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!!!
[CIRT] was definitely one of the best things that happened in my life. It definitely made me a better person and made me want to do better. I am very happy I had this experience. If this didn’t happen then who knows what could have [been].
Life is a journey. It’s amazing how we don’t always know where it will lead us or why. I do know that there are many blessings along the way and it’s with a clear and sober mind that I am able to recognize those miracles. We are not in charge of what miracles come our way, or in what form they are presented. We must be open and aware and accepting without defiance of those miracles. For me, coming through the doors of CIRT was to be one of the greatest gifts and miracles of my life. I was spiritually broken, but with the care and guidance from the Director and my Case Manager I was able to work on my deepest emotional issues on my road to recovery. I am forever grateful for their services and remember with a little bit of effort all things are possible. I am living proof.
The experience at CIRT was an interesting one; nonetheless it was amazing to have gone through this, and I wouldn’t change it for the world. Thanks to this experience I will continue to live a clean and sober life.
When I walked into CIRT a year and half ago, I felt alone, confused, and lost in the criminal court system. I was blessed to be assigned to a caseworker that not only was compassionate, but very understanding. Sydney not only guided me, but made sure I stayed on point week after week. With a sincere heart, I would like to say thank you for spending your valuable time with me. The discussions we had gave me comfort, hope, and courage to move on with my life no matter the circumstance. Once again, thank you Sydney and the CIRT program for your words of wisdom and helping me navigate towards a successful and healthy life to come.
The CIRT program has definitely benefitted my life overall. First and foremost, CIRT held me accountable for my behavior and sobriety. I was able to get a clear head and go through life without the use of behavioral altering substances. At CIRT, they gave me the opportunity to address my mental health needs and keep me out of the criminal justice system by advocating that I be placed in an outpatient program. The outpatient program that I was placed into really helped me since I had an outlet and someone to vent to. It also gave me a chance to address all sorts of personal issues that I would never normally discuss with anyone. Because of CIRT, I am able to further my career because my criminal charges were reduced. The staff was very supportive and easy to talk to. If you have the chance to enroll in the CIRT program, I highly recommend that you take advantage of it.
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