With funding from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., the City University of New York’s Institute for State and Local Governance is developing an elaborate network of social services aimed at keeping youths out of the criminal justice system.
The Criminal Justice Investment Initiative was outlined to criminologists on Saturday at the American Society of Criminology’s annual convention in Atlanta. The experimental effort is being paid for from asset forfeiture proceeds Vance obtained from three international banks accused of violating U.S. sanctions.
In one part of the project, five “coalitions” consisting of dozens of social service agencies in New York City have been organized to offer services in areas such as jobs, education and housing to about 3,000 youths in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods including Washington Heights, Harlem and Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
Another part of the project employs “navigators” who work individually with young people between 14 and 24. One aim of the project is to “develop meaningful career pathways for at-risk, high-need groups including disconnected young people who are out of work and out of school, victims of crime, and people returning from incarceration.”
The five-year $250 million program is in its early stages. Institute director Michael Jacobson said that the hope is that after the initial funding is exhausted, successful elements of it will be continued by government or nonprofits agencies.