Court-Based Intervention & Resource Teams (CIRT) provide diversion, community referrals, and case management services to incarcerated individuals at Rikers Island diagnosed with mental illness.
Clients Served Last Year:
Funding Generously Provided by:
New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and private donations.
Katrina Edwards, CASAC
Abigail Sass-Diaz, LCSW
Individuals involved in the criminal justice system who are affected by homelessness, substance abuse, and/or a mental illness that is not being addressed are at greater risk of being rearrested. In particular, inmates at Rikers Island with mental illness also have a longer average stay at the facility than those without mental illness.
Connect inmates with mental illness to community-based services to address their behavioral health needs and keep them out of the criminal justice system.
How We Do it:
CIRT assesses individuals with mental illness who are currently incarcerated on Rikers Island with a misdemeanor or non-violent felony charge. Staff create a clinically sound service plan and advocate for individuals to be released from jail and placed in either inpatient or outpatient programs. Additionally, they monitor them throughout their treatment and connect them with any other services that would help them successfully live independently, including behavioral health, gender-specific, family, vocational, educational, medical, housing procurement, and other services. Reports on each individual’s progress are submitted to the court and aftercare plans are created for those nearing program completion.
The Outcomes of Court-Based Intervention & Resource Teams (CIRT)
Approximately 95% of participants engaged in CIRT do not get rearrested.
CIRT also boasts a consistent program retention rate of 90%.
What People Say About Court-Based Intervention & Resource Teams (CIRT)
I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude and deepest appreciation for all of CIRT’s help. Thank you for the support and help you provided, the dedication, attention, and open-minded thinking, and for the readiness to help with very prompt response to all my requests. This assistance is for me a warm and bright ray of light representing good and caring people who are attentive to the plight of others. Thank you for opening doors when every door was shut on my face, when I thought, ‘this is the end of my road,’ when I thought there is NO HOPE for me, and for giving me strength to persist and succeed and get my life back. Being that my needs are many in this difficult time, CIRT helped me greatly. Asking about my wellbeing every day, standing by me in every step of the way, encouraging me, advising me… You never made me feel like a burden. You never ignored my cry for help, and all of your acts of kindness are done with only the purest intentions. No words of gratitude can possibly express how grateful I am to you all for all the help and the attention that you have given me.
When I first came in contact with CIRT, I was in the custody of New York City’s Department of Correction – Rikers Island. I was remanded on a Violation of Probation and had no idea what was going to happen to me. I had been in custody for two months before I met my first case advocate. While in holding at Staten Island Criminal Court, I was asked a series of questions that would determine whether or not they could help me. I have to say, I didn’t think anybody could help me. I felt like I messed up so bad. I was a wife, I have children, I’m educated but I also had a drug problem which I never accepted. I also felt that no one would understand, no one would forgive me and I deserved everything that was happening. I expressed this to CIRT.
After going to court repeatedly for the next two months, with no change and no release date or otherwise, I started to accept the fact that I may be going upstate to serve a jail term. I didn’t realize that the people from Staten Island CIRT, who appeared at every court date, were working so hard behind the scenes to get me out of jail and where I needed to be so that I could get the help I needed.
One day I boarded another NYC DOC transport bus, cuffed to another woman. I waited all day in the holding cells and I remember thinking, I’m not seeing a judge today so I will be on my way back to Rikers in a few hours. However, my name was called, I was re-cuffed and brought upstairs to court. It was already 4:30pm, which was rare for a person to be called into court this late in the day. After a few minutes the judge addressed me and informed me that I am being released to CIRT and I would be taken to Samaritan Village, a residential drug treatment program located in Queens. I just started to cry. Since this case was in the Bronx, I didn’t recognize the CIRT people in court on this day. I usually dealt with the Staten Island staff. CIRT went above and beyond to make sure that my 2 cases were put together, that the courts agreed on my outcome, and everyone was on board. This is how hard CIRT had gone for me. I am forever grateful to the men and women of Staten Island CIRT, especially Sara, Abby, and Dominique for caring so much about me, when I had lost so many people along the way.
I am one year clean and sober today. I have obtained gainful employment, I have my sanity back, and I am now a productive part of society, once again. I will never forget anyone at CIRT. THANK YOU!!!
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