Since its opening in April 2020, the Rockaway Community Justice Center has served many purposes for supporting the people of Queens. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the onset of extreme financial hardship faced by Rockaway residents, staff at the RCJC developed a variety of services for community members, including food support, housing services, tax support, immigration advocacy, and more. The primary purpose, however, has always been to provide Rockaway residents a restorative alternative to involvement in criminal court. 

Most recently, four clients referred by the Queens County District Attorney have successfully completed the restorative process, and are actively engaged in Queens Defenders’ supportive services. Two of these clients have completed OSHA trainings to obtain their OSHA-30 Certificate. All four clients were provided with consultations to identify additional needs. Each client received support for housing, career readiness, community services opportunities, and counseling. All four clients are connected to Queens Defenders, and will continue to receive services for as long as needed. 

In addition to the clients referred to the community court, over 20 clients have completed mandated community service hours at the RCJC within the last three months. These activities include helping with food distributions, engaging in job training services and resume writing, and participating in other online trainings relevant to their needs. When clients come through the RCJC, Queens Defenders staff ensures they are connected with additional services to improve their lives. 

Queens Defenders continues to work closely with the Queens District Attorney’s office to obtain referrals and prevent further court involvement for young people in the justice system.