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About JCCS
Jersey City Community Solutions (JCCS) is dedicated to administering justice, using restorative solutions, in a manner that steers low-level-non-violent offenders away from further criminal activity. Using sentences that combine rehabilitative social services with community reparation, the court ultimately seeks to promote safety, trust, and growth within the community it serves. We are located in the Jersey City Municipal Court at 365 Summit Avenue Jersey City, New Jersey. Opened in 2017, JCCS is funded by a grant from the Department of Justice and managed by the Jersey City Municipal Court. A collaboration between federal, state, and local agencies, as well the Center for Court Innovation, JCCS is one of many programs nationwide using evidence-based practice to promote restorative justice.

Mission and Goal
We are dedicated to creating restorative solutions for low-level, non-violent offenders that promote growth and strength in the community. JCCS seeks to administer justice in a manner that steers such offenders away from further criminal activity. Using sentences that combine rehabilitative social services with community reparation, the court ultimately seeks to promote safety, trust, and growth within the community it serves.

What is it?
JCCS is a court-based problem-solving program for low-level, non-violent offenders. Using a rehabilitation-focused approach, Jersey City Municipal Court judges will have the option to sentence offenders to social services and community service rather than fines and incarceration. Enrollment in the program will operate on a voluntary basis for eligible individuals. Defendants who choose to participate will complete a customized screening with community court staff which will guide mandates for effective alternatives to traditional sentences, such as incarceration.

How does it work?
Potential participants will be made aware of their eligibility during their first court appearance and given the opportunity to opt-in to the Community Solutions program. Only charges pending in the Jersey City Municipal Court will be eligible. Eligible offenses, which are exclusively low-level and non-violent, may include: Drug Possession, Disorderly Conduct, Shoplifting, and Trespassing, among others. Individuals with certain prior charges and convictions may be ineligible for the program. Once enrolled in the program, participants will complete community and social services based on their assessed needs. These community and social service days may be completed as a part of the court sentence.

What are the types of mandates?
Participants enrolled in the program are mandated for both community and social services. Judges will have the option to mandate JCCS participants to attend rehabilitative social services. Based on a screening from Community Solutions staff, this may include required participation in drug treatment, mental health services, or job readiness programs. Judges use community service as a primary sentencing option. The length of the community service opportunity will be determined by the judge based upon the nature of the offense, with additional mandates for noncompliance. Participants will meet with Community Solutions staff to determine their placements. JCCS participants will work in a variety of sites and roles at organizations throughout the city.

How did it start?
Early in his tenure as mayor, Steven Fulop advocated for community justice initiatives. Problem-solving courts were identified as a viable community justice practice, as it could bring new approaches to difficult cases where social, human and legal problems intersect.
In April 2016, following a national solicitation and peer review process of over 70 proposals, Jersey City was chosen as one of 10 sites to receive funding and technical assistance under the 2016 Community Court Grant Program, a joint initiative of the Center for Court Innovation and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. Jersey City Community Solutions was founded under this grant.

Common Principles of Community Courts
The first community court in the country was the Midtown Community Court, launched in 1993 in New York City. Several dozen community courts, inspired by the Midtown model, are in operation or planning around the country. The community court model seeks to respond to crime through a combined strategy of holding community court participants accountable and offering to help defendants with a range of social needs, including drug treatment under judicial supervision.
The Center for Court Innovation’s six common principles of community courts include:

• Enhanced information
Community courts are dedicated to the idea that better staff training combined with better information (about litigants, victims, and the community context of crime) can help improve the decision making of judges, attorneys, and other justice officials. The goal is to help practitioners make more nuanced decisions about individual defendants, ensuring that they receive an appropriate level of supervision and services.

• Community Engagement
Community courts recognize that citizens, merchants and neighborhood groups have an important role to play in helping the justice system identify, prioritize and solve local problems. By actively engaging citizens in the process, community courts seek to improve public trust in justice.

• Collaboration
Community courts engage a diverse range of people, government agencies, and community organizations in collaborative efforts to improve public safety. By bringing together justice players and reaching out to potential partners beyond the courthouse (e.g., drug treatment and other social service providers, victims groups, schools), community courts improve inter-agency communication, encourage greater trust between citizens and government, and foster new responses to local problems.

• Individualized Justice
By using evidence-based risk and needs assessment instruments, community courts seek to link offenders to individually tailored community-based services (e.g., drug treatment, job training, safety planning, mental health counseling) where appropriate. In doing so (and by treating defendants with dignity and respect), community courts help reduce the use of incarceration and recidivism, improve community safety, and enhance confidence in justice. Linking offenders to services can also aid victims, improving their safety, and help restore their lives.

• Accountability
Community courts send the message that all criminal behavior—even low-level “quality-of-life” crime—has an impact on community safety. By promoting community restitution and insisting on regular and rigorous compliance monitoring (including by the judge)—and clear consequences for non-compliance—community courts seek to improve the accountability of offenders.

• Outcomes
Community courts emphasize the active and ongoing collection and analysis of data—measuring outcomes and process, costs and benefits. Dissemination of this information is a valuable symbol of public accountability.

Community Engagement
A crucial aspect of JCCS is community engagement. JCCS will gather feedback and direction from a Community Advisory Board made up of local citizens. Input from the Community Advisory Board will allow JCCS staff to continually develop the program to meet the needs of participants and the community.
As part of the planning process to create JCCS, a community needs assessment was conducted. A total of 26 meetings were held with stakeholders and community groups to solicit input to shape a community court program that would be responsive to community needs.

Community Partners
The list of partners is not exhaustive and JCCS is still seeking partnerships with organizations in an effort to serve the residents of our community. Interested organizations can email JCCS at jccommunitysolutions@jcnj.org or call 201-209-6734.
Community Services
Jersey City Department of Public Works
The Sharing Place
St John’s Lutheran Church Food Pantry
Let’s Celebrate
Garden State Episcopal CDC
Grace Church Van Vorst
Liberty Humane Society
NAACP Chapter of Jersey City
Hudson Pride Connection Center
Angela Cares

Social Services
City of Jersey City, Health and Human Services
City of Jersey City, Office of Veterans Affairs
City of Jersey City, Office of Welcoming Communities
Jersey City Employment and Training Program
Women Rising
C-Line Community Outreach Services
Khaleidoscope Health Care, Inc.
Covenant House
Bridgeway Rehabilitation Services
Collaborative Support Programs of NJ
Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corp.
The Waterfront Project
Northeast New Jersey Legal Services
Urban League of Hudson County
Hudson Pride Connection Center
Metropolitan Family Health Network, Inc.
The Royal Men Foundation
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