New York City Criminal Justice Agency

CJA works to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention in NYC.


The New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA) is an independent organization that provides pretrial services and conducts personalized outreach for people involved in the NYC justice system. CJA staff work 24/7 in each of New York City’s main courthouses and are deeply involved in the arraignment process. The organization, which is primarily funded by the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) also conducts groundbreaking research to support judges with the goal of reducing unnecessary pretrial detention.

The challenge

CJA came to us with a perception problem, which was actually a brand problem.

The organization is not part of city government but works adjacent to it, guiding people who come into the criminal justice system through the pretrial process.

Prior to our engagement, public perception was that CJA was complicit in fueling the problem of mass incarceration. In reality, they function as social workers to support those who encounter the justice system so that they make their court appearances and that they or their families can post bail.

The Opportunity

Through our branding process, we defined the real values that they brought to the work. Leaders had staked a politically neutral posture and preferred to operate as a faceless bureaucracy. But our research showed that the outside world interpreted that neutrality as complicity.

A display of business cards for the New York City Criminal Justice Agency (CJA). The cards are a mix of blue and white with text in white or black. Details include a name, position, contact information, and agency website.
A blue tote bag with white handles and text that reads "Justice in action." The bottom of the bag features the logo and text: "CJA New York City Criminal Justice Agency." The background is solid green.

Establishing a moral anchor

We advised that their nonpartisan stance should be backed by a set of stated values so it was clear that there’s a moral anchor to their work. We created a specific page on their website focused on their research ethics and values, so the public could no longer say CJA enables a broken criminal justice system. Most of all, we made ensured reducing unnecessary pretrial detention was front and center in their messaging so there was no confusion about their purpose.

Hyperakt did a good job of encouraging us to invest in an internal process to get participation of staff, and giving us a structure for doing so.
Aubrey Fox
Executive Director, New York City Criminal Justice Agency
Three men are standing around a table with a laptop, smiling and looking at a document. They are in a modern office setting with a bookshelf in the background. One man wears glasses and a beard, another has glasses, and the third is dressed in a tie and white shirt.
Top image: Three colleagues, all wearing face masks, engage in a discussion in an office setting. One person is seated, while the other two stand nearby.
Bottom image: A woman sits in a chair, smiling as she works on a laptop in a bright, modern office environment. A potted plant is seen in the foreground.
An infographic-style image from the New York City Criminal Justice Agency website. It features a tablet displaying a bar chart titled "Most Serious Charge" with an introduction to the Pretrial Release Dashboard. Contact information is provided at the top.
We are in a very different and much better place with the current version of the organizational website. It is light years better, more modernized, flexible and adaptable than the previous version.
Aubrey Fox
Executive Director, New York City Criminal Justice Agency
Screenshot of an article from CJA's website titled "Who is in Our Community Pending Trial?" by Miesha Verdierhanda. The article discusses data analysis related to pre-trial populations. A bar graph shows the most serious charge of new offenses from January to October 2020.
A bar chart shows the percentage of charges by severity over time (from January 2019 to March 2021). Categories include Misdemeanor or Less, Non-violent Felony, Violent Felony, and Unknown. The chart is color-coded with a legend at the top. A "Contact us" button is at the bottom right.
The image contains text on a light blue background. The central text reads, "There are currently over 45,000 people on pretrial release in NYC." Below this, there is a smaller text link that says, "Explore CJA's Pretrial Release Dashboard.
Three smartphones display different pages of the CJA website. The first screen shows a factsheet titled "Identifying and Addressing Pretrial Needs," the second screen has information under "What We Do," and the third screen highlights "Pretrial Services" and "Release Assessment.

Project Credits

Ready to unlock the potential of your nonprofit's brand?
Reach Out