The Trace: Promising Crime Solutions Are Being Undermined by Flawed Federal Ratings, Researchers Say

“For more than two decades, the Bronx Defenders has provided a holistic form of legal aid to indigent residents in New York. In addition to pro-bono criminal defense, lawyers help clients with the gamut of social and legal challenges that often surface in the wake of an arrest. The work is expensive, and like many nonprofits, the program has relied on client testimonials, surveys, and tireless advocacy to make the case to legislators and deep-pocketed donors that it’s worth funding.

But in January 2019, fighting to keep the lights on got a little bit easier. Researchers from the RAND Corporation and the University of Pennsylvania performed an evaluation of the Bronx Defenders, and found that it has overwhelmingly succeeded: The program cut pretrial detention time by 9 percent; it reduced incarceration rates by 16 percent; and it shortened sentence lengths by 24 percent, an amount researchers concluded had saved taxpayers an estimated $165 million. Those findings, published in the prestigious Harvard Law Review, confirmed what Executive Director Justine Olderman already believed, and provided her with ironclad evidence for the organization’s future funding pitches.”

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