Project Reset offers meaningful diversion opportunities to young adult criminal defendants ages 16 and 17 at the point of arrest in New York City. The goal is to create a proportionate response to low-level crime, holding young people accountable for their actions and connecting them with needed social services while avoiding the use of incarceration and the potential harms associated with standard case processing. As a restorative alternative to criminal court, successful participants have their cases dismissed and are able to avoid the collateral consequences of a criminal record. Project Reset seeks to restore confidence in justice by linking young people to community-based social services, and bolster the legitimacy of the justice system in the eyes of the public. Project Reset is currently active in Brownsville, east Harlem, and Midtown, with plans to expand the catchment area to include all of Manhattan and additional parts of Brooklyn by the fall of 2016.
How It Works
Eligibility: Project Reset serves 16- and 17-year-olds who have been arrested for low-level, non-violent crimes. They must be first-time offenders with no involvement in any other ongoing investigations or cases. The program handles cases involving charges of drug possession, trespassing, and shoplifting, among other low-level offenses.
Process: Police screen for eligibility at the point of arrest, issue a Desk Appearance Ticket (referred to as a "DAT"), and alert the young person about Project Reset. Prosecutors review each case and a defense advocate discusses the merits of the program with the client. If the young person elects to participate, he/she must engage in a two-session restorative intervention administered by the Center for Court Innovation. Upon successful completion, the prosecutor declines to prosecute the case, the participant does not have to go to court, and no record of their engagement with the justice system is retained.
Interventions: Restorative interventions offered by Project Reset include youth court hearings, counseling sessions, letters of apology, community service, and group workshops with other teens.
Results: The Center for Court Innovation is planning a qualitative and quantitative assessment of the program to analyze its impact on recidivism and procedural justice. In evaluating Project Reset, the Center seeks to demonstrate a new way of dealing with low-level nonviolent adolescent defendants that can be replicated in other jurisdictions.
Toma, a 16-year-old Harlem resident and Project Reset client, arrested for criminal trespassing, was given the opportunity to participate in Project Reset in lieu of prosecution. After successfully completing the program, he wrote about his experience: “I would like to thank Project Reset for giving me a second chance in a situation which could have ruined my future, especially with upcoming college applications.”
In the News
How Do We Keep People Out of Jail: In the second half of this piece by Vice, Center for Court Innovation director of operations, Adam Mansky, explains the origins and successes of the Project Reset model.
Vance Announces $78M in Funding for New Anti-Crime Programs: Politico reports on the impetus behind Project Reset and other pretrial diversion programs, with support from the Manhattan District Attorney Office.
Pilot Program Gives Youth in Brownsville a Second Chance: The Juvenile Justice Information Exchange profiles the work of Project Reset at the Brownsville Youth Court at the Brownsville Community Justice Center in Brooklyn.
Teenagers to See Counselor, Not Judge, for Minor Crimes: The New York Times reports on the launch of Project Reset.
Aaron Charlop-Powers, senior planner at the Center for Court Innovation: firstname.lastname@example.org
Project Reset is a collaboration among the Center for Court Innovation and the New York City Police Department, New York County District Attorney's Office, Kings County District Attorney's Office, the Office of Court Administration, the Legal Aid Society, Brooklyn Defender Services, New York County Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, the Defense Bar, and the 18-B panel.