Since 1985, Osborne has served felony defendants, including juvenile offenders, who are represented either through the Assigned Counsel Plan ("18-B") attorneys in New York City, or other institutional defenders. Services typically begin at arrest and in some cases continue through incarceration and parole.
We interview clients in court, adult or juvenile detention facilities, or in our offices in downtown Brooklyn. We conduct pre-pleading and pre-sentence investigations of clients’ backgrounds to ascertain mitigating factors and asses risk and needs, including trauma and/or abuse history; family background; substance abuse history; mental health history; educational and/or work history; potential for rehabilitation; and future conduct to help the Court to understand the client’s life story and offer alternatives to lengthy sentences.
As part of the defense team, our work is privileged, but lawyers typically submit them to the prosecutor and/or Court for plea negotiations, bail applications, or pre-sentence reports supplementing the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) submitted by Probation. In most cases we appear in court with defense counsel and stand up with them on cases to submit our written work products, to answer questions posed by the ADA or Judge and to also advocate for our clients on the record as needed. If the Court approves an alternative program that does not provide an escort, we are available to escort our clients to their placement.
If clients are in detention, we can prepare reports and release plans that support defense counsel’s bail applications. Recommendations may include deferred sentencing which allows clients to participate in community-based treatment programs as an alternative to detention (ATD) or alternative to post-conviction incarceration (ATI). Their participation in ATI programs affords clients an opportunity to prove their commitment to rehabilitation and in some cases earn Youthful Offender adjudication, case dismissal or a reduction in charge. From the moment we begin working with our clients, we view them in the context of their family. In gathering information, we continue to think of the impact to family, especially minor children if a person is sent to prison.
Community-based sentences (ATI and probation): To maximize constructive use of available resources, we make referrals and facilitate intake to hundreds of vetted community-based programs that provide mental health, HIV/AIDS, and substance abuse treatment services, as well as to educational and vocational placements. When appropriate, we make referrals to our own programs. The progress of clients released from pre-trial detention or sentenced to an alternative to incarceration is carefully monitored, with interventions if necessary to support success in the community. Staff invests time motivating clients for the arduous task of engaging in and fulfilling the conditions of sentence which a Court may impose. Regular updates on client progress are also provided to the Court and defense counsel. Our experience confirms that effective alternatives to incarceration diminish the likelihood of future criminal justice involvement, preserve family and pro-social networks, and improved public safety.
: An alternative to incarceration is not legally possible in every case, but reduced charges or lower sentencing ranges are generally within prosecutorial or judicial discretion. We are experienced in more serious cases that involve charges of violence, mandatory sentences, or predicate felon consideration. Our work can help to reduce sentences at any stage from arraignment to post conviction by plea or trial. Mitigation reports in cases where the goal is a lower prison sentence rather than an alternative to prison include recommendations for specific treatment and services while in prison and provide important psychosocial information for presentation in parole hearings. In these cases, submissions address the client’s treatment potential or other needs, and suggest ways in which these might be incorporated into a sentence that solves the problem which the crime represents for both society and the client. Submissions can be made part of the sentencing record which accompanies the individual and may be taken into consideration by DOCCS in classification, assignment, and release determinations.
CAS staff provide technical assistance to defense attorneys, including identifying experts (medical, psychological, etc.) and make other service referrals.
To Make A Referral, Please Contact:
Andrea Goupalsingh, LMSW
The Osborne Association - Court Advocacy Services
175 Remsen Street, 8th Floor
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: 718-637-6560, ext. 572