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Pilot Program Overview

The Indigent Defense Services Department is excited to announce the upcoming launch of its Defender Support Unit (DSU) pilot program! The pilot program, which will embed social workers as part of the defense team, is expected to launch in October 2023 to expand the availability of holistic defense services for clients represented by managed assigned counsel in Wayne County, MI.

There is evidence that social workers engaged as part of a defense team can help improve legal outcomes for represented clients, including reduced use of pre-trial detention, fewer carceral sentences, and shorter overall sentence length. Using a collaborative defense model, social workers are well-equipped to address the collateral consequences of criminal/legal system involvement (e.g. loss of housing, employment) and help clients meet basic and behavioral health needs (e.g. connection to public benefits, community resources, and services for mental health or substance use conditions).

Learn more about the available services
During its pilot phase, the DSU will initially be staffed by the Lead Advocate and will add additional advocates to its team in 2024. The Lead Advocate is a licensed master social worker with full clinical licensure, specialized education in substance use disorders, and holds a certificate in sentence mitigation from the National Alliance of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists. In addition, the Lead Advocate has over 10 years of experience working with people impacted by the criminal/legal system and interfacing with community providers, courts, and corrections officials to advocate for people served.

The DSU will serve a limited number of clients during its pilot phase. If you are an attorney on the managed assigned counsel roster and are interested in collaborating with the DSU, you must first participate in a one-on-one meeting with our Lead Advocate before submitting your first social work request.

Schedule meeting with our Lead Advocate