Given that nine out of ten people being held in jail in New York City are Black or Latino, we recognize the urgent need for action on a local level. In response, we are taking active steps to reduce the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on communities of color by helping the city to remove hundreds of thousands of summonses from the criminal process, diverting low-level cases prior to any criminal adjudication, and offering alternatives to incarceration to thousands of defendants every year. We are adapting lessons from this work to aid the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which seeks to reduce the use of jail across the United States and the disparate impact of incarceration on people of color. Through Project SAFE, we're also working to improve the services offered justice-involved Black and African-American women who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Bronx Community Solutions
Bronx Community Solutions provides community-based alternatives to jail, restores community relationships, and helps participants avoid further criminal justice involvement.
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives
Brooklyn Justice Initiatives seeks to improve how the centralized criminal court in Brooklyn responds to misdemeanor and felony cases.
Civil Alternatives offers New Yorkers issued civil summons the option to perform community service instead of paying a fine.
MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge
The MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge seeks to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Price of Justice Initiative
The Price of Justice Initiative helps jurisdictions address the disparate impact of fines and fees on defendants who cannot afford them.
Project SAFE works to improve the services offered to criminalized black women who are survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Rethinking Rikers Island
By providing support to the Independent Commission on Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, we're aiding in the effort to reduce New York City’s jail population and close Rikers Island.
Restorative justice is about repairing harm. But for Black Americans, what is there to be restored to? This special episode of New Thinking features a roundtable with eight members of our Restorative Justice in Schools team. They spent three years embedded in five Brooklyn high schools—all five schools are overwhelmingly Black, and all five had some of the highest suspension rates in New York City.
Our analysis of the revisions passed in April 2020 to New York State’s bail reform projects they will lead to a 16 percent increase in New York City’s pretrial jail population, relative to the effects of the original law. However, even the revised statute makes an estimated 84 percent of cases ineligible for bail. The analysis also weighs factors, including the COVID-19 emergency, that could produce a culture change in pretrial decision-making—in the direction of less, or more, reliance on detention.
Drawing on a case study of more than 175,000 defendants in New York City, this report concludes concerns over risk assessments perpetuating racial disparities in pretrial decisions are real. However, at least in the New York City example, it finds a more targeted use of risk assessments could both significantly reduce pretrial detention and alleviate racial disparities. But realizing that potential requires jurisdictions to think "beyond the algorithm"—what do they want to use a risk assessment for?
Ghost guns have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially in jurisdictions where gun control regulations make it difficult for ordinary residents to obtain guns legally. Giving insight into why some New Yorkers feel the need to own a gun, the article links to and summarizes our report 'Gotta Make Your Own Heaven': Guns, Safety, and the Edge of Adulthood in New York City, where more than 300 young people from New York City neighborhoods suffering from high gun violence were surveyed. The result? More than 80% said that they’d personally been shot at and reported having carried a gun at some point in time, and many felt they lacked any other protection.
Expounding on the many challenges when addressing housing insecurity, this New York Times article features the work of Community First, an initiative of our Midtown Community Court. The goal of Community First is to build trust with homeless populations in order to get them into longer-term housing and support. As program director Lauren Curatolo states, “We want to support you so that you eventually want to have a bed in a space.”
With shootings on the rise in cities across the U.S., our staff spoke with Brian Lehrer about the reasons young people carry guns, based on their report "Guns, Safety, and the Edge of Adulthood in New York City." Lehrer interviews Research Director, Rachel Swaner Deputy Research Director Elise White, and community-based Research Coordinator Basaime Spate, about the year-long study in NYC.