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April 15, 2009

Rep. Velázquez Encourages Red Hook Youth to Be Community Leaders

**Event Photos Available **

NEW YORK – Last night, Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-N.Y.) presented $350,000 in federal support to the Red Hook Community Justice Center’s youth programs.  Velázquez delivered keynote remarks at the Center’s Rising Star Recognition Ceremony, during which time she praised the youth program participants honored at the event for demonstrating leadership and commitment to community service. 

“The success of the Red Hook Community Justice Center shows us that neighborhood crime can be turned around when our communities pull together,” said Velázquez.  “The young people in Red Hook have embraced the opportunities provided by the Justice Center, and their futures hold great promise.”

The Congresswoman secured the funding from the U.S. Department of Justice in support of the Justice Center’s innovative youth programs.  With these funds, the organization plans to expand its internship program from serving 10 local youth to 40.  The resources also will support the Red Hook Youth Court, Juvenile Offender Intervention Network (JOIN), Youth ECHO and a youth baseball league.  These programs focus on providing alternatives to crime and giving young adults the opportunity to participate in prevention and resolution efforts.  Due in part to the Center’s work to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior, the Red Hook community saw the largest drop in major crimes in the city in 2006 and 2007.

“The Red Hook Community Justice Center provides important services that give our young people the opportunity to lead healthy lives and grow up safely.  I am honored to help their programs expand their reach and touch the lives of hundreds of neighborhood kids,” said Velázquez.

Launched in June 2000, the Red Hook Community Justice Center is the nation’s first multi-jurisdictional community court. Judge Alex M. Calabrese hears civil, family and criminal cases that run the gamut of neighborhood problems like drugs, crime, domestic violence and landlord-tenant disputes. Sentences often incorporate drug treatment, mental health counseling, community service, and on-site educational workshops and GED classes.  The Justice Center also focuses on prevention programs, including community mediation, intensive leadership training for local teenagers, and the Red Hook Public Safety Corps, which provides 50 local residents with full-time community service jobs each year.

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Photos from the event can be downloaded here.