BDS Testimony before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety regarding Community Problem-Solving Courts

Brooklyn has some of the best problem solving courts in the state and New York is a leader in the creation and use of drug, mental health, and other treatment courts. Our experience has shown that these courts can provide non-jail alternatives for those wrapped up in the criminal justice system because of substance use disorders and serious mental illness. However, more access is needed for these courts, and the city can help by increasing funding for more programs, more providers, and more beds. But these programs must be flexible, utilize harm reduction models, and increase privacy protections for its participants. New York City must also urge the state to take action by passing the Treatment not Jail bill and ensure equitable access to judicial diversion for all New Yorkers, regardless of where they live and despite the unique challenges that accompany their disabilities. Lastly, while problem solving courts can be a successful method to provide services for our community members after they have been arrested, we ask the Council to continue to address the problems in our communities that create the risk of criminal justice involvement in the first place, such as lack of stable housing, access to gainful employment and access to substance use and mental health care.

View the full testimony here.

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