New York State Criminal Justice Technical Assistance
The Legal Action Center (LAC) provides technical assistance to agencies that work with individuals with criminal records as they seek to reenter society successfully and overcome a host of barriers that can often keep them out of jobs, housing, and other critical areas even when they are rehabilitated. We assist hundreds of programs annually with funding from the New York State Division of Probation and Correctional Alternatives, the New York State Assembly, and the New York City Council.
Agencies in and outside of New York State interested in obtaining information and materials about assisting people with criminal records to obtain employment and successfully reenter society should visit the web site of the Legal Action Center’s National HIRE Network.
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LAC helps people with criminal records deal with such legal issues as:
- Expanding the employment opportunities and protecting the legal rights of appropriate, rehabilitated people with criminal records.
- Helping people with criminal records obtain copies of their criminal history records (rap sheets), correct errors on their rap sheets, and obtain documents demonstrating rehabilitation.
- Representing appropriate, qualified people with criminal records in mediation or litigation to eliminate barriers to employment, housing, government benefits and child custody.
To download Legal Action Center’s Leading Cases, which contains legal citations and brief descriptions of cases brought by LAC, and other documents, visit the Publications section of this web site.
For frequently asked questions about discrimination against people with criminal records and other services LAC provides to that constituency, visit the NY Criminal Justice Legal Services section of this web site.
How to Get Help
Agencies located in New York that need assistance on the legal issues described above may call the Legal Action Center at (212) 243-1313, Monday through Friday between 1 and 5 and ask for the “attorney on call.” Agencies wanting information about organizing trainings should request to speak with the training coordinator.
LAC WILL NOT RESPOND TO REQUESTS FOR ASSISTANCE SENT BY E-MAIL TO THE LEGAL ACTION CENTER ADDRESS OR WEB SITE AND CANNOT SERVE "WALK-IN" CLIENTS.
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Publications and Videos/DVDs
The Center publishes a variety of materials for individuals and agencies which give clear and thorough explanations of anti-discrimination and confidentiality laws. To download these and other free publications, visit the Publications section of this website:
- Are you... (Updated 2003) - This booklet explains, in easy-to-understand Q&A format, the steps individuals in treatment or recovery or who have criminal records can take to prevent job discrimination.
- Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Certificates of Good Conduct: What You Can Do about Criminal Convictions When Looking for Work (Updated 2003) - This pamphlet informs individuals with criminal histories how to obtain certificates of rehabilitation.
- Employment Discrimination and What to Do About it (in NY) (2002) - This manual informs service providers of the state and federal laws that protect clients with criminal records, histories of alcohol and drug problems, and HIV/AIDS from being discriminated against by employers.
- How to Get and Clean Up Your New York State Rap Sheet (2007) - This manual offers a step-by-step guide for clients on how to obtain and clean up their State rap sheets. Available in English and Spanish.
- How to Obtain Important Documents (Updated 2003) - This guide explains how to obtain documents that are often needed to obtain employment, housing, public assistance, etc.
- Setting the Record Straight: What New York State Defense Attorneys Need to Know About the Civil Consequences of Client Criminal Records - This guidebook explains to New York State defense attorneys the importance of rap sheet accuracy and the process for correcting errors.
- Welfare As We Know It Now: What New York's New Welfare Laws Mean for People with Criminal Records, Substance Abuse Histories and HIV/AIDS (2000) - This manual (and accompanying pamphlets) describes how New York State and federal welfare laws affect individuals with criminal records, alcohol and drug histories, and HIV/AIDS.
- In 2001, LAC distributed more than 5,275 copies of publications that inform attorneys, counselors and clients how to combat discrimination, correct inaccurate rap sheet information, and deal with the welfare laws.
- In August, 2002, LAC conducted three joint trainings with parole officers and parolees on ex-offender employment discrimination and rap sheet issues.
- In 2000, LAC held a forum "From Hard Time to Full Time" that brought together more than 125 business leaders and policymakers to discuss why hiring individuals with past criminal records makes sense for employers.
- LAC has convened a series of meetings with probation offices, alternative to incarceration programs, and treatment providers to exchange information about existing services and unfilled probation needs as well as trying to develop ways to better communicate and coordinate care.
- LAC is conducting trainings for Legal Aid attorneys on the collateral consequences of criminal convictions.
- LAC conducted a focus group of alternative to incarceration programs in New York that receive federal welfare funds to provide services to individuals with criminal records and their families. This use of federal welfare funds to enhance job training and placement services for participants in alternative to incarceration programs was the first of its kind in the country, and the focus group discussed the progress of the initiative and ways it could be improved.
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