Brooklyn & Queens Justice Corps

The Intervention: Work-readiness and job placement services in high-need neighborhoods

Who is Served: Young people age 18-24 with involvement in the justice system in the past year and who reside in any of the five boroughs

The Challenge

Only 30% of youth newly released from jail/prison obtain employment or are in school within 12 months.1 For these youth, incarceration also fails to prevent future crime: 60% of those under age 25 who complete a felony jail sentence in New York are convicted of an additional crime within five years.2 The challenges experienced by these young people have more than individual consequences. The relationship between race, incarceration, and poverty creates high-incarceration neighborhoods, typically low-income communities of color.3 In addition to community supervision by probation or parole officers, young people recently involved in the justice system—especially those returning from incarceration—need significant support if they are to succeed in the community.

The Justice Corps Approach

In 2008, as part of a larger citywide initiative to combat poverty, the NYC Center for Economic Opportunity (CEO) launched NYC Justice Corps. Administered by the Prisoner Reentry Institute of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Justice Corps incorporates practices from workforce development, reentry, and service learning programs to help young people with previous justice involvement to build skills, access opportunities, and contribute to their communities while avoiding recidivism. Justice Corps includes four sites citywide, each serving young people who reside in communities disproportionately impacted by crime and poverty.

CASES currently operates Justice Corps programs in Jamaica, Queens, and Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The latter serves young people residing in communities including Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brownsville, Crown Heights, and East New York. Both programs provide six months of active services followed by six months of aftercare for young people age 18-24 with justice involvement in the past year. Program services include:

  • Risk-responsive short- and long-term service planning
  • Life skills education
  • Work-readiness classes
  • Paid internship placements
  • Employment placement services
  • Support for obtaining a high school equivalency (HSE) diploma

Justice Corps participants also engage in close collaboration with an advisory board of volunteer community stakeholders to identify community needs and design and implement responsive community benefit projects. These projects provide participants with real-world opportunities to develop professional networks, design and implement service projects, and make a positive contribution to their communities.

The Impact

  • In FY 2015, CASES Justice Corps placed 61 participants into paid internships at offsite employers including government agencies, small businesses, and nonprofit social service providers
  • 65% of Justice Corps graduates were placed into unsubsidized employment or an ongoing education program
  • 119 Justice Corps participants helped to complete 10 community benefit projects


1 Abrams, L.S. and Franke, T.M. (2013). Postsecondary educational engagement among formerly-incarcerated transition-age young men. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 52(4), 233-253. Retrieved from ^

2 Salo, T. (2013). Results first business model: Reducing unnecessary confinement while reducing crime and recidivism. NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services Presentation made Feb. 11, 2013. ^

3 Nemoy, Y. (2013). Promoting postsecondary success of court-involved youth: Lessons from the NYEC Postsecondary Success pilot. Washington, D.C.: National Youth Employment Coalition. Retrieved from ^