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Innocent but Detained Pretrial: A Multi-Step Evaluation of the Experiences, Needs, and Resources of Individuals with Dismissed Cases

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $299,999)

Little is known about the experiences and service needs of those who are detained pretrial but ultimately have their cases dismissed or acquitted. This is a unique group of individuals who, despite the experience of trauma and harms associated with pretrial detention, are likely not considered under the traditional “victim” umbrella given their involvement in the criminal legal system via arrest and pretrial detention. What is more, it is unclear whether they can access traditional CJ-related services post-detention and whether the services are appropriate for their unique needs.

The purpose of this project is to better understand the experiences and needs of this innocent but detained pretrial population. This is accomplished in collaboration with mental health provider the SWEET Institute and by using a multi-step approach that includes both trauma-informed in-depth interviews with individuals that experienced pretrial detention and environmental scans in the form of focus groups with key community organizations and stakeholders. The in-depth interviews will explore their experiences as it relates to their perceptions of the criminal justice system, as well as what needs and assistance they might need because of their detention. The environmental scan will be conducted in collaboration with existing service organizations in New York City to examine whether the service needs identified in the in-depth interviews can be provided by existing organizations or whether a new infrastructure for this group needs to be developed.

This proposal also seeks Priority Consideration 1A, as this proposal acknowledges that the pretrial detained and dismissed population in New York City largely consists of individuals who are male, Black, and young. This disproportionality in prevalence necessitates the disproportionately in bearing its harmful consequences. To this end, a central aim of this project is to “address [the] potential inequities and barriers to equal opportunity, and/or contribute to greater access to services for underserved and historically marginalized populations” by focusing on the service needs and experiences of those detained pretrial but dismissed.

The findings from this project will be used to provide a roadmap for policy makers and practitioners on how this population can be best identified and served by the community. Importantly, the solutions put forth will be guided by the experiences and needs identified by those who have experienced this CJ-related harm and by the experiences and expertise of those seek to serve them.

Date Created: September 30, 2022