A recent two-day training for Manhattan prosecutors was a drumbeat on the harms of incarceration, part of a wider effort by D.A. Alvin Bragg to expand the use of alternatives such as treatment and restorative justice. But in a newly cramped climate for criminal justice reform, can that effort become a reality? New Thinking investigates.
Prosecutors make many of the most vital choices in a case unilaterally. Yet little is known about how they arrive at decisions in the most consequential cases: those charged as violent. Results from our national survey of prosecutor offices show a willingness to try new approaches but also suggest how prosecutors conceive of and prosecute violence can be rife with inconsistencies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York in March 2020, it forced drug courts across the state to hear cases remotely and use teleservices for many daily drug court operations—appearances, case management, graduation ceremonies. This report details a three-year project to implement an Opioid Reduction Teleservices Program, discussing outcomes, lessons learned, measures toward sustainability, and recommendations for future Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program (COSSAP) projects.
In 2019, the Center for Court Innovation received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance to assist five states in the development and implementation of statewide strategic plans for their Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC). The selected states were California, Maine, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Each state participated in a needs assessment process that included a document analysis and stakeholder interviews.
The first mental health court in New York City, the Brooklyn Mental Health Court seeks to craft meaningful responses to defendants with mental illness. Addressing both treatment needs and public safety concerns, the court links defendants who have serious and persistent mental illnesses (such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) or Neurodevelopmental disorders (such as Autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities, and ADHD) who would ordinarily be jail- or prison-bound to long-term treatment in the community.
There are more than 3,000 treatment courts nationwide, and some states have dozens, or even hundreds. As treatment courts continue to expand, it is increasingly important that states engage in thoughtful planning and coordination to ensure that these courts are adhering to best practices and achieving the best possible outcomes. The Center for Court Innovation supports states in these efforts by facilitating statewide strategic planning for treatment courts.
The Center for Court Innovation provides training and technical assistance to treatment courts across the United States, including adult drug courts, veterans treatment courts, juvenile drug courts, family treatment courts, DWI/DUI courts, and other models. The Center specializes in offering individualized technical assistance responsive to the needs of the state.
Justice reforms often exclude people with charges involving violence, even though these are the same people most likely to be incarcerated and to be in the most need of the programs and treatment reform can bring. But a felony court in Manhattan is offering alternatives to incarceration, regardless of charge. Can a treatment-first approach be brought to scale inside of the same system responsible for mass incarceration in the first place?
Drug courts face an obligation to rethink some core practices, chiefly the focus on abstinence and the use of jail. Our publication argues the best way for the courts to evolve is to integrate the principles of harm reduction—a person-centered, anti-racist approach to reducing the harms related to drug use. The authors offer 12 strategies to help drug courts re-align with their original mission: a therapeutic, health-based alternative to jail.
The Center for Court Innovation, in partnership with the New York State Unified Court System, Office for Justice Initiatives, Division of Policy and Planning, and the Office of Addiction Services and Supports, created this report, which identifies ways for opioid courts and other drug treatment courts to improve access to Medication for Opioid Use Disorder (MOUD).