The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on survivors of domestic violence. This document reflects on lessons learned from this difficult period and highlights innovative responses by courts that encountered tremendous challenges in providing access to critical services and forms of legal relief. In examining the ways in which courts adapted, new possibilities emerged for practices beyond the pandemic to safely and effectively expand access to justice in domestic violence cases.
This fact sheet summarizes the mission of Newark Community Solutions, an initiative of the Center for Court Innovation that seeks to re-engineer how low-level cases are handled at the Newark Municipal Court in Newark, New Jersey.
In a companion report to its first publication, the Center for Court Innovation and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association outline six jurisdictions working to increase their capacities to uphold Sixth Amendment rights.
Carmen Alcantara can see the impact her work has on the community. As a Treatment Alternatives Program Manager at Bronx Community Solutions, she says that providing people with support helps them see "they are capable of change. They are capable of better.
Sean Vargas helps both parents with youth in probation and young people with court cases to get the services they need. He is the coordinator of family support services at the Queens Community Justice Center, where he has worked for 10 years. Everyday, he witnesses how kids experience going through the system, and they can be angry or worried. Sean uses fun—games, toys, jokes, to lower barriers and engage with people, bringing fun with him wherever he goes. Sean is a true changemaker who transforms communities with joy and hope.
The June 2019 expansion of New York City’s Supervised Release Program increased the number of people released into supervision. This was true for those facing misdemeanor or non-violent felony charges. In addition, the expansion reduced pretrial detention among people charged with non-violent felonies. There was no decrease in pretrial detention for those facing misdemeanors. This suggests that these individuals would likely have been released on recognizance—with no supervision requirements—prior to the expansion.
Youth in the Rockaways, Queens reveal that they have an ever-present fear for their physical safety. The 50 young people we spoke with report maintaining constant vigilance when they are outside and staying indoors most of the time as strategies for staying safe. They experience a dearth of local activities for youth and express a desire for sports, arts, and financial literacy programming; school support; fun field trips; and spaces to learn about and discuss social issues like systemic racism.
Housing is a human right. What if we designed our systems—beginning with Housing Court—to embody that? Given the current eviction crisis, it's a far-off concept, but there's work to make it a reality in pockets across the country. In this special episode of New Thinking, hear a profile of one of those efforts in Brooklyn, led by our Red Hook Community Justice Center.
Women and gender-expansive people are uniquely vulnerable to the widespread violence, dysfunction, and lack of access to essential services on Rikers Island. This report contains policy recommendations to safely and effectively reduce the number of these individuals in New York City jails to below 100 in order to achieve the planned closure of Rikers Island by 2027.