Red Hook Community Justice Center delivers solutions in lieu of judgment

Stacey Cornelius is one of the Red Hook Community Justice Center's success stories. She came to them with substance abuse issues in 2008 and has been clean — and voluntarily in counseling — ever since.  Credit: Bess Adler, Metro
Stacey Cornelius is one of the Red Hook Community Justice Center’s success stories. She came to them with substance abuse issues in 2008 and has been clean — and voluntarily in counseling — ever since.
Credit: Bess Adler, Metro

In 1990, Life magazine declared Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood “the crack capital of America.”

Now, it is home to an innovative organization so successful that the Department of Justice released a report just this week urging other cities around the country to follow its lead.

The Red Hook Community Justice Center grew from a tragic neighborhood loss. In 1992, a beloved local school principal was shot by a stray bullet when he stepped out of the school to look for a missing student. For the shaken community, that tragedy was a catalyst for a push to reform.

The center is a movement of sorts, led by a single judge: Alex Calabrese.

Calabrese hears cases, assists NYCHA residents with getting urgent repairs taken care of and helps move troubled Red Hook residents of all ages and walks of life toward solutions rather than incarceration.

But he says the people who come to the justice center are the ones that deserve the credit.

“Whatever happens in court can make a difference,” Calabrese said. “But they’re doing the work. We’re giving them the path.”

Stacey Cornelius is one of their successes. She came to the center in 2008 because of substance abuse issues and has been clean ever since. They set her up with one of their community partners, the Counseling Service of Eastern District New York (CSEDNY).

Cornelius proudly informed Calabrese on a recent visit to the center that she is still in counseling, even though her mandated nine months ended more than 4 years ago.

“That’s excellent!” he enthused. “That’s been voluntary for a long time.”

Cornelius said she looks forward to her counseling sessions, and noted how helpful it was to have that support system when her mother died a year ago.

The day after her mother died, she was supposed to go to her weekly group session. She called her counselor and asked if she could come by after the session to see her. Her counselor said sure and asked what was up.

Cornelius recalled how as soon as she told her counselor that her mother had died, her counselor responded, “Stay right there,” and immediately came to her.

She listened to Cornelius talk for a while, and then praised her for not using drugs at a vulnerable moment.

“I never got high,” Cornelius said proudly. “And she said, ‘When your mother died, you coulda got high again. It’s good that you didn’t get high.’”

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Winning $7 million New York lottery ticket sold…

The only $7 million winning New York Lottery ticket for Monday's Cash4Life drawing was sold at a Queens 7-Eleven, officials said on Tuesday.

Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Gossip

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

Music

Incubus singer Brandon Boyd on his newest act,…

The rocker is releasing two new passion projects.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

College

Playing the Field: Valentine's Day coupling edition

  It’s Valentine’s Day, a day created by Hallmark to make couples spend loads and loads of money on candy, flowers and gourmet dinners. Or…

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

Career

What do you wear to a career fair?…

Getting that gig starts with presenting the most polished and memorable version of yourself, so refer to our expert fashion advice.

Style

Editors pick: Margiela's finger armor ring

These cool rings from Maison Martin Margiela are designed to overlap over the finger, covering each joint like armor.

Style

Givenchy champions diversity

Riccardo Tisci's uses a variety of ethnically diverse ladies for his spring campaign including Erykah Badu.

Wellbeing

Don't settle for the hotel fitness center with…

Travelers who want to skip the hotel fitness center in favor of local gyms that may offer better equipment, classes and amenities can turn to…