D.A. Bragg Creates “Pathways to Public Safety” Division to Elevate the use of Alternatives to Incarceration Across D.A.’s Office

March 7, 2022

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., today announced the creation of the Office’s first Pathways to Public Safety Division (“Pathways”) to elevate the use of diversion and evidence-based programming, ensuring individuals involved in the criminal justice system receive necessary services to reduce recidivism and enhance public safety. This major restructuring will strengthen the Office’s work related to alternatives to incarceration, specialized court parts, pre-arraignment diversion, restorative justice practices, and reentry practices. Additionally, Pathways will provide each of the six existing Trial Division bureaus with a dedicated prosecutor to serve as a resource from arraignment to sentencing, proactively identifying individuals who would benefit from diversion and programming without jeopardizing community safety.

“The Pathways to Public Safety Division will secure dynamic, individually tailored outcomes that are proven to keep our communities safe while giving our fellow New Yorkers the help they need,” said District Attorney Bragg. “By identifying opportunities for diversion at the beginning stages of a case, instead of weeks to months after an arrest, we can increase effectiveness and break cycles of recidivism. Pathways will provide prosecutors with support and resources from screening through sentencing, incorporating alternatives to incarceration into the bedrock of the Office’s work. That means identifying candidates for programming as early as possible, while closely monitoring an individual’s progress throughout – ensuring accountability instead of a revolving door.”

“The new Pathways to Public Safety Division is a vital measure for reducing recidivism and making our borough safer,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “I applaud District Attorney Bragg for leading with this innovative approach, and I’m confident this initiative, with Division Chief Sherene Crawford at the helm, will successfully attack the root causes of crime.”

“The creation of District Attorney Bragg’s Pathways to Public Safety Division will help proactively identify opportunities for diversion at the beginning stages of a case, instead of days, even months after their arrest, thereby increasing both effectiveness and safety,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa. “I applaud this important reform and look forward to working with his office to help deliver and prioritize proactive public safety.”

“I commend DA Bragg for creating this division, which will promote consideration of all reasonable evidence-based options to hold people accountable and promote rehabilitation,” said Jonathan Lippman, former chief judge of New York State and current chair of the Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform. “Incarceration is appropriate in certain cases, particularly those involving violence. However, the best route to safety is very often via community-based dispositions that aim to address people’s underlying problems and break the cycle of recidivism. DA Bragg understands this and his creation of the Pathways to Public Safety Division very much serves that interest.”

“I commend DA Bragg for honoring his campaign commitment to invest in programs that can help turn peoples’ lives around and truly make our communities safe in the long run,” said Janos Marton, National Director of Dream Corps JUSTICE. “By making it an office priority to intervene in cases early and put people into contact with the services they need, we can move past the broken system of cycling people in and out of jail.”

“We applaud DA Bragg’s decision to create the Pathways to Public Safety Division, which will help the office significantly expand its use of alternatives to incarceration, restorative justice practices, and reentry supports by using evidence-based solutions to address public safety needs,” said Jullian Harris-Calvin, program director, Greater Justice New York, Vera Institute of Justice. “Diversion programs improve community safety by helping to reduce future involvement with the criminal legal system while preventing the trauma and long-term harms of incarceration, all at a fraction of the cost.”  

“Exodus Transitional Community looks forward to working alongside the Pathways to Public Safety Division within the Manhattan DA’s Office,” said Kandra Clark, VP of Policy & Strategy at Exodus. “We know first-hand the power of alternatives to incarceration and diversion services. For far too long, we have failed as a City and Country with respect to our criminal legal system. Instead of addressing the root causes of incarceration (untreated mental health, substance use disorders, trauma, lack of education and employment opportunities), we often use punitive incarceratory sentences that only make our communities less safe over time. DA Bragg understands the importance of community safety and how diversion & alternative programs enhance our communities and reduce recidivism! We look forward to working closely with DA Bragg and his team, as well as all our community partners to ensure all people have a fair chance at diversion and receiving the support they truly need. Healing Communities and Restoring Hope!”

“Osborne Association is deeply supportive of using diversion and ATI options as early as possible and at every opportunity, while being intentional about not widening the net of Court supervision unnecessarily. We look forward to our continued partnership with District Attorney Bragg, and Pathways Division Chief Sherene Crawford, and their team to support their new Pathways to Public Safety Division,” said Osborne Chief Program Officer Susan Gottesfeld. “Connection to ATIs like those Osborne offers in the Manhattan Justice Opportunities program in Manhattan Criminal Court, and El Rio, which provides substance use treatment as an alternative to incarceration, serves to maximize options proven to support public safety. We are hopeful that identifying cases for ATIs earlier will also serve to free up our clogged courts and support the reduction of the population on Rikers Island and other City jails.”

“The Center for Court Innovation applauds D.A. Bragg’s creation of a new division within his office to provide eligible individuals with alternatives to incarceration and necessary services, and we look forward to working with his team to reduce recidivism and increase community safety,” said Courtney Bryan, executive director of the Center for Court Innovation. “The Pathways to Public Safety Division has the ingredients that our research and experience running alternative-to-incarceration programs show work—early intervention, individualized services, and compliance monitoring. With Sherene Crawford as its inaugural director, the division is off to an excellent start. Sherene is an expert at using evidence-based strategies to promote safety and reduce the harms of the justice system. Her experiences as a prosecutor, director of the Midtown Community Court, and developer of alternative-to-incarceration programs at the Center for Court Innovation makes her ideally suited to lead this important new initiative.”

“CASES commends District Attorney Bragg for his commitment to utilizing evidence-based alternatives to incarceration and his creation of the Pathways to Public Safety Division,” said Joel Copperman, CEO/President of CASES. “Since 1967, CASES’ programs have provided alternatives to incarceration proven to support significant reductions in recidivism compared to jail and prison. We look forward to partnering with this new division to ensure rapid access to effective diversion options as part of advancing the District Attorney’s vision for increasing community safety for all New Yorkers.”

Led by Division Chief Sherene Crawford, the new Pathways to Public Safety Division will join the Office’s Trial, Investigation, and Appellate Divisions. Pathways will house and transform the Office’s practices relating to:

  • Specialized Court Parts, including the Alternatives to Incarceration Court Part, Mental Health Court, Veterans Treatment Court, Human Trafficking Intervention Court, the Youth Part, and more.
  • Diversion Opportunities and Alternatives to Incarceration, including programming through Manhattan Justice Opportunities and pre-arraignment diversion programs such as Project Reset and Project HOPE, as well as the Office’s restorative justice practices.
  • New Yorkers Re-Entering Communities from Incarceration, including the Reentry Task Force.

Additionally, Pathways will provide each of the Office’s six Trial Division bureaus with a dedicated prosecutor to help proactively identify appropriate opportunities for diversion at the beginning stages of a case in the Office’s Early Case Assessment Bureau. The Pathways prosecutors will continue to be a resource throughout the pendency of each case, fully integrating diversion into the Office’s infrastructure from arraignment to sentencing. Incarceration will continue to be an available outcome for the most serious offenses, particularly for those who commit violent crimes.

In the coming months, the Division will work in partnership with the community to develop and implement new community-based intervention and prevention efforts. The Division will support community-led public safety models utilizing restorative justice, mentorship, education, and employment resources.

About Sherene Crawford

Sherene served as an Assistant D.A. in Manhattan from 2009 to 2014, where she served in Trial Bureau 40 and in the specialized units of cybercrimes, public assistance fraud, domestic violence, and sex crimes. She later served in multiple capacities at the Center for Court Innovation, most recently as the Director of its new Strategic Planning and Impact Department. Before obtaining her law degree, Sherene spent nearly a decade working with survivors of intimate partner violence at Safe Horizon and the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.