Midtown Community Court

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The Midtown Community Court

The Midtown Community Court is a municipal court of law established in 1993 in the Times Square neighborhood of New York City.[1] The court focuses on quality-of-life offenses, such as prostitution, shoplifting, farebeating and vandalism. The court, which is located on West 54th Street in Manhattan,[2] has been replicated both in the United States,[3] in cities including Austin, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon, and abroad,[4] in countries as varied as South Africa, Great Britain,[5] Canada,[6] and Australia.[7]

The Midtown Community Court was established as a collaboration between the New York State Unified Court System[8] and the Center for Court Innovation. The court relies on partnerships with local residents, businesses and social service agencies to organize community restitution projects and provide on-site social services, including drug treatment, mental health counseling, and job training.[9] Unlike most conventional courts, the Midtown Court combines punishment and help, requiring low-level offenders to pay back the neighborhood through community service while mandating them to receive social services to address problems that often underlie criminal behavior.[10]

The court was the subject of an independent evaluation by the National Center for State Courts.[11] According to the National Center, the court's compliance rate of 75 percent for community service was the highest in the city.[12] Offenders performing community service contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of labor to the community each year. In conjunction with aggressive law enforcement and economic development efforts, the court has had an impact on neighborhood crime: prostitution arrests dropped 56 percent and illegal vending was down 24 percent.


  1. ^ Center for Court Innovation - Midtown Community Court
  2. ^ The Midtown Community Court's address is 314 W. 54th St., New York, NY 10019
  3. ^ "Community Courts: An Evolving Model". U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. 
  4. ^ "Community Justice Around the Globe: An International Overview". Crime & Justice International. 
  5. ^ For more information about community courts in Great Britain, see the British government's official web site at http://www.communityjustice.gov.uk/index.htm
  6. ^ For more information about the Vancouver Community Justice Centre, see http://www.criminaljusticereform.gov.bc.ca/en/justice_reform_projects/community_court/index.html
  7. ^ For more information about the Collingwood Community Justice Centre in Melbourne, Australia, see [1]
  8. ^ [2]
  9. ^ For an overview of how the court works, see "How It Works: A Summary of Case Flow and Interventions at the Midtown Community Court". Center for Court Innovation. 
  10. ^ To learn about the underlying principles that guide the Midtown Community Court, see "Community Court Principles: A Guide for Planners". Center for Court Innovation. 
  11. ^ [3]
  12. ^ The National Center survey was published as a book. See "Dispensing Justice Locally: The Implementation and Effects of the Midtown Community Court". Routledge.