The Bronx Defenders is a public defender nonprofit that is radically transforming how low-income people in the Bronx are represented in the justice system and, in doing so, is transforming the system itself.
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 have pioneered a ground-breaking, nationally recognized model of defense called holistic defense that achieves better outcomes for our clients. Each year, we defend 27,000 low-income Bronx residents in criminal, civil, child welfare, and immigration cases each year, and we reach thousands more through our community intake and outreach programs. But we don’t stop there. We take what we learn and launch innovative initiatives designed to bring about real and lasting change for the communities we serve.
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.