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Judge Alex Calabrese & Tina Dixons
When a young person in Red Hook gets into trouble with the law, they will likely end up appearing before Judge Calabrese. When defendants appear in his court, Judge Calabrese has much more than their criminal record in front of him – he also has a thorough evaluation of the defendant’s challenges, prepared by a social worker – which gives a more accurate picture of how the defendant ended up in court.
As part of his unconventional approach, Judge Calabrese frequently takes part in case deliberations where he, the defendant, the social worker and family members discuss the best approach to diverting the young person from a life of crime and getting them on a path to success.
As a result, the Red Hook Community Justice Center is a place where defendants and Judge Calabrese can look each other in the eye and have a real conversation. It’s a place where respect for all persons permeates the judicial process and leads to markedly better outcomes for the individual and their community.
Tina is one example of how the Red Hook Community Justice Center works. Tina’s run-ins with the law began as a teenager when, to escape a foster home where she was abused, she hung out on the streets and committed petty crimes. It was in Judge Calabrese’s courtroom when Tina was asked for the first time what her goals in life were. This simple question served as a wake-up call. With Judge Calabrese’s advice and continued encouragement, she joined a substance-abuse program and began life anew.
Tina now works as a health coordinator of a substance-abuse program, helping clients stay on the straight and narrow.
She recently celebrated ten years of sobriety as well as her fourth wedding anniversary.