Popular Stories

  • Need-to-Know News: Nov. 30, 2012

    November 29, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • LAC wishes to congratulate Michael Botticelli who was sworn in on November 27th as Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Prior to joining ONDCP, Botticelli served as Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
    • This week, LAC joined a number of national and state organizations in the health, chronic disease and disability communities as a signatory to a letter urging President Obama to move forward with full implementation of the planned Medicaid coverage expansion and to reject any proposals that would permit partial expansion as an option for states.
    • Roberta Meyers, the Director of the National H.I.R.E. Network, will be appearing as an expert at a briefing of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. The briefing will examine the impact of criminal background checks and the EEOC’s conviction records policy on employment of black and Hispanic workers. It will take place at the Commission's new headquarters at 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1150 in Washington, DC on Friday, December 7th at 9:00 AM. Interested members of the public are invited to attend.
    • Tracie Gardner, LAC's Director of New York State Policy, will give a presentation on "Health Care Reform and Parity" at a December 7th conference at The Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, NY. The conference, which is being presented by the Nassau County Heroin Treatment Task Force, is titled: "Drug Crisis on LI: Current Challenges and Future Solutions." CASAC credits are available to those attending the conference. Registration costs $10 and can be done at the door.
    • Anita Marton, LAC's Vice President, will be presenting at a summit at Crouse Hospital's Marley Education Center in Syracuse on December 10th. The summit, which is being hosted by the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers (ASAP), the New York Chapter of the Society of Addiction Medicine (NYSAM) and Friends of Recovery New York (FOR-NY), is called "CNY Communities Unite: Making a Stand against Prescription and Synthetic Drug Abuse." For more information and to register, visit asapnys.org.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Nov. 16, 2012

    November 16, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • LAC’s DC staff this week participated in a meeting of the Addiction Leadership Group (a convening of national drug and alcohol organizations) to thank outgoing Congressman John Sullivan (R-OK) for all of his work on behalf of the addiction field through his co-chairmanship of the Congressional Addiction Treatment and Recovery (ATR) Caucus. Congressman Tim Ryan (D-OH), also a co-chair of the ATR Caucus, participated in the meeting and discussed priorities for the new Congress that will begin in January. Legal Action Center appreciates all of Congressmen Sullivan and Ryan’s great work on behalf of people in need of treatment and those in recovery. We look forward to continuing to work with the ATR Caucus in the next Congress.
    • Dr. Robert Fullilove, the associate dean for community and minority affairs at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and a member of LAC's board, was awarded the Allan Rosenfield Award for Public Health and Social Justice by the Public Health Association of New York City at its annual awards ceremony which was held on November 15th. The award is named after another long-term member of LAC's board who died in 2008.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Nov. 9, 2012

    November 09, 2012

    Updates from Us

      Roberta with KY Secretary of Justice and Public Safety, Michael Brown and Commissioner of the Department of Corrections, LaDonna Thompson

    • On October 30th, Roberta Meyers, the Director of LAC's National H.I.R.E. Network, spoke before the Kentucky Governor's Reentry Task Force, which is led by the Secretary of Justice & Public Safety, Michael Brown. Ms. Meyers provided an overview of national legislative and policy trends in reentry reform as well as information about available resources provided by the National H.I.R.E. Network and other national organizations that focus on reentry. The goal was to provide the Task Force with a menu of reforms to consider implementing in order to improve the reintegration of formerly incarcerated people in the state of Kentucky.
    • Anita Marton, LAC's Vice President, wrote a letter about the disenfranchisement of individuals with criminal records in New York State that was published in the November 10th issue of the New York Times. Ms. Marton's letter was written in response to an editorial in the Times that criticized laws in other states that disenfranchise individuals convicted of felonies and other offenses and pointed out that these laws are often made worse by misinformed government officials who tell people that they are ineligible to vote when they are in fact not.
    • With the elections completed, the federal government is expected to release a number of proposed regulations over the next few months on several important ACA provisions such as the Essential Health Benefits package requirements (including the mental health and substance use disorder coverage requirements), health insurance exchanges and Medicaid. The Coalition for Whole Health, co-chaired by LAC President and Director Paul Samuels, will be developing analysis and templates on these provisions as the proposed rules are released. It will be extremely important for state and local advocates to weigh in to ensure that the law is well implemented for people with addiction and mental health service needs.
    • Sally Friedman, LAC's Legal Director, will be presenting on "Legality of Denying Access to Medication Assisted Treatment" at the 9th Annual NYC Criminal Justice and Treatment Conference and Exhibit. The event, which is being organized by the Addiction Treatment Providers Association (ATPA) and the New York Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals (NYADTCP), will be held at Kingsborough Community College in Brooklyn on Friday, November 30th. CLE credits will be available for those attending Sally's presentation, as well as several of the other panels. You can register for the event here.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 26, 2012

    October 26, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • We held our annual benefit last Tuesday at the Tribeca Rooftop. The event was a huge success, raising a record $656,000 and attracting more than 300 attendees. Our honorees, Elizabeth Sacksteder, the Deputy General Counsel and Global Head of Litigation and Regulatory Investigations at Citigroup Inc., and Jim and Sue Cusack, who founded the Villa Veritas Foundation and are pioneers in the field of addiction treatment, spoke movingly about the importance of LAC's work.
    • The elections are just over a week away. Don't forget to vote! And, remember, a criminal record is rarely a barrier to voting in New York State.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 19, 2012

    October 19, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • Legal Action Center's 2012 Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit is next Tuesday, October 23 at 6pm at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City. Please join us! For more information, click here.
    • The elections are two and a half weeks away. Don't forget to vote! Remember a criminal record is rarely a barrier to voting in New York State. For more information on who can and cannot vote in New York, click here.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 12, 2012

    October 12, 2012

    Updates from Us

      Legal Action Center's 2012 Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit will take place on Tuesday, October 23 at 6pm at the Tribeca Rooftop in New York City.
      We are so proud of our amazing honorees:

      • Jim and Sue Cusack founded the Villa Veritas Foundation and are pioneers in the field of addiction treatment. They developed the first free-standing residential facility in New York State to house people with alcoholism and people with drug addiction together.
      • Elizabeth M. Sacksteder, who is the Deputy General Counsel and Global Head of Litigation and Regulatory Investigations at Citigroup Inc., has a long-standing commitment to community involvement and pro bono legal services on behalf of low-income, underserved populations.
      Information about sponsorship opportunities and individual tickets - as well as a complete list of our benefit co-chairs - is available at http://www.lac.org. A PDF copy of the invitation is also available by clicking here.

    • Important reminder: As we try to do before each election, we will be sending weekly reminders about voter registration. With the election approaching, we want to remind all of our readers to register to vote. We also want to inform our readers that a criminal record is rarely a barrier to voting in New York State. Only individuals currently incarcerated for a felony conviction and those currently on parole who have not been issued a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct may not vote. For a notice explaining who can and cannot vote, click here. To get a registration form or to find out how to register, click here.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 5, 2012

    October 08, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • Reminder: Just over two weeks to go until our 2012 Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit, coming up on Oct. 23. Purchase tickets or make your gift today!
    • Gabrielle de la Gueronniere, LAC's Director for National Policy, attended a Behavioral Health Leaders Briefing at the White House on September 24. The briefing brought together stakeholders in the substance use disorder and mental health communities to discuss issues related to health reform and parity. The event was organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and led by senior officials from the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius addressed the group, emphasizing the importance of ensuring that people with mental health and/or substance use disorder service needs receive good access to quality care. Additional speakers, including SAMHSA Administrator Pam Hyde, and senior officials from the White House, HHS, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), provided updates to the group on how various agency initiatives are seeking to address the needs of people with mental health and substance use disorder service needs.
    • The Mayor recently released the first year's report on the Young Men’s Initiative, "NYC Young Men's Initiative, Annual Report 2012". LAC (together with our partners at the Bronx Defenders, Youth Represent, the Community Service Society, NYC Probation, Correction and the Office of the Criminal Justice Coordinator) was mentioned for our role in working to help individuals clean up their rap sheet and promoting policy changes to reduce such errors in the future.
    • Important reminder: As we try to do before each election, we will be sending weekly reminders about voter registration. With the election approaching, we want to remind all of our readers to register to vote. We also want to inform our readers that a criminal record is rarely a barrier to voting in New York State. Only individuals currently incarcerated for a felony conviction and those currently on parole who have not been issued a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct may not vote. For a notice explaining who can and cannot vote, click here. To get a registration form or to find out how to register, click here.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 28, 2012

    September 28, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • IMPORTANT NOTICE FROM OUR PARTNERS AT THE BRONX DEFENDERS. PLEASE NOTIFY CLIENTS AND OTHERS: In February 2012, The Bronx Defenders and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP settled a federal class action lawsuit with New York City. As part of the settlement, the City agreed to pay $15 million to approximately 20,000 New Yorkers who were illegally charged by the New York City Police Department under unconstitutional "loitering" statutes between 1983 and this year. The unconstitutional loitering laws (now repealed) under which the NYPD illegally charged tens of thousands of New Yorkers were N.Y. Penal Law 240.35(1) ("loitering for the purpose of begging"), 240.35(3) (loitering in a public place for the purpose of engaging in "sexual behavior of a deviate nature"), and 240.35(7) (loitering in a transportation facility and "unable to give a satisfactory explanation of his presence"). In order to be included in this settlement, claims must be postmarked by October 9, 2012. Click here for a Summary Notice in English that lays out people's rights and options. For Spanish, click here. You can find all the forms, the Notice packet, the Stipulation of Settlement, and other documents here.
    • Important reminder: With the election approaching, we want to remind all of our readers to register to vote. We also want to inform our readers that a criminal record is rarely a barrier to voting in New York State. Only individuals currently incarcerated for a felony conviction and those currently on parole who have not been issued a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities or a Certificate of Good Conduct may not vote. For a notice explaining who can and cannot vote, click here. To get a registration form or to find out how to register, click here.
    • Last week, Gabrielle de la Gueronniere, LAC's Director for National Policy, along with a number of stakeholders from the chronic disease, disabilities and broader health communities met with leadership of the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Health Reform, including Director Michael Hash, Deputy Director Yvette Fontenot, and Director of Public Health Policy Mayra Alvarez, to discuss the ongoing process to define the services, including substance use disorder and mental health (SUD/MH) services, that will be covered through the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) Essential Health Benefits (EHB) package.

      During the meeting, HHS leadership identified two upcoming opportunities for public comment to HHS on the Essential Health Benefits: 1) A notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on the EHB that is expected to be issued for public comment later this fall, possibly in the next month. 2) A process for stakeholders to comment on the 50 selected state benchmark plans.

      LAC, through our role of coordinating the Coalition for Whole Health, will continue working with the field to ensure that the ACA includes strong coverage of SUD and MH services. It will be extremely important for us all to weigh in with HHS on MH and SUD coverage around the country, so please stay tuned as this process moves forward.
    • Kate Wagner-Goldstein, a staff attorney at LAC, along with representatives from the Bronx Defenders, the Fortune Society, and the Open Society Foundation, participated in a panel called "Risk of Permanent Punishment" which discussed the challenges faced by individuals who have been arrested and incarcerated, in particular racial minorities. The panel was part of the "Legal Conference for Social Justice" that was organized by 12 New York area law schools and took place on Sunday, September 23. The Conference was the first event sponsored by the Public Interest Collective (PIC), an initiative created in 2011 to facilitate collaboration between students and administrations of all New York City area law schools.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 21, 2012

    September 21, 2012

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 14, 2012

    September 14, 2012

    Updates from Us

      Tracie at Hep C conference

    • LAC's Director of New York State Policy, Tracie Gardner, was a panel member at the New York City Regional Hepatitis C Community Stakeholder Meeting, which was held on September 13 and was organized by the New York State Department of Health AIDS Institute, VOCAL-NY, the Harm Reduction Coalition and Status C Unknown. Two more meetings are scheduled, on Long Island on September 14 and in Syracuse on September 28. The forum allowed the different groups to provide information to the community about the disease and recent developments, including new treatments. It also gave the community a forum to voice its opinions and concerns about what the state is doing to combat the disease.
    • Roberta Meyers, the Director of LAC's National H.I.R.E. Network, is co-hosting a free webinar on "State Reforms Reducing Collateral Consequences for People with Criminal Records" with staff from the American Civil Liberties Union, the Crossroad Bible Institute (CBI), the National Employment Law Project (NELP), and the Sentencing Project. The webinar will be on Tuesday, September 25 from 3 to 4. To sign up, click here.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 7, 2012

    September 06, 2012

    Updates from Us

      Ringing Closing Bell

    • LAC's Director/President, Paul Samuels, joined New York State Commissioner of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), Arlene González-Sanchez, along with people in recovery and representatives from the substance use disorder field, in visiting the New York Stock Exchange and ringing The Closing Bell to mark the beginning of the 23rd annual National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month.
    • The Coalition for Whole Health (CWH), on which Paul Samuels serves as co-chair, announced that it was able to organize Recovery Rooms at both national party conventions. Our partners at Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR) again took the lead in organizing the Rooms. These Rooms were intended to serve as a safe haven for persons suffering from the effects of mental illness or substance use conditions while participating in the conventions. The Rooms were staffed by volunteers, many of whom were peers recovering from mental or substance use conditions.
    • CWH also announced that it was very excited that both party platforms voiced support for CWH's aims - improving health insurance coverage, integrated care, and prevention services for persons with mental illness and substance use conditions. The Republican Party Platform recognizes both substance use and mental illness as serious health problems (p.22) and voices strong support for health insurance coverage, clinical prevention services, and coordinated care. The platform states: “We believe that all Americans should have improved access to affordable, coordinated, quality healthcare, including individuals struggling with mental illness. (p.33)”. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party Platform strongly supports the ACA and “accessible, affordable, high quality health care…. (p. 4)”, and it acknowledges the important role of clinical prevention services. It also addresses the need for a strong health care workforce and continued investment in public health infrastructure, including community-based efforts to prevent disease (p. 5). It states that the Party "remain(s) committed to eliminating disparities in health and will continue to make sure families have access to mental health and substance abuse services. (p. 5)”.
    • CWH also released a new tool to assist state partners in determining whether the benchmark plans selected by their states comply with all of the the mental health and substance use disorder requirements for "Essential Health Benefits" included in the Affordable Care Act, including parity, non-discrimination, and other consumer protections.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC in the New York Times: Stronger Federal Oversight Needed to Correct Errors in Background Checks

    August 08, 2012

    In response to a New York Times editorial about background checks, LAC's policy associate, Sebastian Solomon, added his voice to the discussion, expressing support for The Times' position and calling for stronger oversight on the federal level. In a letter published Tuesday in The Times, Mr. Solomon stated that in addition to The Times' recommendations, the federal government should require greater oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's records before providing background checks :

    To the Editor:

    As an organization that helps people with criminal records overcome discrimination, we constantly see inaccurate information limiting those with convictions from finding employment and housing.

    We see background checks that include other people’s convictions and information that under New York law should not be reported (for example, arrests that did not result in criminal convictions).

    Checks can make records look more extensive and recent than they are. Employers and landlords assume that a person is lying when the check does not match what the person reported, leading to job and housing losses.

    In addition to your recommendations, which we strongly support, the federal government should require the Federal Bureau of Investigation to correct or exclude inaccurate information before providing background checks.

    These mistakes make it much more difficult for people with criminal records to lead law-abiding lives, feed their families and be productive members of their communities. Everyone deserves a fair shake.

    SEBASTIAN SOLOMON
    Policy Associate
    Legal Action Center
    New York, July 27, 2012

    Read the original editorial here.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 27, 2012

    July 27, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • The Legal Action Center joined nearly 3000 other organizations in signing onto a July 12 letter asking Congress to reverse the sequestration of non-defense discretionary spending scheduled to occur at the end of the year. For more information on the damage that would be done by sequestration and what sorts of funding would be affected if sequestration were to occur, click here.
    • Tracie Gardner, Legal Action Center's Director of New York State Policy, contributed a chapter to Prison Law 2012 discussing Public Health Law 206(26), the 2009 law which gave the New York State Department of Health oversight over HIV and Hepatitis C services provided to inmates incarcerated in state prison facilities.
    • Ms. Gardner will also be part of a panel discussing "Health Issues in Prison" at the Practicing Law Institute's Prison Law Program on August 3 at the PLI New York Center, located at 810 Seventh Avenue and 53rd Street. The event is being organized by the Coalition for Women Prisoners and Professor Alexander Reinert of Cardozo Law School. CLE credits are available for those wishing to attend and the event will also be webcast. To register, click here.
    • Ms. Gardner was also a presenter at a three-day training this week organized by the Advocacy Institute. The training taught the grantee organizations which attended how to navigate the City and State budget and legislative processes, how to influence the Executive at the City and State levels, how to draft and introduce legislation, and how to conduct legislative meetings.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 13, 2012

    July 13, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • LAC's Director and President, Paul Samuels, co-wrote with Ron Manderscheid, the Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors and his co-chair at the Coalition for Whole Health, "1992-2012: Two Decades of Progress for Behavioral Health Care and SAMHSA" a twenty year retrospective of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the evolution of the behavioral health field.
    • Over 70 members of the Coalition for Whole Health, which is co-chaired by Paul Samuels, held a meeting at the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on July 12 with the SAMHSA Administrator Pam Hyde, HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Sherry Glied, and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Deputy Administrator Cindy Mann to discuss issues around parity and healthcare reform.
    • In an article in Join Together's weekly newsletter, LAC's Director of National Policy, Gabrielle de la Gueronniere, discusses the impact of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Affordable Care Act, focusing in particular on the need for continued advocacy and education of lawmakers at the state level regarding the benefits of the law for people with histories of addiction.
    • Paul Samuels and Gabrielle de la Gueronniere attended the annual meeting of the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD) in Savannah, Georgia on June 28, where they led a Q&A session with NASADAD's Executive Director, Rob Morrison, and Public Policy Director, Michelle Dirst, on the Supreme Court's decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, which had been issued that morning.
    • Next Thursday, July 19 at 3, Paul Samuels will join three other speakers in a conversational webinar hosted by the Coalition for Whole Health to discuss State Advocacy Strategies on Essential Health Benefits and Medicaid Expansion in the States. Space is limited. To reserve your space, click here.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: June 29, 2012

    June 29, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • Join the National H.I.R.E. Network, the Sentencing Project and NELP on July 10 for the conference call "Advancing Reentry Reform in the States: Sharing 2011-2012 Accomplishments in Ohio and North Carolina." This free one-hour call is intended for elected officials, advocates, and others interested in learning more about what legislative reform campaigns have been successful and why. See the HIRE Network's full listing on the event for more information.
    • LAC applauded the U.S. Supreme Court's decision yesterday to uphold the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's healthcare reform legislation passed in 2010, which will ensure inclusion of substance use disorder and mental health coverage at parity in the essential health benefits that insurers must cover. Follow this link to read our initial statement on the ruling.
    • The New York Times published a letter last weekend from State Policy Director Tracie Gardner on the value of alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs in keeping communities safer while saving money. Use this link to read the letter, a response to an editorial applauding many states' recent moves to cut sentences and prison spending.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC Applauds Court Ruling Upholding Key Tenets of Health Care Reform Law

    June 28, 2012
    The Legal Action Center applauds the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling this morning upholding the Affordable Care Act, President Obama's healthcare reform legislation passed in 2010, with the sole exception that states that decline to comply with the Medicaid expansion will not risk the loss of their existing Medicaid funding.

    With this monumental ruling, the justices upheld all the provisions specific to requiring inclusion of substance use disorder and mental health coverage at parity in the essential health benefits that insurers must cover.

    Read More 

  • LAC in The New York Times: ATI/Reentry Programs Help Lower Costs and Keep Communities Safer

    June 25, 2012
    In response to a New York Times editorial applauding many states' recent moves to cut sentences and prison spending, LAC's state policy director, Tracie Gardner, added her voice to the discussion with insight on New York's successes. In a letter published Sunday in The Times, Ms. Gardner argues that alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs are an important resource in keeping communities safer while saving money:

    To the Editor:

    Indeed, the time is ripe as never before on the issue of reducing incarceration rates while preserving public safety. A critical part of this is the smart use of alternatives to incarceration and re-entry programs for people convicted of nonviolent crimes.

    New York, home to one of the most robust networks of such programs, has seen its incarcerated population decrease by more than 12,000 since 1999.

    As a result, among the 10 most populous states — including Texas, which is reforming its system — New York had the lowest incarceration rate and the lowest crime rate in 2010, according to the Pew Center on the States ("Prison Count 2010").

    It’s taken decades, but our criminal justice system is finally realizing that “tough on crime” methods are just not as effective as diverting appropriate people to community programs and helping those returning from incarceration to become productive members of society.

    By doing this, alternatives to incarceration/re-entry programs like those in New York keep communities safer while easing the burden on taxpayers.

    TRACIE GARDNER
    Director, New York State Policy
    Legal Action Center
    New York, June 15, 2012

    Read the original editorial here.

  • Need-to-Know News: June 22, 2012

    June 22, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • 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.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: June 15, 2012

    June 15, 2012

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State
    • A report from the UK-based Centre for Justice Innovation cites New York -- and specifically its network of alternatives to incarceration and reentry programs -- as a lesson in crime-fighting.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: June 8, 2012

    June 08, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • As U.S. House members weigh the Workforce Investment Improvement Act of 2012, LAC has submitted comments urging the Committee on Education and the Workforce to consider the needs of job-seekers with criminal records or addictions as they move forward. We will update you with any further developments on the legislation.
    • Fellow members of the New York ATI/Reentry Coalition held a rally last week at City Hall to urge city, state and federal leaders to increase funding for these critical programs. Learn more about the rally by reading the press release.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: June 1, 2012

    June 01, 2012

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State

    • With recent prison closings -- long urged by advocates and facilitated by decreasing crime and a shift toward alternatives to incarceration -- the state is attempting to sell its vacant properties.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: May 25, 2012

    May 25, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • LAC Legal Director Sally Friedman is extensively quoted in the lead article of the May 28 edition of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly. The story details a friend-of-the-court brief -- filed by the Drug Policy Alliance on behalf of Cameron Douglas, son of the actor Michael Douglas, and signed by several addiction treatment authorities in addition to LAC -- that emphasizes the importance of methadone treatment behind bars. "The point of this effort is to educate a very influential court about the nature of opiate addiction and the nature of treatment with methadone and buprenorphine," Ms. Friedman says in the article. The brief has also been covered in:

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: May 18, 2012

    May 18, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Updated Manual on NY HIV/AIDS Testing, Confidentiality & Discrimination Law Now Available

    May 14, 2012
    LAC is proud to release its updated manual "HIV/AIDS: Testing, Confidentiality & Discrimination. What You Need to Know About New York Law," an easy-to-use, comprehensive guide to New York State's HIV testing, confidentiality, and discrimination laws.

    Thoroughly updated to reflect new state and federal laws, the manual:

    • Provides a detailed explanation of New York’s HIV testing and confidentiality law (Article 27-F of the Public Health Law), including its relationship to HIPAA’s federal health privacy rules; and
    • Reviews federal, state, and New York City anti-discrimination laws that protect people with HIV/AIDS.
    This manual is a must read for health and social service providers in New York who serve people with HIV/AIDS and a vital resource for individuals affected by the HIV epidemic. Please feel free to circulate it widely.

    Printed copies of the manual may be picked up in our office -- but please contact us to set up an appointment first -- or ordered in our online store. The manual is free, but we do charge for shipping, and if you'd like more than five copies, please contact us instead of using the store).

    Many thanks to the AIDS Institute of the New York State Department of Health for its support of this project!

  • Need-to-Know News: May 11, 2012

    May 11, 2012

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State

    • The New York Times editorial board expressed support for an Assembly bill that would bar city police officers from confiscating condoms from women suspected of prostitution and using them as evidence, citing condoms' crucial role in the fight against HIV.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: May 4, 2012

    May 04, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC Featured in New York Times Editorial on Marijuana Arrests

    April 30, 2012

    Over the weekend, a New York Times editorial on the collateral costs of marijuana arrests cited Legal Action Center's critical work helping clients with criminal histories. As the piece notes, the increase in marijuana arrests in recent years means thousands more people are facing barriers obtaining employment and housing; it also compounds the problem of rap sheet errors.

    Read More 

  • 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:

    Read More 

  • 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.

    # # #
  • Need-to-Know News: April 20, 2012

    April 20, 2012

    Updates from Us


    New York Bar Foundation Treasurer John H. Gross, a partner
    at Ingerman Smith LLP, with Senior Staff Attorneys Monica
    Welby, left, and Kate Wagner-Goldstein.
    • LAC offers its sincere thanks to the New York Bar Foundation for its most recent grant, presented this week by Treasurer John H. Gross. The foundation has been a continuing supporter of LAC's legal services, particularly rap-sheet education workshops that are critical to helping people with criminal records.
    • Don't miss a dramatic reading of "In Our Name: A Play of the Torture Years," by LAC Board Member Michael Meltsner, a professor at Northeastern University Law School. The play, an examination of U.S. military operations at Guantanamo Bay, will be presented May 9, 14 and 23 in Manhattan; follow this link for details and reservation information.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: April 13, 2012

    April 13, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • National H.I.R.E. Network Director Roberta Meyers-Peeples will be a featured speaker at an April 19 training for workforce professionals in Manhattan. Follow this link for more information on the training, titled "Strengthening NYC’S Labor Force: Enforcing Anti-Discrimination Protections for New Yorkers with Criminal Histories."

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: April 6, 2012

    April 06, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • As we noted earlier this week in our action alert, we're working with other national advocacy groups on a letter urging Congress to provide funds for the Second Chance Act, which provides critical support to improve the coordination of reentry services and policies at the state, tribal, and local levels. Follow this link for the full alert.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Federal Action Alert: Support Funding for Second Chance Act in FY 2013!

    April 04, 2012
    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: March 30, 2012

    March 30, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • 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.

    # # #

    See more of our work on the 2012-2013 budget at Budget Central.
  • Need-to-Know News: March 23, 2012

    March 23, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • State Policy Director Tracie Gardner and Board Member Robert Fullilove of Columbia University will be presenting at the "Removing the Bars: TAKE ACTION 2012" conference on March 24. Follow this link for more information on their session, "Legal Health Rights & HIV/AIDS in Prison."
    • LAC Vice President Anita Marton will be a featured speaker at a March 29 forum on the Rockefeller Drug Laws on Harlem. Use this link for more information on the forum.
    • As we said earlier this week in our action alert, now is the time to call the New York Assembly in support of legislation giving judges the discretion to shorten the term of probation (bill No. A8089). See our full alert on the issue for details.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • NY Action Alert: Show Support for Judge Discretion in Probation Sentencing

    March 21, 2012

    Make Your Call to the Assembly Now!

    Background

    As you likely know, the executive budget included a proposal to allow judges to shorten the term of probation (bill No. A8089). For example, instead of automatic five-year probation terms for people convicted of felonies, the governor's proposal would allow judges to choose between three, four and five years. Similarly, misdemeanor probation terms could be two or three years rather than the automatic three years.

    The proposal is currently included in the Assembly's one-house bill, "Graduated Sentencing for Probation Terms," but the Senate did not include it in its one-house bill.

    Action Needed

    Please call the Assembly now to urge that the proposal remain in the budget as it negotiates with the Senate. Some key legislators to reach:

    Next Steps

    We'll inform you of any updates on this critical issue as soon as we have them. Thank you for your support!
    See more of our work on the 2012-2013 budget at Budget Central.
  • Need-to-Know News: March 16, 2012

    March 16, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: March 9, 2012

    March 09, 2012

    Headlines on Our Issues

    • A report released this week by the New York Civil Liberties Union calls on state policymakers to better protect patient privacy in the development of electronic networks.
    • After Mayor Bloomberg called last year for new York City youths in the state juvenile justice system to be kept close to home, Governor Cuomo included a measure to make that change in his budget plan for the 2013 fiscal year.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: March 2, 2012

    March 02, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • In a letter published this week in the Record of North Jersey, LAC's national policy director, Gabrielle de la Guéronnière, praises New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's plan to increase the use of drug courts to divert addicted individuals from prison to treatment.
    • Ms.de la Guéronnière is also quoted in the March 5 edition of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly on the proposed budget for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). With the increasing need for prevention, treatment and recovery services around the country, she said, LAC will be advocating with Congress for the highest possible funding of SAMHSA to ensure that people can get the care they need to avoid disease and to get and stay well.
    • The Legal Action Center released a statement this week supporting State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein's new report showing gaps in the state's efforts to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and his call for greater coordination and effort to ensure effective implementation of reform. Follow this link to read our full press release.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC in The Record of North Jersey: Christie Is Right to Invest in Drug Courts

    March 01, 2012

    Many of you have seen the news about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's plan to increase the use of drug courts to divert addicted individuals from prison to treatment. In a letter published yesterday in the Record of North Jersey, LAC's national policy director, Gabrielle de la Guéronnière, stands with an addiction specialist's op-ed praising the governor's plan:

    Regarding Ira Levy's "Treatment, not punishment, for drug addicts" (Other Views, Feb. 21):

    Levy is absolutely right to praise Governor Christie's move to divert addicted individuals through drug courts in the justice system toward treatment and to urge that the savings be reinvested in rehabilitation.

    Treatment through drug courts unquestionably brings down crime: A 2006 study by the National Institute of Justice found that it reduces recidivism by up to 26 percent. And the benefits extend to cost savings for taxpayers, with drug courts producing about $2.21 in benefits for every $1 in costs, according to a 2008 study by the Urban Institute — a net benefit of about $624 million.

    Neighboring New York provides a model in its reform of the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Now, judges can send addicted individuals convicted of non-violent crimes to treatment, where they can get well and stay well. New York's emphasis on treatment and alternatives to incarceration has helped drive both crime and the prison population to their lowest levels in decades.

    For public safety, the well-being of its citizens and its fiscal health, New Jersey should make the most of this turning point.

    Gabrielle de la Guéronnière
    The writer is director of national policy for the Legal Action Center, a New York-based non-profit organization specializing in addiction, criminal justice and AIDS.

    Read the original op-ed here.

  • LAC Supports Klein’s Report on Gaps in Drug Law Reform Implementation

    February 27, 2012
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Nicole Collins Bronzan
    Director of Communications
    (212) 243-1313 / ncollins@lac.org

    NEW YORK, February 27, 2012 -- The Legal Action Center supports State Senator Jeffrey D. Klein's new report showing gaps in the state's efforts to reform the Rockefeller Drug Laws, and his call for greater coordination and effort to ensure effective implementation of reform.

    LAC also congratulates our partners at the NY Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, who conducted the survey that brought in provider data for the report.

    The report, “Assessing the Effectiveness of Substance Abuse Treatment Under Rockefeller Drug Law Reform,” found problems in many areas:

    • Strategy: Parallel Alternatives to Incarceration programs that existed before Rockefeller Drug Law reform are underutilized.
    • Coordination: Judicial diversion is applied inconsistently throughout the state.
    • Communication: Providers cite a lack of access to criminal tracking numbers, case records, and other documents required to ensure continued care of criminal justice patients.
    • Funding: When the reforms were passed, $65 million in state and federal funding was allocated for expanded treatment programs. Only $40 million of that has been released, according to ASAP.

    In a statement, Senator Klein, chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Alcoholism & Drug Abuse, said he would hold a public hearing in March on the issue and use his report "as a launching pad to ensure that these reforms are implemented correctly and that this state lives up to the promise we made when we reformed New York’s Draconian Rockefeller-era drug laws."

    LAC Vice President Anita Marton, who spoke at the press conference on Sunday, called the much-needed attention to drug law reform bittersweet. "The reform itself is really such a historic and exciting opportunity, but with these findings, we see that the promise of the law has not yet been met," Ms. Marton said. "Advocates, criminal justice agencies and providers alike need to continue to work on effective implementation so that other people, including those who are mentally ill, have the opportunity to be diverted from prison to community-based services."

    We support the report's call for the Legislature to set clear and uniform guidelines on alternatives for incarceration and for additional funding be secured through the budget process.

    Additionally, we join ASAP in endorsing the following recommendations made by Senator Klein:

    • Increasing funding for treatment and expanding treatment capacity;
    • Better coordinating re-entry services;
    • Expanding housing, vocational and educational opportunities
    • Better instructing court personnel on the availability and use of alternative to incarceration programs outside of traditional judicial diversion; and
    • Clarifying the law new, concise guidelines and protocols.

    Read more in the statement from ASAP.

    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.

    # # #
  • Need-to-Know News: Feb. 24, 2012

    February 24, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC Named to Executive Panel of Governor’s New ‘Work for Success’ Initiative

    February 17, 2012
    Many of you have seen the news today that Governor Andrew Cuomo has created "Work for Success," an initiative designed to reduce unemployment rate among the thousands of New Yorkers reentering their communities from prison.

    LAC is excited to be named to the executive committee of Work for Success, which will be chaired by our advocacy partner Mindy Tarlow, executive director of the Center for Employment Opportunities.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Feb. 17, 2012

    February 17, 2012

    Updates from Us

    NYS Budget Central image
    • Budget Central, a roundup of our advocacy on the 2012-2013 budget in New York, is now live! Keep checking back for updates and events.
    • Along with our partners in the NY ATI/Reentry Coalition, LAC led a trip to Albany for the coalition's annual advocacy day on Feb. 14. We were pleased to have productive meetings with legislators and staff on both sides of the aisle to discuss funding and legislation.
    • Our new HIV/AIDS Confidentiality Law Overview course is now featured on the AIDS Institute's Clinical Education Initiatives website.
    • State Policy Director Tracie Gardner was the featured speaker at the Reentry Roundtable on Feb. 15 in New York. She'll be presenting “Albany Up Close and Personal" at the March 21 roundtable.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Feb. 10, 2012

    February 10, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Feb. 3, 2012

    February 03, 2012

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC Testifying in Albany on Criminal Justice Budget Today

    January 30, 2012

    LAC State Policy Director Tracie M. Gardner is in Albany today, testifying before the Joint Public Hearing on Public Protection. As a leader in the NY ATI/Reentry Coalition, LAC is presenting the coalition's recommendations on the criminal justice portion of Governor Cuomo's budget proposal.

    See live video of the hearing here.

    Read More 

  • Correction: Budget Analysis

    January 28, 2012
    Because of an error on our part, an earlier version of our article titled "Our Analysis of Governor Cuomo’s 2012-2013 Budget" used incorrect figures for the governor's appropriations for the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. The governor's budget proposed an addition -- not a cut -- of $1.5 million in aid to localities. His total cuts to OASAS added up to $562,400, not $3,562,400.

    Please see the updated version of our budget analysis for a chart with the correct OASAS figures.

    LAC apologizes for the error and any inconvenience it has caused.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Jan. 27, 2012

    January 27, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • LAC's own Tracie Gardner will be moderating "Schooling Sex: A community discussion on sex education in the NYC school system," happening Tuesday at GMHC in Manhattan. Follow this link to read more, and to rsvp for the event.
    • Examining Florida's efforts to require drug tests for welfare applicants, a recent PolitiFact article cited our advocacy toolkit on the issue.
    • In its work to ensure the strongest, most comprehensive coverage for substance use disorders and mental health in the implementation of Healthcare Reform, the Coalition for Whole Health, which LAC co-chairs, has recently:
      • Finalized its recommendations to fully include mental health and substance use disorder services within the Essential Health Benefits framework of the Affordable Care Act. If your organization would like to sign on to the recommendations, please contact Sherie Boyd at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
      • Drafted comments on the Essential Health Benefits Bulletin released by the Department of Health and Human Services last month. To sign on to the comments, please contact Sherie Boyd at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) before the Jan. 31 deadline; we also encourage you to use our comments as a template to submit your own.
      • Submitted a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius — on behalf of more than 75 national, state and local groups in the SUD and MH communities — asking for the data HHS used to develop the Essential Health Benefit Bulletin, and for more time for organizations to provide comment.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Jan. 20, 2012

    January 20, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • After an analysis of Governor Andrew Cuomo's new budget plan, we were pleased to issue a statement this week supporting the proposal as a sensible path for New York State in answering the needs of people with HIV, people with addiction and mental health issues, and people involved in the criminal justice system.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • 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.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Jan. 13, 2012

    January 13, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • Marsha Weissman, the Director of the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), was presented the 2012 Sara Tullar Fasoldt Leadership and Humanitarian Award by Robert Maccarone, the State Director of the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, on January 12 for her outstanding leadership and significant contributions to the field of community corrections. Several LAC staff members were present for the ceremony. We again want to congratulate Marsha for her much deserved recognition.
    • Paul Samuels, LAC's Director and President, and Gabrielle de la Gueronniere, LAC's Director of National Policy, were quoted in an online article in Addiction Professional, discussing the parity requirements for behavioral health under the Affordable Care Act's Essential Benefits Package and the need to monitor implementation of the requirements at the state level.
    • The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) sent out an e-mail letting members and those on its e-mail list know about LAC's recent report, "Legality of Denying Access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) in the Criminal Justice System." The e-mail also reminded readers that NADCP's board issued a board resolution last July stating that Drug Courts must not impose blanket prohibitions against the use of MAT by their participants and that decisions whether to allow the use of MAT must be based on an individualized assessment of the clinical and medical needs of each participant, the interests of the public and the administration of justice.
    • Several LAC employees discussed the long-term challenges confronting individuals with felony convictions on an episode of last week's 219 West, a TV show on CUNY-TV in which students at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism examine news stories from around New York City.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Jan. 6, 2012

    January 06, 2012

    Updates from Us

    • The Legal Action Center issued a press release praising Governor Cuomo's 2012 State of the State Address and New York State's impressive list of achievements during the first year of his term.
    • The Legal Action Center would like to congratulate Marsha Weissman, the Director of the Center for Community Alternatives (CCA), for being awarded the 2012 Sara Tullar Fasoldt Leadership and Humanitarian Award for her outstanding leadership and significant contributions to the field of community corrections. The Award will be presented next Thursday, January 12. The award symbolizes the life and work of Sara Tullar Fasoldt, former head of the NYS Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, who succeeded in immeasurably strengthening and improving the field of community corrections.
    • Paul Samuels, LAC's Director and President, is quoted in an article in this week's Alcohol & Drug Abuse Weekly regarding the Department of Health and Human Services's (HHS) bulletin regarding the Essential Health Benefits package included in the Affordable Care Act. Paul is quoted as saying that “[t]he HHS bulletin firmly establishes the requirements of parity, so that SUD and MH coverage is required for all types of services where other medical/surgical care is covered.”

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • 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.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Dec. 30, 2011

    December 30, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • A Message from LAC President and Director:

      The establishment and protection of rights for people with histories of addiction, criminal justice involvement, and HIV/AIDS through cutting-edge policy advocacy, precedent-setting litigation, direct legal services and public education has been a hallmark of LAC for almost 40 years. Now more than ever, we need to stand strong and speak out against discrimination and inequality. Stand with us by making your year-end gift today.

      Your support is critical to the work we do and the people we serve, which is why I'm asking you to support our year-end campaign. It is a time when your donation can have an even greater impact; I urge you to give generously.

      Wishing you and yours happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

      Sincerely,

      Paul N. Samuels
      President/Director

    • On December 19, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) held a public meeting to announce the release of a second round of FAQs to help substance abuse treatment providers understand how to apply the federal substance abuse confidentiality regulations (42 CFR Part 2) to electronic health records. At the meeting, Dr. H. Westley Clark, the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT), publicly acknowledged LAC's assistance in drafting the new FAQs. SAMHSA also announced that they would post the proceedings of the public meeting on their website.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Dec. 23, 2011

    December 23, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • A Message from LAC President and Director:

      The establishment and protection of rights for people with histories of addiction, criminal justice involvement, and HIV/AIDS through cutting-edge policy advocacy, precedent-setting litigation, direct legal services and public education has been a hallmark of LAC for almost 40 years. Now more than ever, we need to stand strong and speak out against discrimination and inequality. Stand with us by making your year-end gift today.

      Your support is critical to the work we do and the people we serve, which is why I'm asking you to support our year-end campaign. It is a time when your donation can have an even greater impact; I urge you to give generously.

      Wishing you and yours happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

      Sincerely,

      Paul N. Samuels
      President/Director

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Dec. 16, 2011

    December 16, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Roberta Meyers-Peeples, the Director of LAC's National H.I.R.E. Network, discussed the challenges confronting individuals with criminal records in finding employment in an article discussing the possibility that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) might include a "ban the box" provision< limiting employers' ability to ask about criminal records as part of the job application process, in its upcoming opinion about the use of criminal records in hiring.
    • Elizabeth Farid, the Deputy Director of LAC's National H.I.R.E. Network, testified on Thursday at a New York City Council hearing on the New York City Probation's 2011 Strategic Plan. In her testimony, Ms. Farid emphasized Probation's willingness to support probationers in their efforts to obtain employment and to work with the ATI and Reentry community.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Dec. 9, 2011

    December 09, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • The Legal Action Center has released a report, Legality of Denying Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in the Criminal Justice System, that explains why criminal justice agencies violate Federal anti-discrimination laws and the United States Constitution when they deny access to medications, such as methadone and burprenorphine, to treat opiate addiction. The report was written at the request of the American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD.), who, along with the Center, has a longstanding interest in expanding the use of these medications in criminal justice settings.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Dec. 2, 2011

    December 02, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • This week, City Council Speaker, Christine Quinn, Council Member Liz Crowley and a number of other Council Members presented a proclamation on behalf of the City Council to the Legal Action Center and our partners in the ATI/Reentry Coalition.
    • The National H.I.R.E. Network, in collaboration with the National Employment Law Project and The Sentencing Project, recently released a roundup of nationwide legislative achievements in the reentry field over the last two years. The report, called "State Reforms Promoting Employment of People With Criminal Records: 2010-11 Legislative Round-Up", provides a centralized list of recent legislation, as well as evidence of national legislative trends. This document, which will be updated annually, will be a useful resource to policy makers and advocates in creating and promoting new legislation in the upcoming session and beyond. Contact HIRE Deputy Director .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for more information.
    • On November 21, the New York City Department of Probation announced the opening of its first Resource Hub in the Manhattan Adult Operations office at 346 Broadway. The Hub, which features a number of resources, including personal computers, a TV showing content about local events and resources, and a specialized staff member, is intended to allow clients to make the most of the time they spend waiting to meet with their Probation Officer. We are especially excited to announce that the new Resource Hub features two videos created by the Legal Action Center, "Voting Rights of People in New York with Criminal Records" and "Your Rights, Your Future: Preparing for Reentry".

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Nov. 18, 2011

    November 18, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • On Monday, LAC's Director/President, Paul Samuels spoke at the New York meeting of the Department of Health and Human Services' Regional Listening Sessions about the Essential Health Benefits package to be required under the healthcare reform law. In his testimony, Mr. Samuels emphasized the need for the benefits package to mandate full parity in the coverage of mental health and substance use disorders.
    • LAC's Director of New York State Policy, Tracie Gardner, testified on Thursday before a joint Assembly Committee hearing about the merger of the Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives (DPCA) and the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the impact of the merger on ATI and Reentry. In her comments, Ms. Gardner thanked the New York State Assembly for their years of support for these programs and described the "strong support and skillful administration" provided by OPCA and DCJS to ensure continued funding for ATI and Reentry programs during a period of tightened budgets. Lastly, Ms. Gardner called for the state to create a permanent funding stream for these programs.
    • Elizabeth Farid, the Deputy Director of the National H.I.R.E. Network, will co-present a webinar training for advocates, together with staff from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Sentencing Project and the National Employment Law Project, on "Reducing Employment Barriers for People with Criminal Records." Visit this site to register for the training.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Nov. 11, 2011

    November 11, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Anita Marton, Vice President at LAC, testified at a public hearing on November 12 in front of the Assembly Standing Committee on Corrections examining the results of the merger of the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS) and the Division of Parole into the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS).
    • LAC's Director of New York State Policy, Tracie Gardner, contributed an op-ed about New York City's new sex-ed mandate in the November 4th issue of the Brooklyn Daily.
    • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will be hosting the New York leg of its Regional Listening Sessions on Monday, November 14.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Nov. 4, 2011

    November 04, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • The National H.I.R.E. Network is teaming up with the National Employment Law Project (NELP), and the Sentencing Project to offer the webinar "Model State Legislation to Reduce Employment Barriers for People with Criminal Records" on Nov. 22. Follow this link to register now.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 28, 2011

    October 28, 2011

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 21, 2011

    October 21, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • In a letter recently published in The New York Times, LAC Director and President Paul N. Samuels discusses the ways that requiring drug testing of state aid recipients hurts families and taxpayers.
    • Federal Action Alert: As we reported earlier this week, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is collecting public comment before shaping the final rules on the health insurance exchanges created by the new health care reform law. We need you to submit comments by Oct. 31 on the importance of addressing mental health and substance use disorders in the strongest way possible. Follow this link for our full action alert, which includes a sample model letter.
    • Reminder: Our 2011 Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit is coming up Tuesday, Oct. 25. Purchase tickets or make your gift today!

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Federal Action Alert: Ensure Health Insurance Exchange Regulations Include Strong SUD/MH Provisions

    October 19, 2011

    Please submit comments to CMS by Oct. 31; follow this link for sample comments

    Action Needed

    The federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a proposed rule for the health insurance exchanges created by the new health care reform law. It is very important that the exchanges address mental health (MH) and substance use disorders (SUD) in the strongest way possible. Although the proposed exchange regulation includes several important MH/SUD provisions, it fails to identify MH/SUD providers as essential community providers that serve predominantly low-income and medically underserved populations. In addition, there are other improvements to the proposed regulation that would better ensure that the health needs of people with MH/SUD are well met.

    As CMS collects public comment and shapes final exchange rules, it is critical that the regulators hear from the field about the need to include the strongest possible SUD/MH provisions, including adding licensed or certified SUD and MH organizations as essential community providers.

    Read More 

  • LAC Director in the NYT:  Drug Testing of Aid Recipients Is Not the Answer

    October 17, 2011

    Many of you have seen the New York Times article published last week on the wave of states requiring drug testing of aid recipients. (Follow this link to see our advocacy work on this issue.)

    In a letter published in The Times over the weekend, LAC's director, Paul N. Samuels, explains why these policies are both wrong-headed and short-sighted.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 14, 2011

    October 14, 2011

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Guidestar Experts Choose LAC as Leading Criminal Justice Advocate

    October 13, 2011
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Nicole Collins Bronzan
    Director of Communications
    (212) 243-1313 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    NEW YORK, Oct. 13, 2011 -- The Legal Action Center is proud to announce that Philanthropedia at GuideStar, the leading guide for donors to identify worthy charities, has named us one of the leading criminal justice advocates in the nation.

    Decided by a panel of 127 experts working in criminal justice across the country -- with an average of 16 years of experience in the field -- this honor recognizes LAC as one of the top 5 nonprofits making an impact at the local level, out of the 144 reviewed.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Oct. 7, 2011

    October 07, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Monday's issue of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly taps the expertise of LAC Director and President Paul N. Samuels in an article on the future of OASAS. Mr. Samuels stressed that despite the uncertainty in New York, Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez "is providing leadership to ensure the redesigned Medicaid system will effectively address substance use disorders as well as mental health."
    • LAC's Legal Director, Sally Friedman, presented highlights from our soon-to-be released report, "Legality of Denying Access to Medication Assisted Treatment in the Criminal Justice System," at a meeting convened by SAMHSA on Oct. 6 Stay tuned for more on the report.
    • Reminder: Purchase your tickets now for the Legal Action Center's 2011 Arthur Liman Public Interest Awards Benefit, coming up on Oct. 25.

    Congrats to LAC State Policy Director Tracie
    Gardner (center, with Claire Simon, left, and
    Kymsha Henry), whose HIV/AIDS work was
    honored at YWCHAC's WE SPEAK Awards.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 30, 2011

    September 30, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Thanks to all of you who made the National H.I.R.E. Network’s Sixth Annual NYS Reentry Policy Conference a huge success! Follow this link for our full story. (At right, P. David Lopez, general counsel at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, delivered the keynote address.)
    • Save the date for the National Call-In Day to support the National Criminal Justice Act: Oct. 5, 2011. With your help, we can urge Congress to pass this legislation, which would create a bipartisan panel to review national policies and make recommendations for reform. Follow this link for our full alert.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Save the Date: Call on Oct. 5 to Support the National Criminal Justice Act

    September 29, 2011
    Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) has again introduced the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, S. 306, legislation that would create a bipartisan Commission to review and identify effective criminal justice policies and make recommendations for reform. Last year the legislation came very close to passage after having passed the House of Representatives and the Senate’s Judiciary Committee. Let’s work together to go all the way this Congress. Please help us urge the Senate to prioritize and pass this important legislation.

    Action

    On Wednesday, Oct. 5, individuals nationwide will urge passage of this legislation by calling Senate leadership, including Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to ask them to prioritize and pass the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, S. 306. We hope that you will join us in making these critical calls!

    Message

    I am calling to ask the senator to prioritize and support Senate passage of the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, S. 306, because:
    • Having a transparent and bipartisan Commission review and identify effective criminal justice policies would increase public safety.
    • The increase in incarceration over the past twenty years has stretched the system beyond its limits. These high costs to taxpayers are unsustainable, especially during these tough economic times.
    • The proposed commission would conduct a comprehensive national review – not audits of individual state systems – and would issue recommendations – not mandates – for consideration.
    If you have any questions about the Oct. 5 National Call-In Day, please contact Mark O’Brien, at mobrien@lac.org or (202)544-5478.

    Thank you for your help in pushing for this critical legislation!

  • Urgent Update! Federal Action Alert: Second Chance Act

    September 27, 2011
    As many of you know, LAC and the National H.I.R.E. Network have long supported the Second Chance Act federal reentry legislation (please see our SCA page to learn more). With recent developments in Washington, we need your help to ensure its continued success.

    Second Chance Funding

    Most critically, Congress is working now to decide on funding for the 2012 fiscal year, which begins on October 1. In a potential blow for reentry programs across the country, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved a bill that would eliminate funding for the Second Chance Act in FY 2012. For its part, the House version of the legislation, approved this summer, would provide $70 million for the Second Chance Act in FY12.

    Congressional leaders are expected to meet next week to come to agreement on funding levels, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has pledged to work to restore Second Chance Act funding through the conference process. That's why we need your help now!

    How You Can Help

    Call the office of your representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives and tell them it’s urgent that they include $70 million to $100 million in funding for the Second Chance Act for FY2012. Stress how important it is to your community to have effective solutions to promote successful reentry, both to save money and to improve public safety. Follow this link for a one-pager on the value of the Second Chance Act.

    You can also submit a letter in support of Second Chance Act funding here.

    Please contact Mark O’Brien with any questions.

    Thank you for you help in pushing for this critical funding!

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 23, 2011

    September 23, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • As we said in our federal action alert earlier today, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill last week that would eliminate funding for the Second Chance Act in FY 2012, which could be devastating for reentry programs across the country. We need your help now to ensure that funding is restored for this critical legislation! Follow this link for our full alert.
    • Our director, Paul N. Samuels, was a featured speaker this week at the Connecticut Recovery Conference and testified before the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) on the importance of health care for alcohol and drug problems.
    • REMINDER: The National H.I.R.E. Network will be holding its 6th Annual NYS Reentry Policy Conference Monday in New York City. Follow this link to register for the conference, titled, "Meeting Employer and Job Seeker Needs: Criminal Record Policies that Work," which is free and open to the public.
    • In a testament to the field’s strong advocacy efforts in this extremely challenging funding environment, we’re pleased to report that a bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee recommends level funding for most drug and alcohol prevention and treatment programming through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Follow this link for the report on the funding recommendations, and stay tuned for further updates as the final funding decisions are made.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 16, 2011

    September 16, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • LAC's state policy director, Tracie Gardner, will be honored at the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition's WE SPEAK Awards on Oct. 5 in New York. Ms. Gardner, the founder of LAC's Women's Initiative to Stop HIV in New York (WISH-NY), has worked with the group's members for years, providing advocacy training as they fight HIV in their communities. Follow this link for more information about the event.
    • REMINDER: The National H.I.R.E. Network will be holding its 6th Annual NYS Reentry Policy Conference on Sept. 26 in New York City. Follow this link to register for the conference, titled, "Meeting Employer and Job Seeker Needs: Criminal Record Policies that Work," which is free and open to the public.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 9, 2011

    September 09, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Our Legal Department has announced the publication of three new booklets to help people with criminal records! Follow this link to read all about these new manuals, which are an update of LAC's one-part guide to obtaining and correcting rap sheets.
    • LAC and SAAS have released the August/September newsletter with updates from the National Advocacy Campaign. The big news in this issue: The Coalition for Whole Health releases its Recommendations on Coverage of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services in the Essential Health Benefit Package; and the Institute of Medicine cites the testimony of LAC Director/President Paul Samuels.
    • The Legal Action Center's Paul Samuels and Gabrielle de la Guerrionere were interviewed in the Sept. 12 issue of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly regarding the Coalition for Whole Health's Recommendations on Coverage of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services in the Essential Health Benefit Package.
    • REMINDER: The National H.I.R.E. Network will be holding its 6th Annual NYS Reentry Policy Conference on Monday, Sept. 26 in New York City. Follow this link to register for the conference.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • New Booklets to Help People With Criminal Records

    September 06, 2011
    LAC's Legal Department is excited to announce the publication of three new booklets to help people with criminal records. These manuals are an update of LAC's one-part guide to obtaining and correcting rap sheets.
    Please feel free to circulate the booklets to anyone they might help.

    For printed copies, you may pick up booklets in our office, or order them in our online store (the booklets are free, but we do charge for shipping).

    Many thanks to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Office of Probation and Correctional Alternatives for their generous support of this project!

  • Need-to-Know News: Sept. 2, 2011

    September 02, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • The Coalition for Whole Health, co-chaired by LAC, has just released its Recommendations on Coverage of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services in the Essential Health Benefit Package. This paper details the mental health and substance use disorder benefits that the Coalition believes must be included by the Essential Health Benefits package covered by “new” small employer and individual plans, qualified health plans operating in state Exchanges, and Medicaid expansion plans. Over 150 national, state, and local organizations have endorsed the Coalition’s Essential Health Benefits recommendations. To sign on to the Coalition’s recommendations, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
    • In related news, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly published a note in its Sept. 5 issue on the coalition's recommendations. Stay tuned for an interview with LAC advocates in the next issue!
    • The National H.I.R.E. Network’s has announced its 6th Annual NYS Reentry Policy Conference, happening Monday, Sept. 26 in New York City. The conference, titled, "Meeting Employer and Job Seeker Needs: Criminal Record Policies that Work," will address:
      • Enforcement of Anti-Discrimination Laws and Policies
      • Overcoming the Challenge of Good Moral Character Standards and the Threat of Negligent Hiring
      • How to Change Minds, Attitudes and Policies Concerning Criminal Records
      Follow this link to register for the conference. (The event is free and open to the public, but requires registration.)

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Aug. 26, 2011

    August 26, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • In honor of LAC paralegal Susan Hallett, who died in January after 10 years of helping formerly incarcerated people overcome hurdles to re-entry, WORTH (Women On The Rise Telling HerStory) has announced the Susan Hallett Reentry Award. See our blog for all the details and the application form.
    • We were pleased to see Governor Andrew Cuomo's has signed legislation that will help lower barriers to reentry in New York. Follow this link for the full story.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • WORTH Announces Susan Hallett Reentry Award

    August 24, 2011

    In honor of LAC paralegal Susan Hallett, who died in January after 10 years of helping formerly incarcerated people overcome hurdles to re-entry, WORTH (Women On The Rise Telling HerStory) has announced the Susan Hallett Reentry Award.

    Susan was one of the founding members of WORTH, having secured its initial funding while still incarcerated at Bedford Hills, and this new award honors her commitment to helping incarcerated people learn their rights and make plans for what to expect "on the outside."


    Susan Hallett
    Eligibility requirements:
    • Demonstrated interest in working with women who have been impacted by the prison industrial complex.
    • Demonstrated interest in women's issues, particularly those related to women's reentry issues.
    • Previous incarceration and/or history of conflict with the law a must.
    • Volunteering for WORTH for 60 hours over a 3-month time period.

    Use this link to download an application form. The application deadline is Sept. 20, so don't wait! And please, spread the word.

  • Governor Signs Legislation to Lower Barriers to Reentry

    August 22, 2011
    We hope you saw the announcement on Friday that Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that will help lower barriers to reentry. Thanks to this new law, courts are required, upon application, to determine an individual’s eligibility for a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities. LAC has long helped clients obtain these certificates, which remove legal bars to employment or licensure and provide evidence of rehabilitation.

    Many thanks to the city’s Department of Probation, Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Cuomo, and Assembly Member Jeffrion L. Aubry for their important leadership in passing legislation to encourage the issuance of these certificates, which help people with criminal records successfully reenter their communities and become productive members of society.

    Please see our FAQs for more information on Certificates of Relief from Disabilities.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Aug. 19, 2011

    August 19, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • An article by LAC's state policy director, Tracie M. Gardner, and Kymsha Henry, co-director of the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition, is now prominently featured on TheBody.com. The article, in response to Mayor Bloomberg's new sex-ed mandate for New York schools, revisits the history of similar policies, especially in the context of HIV infection rates, and calls on city officials to consult with practitioners and community groups in order to follow through on the new mandate.
    • We were delighted this week to release our newest publication, “Changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws and What They Mean for You,” a guide to the 2004, 2005 and 2009 amendments to the Rockefeller Drug Laws. Follow this link to download a PDF of the brochure.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • New Brochure on Changes to Rockefeller Drug Laws Now Available

    August 17, 2011
    The Legal Action Center is pleased to announce the publication of its newest brochure, “Changes to the Rockefeller Drug Laws and What They Mean for You.” 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.

    Many thanks to the Bernard F. and Alva B. Gimbel Foundation for its support of this work.

    Download the brochure here.

  • Need-to-Know News: Aug. 12, 2011

    August 12, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • In a significant move forward for HIV prevention in New York City, Mayor Bloomberg announced that his new Young Men's Initiative would include a mandate for a semester of sex education in city schools. Follow this link to read the full statement applauding this news from our WISH-NY project and its partner, the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC).
    • National Policy Director Gabrielle de la Gueronniere is quoted in the Aug. 15 issue of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly on the critical need for a robust mental health/substance use disorder benefit as part of the essential health benefit mandated by healthcare reform.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • WISH-NY and YWCHAC Applaud Mandate for Sex Education in NYC Schools

    August 10, 2011
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Tracie M. Gardner
    Director of State Policy/WISH-NY
    (212) 243-1313 /tgardner@lac.org


    NEW YORK, Aug. 10, 2011 -- LAC's Women's Initiative to Stop HIV in New York (WISH-NY) and the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) applaud the announcement from Mayor Bloomberg that his new Young Men's Initiative to aid young Black and Latino men will include a mandate for a semester of sex education in New York City schools.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: Aug. 5, 2011

    August 05, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Mayor Bloomberg announced a package of initiatives this week incorporating policy changes we have long advocated to lower barriers to reentry. Read our full statement for all the details on these exciting changes!
    • In the latest from our WISH-NY project, a new crop of young advocates fighting HIV; a letter to the schools chancellor urging better sex education; and a graduation celebration for the seasoned fifth class. Check out the full update on the WISH website! (At right, a happy scene from the Young Women of Color HIV/AIDS Coalition (YWCHAC) graduation.)

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC Commends Mayor’s Move to Lower Barriers to Reentry

    August 03, 2011
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Nicole Collins Bronzan
    Director of Communications
    (212) 243-1313 /ncollins@lac.org


    NEW YORK, Aug. 4, 2011-- The Legal Action Center strongly commends and stands behind New York City's move to lower barriers to reentry for people with criminal records, part of a package of initiatives to aid young black and Latino men announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg this morning.

    Among the biggest changes is a move to "ban the box" from the city's job applications, as LAC and fellow advocates have long advocated. The new policy would advise city agencies not to ask about prior convictions on initial job applications. Other parts of the package would promote community-based alternatives to detention for youth, support efforts to help make rap sheets more accurate and encourage civic participation.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 29, 2011

    July 29, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • If you haven't already, please see our federal action alert focused on the the Second Chance Reauthorization Act! LAC and HIRE celebrated passage of this legislation in 2008 because it authorizes grants that help states and communities begin to address the problem of mass incarceration and the needs of people returning home. Now, we need your help urging Senator Charles Schumer to co-sponsor the legislation.

 Follow this link to act now!
    • Thanks to those of you who responded to our call for comments to the EEOC on the racially discriminatory impact of criminal records in employment screening. Follow this link for transcripts and video from the hearing on the issue, or check out the ACLU's coverage of the event.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Federal Advocacy Alert: Urge Sen. Schumer to Co-Sponsor Second Chance Reauthorization Act!

    July 28, 2011
    It is essential that Senator Schumer hear that you, his constituent, support reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, which authorizes grants that help states and communities begin to address the problem of mass incarceration and the needs of people returning home.

    You can help by contacting Senator Schumer's staff in Washington, D.C., and in New York asking him to become a co-sponsor and prioritize swift passage of the Second Chance Reauthorization Act. Call or email him now! 



    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 22, 2011

    July 22, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Our National HIRE Network issued an action alert this week urging fellow advocacy and service organizations to submit comments to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on the ways background checks create barriers to employment. The EEOC is holding a hearing on July 26 on the racially discriminatory impact of criminal records in employment screening and the use of criminal background checks, so it's critical to make our voice heard before then. Follow this link for the full alert, which includes a template for your organization's comments.
    • In other HIRE news, Deputy Director Elizabeth Farid was quoted in an MSNBC article this week on the reentry issues highlighted by the high-profile Casey Anthony case.
    • HIRE Director Roberta Meyers-Peeples was featured in a Final Call article examining the lack of jobs and resources as California prepares to reduce its prison population and featured in a Q. and A. by Release news.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Action Alert: Tell the EEOC How Background Checks Create Barriers!

    July 21, 2011

    Please Email Your Comments by July 26


    On July 26, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission will hold a hearing in Washington D.C. on the racially discriminatory impact of criminal records in employment screening, and the use of criminal background checks. This forum is an important opportunity to educate the EEOC about the large number of ways in which criminal background checks impact our clients, our members and ourselves, and serve as illegal barriers to employment.

    The EEOC has invited the public to submit comments .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), and it's imperative that we make our voices heard. Please send comments before the July 26 hearing if possible, though comments sent after that date may be considered. You can draft your own letter or use a template put together by our partners at the Community Service Society. If you choose to use it, PLEASE customize it to describe your organization and the experiences of you or your members and clients.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 15, 2011

    July 15, 2011

    Headlines on Our Issues

    State National

    • With the death of Former First Lady Betty Ford last week, media outlets and advocates across the country honored her honesty about her struggles with addiction, and her commitment to helping others recover.
    • In a move sure to benefit the addiction treatment field, 10 medical institutions have introduced the first accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, with the goal of treating a range of addictions -- to alcohol, drugs, prescription medicines, nicotine and more -- and studying brain chemistry and the role of heredity.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 8, 2011

    July 08, 2011

    Updates from Us

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • LAC Applauds Announcement of Plan to Close 7 NY Prisons

    July 05, 2011
    NEW YORK, July 5, 2011 – The Legal Action Center applauds Governor Andrew Cuomo's announcement of seven impending prison closings, fulfilling his promise to eliminate unneeded capacity and saving taxpayers $184 million over next two years.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: July 1, 2011

    July 01, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • We were thrilled to announce this week that our joint advocacy efforts with the New York ATI/Reentry Coalition have been a success: at both the city and state levels, our critical programs were spared devastating cuts! Many thanks to all our supporters and legislators, law enforcement officials and other city and state leaders for their commitment to a "smart on crime" future for New York.
    • LAC and SAAS have released the June/July newsletter with updates from the National Advocacy Campaign. Among the news: We need your help to secure co-sponsors of the bill to reauthorize the Second Chance Act! Follow this link to make your voice heard.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Victory for ATI/Reentry Programs in City and State Budgets

    June 28, 2011
    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
    Contact: Tracie Gardner
    Director of NYS Policy
    (212) 243-1313 / .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    NEW YORK, June 24, 2011 – The Legal Action Center is delighted to announce that our joint advocacy efforts with the New York ATI/Reentry Coalition have been a success: at both the city and state levels, our critical programs were spared devastating cuts.

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: June 24, 2011

    June 24, 2011

    Updates from Us

    • Thanks to all of you who joined us and fellow members of the New York ATI/Reentry Coalition in our calls to New York City Council members this week! With your help, we made our voice heard on the critical need for restored ATI and reentry funding. We hope to give you a budget update soon.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More 

  • Action Alert: We Need You to Help Save ATI/Reentry Funds in NYC!

    June 20, 2011

    You Can Make the Difference With Just a Phone Call


    With city budget talks likely to wrap up soon, now is the time to urge the City Council to restore critical ATI/reentry funding. Following up on our huge rally last week -- made successful only with your help -- we and fellow members of the New York ATI/Reentry Coalition hope you'll join us in an all-out advocacy push this week:

    • Call members of the budget negotiating team to tell them that ATI/Reentry programs need to be a priority for a "smart on crime" future in New York City. Cuts to our programs now will only cost the city more later -- in dollars and in public safety. Follow this link to make your calls -- to the Council members' main offices and to district offices -- today!

    Read More 

  • Need-to-Know News: June 17, 2011

    June 17, 2011

    Updates from Us

    Many thanks to all who turned out for the rally at City Hall on Monday! In asking the Council for more -- not less -- funding for smart-on-crime ATI/reentry programs, we were joined by leaders from around the city.

    Follow this link to read our full story on the event, or check out the coverage in the New York Nonprofit Press.

    Also in this issue:

    Read More