Can art transform the criminal justice system? On this special edition of New Thinking, host Matt Watkins sits down with two New York City artists on the rise—Derek Fordjour and Shaun Leonardo—who both work with our Project Reset to provide an arts-based alternative to court and a criminal record for people arrested on a low-level charge. With the program set to expand city-wide, the three discuss art's potential to help heal a racialized criminal justice system.
Project Reset is a diversion program operating in three of New York City's five boroughs offering a new response to low-level offending that is proportionate, effective, and restorative. Participants who complete brief community-based programming avoid a criminal record without ever setting foot in a courtroom.
Project Reset seeks to provide a more proportionate and meaningful response to low-level offending by offering individuals with no prior arrests the opportunity to avoid prosecution and the collateral consequences of justice-involvement. This report evaluates the program pilot for 16- and 17-year-olds in Manhattan. Results point to positive impacts overall: participants had fewer new arrests and convictions and spent longer periods without experiencing a new arrest. Nearly all of the participants reported they would recommend the program to others.
This video provides a short and engaging introduction to Youth Reset (part of Project Reset), our program providing meaningful diversion opportunities for 16- and 17-year-olds in New York City arrested for the first time for a low-level, non-violent crime. Successful participants will never set foot in a courtroom and will have no criminal record. The video explains the requirements of the program, the opportunity to be connected with voluntary services, and the criteria for eligibility.