(NEW YORK, NY) – Neighborhood Defender Service (NDS) Executive Director Rick Jones issued the following statement regarding the enormous contributions of New York City Mayor David Dinkins to Harlem, to New York, and to public defense:

“Public defenders, their clients, families and communities across the country owe a debt of gratitude to David Dinkins. Mayor Dinkins was the first, and still only, African American mayor in the history of NYC; he was also a Harlem kid, lawyer, politician and citizen, who understood the dreams, aspirations and needs of the residents of Northern Manhattan. So, when a group of lawyers, social workers, advocates and credible community messengers brought the idea of client-centered, early-entry, community based, multi-forum, team defense with aftercare to him in 1990, he got it right away — and holistic public defense was born in Harlem. NDS got its start in Northern Manhattan thanks, in part, to the courage, compassion and vision of Mayor David Dinkins. And from that start, thirty years ago, holistic public defense in NYC, NYS, across the country and around the world has done better for its clients, their families and communities — bringing justice to those farthest from its reach. Lives saved, deportation avoided, families intact, neighborhoods strengthened.

“There is still a long way to go to end the oppression, injustice, unfairness and racism endemic in our legal system and society, and NDS continues to be at the forefront of that struggle. David N. Dinkins, though gone now to his rest, is one who will be counted among those who, in their lifetime, helped our community along the way.  While his legacy will forever be intact, he will nonetheless be missed.”


Sam McCann, Communications Specialist, NDS
Email: smccann@ndsny.org