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 home while retaining custody of their kids and undergoing intensive supervision and treatment.
The mothers, who must be assessed as to whether they are a risk to their community, 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 with the $129,000 a year it would cost for that woman to be in prison while her children were in foster care, Hynes said Wednesday.
Although it is offered by the Brooklyn DA's office, women facing felony charges in Manhattan and the Bronx are eligible.
Drug policy reformers have lobbied long and hard for more alternatives to incarceration for drug offenses.JusticeHome received a thumbs up from R. Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for recognizing 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."