Red Hook Community Justice Center


Launched in June 2000, the Red Hook Community Justice Center is the nation's first multi-jurisdictional community court. Operating out of a refurbished Catholic school in the heart of a geographically and socially isolated neighborhood in southwest Brooklyn, the Justice Center seeks to solve neighborhood problems. At Red Hook, a single judge hears neighborhood cases from three police precincts (covering approximately 200,000 people) that under ordinary circumstances would go to three different courts—Civil, Family, and Criminal.

The Red Hook judge has an array of sanctions and services at his disposal. These include community restitution projects, short-term psychoeducational groups, and long-term treatment (e.g., drug treatment, mental health treatment, and trauma-focused psychotherapy). Red Hook features an on-site clinic staffed by social service professionals who use trauma- and evidence-informed approaches to assess and connect individuals to appropriate services. The Justice Center also works to connect court-involved youth to strengths-based programming, including art projects and peer education programs.

The Red Hook story extends far beyond what happens in the courtroom. The courthouse is the hub for an array of unconventional programs that contribute to reducing fear and improving public trust in government. These include mediation, community service and a youth court where teenagers are trained to resolve actual cases involving their peers. The Center also has a housing resource center, which provides support and information to residents with cases in housing court.

Spark Prize Finalist 

The Justice Center has been selected as one of twenty finalists for Brooklyn Community Foundation’s 2016 inaugural Spark Prize, the first and only honor of its kind celebrating changemakers in Brooklyn’s nonprofit sector!

As a finalist, donations made to the Justice Center on Giving Tuesday (November 29) will be matched up to $5,000 by the Brooklyn Community Foundation.  Click here to support us and help us reach our goal!

How It Works

A formerly vacant Catholic school serves as the home for the Red Hook Community Justice Center.A formerly vacant Catholic school serves as the home for the Red Hook Community Justice Center.Key features of the Justice Center include:

Coordination: The Justice Center handles low-level criminal cases (including some felonies), as well as selected Family Court and Civil Court matters. In hearing these cases, the Justice Center recognizes that neighborhood problems do not conform to the arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries of the modern court system. By having a single judge handle matters that ordinarily are heard by different decision makers at different locations, Red Hook offers a swifter and more coordinated judicial response.

Restitution: By mandating offenders to restore the community, the Justice Center makes justice more visible to local residents and acknowledges that communities can be victims just like individuals. Restitution projects include painting over graffiti, sweeping the streets and cleaning the Justice Center.

Help: By linking defendants to drug treatment and by providing on-site services, the Justice Center seeks to strengthen families and help individuals avoid further involvement with the court system. Services are not limited to court users but are available to anyone in the community wishing to avail themselves of them.

Accountability: Compliance with social service and community restitution sanctions is rigorously monitored by the Red Hook judge, who requires litigants to return to court frequently to report on their progress and to submit urine tests. State-of-the-art technology helps ensure accountability.

Prevention: The Justice Center actively seeks to resolve local problems before they become court cases. The Justice Center's prevention programs include community mediation and a youth court that offers intensive leadership training to local teenagers.

To view more photos of the Red Hook Community Justice Center from the American Institute of Architects, click here.


'They Treated Me Like a Person': Inside the Red Hook Community Justice Center

The Red Hook Community Justice Center has become an international model of justice reform by implementing innovative strategies that have reduced the use of jail, lowered recidivism and strengthened public confidence in justice.
Watch Video


Reduced Incarceration: The Justice Center reduced the number of offenders receiving jail sentences by 35 percent. 

Reduced recidivism: Adult defendants handled at the Justice Center were 10 percent less likely to commit new crimes than offenders who were processed in a traditional courthouse; juvenile defendants were 20 percent less likely to re-offend.

Public Trust: Approval ratings of police, prosecutors and judges have increased three‑fold since the Justice Center opened. 

Public Support: A door-to-door survey revealed that 94 percent of local residents support the community court. Before the Justice Center opened, only 12 percent of local residents rated local courts favorably. 

Increased Alternative Sentences: Seventy-eight percent of offenders received community service or social service sanctions, compared with 20 percent among comparable cases processed at the regular criminal courthouse in Brooklyn. 

Reduced Fear: Since 1999, the percentage of Red Hook residents who say they are afraid to go to the parks or subway at night has dropped 42 percent.

Fairness: More than 85 percent of criminal defendants report that their cases were handled fairly by the Justice Center–results that were consistent regardless of defendant background (e.g. race, sex, education) or case outcome.

Cost Savings: Taxpayers realized an estimated savings of almost $5,000 per defendant in avoided victimization costs relative to similar cases processed in a traditional misdemeanor court.

Click here to read more about research results, including caseload, sentencing, compliance, and other outcomes. Click here for an independent evaluation of the Justice Center completed by the National Center for State Courts.


The Justice Center is the product of a unique public-private partnership that has engaged all levels of government—county, city, state, and federal. Planning, which was led by the Center for Court Innovation in concert with the Kings County District Attorney's Office, was underwritten by the U.S. Department of Justice. Core operational funding is provided by the New York State Unified Court System and the City of New York. A variety of government and private funders also provide ongoing support. 

The Justice Center's model of public-private partnership extends beyond funding—it relies on an array of institutional partners to identify local problems, supervise community service, and offer social services. These include:

Featured Research


What Brought You to the Red Hook Community Justice Center Today?

What Brought You to the Red Hook Community Justice Center Today?

The Red Hook Community Justice Center serves as a hub for an array of unconventional programs. To some, the Justice Center is their classroom where they earned their High School Equivalency diploma; to others, it is where they resolved their conflicts with family members or neighbors. For still others, it is where they honed their leadership skills or where they were given the support and opportunity to get on the road to recovery.

Read More


The Short Answer: How has Red Hook Changed as a Neighborhood Since the Launch of the Red Hook Community Justice Center?

The Short Answer: How has Red Hook Changed as a Neighborhood Since the Launch of the Red Hook Community Justice Center?

Errol Louis, journalist at NY1 News and host of Inside City Hall, responds to the question:  How has Red Hook changed as a neighborhood since the launch of the Red Hook Community Justice Center?


Red Hook Community Justice Center 15th Anniversary

Red Hook Community Justice Center 15th Anniversary

This podcast covers the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Red Hook Community Justice Center, with highlights including speeches from New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, Brooklyn District Attorney Kenneth Thompson, and honoree Stuart Gold, of Cravath, Swain, and Moore. 

Red Hook Community Justice Blog
  • October 31, 2017
    Bridging the Gap Overload!

    Last week has been a busy one for the Office of Youth and Community programs!Pumpkin Painting Party – 10/24A few officers from our local precinct,...

    Read More
  • October 31, 2017
    Stepping Out Against Domestic Violence

    On October 19th, over 30 community members, Red Hook Community Justice Center staff, and Red Hook Youth Court members marched in a Peace Walk to...

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  • September 26, 2017
    Red Hook CARES: Community Free Store

    On September 8th, Women in Touch, Red Hook CARES (Counseling and Restorative Services), and the Justice Center’s Americorps members joined together...

    Read More
  • New York
  • 520 8th Avenue
  • 18th Floor
  • New York, NY 10018
  • phone: 646.386.3100
  • Syracuse
  • 601 Tully Street
  • Syracuse, NY 13204
  • phone: 315.266.4330
  • London
  • Canterbury Court
    1-3 Brixton Road
  • London, SW9 6DE
  • phone: +44 2076.329.060