NYC Supervised Release Program sees significant $37M funding boost

July 17, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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New York City’s Supervised Release Program has received a significant funding boost of $36.8 million under the new budget agreement. Speaker Adrienne Adams and Councilmember Carlina Rivera have been instrumental in ensuring that this program, lauded as the “biggest criminal justice reform you’ve never heard of,” receives this much-needed financial support.

The Supervised Release Program aims to prevent individuals awaiting trial from unnecessary detention, providing them with community access and supportive services. Agencies overseeing the program, including CASES, Center for Justice Innovation, The Fortune Society, and New York City Criminal Justice Agency, expressed deep gratitude to Adams and Rivera for their steadfast commitment to expanding the program’s reach.

Instead of languishing in city jails, those charged with crimes can remain in their communities under the program’s ambit, continuing their regular lives, maintaining their employment, and caring for their families. With guidance from social workers and experienced professionals, program participants can access various community-based programs that offer counseling, job training, and assistance with obtaining benefits.

In 2022, the Supervised Release Program saw involvement in over 20,500 cases. However, with growing caseloads and a static budget, the program’s effectiveness has been under strain. This additional $36.8 million funding presents a step towards bolstering its capacity, paving the way for an enhanced range of services and better delivery through partner non-profit agencies.

“We believe it is a major step to making Supervised Release even stronger, and look forward to working with the Council and Administration to build a continuum of community-based and jail-based services delivered by social workers and peers at partner non-profit agencies,” the agency leaders commented in a joint statement that was issued Wednesday.

The Supervised Release Program is administered through the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and has experienced significant growth since New York State’s bail reform laws took effect in 2020. The program offers an alternative to incarceration at Rikers Island jails, with accused individuals being supervised by social workers at city-contracted nonprofits, accessing services for housing, substance abuse, and mental health.

Yet, this rapid expansion has raised concerns about resource constraints, with an influx of individuals facing violent felony charges overwhelming the system. City officials are now deliberating over ways to improve the program to better assist this demographic.

Since its inception 14 years ago, the Supervised Release Program has made significant strides in curbing pretrial detention, contributing to a 38% decline in Rikers Island’s detainee population by 2019.


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