The Red Hook Community Justice Center is well known for their innovative style of justice. But in recent months, Judge Alex Calabrese has felt as though something is missing.
“It’s just so quiet sometimes. There can be a lot of tension and anxiety,” the judge said. “There must be something we can do to calm people’s nerves.”
Need for beats
When a young defendant named Philip Havoc asked if he could “drop some beats” after his arraignment, Calabrese honored the boy’s request. “All of a sudden, a light went off. I saw how much of a difference his music brought into the courtroom. People were smiling, and the air felt light and fluffy,” the judge explained. “I wanted every day and every case to feel like this.”
Love for music
As a small child, music was an important part of Calabrese’s upbringing. As a youngster, his mother and father insisted he learn to play an instrument. Naturally, he chose the maracas, ergo a special place in his heart for salsa and waltzes.
“When I spoke with the powers that be, they really embraced the idea. They’re always so supportive of anything that will benefit the youth,” Judge Calabrese said.
Starting April 3, all court hearings and sessions will be accompanied by an eight-piece Mariachi band. Judge Calabrese might just have a chance to drop some beats of his own with those dusty old maracas he’s been saving for a rainy day.