Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes has launched a home-based alternative to incarceration to allow women, particularly those with children, to serve time for their crimes.
JusticeHome will allow women who meet the program's criteria to serve their sentences in their home, retain custody and care of their children, and receive intensive treatment and supervision, Hynes announced Wednesday.
The program has funding for 45 participants. Eligible participants must be facing a minimum of six-months in prison as a result of felony charges.
"Today's announcement of our Justice Home Program is very exciting because 45 Mothers will be spared jail and their children will avoid the trauma associated with watching helplessly as their mothers are carted off to jail," Hynes said.
The participants will be screened for suitability and the JusticeHome staff will work with the D.A.'s staff to assess each woman on a case-by-case basis.
The D.A.'s office will provide Continuing Legal Education programs for Assistant District Attorneys, who will be trained to make the initial selection and referral to the screeners. The screening techniques will also be added to the permanent training curriculum for new incoming Assistant District Attorneys.
The program was developed in partnership the Women's Prison Association (WPA), with the support of multiple women's advocacy and legal groups.
"Our experience demonstrates that women and families can make great positive change when they are supported in their own homes and communities," said Georgia Lerner, director of the WPA. "Drawing upon their own strengths and community resources, women and families can become stronger and function better while a woman takes responsibility for her crime."
Julie Kay, senior strategist for policy and advocacy for the Ms. Foundation, noted many women land in the criminal justice system as "a direct consequence of the inequalities and dangers that women disproportionately face, including poverty and sexual and domestic abuse."
"Programs that provide quality alternatives to incarceration provide society with a cost-efficient and more humane approach, enabling women to continue their family and care giving responsibilities to the benefit of all," she continued.