Youth Justice Network

Using an App to Improve Communication and Resource Access between Assigned Counsel and Clients

New York County and Bronx County, NY

Black and Brown indigent young adults are held in long-term detention in New York City’s jails at disproportionate rates. In New York City, indigent defendants are represented by a combination of public defender organizations and individually assigned counsel through New York's 18-b Assigned Counsel Panel. Multiple factors—such as the inability to post bail, communication delays related to attorney assignment, the leveraging and availability of social work supports, and missed transport to court dates—all contribute to driving the length of detention. At different points along the case process, from arrest and arraignment to final disposition, people’s case and liberty outcomes can suffer as a result.

With Catalyst Grant funding, New York’s Youth Justice Network will develop and pilot an app to target several key points in the case process which will accelerate early communication between assigned counsel and their clients and facilitate their connection to resources at key stages in the case process, including connection to relevant social workers and program resources that will assist attorneys in the defense of their clients. The team will design the app in collaboration with the state’s Office of Court Administration, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and the 18-b Assigned Counsel Panel. The organization hopes to pilot this app at the local level with a small group of users to improve case outcomes for young people to help level the playing field on behalf of indigent young adult defendants and expand it locally and statewide.