Client Stories from the Defender Services Program

A Queens DSP social worker wrote a thoughtful, well documented Pre-Sentence Memorandum which lead to a client’s release. The People were ready for trial in this assault case, but the Court was convinced to consider an ATI. Despite the client’s 20 page rap sheet, which dated back to 1968, the court took a chance and directed the client to compete 10 days community service with a jail alternative and promise of 11 months. The client was re-arrested and jail looked likely. However, based on the information provided the social worker the client was released from jail and re-sentenced to stay in the program provided by DSP.

A Brooklyn DSP social worker provided a crucial intervention for her eighteen year old developmentally disabled client who was kidnapped from her hometown in upstate New York by pimps, who then forced her into prostitution in New York City, resulting in a first arrest. Our DSP social worker was called over to court by the attorney. The client told the social worker her story, and indicated that she feared for her safety, as the pimps were outside the courtroom. Based on the mitigation the social worker presented, the DA and the judge saw the client’s return to home as an appropriate resolution to the case.

JE suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after many years of physical and verbal abuse by his parents. His parents routinely told him that he would not amount to anything and that he should never have been born. Mr. E believed them. Mr. E’s parents burned the bottoms of his feet with a lighter and stabbed the bottoms of his feet with a kitchen knife as punishment, for example, for not wanting to go to school. He was beaten with a switch made from a tree branch and with a belt. As an adult, JE was unable to retain employment, failed in social relationships and turned to alcohol and marijuana. He became an addict. Mr. E was referred to the Defender Services Program social worker, after an arrest for possession of 75 bags of marijuana. He reported that his family wanted him to sell the bags as part of the drug trade they ran out of the deli they owned. The social worker worked with Mr. E to secure a placement for him at the New York Service Network, a substance abuse and mental health counseling center. Through numerous interviews, a pre-pleading report, and contact with his attorney, girlfriend and grandmother, JE established vocational, educational and social goals. JE completed his drug treatment program, has been drug free for 15 months, and is working in construction.

42 year JJ was charged with burglary in the 3rd degree. His bail was set at $2,500, but it might as well have been ten times that amount. A DSP social worker went to the Assistant District Attorney’s office where he talked about the client’s role as primary care giver for seven children that ranged in ages 10 months to 12 years. His wife worked full time during the day. The family had been served with an eviction notice and the mother was just diagnosed with having a high risk pregnancy. The ADA was convinced that the father’s presence and performance was critical to the family’s stability and the client was released the following day with the understanding that he would pursue enrollment in an out patient drug program.

SP is a 17 year old who began using drugs at the age of 6. He was placed in foster care due to his father’s addiction and his mother’s Traumatic Brain Injury. Drugs were prevalent in his foster home. After most recently becoming involved in the criminal justice system, SP was sentenced to Outreach House for residential substance abuse services instead of serving a two year incarcerative sentence. The program had an available bed for June 15, 2004, and he was released on June 14, 2004. SP had no clothes. The program requires that incoming residents bring eight sets of clothes. SP’s mother, who receives SSI, could not afford to purchase the clothing for her son. Further, the public assistance case for her children was recently closed. The Social Worker assisted the client so that SP could enter Outreach House as scheduled.

NO is 16 years old. He is originally from Egypt, having immigrated with his father. His father will not allow him back into the house due to his arrest on a misdemeanor charge. Our social worker found Mr. O. a placement at the Covenant House’s Minors Unit, following a three week stint at Rikers Island. Mr. O. has been without hygiene products and clothes since his arrest. DSP social worker assisted the client for entry into the program.

JT is a 49 year old HIV positive man with a long history of alcohol abuse. He was referred to the Legal Aid Society’s DSP social worker for case management. His attorney is representing him on a criminal charge related to his alcoholism (DWI) and recognized that treatment was the only route to deterring recidivism. Our social worker is assisting him with healthcare, housing, and got him into an outpatient alcohol treatment program in Brooklyn. The social worker also found funds to pay the a court fine which allowed Mr. T. to stay in his treatment program, continue to look for stable housing and continue with this complicated healthcare regimen. Had he not been able to pay the fine, he would have served 6 months in jail.

Bronx DSP social worker interfaced with Bronx Treatment Court in order to get a client into MICA treatment. TM had a diagnosed psychotic disorder for over nine years. Coming from a single parent home marred by chronic drug abuse and unemployment, TM never received proper mental health attention for his disorder. Initially seeking relief in street drugs for his schizophrenia, he quickly came into contact with the police. A MICA residence was secured through the Bronx Treatment Court, and Mr. O’Brien arranged for the transportation and other logistics so that Mr. M. could enter treatment for the first time in his life.