The decade-old court system -- which uses restitution and rehabilitation to fight prostitution, public drinking, drug use, vandalism and other quality-of-life crimes -- has been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice as one of three nationwide "community court mentor" sites.
The court, which opened in 1998, handles cases from Hartford, West Hartford, Bloomfield and Farmington. Its offenders "pay back" their communities for their crimes through service projects. (Photo: State Judicial Branch website)
"We are trying to put a foot in the revolving door by addressing the underlying issues that are often the root of a person's involvement in the criminal justice system," said Raymond Norko, presiding judge of the Community Court in Hartford. "Accountability through community service and a helping hand through social services is the most productive manner I know of to deal with these low-level crimes."
Norko is one of three judges to have served at the court since its inception. The other two are Judge Jorge Simon and Judge E. Curtissa Cofield, who was suspended by the state Judicial Review Council last month for 240 days following a controversy after a drunk driving arrest.