Greenpoint Youth Court finds a home

July 10, 2013 Heather Chin
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The Greenpoint Youth Court (GYC) has spent over four years providing civic leadership and internship opportunities for local youth who needed a support network and a home away from home. Now, the community is giving back to it by providing a long-term space for the court to house its programs and court cases.

The Youth Court’s new home is in the same building as before—176 Java Street—but in a different, more affordable, unit.

Assemblymember Joseph Lentol was delighted with the solution to the organization’s search for a new home. He called the GYC’s value to the community “priceless,” and thanked the building owners, the Polish Slavic Center, “for their commitment to the community.”

“[The GYC] provide[s] young children with alternatives to the justice system, which has been known to often steer kids in the wrong direction,” said Lentol. “Finding innovative ways to dealing with them while they develop is essential, as children have exponentially high chances for recidivism.”

The Greenpoint Youth Court is a program for youth aged 10-18 who are referred by local schools, police officers, probation officers and family court attorneys for offenses such as vandalism, disorderly conduct, assault and truancy.

The teens and pre-teens appear before a judge and jury of their peers–other neighborhood teens–who determine fair and appropriate responses. Similar youth courts also exist in Red Hook and Brownsville.

There are currently 18 local youth members participating in the Youth Court’s leadership/internship program, said program coordinator Dana Rachlin, and, “Without a place to house them, they wouldn’t have [this] important social and leadership activity.”

The court’s services are also important to the youth who need it “as an alternative to school suspension or the traditional justice system,” as well as to the community, Rachlin added, because of community service projects.

Existing projects include the Greenpoint Graffiti Cleanup Project with the Greenpoint Chamber of Commerce and the 94th Precinct, feeding the homeless at Grandma Rose’s pizzeria in Bedford-Stuyvesant and with Red Star Bar at the Church of the Ascension Hall. Upcoming projects include community garden restorations.

If you would like to learn more about the Greenpoint Youth Court or if you are interested in community partnerships and impact projects, people are always welcome to come and observe a youth court case.

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