Juvenile Justice

State Links

Alabama

Juvenile Gun Court, Birmingham, Alabama (Jefferson County). This OJJDP report profiles the juvenile gun court established in 1995. The court received a grant from OJJDP in July 1999 to expand by linking with school outreach programs and by using technology to help track cases. For more information about the grant, please contact Janis Sorrell, Director of Programs, Family Court of Jefferson County, 205-325-5466. This court is modeled after the Rhode Island Gun Court (see below) or contact:

Hon. Sandra Storm
Jefferson County Family Court
120 Second Court North
Birmingham, AL 35204
205-325-5538

The program has received national attention. Attorney General John Ashcroft held a meeting with Sen. Jeff Sessions, Judge Sandra Storm, law enforcement officials, community leaders, and parents who have graduated from the Gun Court Parental Education Program.

Arkansas

"Federal and Arkansas Prosecutors Join to Prosecute Gun Crimes to Relieve State Prison Overcrowding." Public Safety and Justice Policies 57, no. 33 (September 8, 2003).

Connecticut

Through a Project Safe Neighborhoods grant, the U.S. Attorney's Office based in Connecticut's Project Sentry program aims to "deter juvenile gun crime and promote school safety." Outreach initiatives exist in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury. Partners include the Connecticut Board of  Parole, Connecticut Probation Office, and Connecticut Department of Corrections.

Federal Courts

Project Exile. Project Exile was instituted in Richmond, Virginia, to combat the high homicide rate in that city. Many homicides were the result of firearms.

Project Safe Neighborhoods. Project Safe Neighborhoods is described on the Web site as "a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking existing local programs that target gun crime and providing those programs with additional tools necessary to be successful."

Promising Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence. A U.S. Department of Justice report on helpful strategies to reduce gun violence. The Geographical Index of Promising Gun Violence Reduction Strategies can be found in Appendix A to this report.

Florida

A federal Project Exile program may be implemented in Miami.

Illinois

At one time there was a gun court in Cook County; it no longer exists. A federal Project Exile program may be implemented in Chicago, however. See the Project Safe Neighborhoods information on the U.S. Department of Justice site.

Chapman, Richard A., and Jon Sall. "Dilemma Over Gun Offenses." Chicago Sun-Times (Mar. 10, 1999): 6. Gun court handles misdemeanors.

Louisiana

Baton Rouge is reportedly pursuing a Project Exile-type program. See Dillingham, Steve. "DOJ and APRI Target Gun Violence." The Prosecutor (May/June 2001): 22-23.

Maryland

Disarm Program . U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Maryland. This program is similar to Project Exile, with an apparent focus on Baltimore.

The Maryland program offers a designated court on a particular day to hear gun cases (generally felony or other possession). The circuit court and lower court have concurrent jurisdiction over these cases; however, only the circuit court holds jury trials. Therefore, defendants often want to go to circuit court to obtain a jury trial. Contact for information: Sylvester Cox, Chief Prosecutor, State’s Attorney Office, 410-396-3100.

The Lynn District Court has a firearm session dedicated to hearing firearms cases. See Firearm Sessions.

Francke, Caitlin. "Baltimore's New 'Gun Court' Spurs Hope for Stiffer Sentences; It Opens Next Month, Will Operate One Day a Week in 2 Courthouses." Baltimore Sun (Apr. 6, 2000): 8B.

Massachusetts

Suffolk County instituted Firearm Prosecution Disposition Sessions in 2006. See "Conley: Gun Court Successes One Year Later," (press release) March 1, 2007.

See also this chart illustrating gun court successes.

Michigan

The 36th District Court in Detroit established the Handgun Intervention Program (HIP) in 1993 to address the prevalence of firearms in inner-city neighborhoods. The program starts before trial and is required for adult defendants arrested on felony firearm offenses to obtain bail release (juveniles may attend on referral). This is not a "gun court" per se, but rather a program that tries to change the culture of violence at its roots by educating defendants. The program is run entirely by volunteers. For more information please contact:

Terrence Evelyn, Program Coordinator
36th District Court
Madison Center, 421 Madison Ave.
Detroit, MI 48226
313-965-3724

Missouri

Ceasefire and Project Safe Neighborhoods. U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of Missouri.

New Jersey

Camden is reportedly pursuing a Project Exile-type program.  See Dillingham, Steve. "DOJ and APRI Target Gun Violence." The Prosecutor (May/June 2001): 22-23.

New York

The Brooklyn Gun Court is part of Operation Spotlight. It began in 2003. See "Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Announces Latest Expansion of Operation Spotlight with Opening of Brooklyn Gun Court," (press release) May 7, 2003.

Oklahoma

Associated Press, "‘Gun Court’ Idea Could Become Reality," May 13, 1999

Branstetter, Ziva. "Aiming to Save Youth." Tulsa World (Apr. 2, 2000). This article describes Oklahoma’s first juvenile gun court, in Tulsa County.

Pennsylvania

In Lancaster County, the Office of the District Attorney obtained funding from the DOJ's Office of Justice Programs for a community gun violence prosecutor.

Philadelphia's Gun Court piloted from January 10, 2005-June 30, 2006. The program had pretrial, trial, and post-trial components. See the Fact Sheet for details.

Puerto Rico

There has been interest in implementing a federal Project Exile program in San Juan.

Rhode Island

Providence is the home of the first gun court in the U.S. The superior court’s special gun court heard its first case on September 12, 1994. Most crimes are referred to a single judge, who processes cases on a fast track. See the OJJDP profile of the Providence, Rhode Island, Gun Court. For more information about the court please contact:

Susan Revens
Superior Court
250 Benefit Street
Providence, RI 02903
401-222-3288

Tennessee

Operation Ceasefire. U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Tennessee.

Virginia

The federal government’s Project Exile was a joint effort by the U.S. Attorney's Office, B.A.T.F., U.S. Marshals, and F.B.I., in coordination with the Richmond Commonwealth's Attorney's Office, Richmond Police Department, and Virginia State Police, to expedite felony gun cases.  The project began in Richmond, VA.  In 2001 the National District Attorney’s Association issued a report on the project through their American Prosecutors Research Institute, a branch of the NDAA, "Combating Gun Violence: An In-Depth Look at Richmond’s Project Exile." Virginia’s state Exile program, which builds on the federal program, has been credited with significantly reducing gun violence in the Richmond area. For more information see Sherri Johnson, et al. Evaluation of the Virginia Exile Program: Final Report. (Richmond, VA: Criminal Justice Research Center, July 2003).

Washington

The Seattle Office of Community-Oriented Policing Services received grants in 1996 and 1997 to prosecute juvenile firearms cases and to coordinate between the prosecutor's office and city police department.

Violent Firearm Crime Coalition and Project Triggerlock
.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington. Project Exile was not believed to be an effective program for the Western District of Washington, so emphasis is placed on Project Triggerlock as well as the Violent Firearm Crime Coalition, a coalition "comprised of 35 law enforcement agencies prosecutor’s offices."