Legal Aid Society

Projects, Units & Initiatives

MICA Project

Since 2002, the Legal Aid Society’s Enhanced-Defense MICA Project has provided legal and community support services to some of the most vulnerable defendants in New York City’s criminal justice system (CJS). These individuals, struggling to live with serious co-occurring mental illness and addiction problems, are often underserved and victimized while incarcerated in our jails and prisons. The MICA Project’s inter-disciplinary team model partners mental health attorneys with licensed social workers to address the comprehensive needs of each client. Our main focus is to secure alternatives to incarceration for clients who can be legally diverted from jail/prison into community-based treatment.

Once a client is receiving community treatment, our unique defense-based bridge case management approach enables us to provide 18-24 months of community social services and monitoring. This reduces their future utilization of high-cost emergency services, such as psychiatric hospitals, or going through a revolving door in and out of the CJS. The Project is committed to addressing the systemic and policy issues which contribute to gaps and/or ineffective collaborations between community treatment and criminal justice systems. We are central players in NYC’s five mental health courts and often represent the defense practice in forums and symposia related to problem-solving courts.


The Project collaborates with many criminal justice and community-based treatment providers. We are standing members of various NYC committees and workgroups and provide extensive training and consultation to the criminal justice field and community providers. The Project outcomes have demonstrated a measurable way to avoid wasting resources on jails and prisons, by investing in the treatment of people with co-occurring mental illness and addiction issues.