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Rochester Surviving and Finding Empowerment Court (SAFE) Project

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)

The New York State Unified Court System (NYS-UCS), Rochester Surviving and Finding Empowerment Court [SAFE] formally known as the Rochester Human Trafficking Intervention Court [RHTIC], proposes to provide enhanced services to defendants with mental health illness or co-existing illness. SAFE Court requests $550,000.

The target population are offenders involved with the criminal justice system who are victims of human trafficking or are offenders with unresolved trauma stemming from sexual exploitation. Participants have either MHDs or MHSUDs. SAFE will serve 100 participants over the life of the grant.

99% of current SAFE participants identify as women, nearly half are people of color, and 100% live in poverty. All are charged with various criminal offenses and have unresolved trauma stemming from sexual exploitation, resulting in criminal justice involvement. Developing case management strategies that empower participants will be a focus.   

An internal evaluation showed a 179% increase in participants from 2022-2023. Funding will be used to hire a Case Manager and Peer Support Specialist to provide support for the rapidly increasing number of participants. A program evaluator will also be hired.

The evaluation also showed that linking participants to mental health treatment within 10 days was critical to achieving better outcomes. When linked within 10 days, participants were less likely to have a bench warrant issued for their arrest. 87% of graduates were linked within 10 days. No graduates were re-arrested, resulting in a recidivism rate of 0%.

Conversely, failing to link participants to mental health treatment within 10 days resulted in negative outcomes. Those not linked within 10 days accounted for 70% of active warrants and were more likely to have a warrant issued for their arrest. 4 participants were unsuccessful. 100% of those participants were not linked within 10 days.

SAFE will collaborate with Rochester Institute of Technology Behavioral Health Clinic [RIT] to link participants to mental health treatment within 10 days and close that identified gap. RIT will offer participants trauma informed cognitive behavioral therapy and other appropriate mental health intervention services. RIT is a member of APPIC and the program is APA accredited.

SAFE will also collaborate with BreatheDeep, Inc. to provide a mental health program that focuses on effective strategies of restorative wellness for marginalized communities impacted by trauma and mental health.

SAFE Court is a JMHCP grant fund recipient and gives permission to share the Abstract.

Date Created: September 26, 2023