By Charles J. Hynes
Brooklyn District Attorney
This past year was a very productive one for my office. We implemented a number of new programs aimed at making Brooklyn a safer place to live and work, celebrated the continued success of many of our existing programs and trial bureaus, and took great measures to reduce the number of guns on the streets of Brooklyn.
• Together with the police department and local churches we conducted three gun buybacks this year allowing participants to surrender their guns in return for $200. As a result of these initiatives we collected 337 guns.
• It is with great pleasure that I announced findings of a study conducted by faculty at Columbia University supporting Drew House, a pilot program which allows children to remain with their mothers who are charged with certain crimes while they serve their sentences. The study found that Drew House is beneficial because it strengthens families without compromising public safety, provides the women a better chance to find employment and housing opportunities after serving 18-24 months in the program, and costs significantly less than incarceration. Go to www.brooklynda.org/drewhouse/DrewHouse Report.pdf for more information.
• Also, many of our initiatives are focused on educating our children. My Legal Lives Bureau has reached over 10,000 Brooklyn fifth grade students and their parents in over 300 classrooms with in-class lessons and takes home assignments, as well as a radio show and mock trials.
• I created Safe Stop last August to provide a safe place for youth, seniors and all others to go if they need help in case of an emergency. Local Brooklyn merchants who participate in Safe Stop display decals in their store windows identifying them as a designated Safe Stop location. They receive specialized training on what to do if someone needs help or simply wants information about the District Attorney’s Office or the Police Department. The merchants will be directed to call 911 for emergencies that require immediate medical, police or fire response.
• Back on Track was added to our crime prevention initiatives and is designed to reduce crime and recidivism among youthful offenders and truants. The initial pilot program was started for young people in Brownsville who are in danger of becoming involved in the criminal justice system, chronically truant and at risk of dropping out of school. All services are provided within the community and include the family.
• With Restart, my office, together with the Department of Education and CPCA, offers an intensive educational program for students. These students are provided with assistance to help them pass the Middle School Exam so that they can go on to high school.
• We had great success again this year with Project Safe Surrender which allows people to settle their long outstanding warrants and summonses before a judge at local churches which in turn will help these people to get jobs and move on with their lives without the hindrance of a minor crime committed in their past.
• We are here to protect you and will continue in our efforts to make Brooklyn a safer place in the new year. You can read more about our programs and the activities of my office at www.brooklynda.org. I look forward to a very successful and productive 2012, and wish you all a happy and healthy new year.
January 13, 2012 - 4:00am