BDS Testimony before New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice regarding Drugs in the New York City Jails
The best way for the city to prevent drug use, overdose, and death in its jails is to stop sending people to Rikers Island and focus on diverting them from the criminal legal system altogether. The city jails are in a state of crisis and the Department of Correction (DOC) has continuously failed to protect the health and safety of people incarcerated in its custody.3 Just this weekend, Erick Tavira became the seventeenth person to die in DOC custody–surpassing last year’s death toll of sixteen lives lost. An unprecedented 33 people have died in the city jails in just under two years–many from overdose and suicide. Acute drug intoxication–or overdose–has been identified as the suspected cause of death in at least four of the deaths this year and four last year. The Council must take immediate action to call for decarceration and push stakeholders—including the mayor, district attorneys, and judges—to work together to stop sending people into DOC custody, increase use of supervised release, alternatives to detention (ATD) programs, and release people currently in city jails. This is critical for the safety of all, particularly those living with substance use disorders or mental illness.
View the full testimony here.
Brooklyn Defender Services Helps to Ring in the School Year in East New YorkBrooklyn Defender Services was thrilled to kick off the 2023 school year in spectacular fashion alongside our community partners for the “It Takes a Village Back-To-School Giveaway" on September 2nd at Success Community Gardens.Events
NYC Family Defense Providers Submit Joint Testimony to the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on Racism Within Family Court and the Family Policing SystemThe Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Center for Family Representation, and the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem submitted joint testimony on racism within the family policing system to the New York Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is conducting an investigation of “the New York Child Welfare System and its impact on Black Children and Families.”Press Releases
New York City Public Defenders’ Joint Statement on the Crisis on Rikers and the Need for ReceivershipNew York County Defender Services, The Bronx Defenders, Brooklyn Defender Services, Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem, and Queens Defenders issued a joint statement regarding the ongoing humanitarian crisis on Rikers Island.Press Releases
Sweltering Summer Weather Stirs Familiar Concerns Over Heat in NYC Jails“It’s an issue that seems to be within DOC’s control, something they can anticipate,” said Lucas Marquez, director of civil rights and law reform at Brooklyn Defender Services. “And yet they’re really not able to make sure that the conditions are humane for the people that are forced to be there.”In The NewsBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Brooklyn Defender Services and New York County Defender Services Joint Statement on William Johnstone, the Sixth Person to Die in New York City Jails in 2023Brooklyn Defender Services and New York County Defender Services released the following joint statement following reports of the death of William Johnstone, a client of Brooklyn Defender Services and New York County Defender Services, who was the sixth person to die in Department of Correction (DOC) custody this year.Press Releases
Op-ed: Keeping families together is best - June is National Family Preservation Month"In June, families across the country are honoring National Family Preservation Month, recognizing the importance of the work being done to keep families together. To keep the city’s children safe, we must support — not tear apart — their families and communities."In The News
Testimony: The New York City Council Committee on Education Oversight Hearing on Legislation related to Students in the Foster SystemHannah Mercuris, Senior Attorney in the Education Practice at Brooklyn Defender Services (BDS), testified before the New York City Council Committee on Education Oversight Hearing on Legislation related to Students in the Foster SystemLetters & TestimoniesEducation Rights
With the City’s FY24 Budget Due Next Friday, Public Defenders and Civil Legal Services Providers Call on Mayor Adams to Support Increased Funding to Meet Widespread Staffing and Operational NeedsNew York City’s leading public defender and civil legal services organizations called on Mayor Eric Adams to support increased funding in the City’s Fiscal Year 2024 budget to address insufficient funding levels, wage inequality, and rising costs which jeopardize low-income New Yorkers’ access to critical legal services.Press Releases
Preserving Family Bonds Act Passes the New York State LegislatureA coalition of families impacted by the foster system and advocates for parents and young people hail the passage of the Preserving Family Bonds Act (A5394 - Joyner / S6720 - Brisport) in the New York State Legislature. The bill passed in the NYS Assembly on June 21st and in the NYS Senate on May 22nd. The Preserving Family Bonds Coalition urges Governor Hochul to immediately sign the act into law.Press Releases