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Educational Materials for Individuals, Service Providers & Others
- After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry
- The first-ever comprehensive study of the legal barriers in all 50 states that people with criminal records must overcome in order to lead productive, law-abiding lives and successfully rejoin society. The report documents state laws and policies that prevent qualified individuals with arrest and conviction records from obtaining employment, housing, food stamps & public assistance, and drivers' licenses, and from voting and becoming adoptive and foster parents; grades states on whether their laws and policies help or hinder the ability of people with criminal records to reenter society successfully; and provides policy recommendations.
- Are you Somebody with HIV/AIDS? An Alcohol or Drug History? A Criminal Record? (Updated 2012)
- This booklet is for New Yorkers with HIV or AIDS, a drug or alcohol problem and/or a criminal record who want to know their rights to be free of discrimination. It explains: laws that forbid discrimination; limits on what employers, landlords, and others may ask; how to get a job or housing despite the stigma associated with HIV, addiction, and having a criminal record; and what to do when confronted with illegal discrimination.
(Funded by the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute)
- Bench Guide (2006)
- This bench guide is a resource for New York City Supreme and Criminal Court judges, providing information on all the alternative to incarceration (ATI) programs in NYC funded by the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives. The bench guide lists programs that provide services to criminal justice involved individuals who have no special needs, as well as programs that provide specialized services, such as services for youth, Spanish speakers or victims of domestic violence or child abuse, as well as HIV, drug treatment or mental health services. In addition, the bench guide specifies whether these programs accept male and/or female clients, the county these programs serve, as well as whether they accept individuals with co-occurring disorders and predicate felons. The guide also describes the services provided by these programs, their assessment process, and well as contact information for each program.
- Changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws and What They Mean for You (2011)
This guide explains the 2004, 2005 and 2009 amendments to the Rockefeller Drug Laws, including:
- the judicial diversion program that gives judges the authority to divert eligible individuals from prison into community-based treatment;
- the provision that allow certain convictions to be “conditionally sealed”; and
- the non-jail/prison sentencing options available to judges.
- Criminal Records and Employment: Protecting yourself from discrimination (2013)
- This manual explains what New York employers may and may not ask about your criminal record, how you should describe your record, and what rights you have to be free of job discrimination because of your record.
- For hard copies of this booklet, visit our online store.
- Employment Discrimination and What to Do About It (Updated 2002)
- This manual informs service providers about the state and federal laws that protect clients with criminal records, histories of alcohol and drug problems, and HIV/AIDS from being discriminated against by employers. It also provides practical guidance on how clients should handle discussions of these issues in job interviews and on employment applications.
(Funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, and New York State Assembly)
- Employment Laws Affecting Individuals with Criminal Convictions (2000)
- This summary describes the employment laws that govern people with criminal records.
(Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice)
Housing Laws Affecting Individuals with Criminal Convictions
(Published 2000) (2 pp.)
- This summary describes the federal public housing laws that govern the admission and eviction of people with criminal histories into federally assisted housing. (Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice)
- How to Gather Evidence of Rehabilitation (2006)
- Explains how job applicants with criminal records and/or alcohol and drug histories can get evidence of rehabilitation to help obtain employment.
- How to Get Section 8 or Public Housing Even with a Criminal Record
- This manual tells people in New York City how they can get into Section 8 and public housing even if they – or someone in their household – has a criminal record or is in recovery from a drug problem. The manual is designed for applicants and their advocates. It contains the New York City Housing Authority admissions policies for people with criminal records and recent illegal drug use, and step-by-step suggestions for how people can gather the evidence of rehabilitation necessary to gain housing. It also includes sample letters of reference – the type people really need to convince housing authorities of their rehabilitation. Though the manual focuses on New York City Housing Authority policies, its chapter on How Can You Win Your Hearing? can help people applying to other local housing authorities marshal their best evidence of rehabilitation.
- How to Obtain Important Documents (Updated 2007)
- This recently updated guide tells consumers in New York State how to apply for and obtain important documents, including driver's licenses, non-driver I.D. cards, social security cards, birth certificates, voter registration, naturalization cards and passports. These documents are vital because they are often needed to obtain employment, housing, public assistance, etc.
- Know Your Rights: Are You in Recovery from Alcohol or Drug Problems? (2006)
- Gives people in treatment and in recovery, as well as their allies, information needed to fight discrimination. Describes federal laws prohibiting employment, housing, and other discrimination against people with alcohol and drug problems. To learn more about state anti-discrimination laws, read materials distributed at the Legal Action Center’s “Know Your Rights trainings” held in Alaska, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Texas.
- Conozca Sus Derechos: ¿Está recuperándose de problemas con el alcohol o las drogas? (2006)
- Este folleto da a las personas en tratamiento o recuperándose, tan bien como sus aliados, la información necesaria para luchar contra la discriminación. Le da un descripción de las leyes federales que prohíben la discriminación en el empleo, vivienda y otra discriminación contra las personas con problemas de alcohol y drogas.
- Know Your Rights: Understanding Juvenile & Criminal Records and Their Impact on Employment in New York State (2009)
- This booklet was written to educate young people who have been involved in the criminal justice system, and those that work with them, on the challenges they might face when seeking employment and what can be done to lessen barriers.
- Legal Action Center's Leading Cases
- This document describes the rulings and provides legal citations of many of the landmark court decisions won by the Legal Action Center.
- Lowering Criminal Record Barriers: Certificates of Relief/Good Conduct and record sealing (2012)
- This manual explains which cases are eligible to be sealed and how to seal them. It also explains who is eligible for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct, which can improve your chances of getting a job or housing, as well as how to apply for these Certificates. (For hard copies of this booklet, visit our online store.)
- Occupational Licensing Survey (2006)
- Conducted by the Legal Action Center, this publication details the criteria for applying and being eligible to obtain many different New York State issued occupational licenses.
- Setting the Record Straight: What New York State Defense Attorneys Need to Know About the Civil Consequences of Client Criminal Records
- This guidebook explains to New York State defense attorneys the importance of rap sheet accuracy and the process for correcting errors. It also addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction in New York State. (Funded by the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives)
- Welfare As We Know It Now: What New York's New Welfare Laws Mean for People with Criminal Records, Substance Abuse Histories and HIV/AIDS (2000)
- This manual describes New York State and federal welfare laws, including eligibility categories, time limits, and work requirements, with particular attention to the provisions affecting individuals with criminal records, alcohol and drug histories, and HIV/AIDS. (Available as a manual for service providers and as a pamphlet for clients in both English and Spanish) (Funded by the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives and New York State Assembly)
- Your New York State Rap Sheet: A guide to getting, understanding, and correcting your criminal record (2013)
- This manual tells you how to get a copy of your criminal record and how to correct any mistakes in it. It also explains how and what information employers get about your record and when they can get it. (For hard copies of this booklet, visit our online store.)
Blueprint for Criminal Justice Reform
The “Blueprint for Criminal Justice Reform in New York – Bringing Justice to Scale,” is a comprehensive plan for improving New York’s criminal justice system with a particular focus on community corrections, sentencing reform and reentry. The Coalition for Criminal Justice Reform developed the Blueprint after thorough consultation with a wide range of stakeholders around the State and after a broad review of relevant research, articles and books. The Blueprint is based on the fundamental principles that reform must be bipartisan; a coherent vision and comprehensive plan will increase public safety, reduce criminal justice costs and strengthen affected communities; and sentences must be rational, proportionate and fair. The Blueprint focuses on sentencing reform and expansion of community corrections and community- and family-focused reentry, because these are three policy reforms New York can implement that research has shown will further reduce crime, cut costs, help people, and build communities.
Cost Savings that Would Arise to New York Under the Assembly’s Drug Law Reform Bill (A7080 of 2003) (2003) (15 pages)
This report, released in March 2003, found that New York would save over $164 million if the Assembly’s reform legislation for the Rockefeller-era Drug Laws was enacted.
Drug Law Reform - Dramatic Cost-Savings for New York State (2002)
A groundbreaking report, released in April 2002, that calculates the cost savings that would accrue to New York State if the Rockefeller-era Drug Laws were reformed. The report determines the amount of money that would be saved by diverting individuals from prison to community-based treatment as well as savings from decreased health care costs and welfare rolls and increased tax contributions. (Underwritten by the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation and Jason and Wendy Flom)
Drug Law Reform - How Dramatic the Impact? (2001)
A groundbreaking report, released in April 2001, that analyzes the impact of various Rockefeller Drug Law reform bills and proposals. This is the first public study to use data from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. The report examines how many offenders committed to the Department of Corrections in 2000 under mandatory sentencing laws would have been eligible for judicial diversion into community-based drug and alcohol treatment under four sentencing reform proposals: The Governor's original bill, the Assembly's original bill, and two variations of reform proposals. The Governor and Assembly majority have since released new proposals. (Underwritten by the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation and Jason and Wendy Flom)
From Hard Time to Full Time: Strategies to Help Move Ex-Offenders from Welfare to Work (2001)
This guidebook addresses the employment barriers arising from conviction histories and strategies for dealing with those barriers. It also contains a list of criminal justice repositories, attorneys general and labor department contacts in each of the 50 states. (Funded, printed and distributed through the U.S. Department of Labor)
This report discusses policy issues at the intersection of welfare and criminal justice policy, identifies barriers to employment of qualified ex-offenders, examines the effectiveness of ex-offender employment programs, and offers state policy recommendations for improving the success of ex-offender parents. (Funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation)
This letter, signed onto by 21 addiction treatment and criminal justice organizations, presents recommendations to the federal government for changes in benefits and services that would improve the success of families with parents whose alcoholism, drug dependence, or criminal record act as a barrier to self-sufficiency.
The Problem of RAP Sheet Errors (2013) (7 pp.)
A detailed examination of error rates and types of errors in nearly 3500 RAP sheets, obtained between 2008 and 2011. The report determined that at least 30% of the records obtained by LAC's clients contained at least one error, with some containing as many as ten or more. An additional 7% of the records also appeared to have errors, but this could not be verified because of difficulties in obtaining the necessary information from police, courts, parole, probation and other authorities, especially in regards to older cases – some of the incomplete records date back to the 1950s and 60’s.
Public Assistance Laws Affecting Individuals with Criminal Convictions (2000) (1 p.)
This summary describes the federal public assistance laws that govern the eligibility of people convicted of drug felonies for federally-funded cash assistance and Food Stamps and summarizes the ways in which states implemented, modified, or opted out of the federal ban. (Funded by the U.S. Department of Justice)
Safe at Home: A Reference Guide for Public Housing Officials on the Federal Housing Laws Regarding Admission and Eviction Standards for People with Criminal Records
Public housing policies in this country are governed by a complex set of federal laws and regulations, local policy directives, ordinances, and judicial case law. The rules concerning the eligibility of people who have criminal records are particularly confusing. This guidebook explains what the federal housing laws require, highlights those areas where public housing agencies (PHAs) have discretion to craft their own admission and eviction policies related to people with criminal records, and offers recommendations on effective ways to use that discretion to simultaneously meet important public safety goals and the housing needs of people with criminal records. Our report shows that the establishment of balanced and fair policies by PHAs that give individuals with criminal records the opportunity to apply for or remain in public housing will not only help these individuals successfully reintegrate, but will also increase public safety by reducing recidivism and relapse.
Smart Solutions: Individuals with Criminal Histories: A Potential Untapped Resource (2002)
This guide helps employers answer frequently asked questions about the hiring of people with conviction records, including the advantages that can accrue, the experiences of other businesses, the laws governing the hiring of people with criminal records, and guidance on recruiting qualified employees. (Co-written by The Welfare to Work Partnership and the Urban Institute)
Syringe Disposal Survey Report of Findings and Recommendations (2002)
This report describes the results of a survey of syringe disposal facilities in selected hospitals and nursing homes around New York City. The report is part of LAC's research and advocacy efforts on New York State's syringe deregulation initiatives.
Testimony of the Legal Action Center - In Support of Resolution 1521: Legislation to Enact the Second Chance Program (2000)
Testimony given in October 2000, before the New York City Council, in favor of the Second Chance legislation. This legislation would provide an opportunity for certain non-violent offenders who demonstrate sufficient evidence of rehabilitation to have their criminal records sealed for civil purposes.
Fact Sheet for Policy Makers: Welfare Reform - Implementing Drug Felony Conviction Provisions (1996) (3 pp.)
This fact sheet discusses states' policy options for opting out or narrowing the 1996 federal welfare law's ban on benefits for individuals with drug felony convictions.
Welfare, Workforce Development & Ex-Offenders: Background Paper (2001) (10 pp.)
This paper, prepared as background for participants in a Department of Labor conference, examines policy issues related to how the welfare and workforce development systems are serving ex-offenders.
Descriptions of Local Housing Agencies (Winter 2001)
LAC compiled summaries of the admission and eviction guidelines and procedures affecting people with criminal records in thirteen local housing agencies around the country.
- Agencies surveyed include:
- San Francisco, California
- El Paso County, Colorado
- Sussex and New Castle Counties, Delaware
- Broward County, Florida
- Linn, Black Hawk, Johnson, and Polk Counties, Iowa
- Fayette and Jefferson Counties and Louisville, Kentucky
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Lowell, Massachusetts
- New York City, New York; Richland County, Ohio; Spokane, Washington; and Grant, Mineral and Tucker Counties, West Virginia.