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Bronx (NY) Community Service Sentencing Project - Experiences of a Pilot Project

NCJ Number
M Smith
Date Published
45 pages
From February 1979 through September 1980, the Vera Institute operated a pilot project out of the Bronx County Criminal Court (New York) in which 240 offenders were sentenced to satisfactory performance of comunity service work.
The offenders were sentenced to conditional discharge with the sole condition being satisfactory performance of 70 hours of unpaid service for the benefit of the community. The pilot project has gone well for the City of New York and will serve as a source of strategies to be implemented in future efforts. All those sentenced in this project had at least one prior felony conviction. They ranged in age from 16 to 45, averaging in their mid-20's. Ninety-five percent were black or Hispanic. Most were unemployed and few had a history of steady employment. However, all who completed the 70-hour community service sentence and requested assistance from the project got it. As a result, many were referred to al least one potential employer, received a stipend job training program, or received treatment service. Only 10 percent failed to complete the 70 hours of service. The primary objective of the project is to introduce to regular use a new sanction that is more positive and less burdensome than jail time. Secondary objectives include giving offenders an opportunity to do something positive and providing needy citizens of the community with services. Criteria for project eligibility include being charged with a crime which is not against a person, having had a verifiable residence for 3 months, and not having had a history of drug, alcohol, or emotional problems. The project staff had no difficulty in locating sites in need of services such as cleaning and repairs, and began with a senior citizens center. Upon program completion, each participant was offered help in making postsentence plans and assistance from the project in carrying them out. Footnotes are included.