The Bronx Defenders is a public defense nonprofit that provides innovative, holistic, and client-centered services to low-income people of the Bronx. The organization’s services include criminal defense, family defense, immigration representation, civil legal services, social work support and advocacy. Our staff of over 300 represents nearly 32,000 individuals each year and reaches many more through outreach programs and community legal education.
An arrest and criminal charge alone can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. In New York State, more than 1 in 3 people arrested are never convicted of any crime or offense, yet they suffer dramatic consequences as a result of their arrest alone. This collateral damage, and the instability that results, can be far more devastating than any of the direct penalties that accompany the criminal conviction.
We operate on multiple levels: as a provider of Holistic Defense working one-on-one with clients and families; as a community resource; and as a force for systemic change. We challenge the entrenched problems that drive individuals into the justice system by harnessing the power of community organizing, leadership development, impact litigation, and legislative reform.
Our diverse staff includes criminal, family, immigration, housing, and employment attorneys, social workers, benefits specialists, investigators, community organizers, team administrators, civil legal, parent, and immigration advocates.
Our story began in September 1997, when eight people met in front of a small storefront in the South Bronx to change the way low-income people were represented in the criminal justice system: a small, dedicated group of lawyers, a social worker, an office manager, a part-time investigator and a receptionist. Today, clients walking through our doors are met with a staff of over 300 advocates who remain as committed to public defense as ever.