Osborne offers testimony to the NYC City Council Committee on Criminal Justice

Staff shared testimony about the transformative power of ATIs and joined the call for more investment in them.

Osborne Association

December 1, 2023

Lizbett Mendoza, Osborne Court Advocacy Services Mitigation Specialist.

Yesterday, Osborne joined New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera and fellow members of the NY ATI/Reentry Coalition for a rally in advance of an oversight hearing of the Criminal Justice Committee, during which advocates called for greater investment in Alternative to Detention and Incarceration programs.

At the morning press conference, Lizbett Mendoza, Osborne Court Advocacy Services Mitigation Specialist, said that diverting people from the criminal legal system and toward ATIs, which offer cost-effective and evidence-based services that prioritize treatment and healing, promotes public safety more successfully than pre-trial detention and incarceration.

She noted that, “For $10,000 per person per year, ATIs achieve positive outcomes that keep us all safer. Incarcerating someone on Rikers costs over $550,000 per person and does not hold people accountable nor give them opportunities to learn, account for harm, heal, and grow. When someone goes to Rikers, they also lose their job, miss their children’s births and birthdays, school plays, graduations. They can’t pay the rent and may lose their housing. We can avoid all of these negative and costly repercussions with greater funding for alternatives to detention and incarceration.”

Increasing funding for pre-trial detention and incarceration is also an urgent matter of racial justice, as “94% of people in NYC jails are Black and brown; close to 90% are being held pre-trial. Their detention has ripple effects (increasing stressors and challenges) for thousands of children, families, and communities of color…[but] ATIs can break this cycle of harm.”

During the hearing, Osborne’s Court Advocacy Services Parole Program Coordinator Emily Appel, LMSW, shared testimony urging greater investment in ADI and ATI programs run by community-based service providers. She noted that currently, New York City spends over $1 billion annually to detain the 1,335 people who have been waiting pre-trial on Rikers for periods of 1 year to over 2 years. Due to an overburdened court system and DOC staffing challenges, people held in pretrial detention are likely to experience longer timelines in their cases. “We can help DOC by reducing the population and easing the court production demands on them,” she said.

Greater use of ADI and ATI programs can help address these issues while contributing to a safer, fairer, and more equitable New York City.

Read the testimony here.