What if everyone had access to a lawyer when they needed it the most?
Good Call | Product Design
Good Call is a free 24/7 hotline that connects people with a lawyer and alerts their loved ones in case of an arrest, with just one phone call. Good Call aims to provide better legal support during the arrest process.
For many low-income communities of color in New York, police interaction and arrests for minor offenses are common. They are not innocent until proven guilty. When arrested, you are stripped of your belongings and your cell phone is taken away so you can only make calls to numbers you had memorized. This makes it difficult to reach your families, and nearly impossible to reach a lawyer. If that's not bad enough, you usually meet your public defenders for the first time just minutes before your arraignment, which is hardly enough time to prepare a fair case. This lack of support makes the arrest process confusing and painful, and often times lead to undeserved jail time and life-long consequences. Research shows that people who await trial in jail are 4x more likely to be incarcerated.
80% of detainees in NYC jails haven't been convicted of any crime and are just awaiting their trial
We interviewed dozens of low-income New Yorkers about their experiences with the arrest process, and learned that they weren’t able to get the information and support they needed to navigate the process and receive a fair outcome. We heard from people who lost their jobs, were kicked out of school, and spent weeks in jail, simply because their public defender didn’t have the time or ability to verify their community ties and convince a judge that they should be released. We identified a clear need for earlier legal intervention. Detainees’ cell phones are taken away, but they do get a few phone calls, so we decided to use one of those calls to facilitate this intervention.
We also interviewed legal service providers like the Bronx Defenders and learned that lawyers want more time to prepare arraignment cases and contact their client’s loved ones to collect information. They tried to run hotlines to achieve this, but had challenges coordinating staffing and directing calls to the right people.
We ran a 6 month pilot with the Bronx Defenders in the Bronx. During the pilot we processed over 300 calls and got over 150 sign ups, validating the want and need of Good Call from our communities, callers, and our legal service provider partners.
We have connected over 500 people with legal help with under a hold time of a minute. Good Call currently operates in the Bronx in partnership with The Bronx Defenders and The Legal Aid Society and is preparing to cover the rest of NYC.