Center for Community Alternatives' Weissman Honored by Defenders Association

ALBANY, NY (07/28/2015)(readMedia)-- Marsha Weissman, founder and long-time Executive Director of the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), received the Service of Justice Award from the New York State Defenders Association (NYSDA) on Monday, July 27, 2015 during NYSDA's Annual Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY.

NYSDA recognized Weissman for effectively promoting community-based alternatives to incarceration and sentencing advocacy as key components of justice. Working both systemically and in individual cases, Weissman and CCA focus on the strengths of clients and communities, address their individualized needs, and further human and civil rights.

The award recognized that public defense attorneys and their clients have benefitted directly and indirectly from Weissman's work. From the many publications she has written or co-authored – many available on the CCA website – to her contributions to organizations like NYSDA, on whose Board of Directors she serves, Weissman has long been, as the plaque she received says, "a beacon for best practices."

NYSDA's Service of Justice Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have provided outstanding support to public defense and to the Association. Susan R. Horn, President and CEO of the Frank H. Hiscock Legal Aid Society in Syracuse, presented the award.

Weissman has served on NYSDA's Board since 1990, including in the offices of Treasurer and Vice President. Edward J. Nowak, President of NYSDA's Board, noted Weissman's work with a variety of stakeholders to improve the justice system by focusing on clients. He also praised her scholarship regarding and concern for those too often ignored – clients of color, clients whose status as women affect their treatment in and outside the system, and juvenile clients – and her forceful advocacy for those whose main crimes were being poor as well as for those spurned by society due to the nature of their convictions.

"By exemplifying the role of client advocate, bringing to bear both careful analysis and a passion for justice, Weissman has helped judges, lawyers, and policy makers see the value of alternatives to incarceration – and the value of every client," said Jonathan E. Gradess, Executive Director of NYSDA.

This award and others were presented during the evening between two full days of continuing legal education (CLE). NYSDA provides affordable, high-quality CLE relevant to public defense practice at statewide as well as regional events as part of its mission. A not-for-profit, membership organization, NYSDA has been providing support to New York's public defense community since 1967. Its mission is to improve the quality and scope of publicly supported legal representation to low income people.