September 30, 2016 | Featured, News

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced several new requests for proposals (RFPs) under the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII) aimed at increasing options to divert young adults and adults from the criminal justice system, supporting young people who are transitioning out of foster care, and improving employment opportunities for young people and formerly incarcerated people.

CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance is the technical assistance consultant to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office for CJII. ISLG manages the grantees funded under CJII, and provides oversight and performance measurement throughout the lifetime of the initiative.

Early Diversion Programs

Individuals arrested on misdemeanor charges overwhelmingly contribute to the high volume of criminal court cases in New York City, accounting for 75% of criminal court arraignments. Processing these cases through court demands significant resources and slows down dockets. At the same time, a growing body of research suggests that for people with a low-risk of reoffending, criminal court processing and exposure to associated sanctions—such as detention, intensive community supervision, or mandatory services (e.g. intensive mental health treatment)—can produce unintended consequences and increase the likelihood of reoffending. Alternatives that divert individuals who do not pose a risk to public safety to community-based responses early in the process after arrest can both reduce system inefficiency and promote a more effective and proportionate response to crime than court processing.

Building on the success of the Project Reset pilot in Harlem—a partnership between the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and NYPD that diverts qualifying 16- and 17-year-olds arrested for low-level crimes from court processing to a rapidly applied intervention, which 98 percent of young people who participated in completed—organizations are invited to submit proposals to plan and implement diversion programs that take place after arrest and before arraignment (or, “early diversion” programs) to divert young adults and adults arrested for low-level offenses who do not have a criminal record from court processing to effective and tailored community-based responses.

Programs for Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood

Although the majority of young people who enter foster care in New York City achieve “permanency” through kinship guardianship (i.e., via a caretaker who is a relative), adoption, or reunification with their parents, approximately 600 young people in New York City age out of foster care each year without permanent families. Those who age out of foster care without a permanent family arrangement are at significantly elevated risk of criminal justice system involvement and other negative life outcomes. Given these troubling outcomes, organizations are invited to submit proposals to plan and pilot or scale up innovative programs and approaches for foster youth (ages 16 to 24) who are nearing the transition to adulthood or who have recently transitioned to adulthood from the foster care system.

Social Enterprises for Young People and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals

Social enterprises—organizations or initiatives that marry the social mission of a non-profit or government program with the market-driven approach of a business, as defined by the Social Enterprise Alliance—offer a promising approach to providing pathways to economic self-sufficiency among young people at elevated risk of negative life outcomes and reentering/formerly incarcerated individuals. Organizations are invited to plan and pilot new, or expand or replicate existing, social enterprises serving young people at risk of justice system involvement and reentering/formerly incarcerated individuals in New York City. DANY is particularly interested in revenue-generating models that facilitate long-term financial sustainability for participants and make a positive economic impact in underserved and under-resourced New York City communities.

CJII Research and Consultation Process

The CJII plan and investments are the result of an extensive process incorporating research, data analysis, and outreach to community leaders and stakeholders conducted by CUNY ISLG. As the technical assistance provider, ISLG analyzed research in areas affecting public safety in New York City, including systemic factors at the neighborhood level that have an impact on crime, and data from a number of agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, ISLG conducted extensive interviews with more than 250 experts in the criminal justice community and related fields, including clinical practitioners; leaders from philanthropic, non-profit, and grassroots organizations; representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies; academics; and elected officials. Following this process, ISLG worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to develop a comprehensive set of investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City. ISLG will provide program oversight and performance measurement to grantees selected under CJII.