NYC is undergoing a leadership transition in which Mayor de Blasio  promises his administration will “pursue a grassroots-oriented strategy that reaches New Yorkers where they live and mobilize[s] them around key priorities like addressing inequality.” This is a key moment to take a look at our city’s justice systems, and examine whether they are protecting public safety while taking into account broader community-based needs that advance fairness.

To provide the new administration with analysis of some of the policy changes to the city’s health and human service systems over the past 12 years—including some of its justice systems— while also providing recommendations on how to improve upon existing programs and practices, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) prepared five policy briefs as part a series of reports commissioned by the city’s Center for Economic Opportunity. Links to the briefs, part of a series entitled “Innovations in NYC Health and Human Services Policy,” are below.

Vera also convened a series of breakfast conversations this winter with new leaders, program innovators, and community members about what justice looks like in this new era. The briefings were moderated by WNYC reporters. The first, Our Kids - Our Future, on January 24 looked at the notable progress in the city’s juvenile justice system over the past 12 years and where there is to go. Details on all four events are below. Watch this space for news of upcoming events.

 

 

PAST EVENTS


OUR KIDS - OUR FUTURE
Our Kids - Our Future, the first in the series, looked at the notable progress in the city’s juvenile justice system over the past 12 years and ask where we should be heading. How far have we come towards meaningfully helping and engaging young people caught up in the system, their families, and their communities?  What is the next frontier for improvement and innovation?
LEARN MORE arrow 
 

Watch trailer

Watch the full event on YouTube >

 

BRINGING JUSTICE HOME: INITIATIVES ROOTED IN COMMUNITY
As Yale law professor Tracey Meares has written, public safety is interdisciplinary--requiring interaction between law, culture, social norms, and social organization. This briefing explored the potential for such efforts, highlighting two New York City initiatives aimed at working with communities where people have high rates of being involved in the justice system to help these residents succeed: the Department of Probation’s Neighborhood Opportunity Network Initiative (NeON), which aims to improve probation client outcomes by decentralizing probation supervision and working with communities that have a high concentration of individuals on probation to connect them to services, and the New York City Housing Authority Family Re-entry Pilot, a project Vera helped plan that aims to reunite qualified people recently released from prison with their families and provide them with supportive services. 

Panelists: Margaret diZerega, Director, Family Justice Program, Vera Institute of Justice; Clint Lacey, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Department of Probation; Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor, Yale Law School; Abdul Malik, Lead Mentor, Arches: Transformative Mentoring
Moderator: Kathleen Horan, WNYC
LEARN MORE arrow
 

Watch trailer

Watch the full event on YouTube >

 

ADVANCING JUSTICE IN A MULTICULTURAL CITY

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, black, Hispanic and Asian residents of New York City and its suburbs are a majority of the metropolitan area’s population. The disproportionate impact on minorities of stop, question, and frisk—recently ruled unconstitutional—has been the leading item on the justice agenda. But there are other justice issues related to immigrants and minorities that merit attention, among them the intersection of AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) populations with the justice system in the post-9/11 era, the lack of representation for indigent immigrants facing detention, and wage theft.

Panelists: Marco Carrión, Commissioner of New York City’s Community Affairs Unit; Angela Fernandez, Executive Director, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights; Susan Shah, Director of United Communities Project, Vera Institute of Justice; and Deborah Axt, Co-Executive Director, Make the Road New York
Moderator: Mirela Iverac, WNYC
LEARN MORE learn more
 

Watch trailer

Watch the full event on YouTube >

 

COPS, COURTS, AND CORRECTIONS: CAN NYC’S JUSTICE SYSTEM HELP THOSE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS?
Nationally, there are three times as many people with serious mental illness in jails and prisons than in state psychiatric hospitals—many of them incarcerated for low-level, nonviolent offenses that result from an untreated psychiatric condition. People with mental illness do not fare well in correctional facilities, where they are more likely to be victimized and housed in solitary confinement. Historically, justice systems have been ill-equipped to address the needs of this population due to a lack of adequate treatment services inside jails and prisons coupled with poor collaboration with community-based health organizations. However, the Affordable Care Act and new initiatives in New York City designed to bolster treatment as an alternative to incarceration provide opportunities to turn this tide while protecting public safety. This briefing described the current situation and examined promising initiatives that may help abate this crisis.

Panelists: Steve Coe, Chief Executive Officer, Community Access; Judge Matthew D’Emic, Brooklyn Mental Health Court; Jim Parsons, Director of the Substance Use and Mental Health Program, Vera Institute of Justice; Homer Venters MD, Attending Physician at the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and Medical Director for NYC Department of Health and Mental Health at Rikers Island
Moderator: Robert Lewis, Reporter, WNYC
LEARN MORE arrow  

Watch trailer

Watch the full event on YouTube >


 

TRANSITION BRIEFS


 

BLOG

Mayoral Transition Blog


Justice in Transition-NYC was made possible in part by funds granted by the Charles H. Revson Foundation. The content and views expressed, however, are solely the responsibility of the Vera Institute of Justice.

FEATURED VIDEO Our Kids - Our Future: Government and community leaders join a panel discussion on the future of juvenile justice in New York City under a new administration. Watch the full-length version of this video on YouTube.