Criminal Justice Services

Alternatives to Incarceration

Begun in 1986 as a court intervention program staffed by two, STEPS’ Alternatives to Incarceration (ATI) program is currently run by an interdisciplinary team of six social workers and advocates who provide trauma-informed and anti-oppressive clinical, advocacy, and support services. We take cases in all five boroughs of New York City where defendants are survivors of gender-based violence –intimate partner violence – and have an open criminal case related to their histories of abuse. We work closely with the courts and our clients’ attorneys. We accompany clients to court and monitor their progress, providing compliance reports as requested. Our ATI program has had tremendous success: In FY 2009, only 18.5% were rearrested in the two years following discharge. This compares with a 2-year rearrest rate of 50% for women nationwide. And, 93% of our ATI program participants had successful legal outcomes. This program is a national model as the only ATI program for victim-defendants in the US.1

The program is free of charge and provides services in English and Spanish. Services are provided in our Brooklyn office, in the field, at court and at Rose M. Singer Center, the woman’s jail at Riker’s Island.
1.  Shuman, L. D. (2013). Pulling the Trigger: Shooting Down Mandatory Minimum Sentencing for Victims Who Kill Their Abuser. Howard Law Journal, 56, 983-983.

Re-Entry Services

Our Re-Entry Program provides formerly incarcerated women with job training, housing assistance, financial counseling, clinical and legal services, advocacy, case management, and other comprehensive services when they are released from prison or jail. Consistent with effective programs, STEPS ensures that formerly incarcerated women are assessed for histories of trauma and that phased based-re-entry services, supports, and resources are available to successfully transition to their communities when they are released. Staffed by a survivor who was imprisoned, the work of this program was highlighted by the New York Daily News [link to pdf of article in news archives – Ex-con’s STEPS program helps freed prisoners ‘re-enter’ world] and was presented at 2012’s Interdisciplinary Conference on Criminal Justice at Columbia University.

The program is free of charge and available in English and Spanish. Clients can be seen in our East Harlem or Brooklyn offices. Additionally, we are able to connect with women prior to their release via our programming at Rose M. Singer Center, the woman’s jail at Riker’s Island, and monthly visits to Bedford and Beacon Prisons.

Court-based Services

The STARS program is a collaboration with the Center for Court Innovation in which STEPS places a staff member at the Midtown Community Court to provide counseling and group services to victims of trauma and trafficking who have been arrested on prostitution charges.

Our partnership with the Center for Court Innovation expanded in 2010 with the Queens –based Hidden Victims Project which works within the Human Trafficking Intervention Part, mental health recovery court, and misdemeanor treatment court parts. Through this project we provide counseling and group services to victims of trauma and trafficking who have been arrested and appear in those parts.