Heart Foundation

Call us:1 716-834-0080

 

COURT DIVERSION PROGRAMS

HEART's collaborative court diversion programs with Buffalo City Court provide effective assessment and treatment services to people who have been involved with the court or corrections system. Our aim is to enhance the ability to function effectively in the community and reduce the risk of committing additional crimes by implementing ethical and best practice models of treatment. Clinical services are provided including psychosocial assessments, individual therapy, specialized group therapy, family education and support groups:

Crossroads

In 2009, Buffalo City Court under the leadership of the Honorable Judge James A.W. McLeod and HEART partnered to develop Crossroads, a problem-solving court for young adults, ages 16-24. Crossroads was created to address the significant increase of criminal cases involving young people and provide a cost-effective alternative using the principles of therapeutic justice.

The program's goal is to break the cycle between criminality and re-arrest rates by providing a therapeutic environment, structured case management, education assistance, and community supervision with immediate resources available directly in the court room.

Crossroads, now in its 6th year, has served over 1,500 court-involved young adults and continues to be highly successful with a 13% recidivism rate. The groundbreaking partnership increases community-based supervision, provides classes and counseling, and enhances family functioning. Participants are encouraged to take personal responsibility for their actions, repair the harm caused to their victims, their families and communities, and develop skills to become more productive members of the community.

Crossroads provides the defendant with a highly structured environment that combines judicial oversight, probation supervision, substance abuse treatment, mandatory drug testing, graduated sanctions/responses and education/employment training to encourage positive behaviors and reduce recidivism.

Who is eligible?

  • Defendants must be between the ages of 16-21
  • Misdemeanor and/or felony drug possession
  • School related criminal violations
  • School behavioral/truancy
  • Individuals truant from previous or current treatment
  • Crimes when there is no serious physical injury sustained
  • Do not qualify under the above, but are deemed suitable by the CROSSROADS team as appropriate for court monitored treatment

How do I make referral?
The referral of a defendant is made by the Buffalo City Court judge only.  The defendant must then meet with a C.O.U.R.T.S. Program specialist to initiate services.

Crossroads Program Independent Evaluation Conducted By Recovery Solutions

A total of 642 participants entered the expanded Crossroads program during the two-year grant interval. This surpassed expectations and is a testament to the community need for juvenile justice intervention.

Recovery Solutions identified several key qualitative and quantitative findings including a high number of participants successfully completing or remaining active in the program (70%), a disproportionate number of younger males ages 16 and 17 (90%) failing the program, statistically higher success rates and lower failure rates for H.E.A.R.T. participants, the need for improved family participation and the restoration of the family unit, and the need for more pronounced vocational pathways. A summary of qualitative findings can be found of page 8 with quantitative key findings starting on page 17 as separated by 4 different cohorts.

 

Cohort Analysis 3: Key Findings

Participants who were referred to the H.E.A.R.T. Foundation had a 7% higher successful completion rate and a 6% lower failure rate as demonstrated in Figure 1.

To view the full report conducted by Recovery Solutions, click here

Adolescent Diversion Program (ADP)

New York is one of only two states in the country that have failed to recognize what research and science have confirmed - adolescents are children, and prosecuting and placing them in the adult criminal justice system doesn't work for them and doesn't work for public safety.

Recognizing that New York had fallen out of step with the rest of the country, in the fall of 2011, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman created ADP for young adult 16-17- year- old offenders charged with a non-violent felony or misdemeanor. 

The program was piloted only in nine counties in New York State including Erie County (Buffalo City Court). Selected cases involving 16- and 17-year-olds are assigned to Judge James McLeod selected for his past successes with young adult cases and received specialty training to use an expanded array of dispositions, including age-appropriate services.

The Adolescent Diversion Program has two principal purposes. First and foremost, the goal is to improve the judicial response to 16-and 17-year-olds, providing judges with the tools they need to address offenders' behavior and help young people avoid criminal records and related collateral consequences. The second goal is strategic: if the pilots can demonstrate that a less punitive approach to adolescents does not increase recidivism and has community support, it will provide valuable support to the legislative reform effort.

HEART is an integral part of Erie County's Adolescent Diversion Program, comprised of judges, attorneys and community-based agencies. Using an interdisciplinary team that includes a child and adolescent psychiatrist, clinical social workers and high credentialed therapists to address the complex issues facing offenders and families, HEART provides case management, educational advocacy and intensive, culturally sensitive therapeutic services.

Who is eligible?

  • Defendants must be between the ages of 16-17
  • Misdemeanor and/or felony drug possession
  • School related criminal violations
  • School behavioral/truancy
  • Individuals truant from previous or current treatment
  • Crimes when there is no serious physical injury sustained
  • Do not qualify under the above, but are deemed suitable by the ADP team as appropriate for court monitored treatment

How do I make referral?                                                    
The referral of a defendant to ADP shall be made by a Buffalo City Court Judge only.  The defendant must then meet with a C.O.U.R.T.S. Program specialist to initiate services.

 Photo: courtesy of Bruce Jackson, Dominoes on Death Row, Texas, 1979. printed 13x19

 

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