ALTERNATIVE TO DETENTION
Alternative to Detention (ATD)
HousingPlus has a long history of serving women who have been involved with the criminal justice system and have been homeless, dating back to our first programs. In 2010 we established Drew House, the first family alternative to incarceration in the country.
Our pilot Alternative to Detention Program provides a diversion to pre-trial detention of homeless women at Rikers Island who cannot afford to post bail. Unnecessary confinement of men, women, and adolescents on Rikers Island and in similar detention centers, many of whom are innocent of any crime but lack the means to meet bail requirements, is a nationwide problem. Weeks or months of detention cause further trauma: the loss of employment, income, housing, the custody of children, family and community connections, and even health and mental stability.
Among those who plead guilty just to get out of jail, the resulting conviction on their record means they’ll have a harder time finding employment and housing in the future.
The ATD Program keeps women who pose no danger to their communities out of detention and provides them with stable housing to satisfy court requirements and meet their court dates. In addition, the program also:
• Supports women to meet their legal obligations
• Prevents children from entering the foster care system because their mothers are unnecessarily detained
• Helps women remain employed and/or in school while they meet their legal obligations
• Offers support services to help women get back on their feet
• Addresses poverty, trauma, or health issues that may have led to homelessness in the first place
In 2015, HousingPlus organized a coalition of social service agencies to launch the Women’s Community Justice Project and help to solve this problem. We are working together to keep women away from institutional incarceration at Rikers and to operate a reform model that will divert women into community residential programs with strong support services.
Members of the Women’s Community Justice Project include:
• Hour Children
• Greenhope Services for Women
• Providence House
• Women’s Prison Association
The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund found that when their clients get access to bail, 88% of them had their case dismissed or resolved without a conviction. In comparison, only 38% of people who can’t afford bail have the same outcome.
Women in our ATD program have a safe place to stay and access to on-site support services while they resolve the charges against them. It costs New Yorkers about $500/day to jail a woman in advance of trial. At HousingPlus, we’re able to house and support a woman for about $50 a day. And once her legal issues have been dealt with, she is better equipped to support herself and her family, further reducing the costs to New Yorkers.
Initial support for the ATD pilot program was generously funded by the Patrina Foundation; the Harry J. Brown, Jr., Foundation; Simple Works, Inc.; and the Freya and Richard Block Foundation.
Click to learn more about our programs and services:
Women in the Criminal Justice System
Alternative to Incarceration (Drew House)
Trauma, Health, and Wellness Services