The Committee on the Justice System, chaired by City Councilman Rory Lancman, held an oversight hearing Sept. 27 to examine the “cost of justice” in criminal cases.
The committee discussed the effects of mandatory surcharges, fines, and fees for court-ordered classes that are offered as an alternative to incarceration on indigent defendants. These exorbitant fees and fines often trap the economically-challenged in a cycle of debt, which could lead to incarceration due to failure to pay.
Khalil Cumberbatch, a representative for Fortune Society, a program that offers services to those with incarceration histories, explained how the organization’s Alternatives to Incarceration programs are available to all five boroughs, yet it is most difficult to get referrals for individuals within Queens, where the organization is based.
The Queens district attorney has been historically very difficult to work with in terms of simply referring people to ATI programs, specifically our ATI programs,” said Cumberbatch. “We’re based in Queens, and most people with charges in Queens reside somewhere in the borough. Yet we still have problems with referrals.”Read more at Times Ledger Back