For individuals charged with felony drug crimes, an effective drug treatment program and access to other important services can mean the difference between repeated contacts with the criminal justice system and the ability to lead a fulfilling, law-abiding life. Diversion and treatment options enhance public safety by reducing recidivism, while decreasing incarceration. SNP was a pioneer in developing alternative to incarceration programs more than 35 years ago. Recently, the office broadened its offerings.
In 2021, SNP joined the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office in assessing individuals facing felony charges for treatment and social service referrals through the Manhattan Felony Alternatives to Incarceration Court (ATI Court). Many individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system have a range of unmet needs that led to their criminal justice involvement. SNP partners with the Center for Court Innovation’s Manhattan Justice Opportunities (MJO) to identify those needs and match individuals with appropriate services, which can include substance use treatment, mental health services, cognitive behavioral therapy, educational and vocational training, case management, and other programming.
The first of its kind, the ATI Court is a problem-solving court designed to serve individuals who are charged with felonies, but may be ineligible for existing specialized courts like Manhattan Drug Court or Manhattan Mental Health Court. In particular, the ATI Court is designed to work with individuals who may present with multifaceted needs or co-occurring disorders (such as substance use and mental health disorders). It is staffed by judges and court staff who have received specialized training.
SNP oversees the program referral process, program-based dispositions, and compliance monitoring along with MJO. MJO is staffed with social workers and case managers who conduct clinical assessments, develop treatment recommendations, coordinate programming referrals, and perform ongoing case management.
SNP’s ATI practice seeks to minimize the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement, and offers individuals reduced dispositions following program completion. Eligibility for ATI Court is determined on a case-by-case basis, and treatment is tailored to the specific needs of each participant. Felony cases may be referred to programming after a case is indicted or through a Superior Court Information.
Beginning in 2009, the New York State Legislature empowered judges to place defendants in court-sponsored diversion programs. SNP offers its expertise in screening and monitoring. When individuals enter treatment through one of these paths, their sentences are deferred. Upon successful completion, charges may be dismissed.
Prosecutor-Led Diversion Programs
SNP is proud to have been in the forefront of developing alternative to incarceration programs for more than 35 years. Along with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, SNP was a pioneer in diverting those whose crimes (often street sales of drugs) were motivated by their own substance use issues. SNP’s Alternative Sentencing Division has successfully worked with thousands of individuals. Through SNP’s Drug Treatment Alternatives to Prison (DTAP) programs, highly experienced staff members evaluate eligibility to identify those likely to reap the benefits of treatment programs.