Criminal Justice Publications
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.
Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring (2013) - It’s important for employers to remember that millions of workers with prior convictions have turned their lives around and become productive members of society. The guidebook, Best Practice Standards: The Proper Use of Criminal Records in Hiring, presents a set of concrete, practical procedures that will help employers make hiring decisions that are fair and comply with the EEOC Guidance and limit liability under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and state and local anti-discrimination laws; comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA); and minimize the risk of liability from hiring an unfit employee.
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.
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.
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.
Model Sealing Motion for Dismissed Cases and Convictions for Unlawful Possession of Marijuana (under Criminal Procedure Law §160.55) – You can use this motion to apply to have your case sealed when the case ended in your favor or you were convicted of unlawful possession of marijuana (Penal Law §221.05). Replace the highlighted text with information about the arrest you want sealed. For more information, see “Lowering Criminal Record Barriers.”
Model Motion to Seal Cases That Resulted in a Conviction for a Non Criminal-Offense (under Criminal Procedure Law §160.55) – You can use this motion to apply to have your case sealed when the case ended in certain convictions for Non-Criminal Offenses (violations or infractions). Replace the highlighted text with information about the conviction you want sealed. For more information, see “Lowering Criminal Record Barriers.”
Model Letter Asking for Written Explanation for Job Denial (under Correction Law §754) and Copy of the Background Check – Under New York law, employers must give people with criminal convictions who are denied a job can a written explanation for the denial within 30 days of the request, as well as a copy of any background check run by the employer. You can use this model letter to ask the employer why you were denied a job (and/or to ask for a copy of a background check). Replace the highlighted text with your information. For more information, see “Criminal Records and Employment.”