The New York State Bar
Association (NYSBA) has adopted a report with recommendations regarding policy
changes and best practices for effective incarceration release planning and
programs. The report was approved at the State Bar’s April 13 House of Delegates
meeting in Albany.
“Central to the mission
of the State Bar Association is to promote reform in the law, and as the
remarkable work of this task force shows, there is plenty more to be done,”
said NYSBA President Michael Miller. “This report highlights ways to reduce
recidivism by better preparing incarcerated individuals for their release into
In 2018, Miller
established this task force to recommend policy changes and best practices for effective
incarceration release planning programs, to examine existing programs and
consider all relevant issues including: options for those released into urban
and rural settings, inconsistent rules and limited availability of substance
abuse and mental health treatment, housing options, and the impact on
recidivism and public safety that results from inadequate release planning.
The task force, in its
report, concluded that waiting to plan for re-entry until a person is released
– or just before a person is released – is too late. Instead, re-entry planning
must begin at the time of arrest, be attentive to a person's individual needs,
and strive to incorporate community resources. Further, rehabilitation must be
prioritized over punishment.
The task force,
co-chaired by NYSBA Secretary Sherry Levin Wallach (Bashian & Farber) and
NYSBA Treasurer and President-elect Designee Scott M. Karson (Lamb &
Barnosky), identified 17 representative counties based on geographic diversity,
diversity of population and demographics, the counties’ urban, suburban or
rural character, and the presence of one or more state prisons or county jails.
The following counties
were studied: New York, Kings, Queens, Bronx and Richmond (the five counties
comprising New York City); Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Albany, Onondaga,
Chemung, Oneida, Broome, Franklin, Erie, Monroe and Wyoming. The Task Force also reached out to the Governor’s Office, the New York Department
of Criminal Justice Services and Department of Corrections and Community
Supervision, defender organizations, the District Attorneys Association of the
State of New York and several programs that provide re-entry services.
The task force also conducted
a full-day open meeting last November at NYSBA’s Bar Center in Albany at which
representatives of state and local law enforcement and corrections agencies, social
services providers, members of not-for-profit re-entry related organizations, advocates
for re-entry reform and formerly incarcerated individuals engaged in a frank
and extremely useful exchange of ideas. The informative meeting proved to be of
great value to the task force.
In its comprehensive
report, the task force made 34 recommendations falling into two categories:
those that suggest legislative, administrative, or policy change and those that
promote best practices. The recommendations span eight substantive sections
regarding: experts on re-entry; rights restoration; the financial well-being of
people released from prison and the need to facilitate access to public assistance
benefits; housing; education and vocational needs; services for those with
mental illness returning to the community; persons with sex offense convictions;
and funding for pre-release planning and re-entry.
Click here to view the full report.
About the New York State Bar Association
The New York State Bar
Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. Since
1876, the Association has helped shape the development of law, educated and
informed the legal profession and the public, and championed the rights of New
Yorkers through advocacy and guidance in our communities.
###Contact: Christian Nolan [email protected]