• LAC Congratulates Governor, Legislature on Creation of Justice Center

    June 22, 2012
    NEW YORK, June 22, 2012 -- The Legal Action Center congratulates Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the Legislature on the passage of legislation this week that creates the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. Protecting those who are least able to protect themselves must be a priority of government, and the Justice Center goes a long way toward ensuring that New York’s most vulnerable citizens in state-run and state-supported programs will be protected from abuse and neglect.

    We also applaud Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos for their openness to input from advocates and the treatment and provider field as they worked to reach agreement on this important reform.

    One suggestion LAC is heartened to see adopted allows those most knowledgeable about the needs of the addiction treatment population -- the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) and the treatment providers -- to determine the relevance of an applicant's criminal history in hiring or certification.

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  • Need-to-Know News: April 27, 2012

    April 27, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • As we reported earlier this week, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has issued new, forward-thinking guidance to employers on the use of criminal records in hiring decisions. Legal Action Center and its National H.I.R.E. Network applaud the new guidance, which is critical to ensuring a fair chance for qualified people with criminal histories to compete and participate in the labor market. Read our full press release for details.

    Also in this issue:

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  • LAC, HIRE Applaud EEOC Guidance on Use of Criminal Records in Hiring

    April 26, 2012
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Nicole Collins Bronzan
    Director of Communications
    (212) 243-1313 / ncollins@lac.org

    NEW YORK, April 26, 2012 -- The Legal Action Center and its National H.I.R.E. Network applaud the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s newly issued guidance to employers on the use of criminal records in hiring decisions.

    With background checks ever more prevalent in job screening, this forward-thinking guidance is critical to ensuring a fair chance for qualified people with criminal histories to compete and participate in the labor market. LAC and HIRE wholeheartedly support the new guidance, including provisions that:

    • Put employers on notice that categorical exclusions for people with certain convictions may violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964 because of the disparate impact on minorities.
    • Recommend that job applications not ask about criminal records, and that if they do ask, they limit inquiries to records for which exclusion would be job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.
    • Offer examples of common policies and practices that violate Title VII.
    • Inform local and state governments that laws barring people with certain criminal records from jobs or licenses also could violate Title VII.
    While the EEOC guidance does not change the law, it makes clearer the steps employers must take to comply with it. In doing so, the guidance addresses the challenges faced by many of the thousands of individuals with criminal histories that Legal Action Center has represented in New York State and that its National H.I.R.E. Network continues to advocate for across the country.

    "As individuals endeavor to turn their lives around, it’s key for employers to consider their convictions on a case-by-case basis instead of using blanket bans and arbitrary criteria," said Sally Friedman, LAC’s legal director. "Especially with the kind of errors we see every day on rap sheets, employers can’t possibly treat applicants fairly any other way."

    Not only that, the commission’s parameters for a claim of discrimination will force employers with discriminatory policies to make big changes, said Roberta Meyers, director of the National HIRE Network. "As someone who has been fighting against this type of discrimination for decades, all I can say is, wow," she said. "This is an incredibly strong stance that really raises the bar for employers and opens doors to qualified applicants who have repeatedly been turned away."

    The Legal Action Center is the only public interest law and policy organization in the United States whose sole
    mission is to fight discrimination against and protect the privacy of people in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction,
    individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and people with criminal records.

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  • Need-to-Know News: March 30, 2012

    March 30, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

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  • LAC Applauds NY Budget Deal That Increases ATI/Reentry Funds, Preserves HIV and OASAS Funds

    March 28, 2012
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Tracie Gardner
    Director of NYS Policy
    (212) 243-1313 / tgardner@lac.org

    NEW YORK, March 28, 2012 -- The Legal Action Center is pleased to support the budget agreement announced yesterday by New York's elected leaders, and especially applauds the additional $1.2 million allotted to the state's critical alternatives to incarceration and reentry programs.

    By increasing its support for ATI/Reentry programs, the state is making a wise investment in a system that has been shown to reduce crime, make our communities safer, and save our taxpayers millions of dollars each year. This vote of confidence, especially in the current economic climate, speaks volumes about New York's leadership.

    We extend special thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos; Correction Committee Chair Jeffrion Aubry and Codes Committee Chair Joseph R. Lentol in the Assembly; and in the Senate, Codes Committee Chair Steve Saland and Mike Nozzolio, chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee.

    On the HIV/AIDS front, LAC is delighted that the executive budget proposal for funding for AIDS Institute programs and other related services prevailed, including $42.3 million for the vital AIDS Drug Assistance Program. Also, the Community Service Programs (CSP) and Multiple Service Agencies initiatives each saw an increase of $525,000. Unfortunately, the 30% rent cap issue was not resolved this session.

    We are pleased to see, too, that funding for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services suffered no cuts, and that OASAS will continue to receive funds from criminal justice asset forfeitures.

    LAC looks forward to an agreement or executive order to address need for a health insurance exchange under the healthcare reform law. We urge our elected leaders to ensure that this exchange is implemented to maximize enrollment and coverage of the state's most vulnerable residents, including people suffering from addiction, mental illness, or HIV/AIDS, people involved in the criminal justice system and the homeless.

    The Legal Action Center is the only public interest law and policy organization in the United States whose sole
    mission is to fight discrimination against and protect the privacy of people in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction,
    individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and people with criminal records.

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    See more of our work on the 2012-2013 budget at Budget Central.
  • Analyzing Governor’s Budget, LAC Finds Much to Praise

    January 18, 2012
    NEW YORK, January 18, 2012 -- The Legal Action Center is pleased to support Governor Andrew Cuomo's budget plan for 2012-2013, which provides a sensible path for New York State to meet the needs of people with HIV, people with addiction and mental health issues, and people involved in the criminal justice system.

    After an analysis of the budget proposal, released yesterday, LAC is pleased to report that the governor has closed an estimated $3.5 billion deficit without significant reductions or cuts in criminal justice, addiction or HIV services.

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  • LAC Praises Governor Andrew Cuomo’s 2012 State of the State Address

    January 04, 2012
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Tracie Gardner
    Director of NYS Policy
    (212) 243-1313 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    NEW YORK, January 4, 2012 – The Legal Action Center (LAC) applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership in championing smart, compassionate and cost effective approaches to the needs of people with HIV, people with addiction and mental health issues, and people involved in the criminal justice system.

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