Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Newark Teens Dedicate Themselves to Community Service on Thanksgiving

The Newark Youth Court members, trainees, and staff invite you to join them for a Thanksgiving community service activity at New Hope Baptist Church in the Central Ward. The teens and other volunteers, working under the watchful eye of New Hope’s food and clothing ministry team, will help prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the most vulnerable members of our community.  New Hope’s commitment and dedication to serving the community is not limited to the holidays. The church operates a soup kitchen that provides a hot meal to more than 75 people a day. The soup kitchen is also a partner of Newark Community Solutions, allowing offenders sentenced to perform community service on municipal court matters to give back to the community as well! If you’re interested in lending a hand, see the details in the flyer to the right.

The Newark Youth Court trains teenagers to serve as jurors, judges and advocates, handling real- life cases involving their peers. The goal of the Newark Youth Court is to use positive peer pressure to ensure that young people who have committed minor offenses restore harm done to the community and receive the help they need to avoid further involvement in the justice system. The Newark Youth Court   hears a range of low-level offenses referred by the Newark Police Department, the Newark Municipal Court and Newark Public Schools. The majority of cases that come to the Newark Youth Court are for truancy, simple assault (fighting) and disorderly conduct. The Newark Youth Court is part of Newark Community Solutions. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Help Us Make the Holiday Season Brighter for Newark Families

It’s that time of year again! It’s time to start thinking about the Holiday Season and for Newark Community Solutions and our amazing partners that means preparing for our Third Annual Holiday Gift Drive and Wrap Party. But first we want to thank you. Last year we received overwhelming support from Newark Municipal employees as well as several local organizations. As a result of your generous donations, we provided gifts to 150 Newark kids!

This year we have partnered with Wynona's House, a Newark nonprofit dedicated to promoting justice and healing for child victims of violence and abuse. Donated gifts will be matched up with a Newark child's "wish list" and then wrapped by volunteers. All surplus donations of toys and clothing will be provided to the St. Antoninus R.C. Church, 337 S. Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ, for distribution to local families in need.

Individuals and departments can get involved in several ways including:
  • Gift donation
  • Donation of wrapping paper, tape, ribbons and bows
  • Volunteer to wrap and package gifts at the Wrap Part
  • Donation of snacks and drinks for volunteers

This year our “Wrap Party” will take place at 11:00am on Saturday, December 14th in Room B-29 of Newark City Hall. If you want to get involved, please send an email to and let us know what you can do. Together, we can help make a difference for Newark's families this holiday season.

Our Blog As A Word Cloud

A "word or tag cloud" is a graphical representation of how frequently words are used. In most examples the relative sizes of the words are correlated with the frequency of their use in the document, speech or as in the example to the left, our blog posts from the last year.

A few very bright folks, like New York Times “senior software architect and news hacker” Jacob Harris and “Big Web Show” host Jeffrey Zeldman, don’t think much of word clouds.  As far back as 2005, Zeldman famously referred to them as “mullets of the Internet”I agree with Harris. If the goal is telling a complex story, word clouds are a poor choice. They're divorced from the underlying narrative and require explanation to reveal context. Thankfully, the people who run community justice projects like the Harlem Community Justice Center, the Midtown Community Court, Bronx Community Solutions, the Red Hook Community Justice Center are writing about court and community-based innovations that help transform the lives of offenders, improve public safety and increase the public's confidence in the courts. You can learn more by following the links listed under "Blogs we follow" or visiting the Center for Court Innovation website.

But if you’re interests are limited to word usage, a word cloud is worth a shot. Besides, they look pretty snazzy on a t-shirt.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Greening Our Community II

In a post from earlier this year, we reported that gardeners at our Community Advisory Board meeting noticed that their beautification efforts were having a positive impact on attitudes and perceptions of public safety among their neighbors.  Well, several research studies suggest there might be more to this than the personal opinions of our amazing community partners.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Join us for our December 2013 Community Advisory Board Meeting

Please join us on December 4th at 6:00 PM in Room B29 (Lower Rotunda) in Newark City Hall for our last Community Advisory Board meeting of 2013. 

For our final meeting of the year, we have an exciting agenda planned. Josephine Hahn, from the Center for Court Innovation, will be joined by several community surveyors to present the early findings from a research project they conducted this summer. The surveyors fanned out across the city to find out what residents felt about crime, the courts, police and issues that impact public safety. We will also hear from the Newark Youth Court about their experience planning two incredibly exciting community service projects! And, we’ll introduce the Newark United Against Violence (NUAV) team. NUAV is a violence-reduction initiative, created by the Newark Police department and the Office of Reentry. Newark Community Solutions is a key partner of the initiative and will provide outreach and case management resources. Team members will be on-hand to answer your questions about their work.

We would ask that you spread the word about the CAB meeting among your friends, neighbors and co-workers. Looking forward to your contributions and participation as we collaborate to make our community safer. 

See you on December 4th!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Helping Homeless Military Veterans Part II

In my last post, I wrote about how local organizations that serve military veterans were helping the most vulnerable get the services they need. The event in Newark was called a “Stand Down”. Stand down, as a military term, is the process of pulling out exhausted soldiers from the battlefield to a place of relative safety to rest and recover before returning to fight. The concept of using a “stand down” to help connect homeless military veterans to social services shares a history with the problem solving court movement. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Helping Homeless Military Veterans Part I

Last month, for a second year in a row, Newark Community Solutions joined the G.I. Go Fund and other organizations that serve homeless military veterans for the Veterans Stand-Down at Newark’s John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. During the event, veterans received haircuts, photo ID cards, medical checkups and HIV testing, as well as counseling and information support groups about employment services, state and federal VA benefits, substance abuse programs, vocational rehabilitation, recovery programs, and hospice care. Veterans were also provided lunch cooked by New Jersey Army National Guard. Afterwards, they were given a full range of Army surplus and civilian winter clothing, including boots, underwear, ski caps, pants, and personal toiletries. Newark Community Solutions staff were on hand to help veterans address outstanding Municipal Court matters.  The GI Go Fund, a non-profit organization founded in 2006 that has been recognized for its unique and innovative solutions to addressing the homeless veteran population and Stand Down of North Jersey Inc, organized the event.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NJ Fugitive Safe Surrender - Helping non-violent fugitives set things right

From November 6-11, hundreds of volunteers, judges, court administrators, attorneys and non-violent fugitives with outstanding warrants will gather in Jersey City for the states 5th Fugitive Safe Surrender initiative. The four-day program will allow United States citizens with open warrants in New Jersey to appear in front of a judge, receive "favorable treatment", and remove their fugitive status.  FSS is not an amnesty program.  The typical outcome for most participants is a reduction in their fines or probation.