New York State Bar Association, saying that too many individuals who are
released from prison, jail or a youthful offender facility end up returning,
proposes a broad range of policy changes aimed at reducing recidivism by better
preparing individuals for their return to the community.
The Association, in a recent report, also
calls for expansion of diversion programs that have been proven to assist with
rehabilitation. By avoiding convictions and incarcerations, such programs help
individuals avoid the indirect consequences of convictions and decrease the
likelihood of future criminal activities, convictions and incarcerations.
those who are incarcerated, the Association recommends coordinated, individual-oriented
efforts regarding education, employment, mental and medical health care, and
housing. The planning process should begin when an individual is initially
incarcerated, it says.
State Bar Association President David P.
Miranda described the report of the Association's Special Committee on
Re-entry as a thoughtful examination of ways to help individuals
successfully return to the community.
for too many individuals, life after incarceration leads to further crime
and incarceration. Our goal should be to help them leave incarceration—or
diversion programs that are alternatives to incarceration— with the job skills,
education, housing and medical and mental health treatment they need to become
productive, contributing members of the community,” Miranda said.
“This is a particularly appropriate time to
examine the re-entry into society of adults and young people post-arrest or
post-incarceration,” the report states.
“Every year, about 24,000 individuals are
released from [New York] state prisons and more than 100,000 are released from
local jails back into the community,” according to the report. “Within three
years thereafter, two-thirds of them are rearrested, and over 40 percent are
again incarcerated (mostly for economic-driven crimes).”
The Special Committee on Re-Entry was
created by former President Seymour W. James, Jr. in 2012. Its report was unanimously
approved by the Association’s House of Delegates on January 29. Co-chairs of
the committee are Sheila A. Gaddis of Rochester (Barclay Damon and Volunteer
Legal Services Project of Monroe County) and Ronald J. Tabak of New York City
(Skadden Arps). Richard Raysman of New York City (Holland & Knight) is
The comprehensive, 105-page
report offers a broad range of recommendations. Among them are:
- Discharge planning should begin when an
individual is confined. The person's needs should be addressed in a
coordinated, front-loaded way. These needs often involve education, future
employment, and medical and mental health services.
- Proven diversion programs should be
expanded for adults and youths. These include problem-solving courts,
access to substance abuse services,
case management, educational and career counseling and employment
- Employment initiatives might include
innovative programs in which parole officers work with prospective
employers, and pre-release training for suitable, available jobs.
- 21st Century educational opportunities
should be expanded during incarceration. Eligible inmates should be able
to earn college degrees, to improve their job prospects upon release.
should refrain from using criminal history in initial admissions
coordination between juvenile facilities and local school districts should
enable many more youthful offenders to complete their high school
- Better coordination between health
services and corrections agencies will ensure continuity of medical and
mental health care for individuals during and after incarceration.
The entire report of the New York State Bar
Association’s Special Committee on Re-entry is available at www.nysba.org/reentryreport.
The 74,000-member New York State Bar
Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It
was founded in 1876.
Contact: Lise Bang-Jensen
Director, Media Services and Public Affairs