This week, the Greenpoint Youth Court (GYC) celebrated its annual End of Term party by welcoming ten new members and a new Coordinator, Dana Rachlin. They also said goodbye to Rachlin’s predecessor, Beth Broderick, under whose watch the program began to thrive.
In the GYC, local teenagers hear actual cases involving their peers, and sentence them to community service projects to pay for their crimes. The program, part of the Center for Court Innovation, intervenes in the lives of young people at the point of their initial encounters with the justice system, hoping to help them avoid further trouble down the line. Over the past four years, the GYC has held 528 hearings, successfully closed 93% of its cases, and created over 3,300 hours of community service with partners like the Greenpoint Reformed Church and East River State Park.
Rachlin comes to Greenpoint from another Center for Court Innovation program, the Staten Island Youth Justice Center. She plans to keep in place many of the initiatives that have made the GYC so successful, especially the policy of having the kids go from respondents to members – “It keeps them a part of the solution.” Rachlin is also seeking to expand current community partnerships, such as their relationships with the local precincts – “I’m passionate about improving police-teen relationships,” and to add community service organizations. She will also meet with current Youth Court members to discuss where improvements can be made.
Broderick leaves behind an impressive nearly three year track record of success as GYC Coordinator. Under her direction, community awareness of the program blossomed, leading to increased numbers of cases and community partnerships. In an interesting twist, she will take over the leadership of Rachlin’s former employer, the Staten Island Youth Justice Center.