Art for low-level offenses

Brooklyn District Attorney, Eric Gonzalez speaking at the Brooklyn Museum.
Brooklyn DA Office

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez on Wednesday announced that Project Reset, an art-based diversion program for those arrested for minor offenses, has been launched in Brooklyn through a partnership with the Brooklyn Museum, the Center for Court Innovation (CCI), The Legal Aid Society and Brooklyn Defender Services.

Gonzalez said the program allows those charged with certain misdemeanors who receive a desk appearance ticket (DAT) to resolve their cases by completing the diversion course without ever having to set foot in court.

The Brooklyn Museum offers two courses – one for young adults up to 25 and another for adults 26 and up.

To date, Gonzalez said 182 people have completed Project Reset and had their cases dismissed, estimating that more than 1,000 cases will be eligible annually.

Project Reset, which began in Brooklyn as a pilot program in 2015 for 16- and 17-year-olds, has now been implemented in Manhattan and a number of precincts in the Bronx.

Brooklyn is the only borough where all defendants who receive DATs are eligible without restrictions, Gonzalez said.

“Project Reset aligns with my commitment to reduce our reliance on convictions and incarceration while still holding offenders accountable,” he said. “This program addresses the conduct of those who commit misdemeanor offenses and confronts the consequences of their actions in a more meaningful way than traditional court sanctions.

“I am especially proud that we have partnered with the Brooklyn Museum because involving our local communities and Brooklyn’s incredible cultural institutions as partners in justice is one of my goals as we strive to strengthen fairness and trust,” he added.

“This partnership helps harness the transformative power of art as a response to low-level crimes,” Gonzalez continued. “With the forthcoming expansion of DAT arrests under the new criminal justice reform law taking effect next year, this program will help us handle misdemeanors more efficiently and equitably while reducing the footprint of the criminal justice system.”

Project Reset is funded through appropriations from the New York City Council, the Cohen Foundation, the Tow Foundation, and the Art for Justice Fund.

Gonzalez said the program is in alignment with Justice 2020, his plan of action aimed at “keeping Brooklyn safe and strengthening community trust by ensuring fairness and equal justice for all, which calls for, among other things, making jail the alternative.”

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