Division of Criminal Justice Services


The Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) funds and oversees a variety of pretrial services and correctional alternative programs throughout New York State, often referred to as Alternative to Incarceration or ATI programs. These programs may fall under the authority of governmental or non-profit agencies. They operate in conjunction with the criminal justice system in all New York State counties and the City of New York.

Currently, OPCAfunds approximately 165 ATI programs designed to reduce reliance on pretrial detention and/or incarceration and operate in a manner consistent with public safety. The following are examples of alternative to detention and incarceration measures and programs funded through OPCAin New York State:

  • Mental Illness Programs
  • Pretrial Services
  • TASC and Drug and Alcohol Programs
  • Specialized Programs
  • Community Service Programs
  • Defender Based Advocacy

Shared Services: Alternatives to Incarceration for Defendants and Offenders with Mental Illness
In 2002, the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) first awarded seven grants mostly at $50,000 per year for a five year period, to provide specialized mental health services to defendants and offenders who are seriously mentally ill (eligible Axis

In the pilot phase of this initiative, one of the awards provided, beginning in July 1, 2001, was to the Education and Assistance Corporation for a project implemented in the Bronx, New York City. The subsequent successful award recipients received funding to continue with program development and enhanced services for a five year period, beginning July 1, 2002.

To ensure the success of this program, OPCAhas requested the assistance of the NYS Office of Mental Health, the NYS Commission on Quality of Care for the Mentally Disabled, the NYS Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services, the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the NYS Conference of Local Mental Hygiene Directors, and the NYS Council of Probation Administrators. The collaboration demonstrates DPCA's commitment to encourage the availability and the coordination of services and resources available for this shared population to avoid unnecessary incarceration.

The following is a list of the award recipients:

New York City Metropolitan Area:

  • The Bronx Mental Health Diversion Services, operated by the Education and Assistance Corporation (EAC), has been providing screening, assessment, treatment planning, placement and case management each year, since July 2001, for 100 or more seriously mentally ill offenders with co-occurring substance abuse disorders. This project has enhanced the Bronx Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities (TASC) alternative to incarceration service for prison-bound, substance abusing offenders, including the District Attorney's Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison Program, for defendants with serious and persistent mental illnesses. The program model builds upon the current TASC model, by adding a multi-disciplinary mental health team to meet the needs of dually-diagnosed offenders and uses a special Supreme Court Mental Health Part to establish treatment diversion orders and to monitor treatment compliance. The unit includes a psychiatrist, psychologist, and specially trained forensic case managers who work together to achieve the best treatment outcomes. With the court, the treatment team determines an accurate diagnosis, performs specialized risk assessments, develops a treatment plan, and monitors and coordinates the care of the identified defendants, throughout their participation in the program.

  • The Nathaniel Project, created by the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), began work under this project in 2002 and provides 24 months of extra-intensive supervision for felon-indicted individuals who are seriously and persistently mentally ill. The program offers comprehensive mental health and integrated substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, case management, court advocacy and reporting, and monitored linkages to housing and social services. The project effectively links the justice and mental health systems and has a track record of services for this specialized population. The Nathaniel Project was licensed as an Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) program by the NYS Office of Mental Health in 2003. The ACT team is a mobile multi-disciplinary staff including a psychiatrist and nurse in addition to social workers, a substance abuse counselor, and a peer specialist who provides intensive treatment services to participants directly in the community.

Other Programs Located Around New York State

  • The Albany County Rapid Assessment, Intervention and Linkage Program combines the abilities of the Albany County Probation Department with the Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc. for a placement and a case management service that coordinates services and monitors community-based conditions of release for females who have an Axis I mental health diagnosis and are under probation supervision. The case management service links individuals with available mental health resources and in collaboration with probation, works to ensure that participants follow through with treatment. General mental health training for probation officers, as well as crisis intervention services, is also provided.

  • Cattaraugus County Safe Communities/Safe Futures has an intensive probation program operated in conjunction with the Cattaraugus County Community Services Department's Forensic Continuing Day Treatment Program. This program operates as a day reporting center for those probationers in need of such services and provides intensive supervision. Areas addressed in this collaborative effort include treatment, medication, compliance, substance abuse, education, employment, homelessness and life skills. Particular emphasis is placed on working with individuals who are currently incarcerated or who are at high risk of incarceration with serious mental illnesses.

  • The Erie County Shared Population Program is using an integrated service approach for addressing mentally ill defendants and offenders supervised by Erie County Probation Department in their community working with the Erie County Department of Mental Health, Forensic Mental Health and Horizon Health Services, Inc. The model features the utilization of a therapeutic team review of defendants at several points in criminal justice process. Intensive case planning and individualized treatment plans are conducted with all enrollees using a person centered approach.

  • The Lewis County Transitions to Independence Process (TIP) has been developed within the Community Mental Health Center to work with youth (16 to 21 years of age) who have a serious mental illness and are defendants/offenders under the probation department's jurisdiction. TIP is a promising evidenced-based intervention that focuses on four primary domains: employment, education, housing and community life adjustment. The Program Coordinator assists participants in obtaining and/or stabilizing resources related to these categories, including linkage to services, case monitoring and providing transportation as necessary. Program effectiveness is enhanced by using a variety of other existing community services.

  • The Madison County Forensic Case Management Program was jointly developed by the Madison County Probation and Mental Health Departments. In June 2003, Central New York Services, Inc. was contracted to provide an employee who serves as the Forensic Case Manager, located in the Mental Health Department. That person will work with Probation, Mental Health and BOCES to develop shared services plans for program participants. The program also assists in applying for benefits with the Department of Social Services and other appropriate services such as vocational and educational services.

Pretrial Services
Most counties in New York State have implemented a pretrial release service, either through programs offered by the county probation department or through a community-based organization, to avoid unnecessary detention of defendants who are unable to post bail. The priority function of all the pretrial services programs is to determine defendant eligibility for release and to provide verifiable information such as the defendant's community ties with regard to residence and employment. The information provided to the courts is critical to the courts in determining whether

TASC and Drug and Alcohol Programs
New York State's TASC (Treatment Accountability for Safer Communities) and other treatment programs, supported with state funding, offers treatment alternatives for defendants sixteen and older, facing a jail or prison sentence, who are non-violent and have indicators of problem(s) with alcohol or other drugs.

Specialized Programs
Specialized ATI programs describe a variety of different approaches to the management of offenders aimed at maintaining support within the community. Here, target populations are identified and unique supervision of such populations is accomplished. Example populations include women, juvenile offenders, and individuals with multiple needs. Specialized ATI programs currently state funded are; family court or family oriented and YO/JO (youthful offender/juvenile offender) services, residential programs often involving addiction treatment services, and programs structured exclusively to address the special challenges faced by female offenders.

Community Service
These programs provide the courts with a means of creating a meaningful sanction for non-violent offenders who will return, through unpaid supervised work, an established amount of service to the community, as "payment" for the harm caused by their criminal behavior (sex offenders are excluded from any consideration for a community service alternative). The primary goals of community service involve community safety, while enforcing the court order of a specified number of community service hours.

Defender Based Advocacy (DBA)
Defender Based Advocacy programs generally have a direct affiliation to the defense bar including the Public Defender's Office, Legal Aid Services or agencies serving private attorneys representing the defendant. The significant contribution of the Defender-Based Advocacy service is the expanded capacity to screen defendants who could be appropriately managed within a community corrections setting, preparing a needs-based assessment and a client-specific plan for community based orders and conditions of release. The client-specific plan may includes recommendations for community supervision, employment and/or treatment options all geared toward the defendant's success in the community.