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 developed and began piloting a mobile application to target several key points in the case process and accelerate early communication between assigned counsel and their clients. The app will also help both parties to access resources such as social workers and programs to assist attorneys in the defense of their clients. The Youth Justice Network team has collaborated with the state’s Office of Court Administration, the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, and the 18-b Assigned Counsel Panel to design the application. It is being piloted locally with a small group of users. As feedback is incorporated throughout the pilot process, the application will improve case outcomes for young people and help level the playing field on behalf of indigent young adult defendants.
Read the Urban Institute's blog post on using technology to support indigent defense in New York City.
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