you well,
Julian


Comments

  1. My exact sentiments. It's the buzz all over the Red Hook community. Jackie and Stephanie are the same way even when they are not at work. It was a long time coming. Yay for the Red Hook Champions!

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Hasta Luego Benny!

...we'd rather say until later than good-bye. We just learned that one of our amazing court officers, Lt. Benny Castillo, is being transferred to another court. Lt. Castillo has worked at the Justice Center for 5 years. He was always a great leader, and always went beyond the call of duty to lend a helping to staff and residents. The Justice Center is also gearing up to send off Lt. Bobby Vitucci (more on that to come). You can read the article below to see what makes our court officers so special and important to the Justice Center.

http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20121220/red-hook/red-hook-court-officers-dole-out-hundreds-of-toys-kids

Lt. Benny Castillo
Judge Calabrese thanks Lt. Castillo for his service

Thank You AmeriCorps Members

Last Friday we held a graduation for our AmeriCorps members, the last class of the New York Juvenile Justice Corps. Over the past year, the members have served throughout the Center for Court Innovation's New York City projects at various positions within our courts and community programs. They served as a bridge to the communities we work in, and provided valuable support to our projects and various initiatives. The members will be missed and we wish them the best in all their future endeavors.

Jessica Colon
Deputy Project Director

Standing Room Only at the Graduation
Declan Walsh, Director of the John Jay College Office of Community Outreach, presents Al Siegal and Jessica Colon with a plaque in recognition of the Center for Court Innovation's partnership with the college.
Members from the Brownsville Community Justice Center Receive their Certificates
Members from the Crown Heights Mediation Center Receive their Certificates
Staff and Members from the Harlem Community Justice Cen…

Red Hook CARES: Community Free Store

On September 8th, Women in Touch, Red Hook CARES (Counseling and Restorative Services), and the Justice Center’s Americorps members joined together to host a community free store in Coffey Park. The Women in Touch office on Richards Street is getting a revamp and our first step was clearing out the clothing and items to make way for the new!



Women in Touch has been a long time resource and space for the community of Red Hook and the CARES team is super excited to join them in this project. However; CARES and WIT couldn’t have done it without the help of the Americorps members, who spent all day clearing out the Richards Street apartment and organizing items to give away in the free store.


Community members dropped in throughout the day to shop, enjoy some lemonade, and chat about what’s to come in the new space. The Women in Touch office on 135 Richards Street will continue to be a safe, community space. We are re-decorating and furnishing the space to make way for community events, su…