New sentencing program allows moms to stay in the prison of their homes

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes. (Getty)

Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes. (Getty) (Credit: Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes. (Getty))

A new sentencing alternative provided by Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes and the Women's Prison Association will allow 45 city moms facing felony charges to serve out their sentences at homes while retaining custody of their kids and undergoing intensive supervision and treatment.

The mothers, who must be assessed as not presenting a risk to their communities, will be selected for the JusticeHome program on a case-by-case basis and must plead guilty to their felonies.

"Children will avoid the trauma associated with watching helplessly as their mothers are carted off to jail," Hynes said. In addition to preventing family disruption and saving taxpayer money, JusticeHome is expected to reduce recidivism, he added.

The cost of the initiative -- which is funded by grants -- is $34,000 per year for a woman with two children, compared to the $129,000 a year it would cost for that woman to be in prison while her children were in foster care, Hynes said yesterday. Women facing felony charges in Manhattan and the Bronx will also be eligible.

Drug policy reformers have long lobbied for more alternatives to incarceration for drug offenses, and JusticeHome received a thumbs up from R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The JusticeHome initiative, he said, recognizes the need "for evidence-based, gender-responsive practices for all women involved in the criminal-justice system -- keeping families together, reducing recidivism, and interrupting the generational cycles of incarceration."

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