This year’s conference, held in Troy, New York at the prestigious Franklin Plaza, featured presentations and speakers that addressed some of the most pressing topics in the pretrial field across New York State, and nationally. Centered on the theme of bail reform and the impacts of the 2019 state legislation, pretrial staff and state leaders engaged in several forums to discuss key challenges experienced as practitioners, the needs of their programs and clients, and best practices in their county. Some topics included Transitional Housing and Reentry, the Role of Peer Professionals Working at the Intersection of Pretrial and Recovery, Practical Strategies for Employee Wellness, and Restorative Justice.
The New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) was honored to participate in three of the fourteen presentations. The first was a presentation and group exercise led in partnership with the President of NYAPSA, along with pretrial and Board leadership from Nassau County and Warren County. Presenters shared information regarding pretrial best practices, legal obligations statewide, and guided participants in a peer sharing and action planning process. Furthermore, participants learned about technical assistance tools and resources available from NYAPSA.
The second presentation, led by a panel of four CJA staff, offered concrete strategies for supporting people in returning to court and preventing unnecessary warrants. Presenters highlighted findings from research and practice, key information technology considerations for building a court date notification system, and micro strategies for supporting client engagement across the pretrial continuum.
The third presentation, led by two CJA staff, focused on trauma-informed care, the benefits of incorporating certain practices into one’s pretrial work, and ways CJA has embedded trauma-informed care across the agency. Participants learned how to enhance their work using trauma-informed care to support staff retention, safety, and wellness for all. They also built their own self-care and resilience plans and learned to implement these plans as a part of training for their agency.
There were two sessions featuring professionals and people with lived experience in the criminal legal system who described the work underway in their own jurisdictions, their own experiences, and delved into the critical considerations and steps necessary to promote and advance peer recovery across the justice system continuum.
Dr. Kelly Ramsey, Chief of Medical Services from the New York State Office of Addiction Services and Supports, spoke alongside her colleague about low threshold services and why they are important to engage individuals in care. She also discussed novel psychoactive substances and what health professionals are seeing in New York State, utilization of harm reduction strategies to decrease the risk of fatality due to polysubstance overdose, and safety procedures such as the use of test strips and naloxone.
Judge Edwina G. Richardson-Mendelson, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives at the NYS Unified Courts was the Keynote Speaker and uplifted the critical role of pretrial service agencies in the criminal legal system. Participants also heard from state leaders representing the Office of Court Administration and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, along with experts and researchers in the field, on recent pretrial outcomes and efforts being made to continue supporting the work of county pretrial programs statewide.
NYAPSA aims to expand the group’s pretrial community this upcoming year and will plan for another fruitful 2024 conference that includes pretrial leaders and practitioners statewide. To learn more about how to become a NYAPSA member, visit: https://www.nyapsa.org/join.