STATE BAR SUPPORTS ABA MEASURE URGING CRIMINAL
TO ADDRESS CLIENTS’ CIVIL AND NON-LEGAL PROBLEMS
The American Bar Association (ABA) today approved a resolution that
urges criminal defense attorneys to take a comprehensive approach when
representing their clients, addressing not only the criminal charges but
also the possible causes and collateral consequences of a client’s
involvement in the criminal justice system.
The resolution, sponsored by the ABA Criminal Justice Section, was
ratified by the ABA House of Delegates at the organization’s
Annual Meeting in Chicago. The New York State Bar Association is a
co-sponsor of the resolution.
A report of the Criminal Justice Section says that many people who
are convicted of crimes become repeat offenders.
“It is estimated that out of the 750,000 incarcerated men and
women that were released in 2011, approximately two-thirds of them will
likely be rearrested within three years,” report states.
“If formerly incarcerated persons cannot find work, shelter, or
help, they are much more likely to be caught up in a recurring cycle of
The report also notes that “a majority of people who are
incarcerated have extensive substance abuse histories and/or mental
illness.” Often such problems are left untreated, adding to the
risk that these individuals will be rearrested in the future.
“The resolution’s goal is to address criminal defendants
as whole persons, assisting them in dealing with issues that are
conducive to future criminal conduct. Addressing these issues will
improve their chances of successfully returning to their communities
after incarceration. In doing so, we reduce the recidivism rate and make
our communities safer,”said State Bar President Seymour W. James,
Jr. of New York City (The Legal Aid Society).
The resolution urges criminal defense attorneys to work with civil
practitioners as well as legal and social service organizations to
address a client’s civil and non-legal problems. It calls
for improved re-entry services, training for attorneys and increased
government and foundation funding to provide such
The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest
voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in
NEW YORK STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, ONE ELK STREET, ALBANY, NY 12207 PH: (518) 463-3200 SECURE FX: (518) 463-5993