A drop in New York City’s crime rate1 and shifts in drug sentencing policies have led to dramatic reductions in the New York State prison population.2 Even so, a concentration of criminal justice involvement persists in several communities, where disproportionately large numbers of individuals are arrested or under probation and parole supervision. For example, the ten Community Districts served by the NYC Justice Corps are home to only 15% of the City’s residents, but these communities account for more than 22.5% of the City’s probationers.3
The impact of four decades of mass incarceration is not easily reversed. Researchers studying local concentrations of criminal justice involvement found that community district 16—one of the NYC Justice Corps target communities—had 3.5% of Brooklyn’s population and 8.5% of Brooklyn’s prison admissions. In 2003 it cost $11,839,665 per year to incarcerate people from just 11 blocks in East New York4 and $17 million to incarcerate 109 people from just 17 blocks in Brownsville.5 Neighborhoods like East New York and Brownsville, which endured the removal of so many people to prison, are now faced with the challenge of reintegrating those with criminal records into the economic and civic life of the community.
The NYC Justice Corps serves neighborhoods with high rates of criminal justice involvement, building community capacity to welcome and nurture justice-involved young adults.