'Community court' gets grant of $275,000 to buy building

September 17, 1997|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Plans for a New York-style "community court" in Baltimore received a boost with a $275,000 private grant that will be used to purchase a downtown building for the project, coordinators announced yesterday.

The Greater Baltimore Community (GBC), an organization of more than 600 businesses and civic leaders that is leading the effort to establish the court, is scheduled to settle on the four-story National Marine Building at 33 S. Gay St. on Oct. 15.

The Abell Foundation gave the grant for the building, now owned by NationsBank, and the GBC will raise the funds for its renovation.

"The Community Court is exactly the kind of justice program that we call for in our Smart on Crime public safety strategy. Its focus is to break offenders' cycles of crime while making neighborhoods safer,` GBC President Donald P. Hutchinson said a statement.

Modeled after the Midtown Manhattan Community Court, the court hears cases in which defendants plead guilty immediately after they are arrested for misdemeanor crimes.

In exchange for the guilty plea, the offenders would be given such services as drug treatment, and employment counseling.

Convicts also are punished publicly in the community where they committed the crime. They would perform such community services as sweeping streets, repainting fire hydrants and cleaning off graffiti. They would not go to jail.

Pub Date: 9/17/97

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