Pre-Arraignment Diversion Program Provides Meaningful Interventions to Thousands of New Yorkers
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Jr. today joined Bronx D.A. Darcel Clark, Brooklyn D.A. Eric Gonzalez, Queens D.A. Melinda Katz, and Richmond D.A. Michael McMahon in urging New York City officials to renew citywide funding of the critical pre-arraignment diversion program Project Reset, which has prevented thousands of New Yorkers from entering the criminal justice system. Funding has not been renewed for the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) for Brooklyn, Manhattan, Richmond, and Queens counties, forcing these boroughs to wind down operations this fall.
In a New York Daily News op-ed entitled For a safer NYC, save this program, the city’s five elected District Attorneys lauded Project Reset for providing thousands of New Yorkers charged with low-level offenses “the tools they need to identify and change behaviors” without entering the criminal justice system and experiencing long-lasting collateral consequences. New Yorkers who successfully complete Project Reset avoid a misdemeanor criminal conviction, thereby avoiding barriers to obtaining employment, education, and housing they would otherwise face.
“Project Reset’s emphasis on providing New Yorkers accused of low-level offenses with essential resources and opportunities to learn from past mistakes, rather than punitive approaches, is precisely the approach called for, in this moment, from law enforcement and our courts,” the District Attorneys wrote.
As the D.A.’s Offices work to close a pandemic-related case backlog, Project Reset also offers an important option to “shift low-level cases away from the criminal justice system,” enabling prosecutors to focus their resources on violent crime.
“Project Reset supplies us, as prosecutors, with a much-needed framework to successfully carry out our public safety mission while also promoting justice and healing. And it empowers our fellow New Yorkers to pursue brighter futures unencumbered by their past mistakes. It would be a shame for our city to throw a second chance like this away,” the District Attorneys concluded.