The dedication of the new Bordeaux-North Nashville Community Court and Justice Center was held Monday, January 20 at the C.E. McGruder Family Resource Center in Nashville.
This is the first Community Court of its type in Tennessee and is modeled after the Red Hook Community Justice Center and Red Hook Community Court in New York. This opening is all due to the hard work of Judge Rachel L. Bell.
After being elected as General Sessions Court Judge, Division VIII (8), Judge Bell started working on community projects to establish the General Sessions Music City Community Court (GSMCCC), Division VIII (8) including a summer literacy program called R.E.A.C.H. (Reaching Every Aspiring Child’s Horizon) for rising 1st-4th graders, the FUTURE internship program for rising 11th & 12th graders, and expungement clinics.
In 2012 the Community Court was established by Judge Bell with a mission to focus on preventive, rehabilitative and restorative justice initiatives to move the needle for marginalized people. From there, the C.A.R.E. (Creating Avenues for Restoration & Empowerment) diversionary program was developed in 2018. The GSMCCC was one of only five courts in the U.S. to receive a $200,000 grant that made this all become a reality. The C.A.R.E. diversionary program is the first of it’s kind in Tennessee and provides an alternative to traditional court for low-level, non-violent crimes with offenders aged 18-30 years old.
Judge Bell’s mantra is, “Justice Does Not Stop at the Courthouse Steps!” At the dedication she spoke about how we need to learn how to care about people and her hope is to break the playground to prison pipeline that she sees too often in her courtroom. By having these kinds of services in the community she plans to do just that.
Also speaking at the dedication was Alisha Haddox, Community-Based Services Director at C.E. McGruder Family Resource Center, Congressman Jim Cooper of District 5, State Senator Brenda Gilmore of District 19, and Elder Cornelius A. Hill from Ephesians Primitive Baptist Church provided the dedication prayer.
Looking ahead, Judge Bell is planning to implement a similar model for LGBT+ offenders with low-level, non-violent crimes.
For more information on Judge Bell and the Bordeaux-North Nashville Community Court and Justice Center please click HERE.