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Nyc Bar Task Force Repor Re Employment Opportunities for the Previously Incarcerated Mar 2008

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Legal Employers Taking the Lead:
Enhancing
Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated

New York City Bar Association
Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
March 2008

Legal Employers Taking the Lead:
Enhancing
Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated

New York City Bar Association
Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
March 2008

The public policy of this state…[is] to encourage
the licensure and employment of persons previously
convicted of one or more criminal offenses.”
New York Correction Law, Art. 23-A, Section 753

“Providing a former offender a fair opportunity for a job
is a matter of basic human fairness, as well as one of the
surest ways to reduce crime.”
Gov. Hugh L. Carey on approving L. 1976 c. 931
(now Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law)

[T]he importance of employing former inmates, and
reintegrating them into society, without risk of absolute
liability for those who open doors to them.”
Haddock v. City of New York, 75 N.Y.2d 478, 485
(Ct. App. 1980)

3

Table of Contents

Introduction and Summary ............................................... 7
I.

The Magnitude and Multiplicity of the Problem....... 11
a.

Costs to Society (taxpayers, formerly incarcerated persons
and their families) ....................................................... 12

b.

Housing and Medical Care .......................................... 12

c.

Other Obstacles .......................................................... 13

II. Employment: Issues ................................................. 15
a.

Objective Barriers to Employment ................................ 15

b.

Employer Reluctance to Hire ........................................ 17

III. Employment: Solutions ............................................ 23
a.

Statutory Protections for Job Applicants ....................... 23

b.

The Role of Workforce Intermediaries in Overcoming
Employer Reluctance to Hire ........................................ 26

c.

Additional Employer Incentives .................................... 32

IV. Recommendations .................................................... 33
Conclusion ..................................................................... 35
Appendix 1

A Note on Sources

Appendix 2

List of Task Force Members

Appendix 3

Summary of Responses to Questionnaire
for Human Resources Directors

Appendix 4

HIRE Employment Guide

Appendix 5

Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO)

Appendix 6

ComALERT

Appendix 7

The Doe Fund, Inc.

Appendix 8

The Fortune Society

Appendix 9

The Osborne Association

Appendix 10 STRIVE

5

Introduction and
Summary

On December 31, 2007, more than 62,000 individuals were
incarcerated in New York state prisons, and an additional 28,000
or more were confined in jails throughout the State.1 New York
is by no means unique in the prevalence of incarceration in this
country; the United States has the largest prison population in the
world—25% of the world’s prisoners with only 5% of its population.2 The prison population is not only vast but ever-changing, as
individuals are arrested, convicted, incarcerated for varying periods,
and eventually released back into society. In New York State alone,
27,000 individuals are released each year from state prisons,3 and
100,000 from jails.4
The aggregate costs of incarceration are staggering:
maintaining a single prison inmate for one year costs more than
$30,000,5 but that is only a small fraction of the total cost, for it
fails to take into account the other direct costs of the criminal justice
system, lost productivity, added burdens on the welfare system, and
such non-quantifiable but nonetheless very real collateral consequences as broken families and an increase in homelessness.
The vast prison population is swollen by recidivism. According
to federally compiled statistics, 30% of all people released from
prison are rearrested within the following six months; 44% within
the first year; and 67.5% within three years.6 Many of those rearrests are for parole violations, but even with this qualification, the
extent of recidivism is striking.
How can this vicious cycle be stopped or at least slowed?
Individuals released from prison or jail face a host of problems
conducive to a renewal of criminal behavior, not the least of which
is the difficulty that they face in securing employment. Reflect on
just one statistic: nine out of ten parole violators are unemployed.7
Unemployment may in fact be the most serious of all contributors to
the high rate of recidivism.8

7

In order to stop or at least slow the recidivism cycle, it is
necessary to understand the reasons behind the severe obstacles
formerly incarcerated individuals encounter in securing employment,
and then to find ways to combat those difficulties and to expand
employment opportunities.
Enhancing employment opportunities for the formerly incarcerated and thereby reducing recidivism is a crucial aspect of the
administration of criminal justice. Lawyers play central roles in the
processes that lead to the imprisonment of individuals. The legal
profession should also take a leading role in securing employment
for individuals who are released from prison and seek reintegration
into society. The New York City Bar Association, with more than
22,000 members from all corners of the legal profession, is uniquely
situated to address this subject, particularly when it comes to
employment within the legal profession. Accordingly, on the recommendation of the Pipeline Project,9 President Barry Kamins of the
New York City Bar Association appointed this Task Force in August
2007. Its members are identified in Appendix 2.
President Kamins charged the Task Force not only with
identifying the barriers that previously incarcerated persons face
when seeking work in the legal sector and elsewhere, but also
with determining ways to surmount them. This Report suggests
that employment barriers may be heightened by the failure of
employers to understand the laws under which they operate, as
well as employers’ generalized misperceptions about job applicants
with conviction histories. We have also found that legal and other
employers seem not to be aware, much less make full use, of
workforce intermediaries, many of which provide a wide range of
employment-related services, including soft-skills and hard-skills
training, job placement and post-placement assistance.

8

We recommend that legal and other employers become
familiar with workforce intermediaries and turn to them for support
and assistance in identifying and employing qualified applicants.
By taking full advantage of workforce intermediaries, an employer
can do well and do good — both enlarging the pool of suitable job
candidates from which the employer may choose and providing a
stabilizing and supportive work environment that will facilitate a
former prisoner’s reintegration into society. If this Report broadens
awareness and appreciation of the range of valuable services offered
by workforce intermediaries, and if employers — especially but
not only law firms and other legal employers — avail themselves
of those services and thereby hire and retain a greater number of
qualified persons with conviction histories in positions that afford
them the prospect of dignity and self-esteem, our Task Force will
have achieved its purpose.

9

The Magnitude
and Multiplicity
of the Problem

Barriers to employment faced by formerly incarcerated persons
are numerous, varied and formidable. They range from statutory
bars to employment in, or licensing required for, certain types of
employment to a reluctance to hire based on open or latent fears
of threat to safety, dishonesty and liability. Surveys have shown
that the formerly incarcerated are less likely to be hired than any
other single disadvantaged group (see p. 8, supra), and when they
are hired, they are likely to be paid lower wages than employees
recruited from other sectors in society.10 Barriers to employment are
exacerbated by the difficulties releasees face in obtaining housing
and medical care, as discussed below.
The prison population is by definition out of sight, and
perhaps it is that invisibility which makes the extent of our country’s
resort to imprisonment so startling. The New York State Bar Association has observed that one in three New Yorkers passes through the
criminal justice system at some point, and nearly six million New
Yorkers have conviction histories of felonies, misdemeanors or other
violations of law.11 New York is by no means unique in this respect.
It has recently been reported that one in every one hundred Americans is currently incarcerated.12 According to the federal Bureau of
Justice Statistics, approximately nine percent of all men — one in
every eleven — will spend some time in state or federal prison.13
The number is much higher for Latinos (16%), and it is highest of all
for African-Americans (about 30%).14
Young black men are going to prison in record numbers; they
are jailed at a higher rate than any other cohort of our population—
more than 2.4 times the rate of Latino men and 6.2 times the rate
of white males.15 Indeed, every black male child born in the United
States today has a 1-in-3 chance of serving a prison sentence.16
The social and economic reverberations of these incarceration rates
are profound, for more black men serving prison sentences means
reduced income, fewer college enrollments and fewer productive
careers.17

11

Costs to Society
(taxpayers, formerly incarcerated persons and their families)

Like the numbers of the prison population, the costs of crime
are enormous. Crime victims may suffer injury, loss of or damage to
property, and/or pain and suffering. State and local governments
(and, to a limited extent, the federal government) must foot most
of the bill for police protection and judicial and legal services, and
must bear the costs of maintaining and staffing prisons and jails and
making payments under compensation programs. (A small portion
of these costs is offset by fees assessed against persons convicted of
crimes and in some cases by the restitution they are ordered to pay.)
The imprisoned and their families pay a steep price as well.
Many imprisoned adult men are non-custodial fathers who are
unable to pay child support or otherwise contribute financially to
their families from prison.18 They cannot serve as beneficial male
role models for their children and other youth. And their own social
capital depreciates while they are incarcerated, as they fail to accumulate additional meaningful work experience or higher education,
and as whatever skills and employment contacts they possessed
before imprisonment erode.19
Housing and Medical Care

Upon release from prison or jail, many individuals are cast
adrift. They may be unable to reconnect with their families and
resettle in their former neighborhoods, in no small part due to
state- and federally funded housing authorities’ rigid restrictions on
renting to persons with conviction histories. Formerly incarcerated
persons are generally prohibited from rejoining their families for
certain periods of time when those families reside in public housing,
or from renting a public housing apartment on their own.20 As a
consequence, and because of the dearth of affordable housing in
most New York metropolitan areas, individuals recently released
from prison may turn to rooming houses, to temporarily doubling up
with friends, and, in many instances, eventually to the streets.

12

Individuals released from custody frequently lack medical
insurance or access to health care providers, including mental
health, drug and alcohol treatment programs.21 They may, therefore,
be unable to obtain medication or care for chronic conditions such
as diabetes, asthma or addiction.
Other Obstacles

Given these realities, it is understandable that persons
released from custody may be alienated or wanting in either the
ability or the motivation to work. It is extremely difficult to seek
or to secure a job when living in a shelter with untreated medical
needs.
Releasees may also lack basic skills and habits required to
obtain — and, equally important, to retain — a job. While some jail
and prison facilities provide job readiness programs, these are often
not adequate to prepare individuals for a job search in the outside
world, and are no longer available to them once they are released.
Finally, formerly incarcerated persons may encounter subtle
(and not so subtle) obstacles, including illegal discrimination, when
they seek employment. These range from flat bans on hiring persons
with conviction histories22 to de facto refusal to consider such applicants.

13

Employment: Issues

Numerous studies have shown that an individual’s likelihood
of committing a crime is correlated with his or her work status.23
A survey conducted by the Federal Bureau of Justice Statistics in
1997 disclosed that between 21 and 38 percent of prisoners were
unemployed just prior being incarcerated, depending on their level
of educational attainment.24 Another study reported that nearly half
(45%) of a group of surveyed prisoners reported having been fired
from a job at least once, and an equally large number had never
held a job for as long as two years.25 According to a third study,
the vast majority (89%) of individuals who violate the terms of their
probation are unemployed at the time of the violation.26
The correlation between the incidence of crime and extent of
unemployment is hardly surprising. It stands to reason that when
an individual is working within the structure of a job environment
and earning a salary capable of meeting at least basic needs, he or
she is less likely to commit a crime. That essential point is reinforced
by numerous studies showing that job instability is associated with
higher arrest rates and that as wages go up, crime is reduced. Given
the correlation between crime and unemployment, it is ominous that
one year after release up to 60% of formerly incarcerated people are
unemployed.27 Why is that number so high?
Objective Barriers to Employment

The obstacles to employment confronted by an individual
released from prison are daunting. Some have already been
touched upon: the complexities of family reunion and possible
estrangement, lack of appropriate housing leading to unstable living
arrangements and, in many cases, eventually to homelessness, and
lack of adequate access to affordable health care leading to exacerbation of alcohol and drug abuse and of other physical and mental
health problems. These alone would prove formidable obstacles
to getting and keeping a job. But there are still other barriers to
employment.

15

Many individuals released from jail or prison return to large
urban centers, where there are numerous unskilled residents and
relatively few unskilled jobs, such as manufacturing.28 The effects
of this “spatial mismatch” are compounded by the fact that these
areas are characterized by little or no job growth. Released inmates
return to these areas with diminished social or human capital,
lacking the “soft” skills valued by many employers, particularly
in service industries, and also lacking contacts to social networks
through which job opportunities may be found and pursued.
Depending on the length of their imprisonment, their work skills
may well have eroded, and their job-related knowledge may have
become outdated.29
Formerly incarcerated individuals are barred by statute from
many occupations, particularly those involving vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, the disabled and children, and from
obtaining occupational licenses, such as a tow truck license. In
some instances, newly released individuals may find themselves
barred from the very same jobs they held before being imprisoned,
or for which they were trained while in prison, for the number of
occupations from which the formerly incarcerated are excluded has
been increased by legislation passed after September 11, including
the USA PATRIOT Act. One study lists more than thirty different
occupations from which the formerly incarcerated either are barred
or may be rejected by licensing authorities in New York State.30
Some of the restrictions are rationally related to the offense of which
the job applicant has been convicted (for example, an individual
convicted of certain vehicular offenses may not be employed as
a bus driver), but other restrictions make little or no sense (an
electrician convicted of a crime may have his license revoked or
suspended, and a convicted embezzler may not be hired as an
emergency medical technician).31 Many occupational licenses will
be granted only to those of “good moral character,” a term widely
understood to exclude most persons convicted of a crime.

16

The impact of the numerous statutory absolute and discretionary bans against employment under New York law is ameliorated
by the availability of certificates of relief from disabilities and certificates of good conduct, both of which may be issued by the Board of
Parole and the former of which may also be issued by the sentencing
court.32 However, certificate applications may take as many as
18 months to process, and may be rejected or denied (in some cases
on specious grounds, such as the applicant’s having stated he needs
the certificate in order to seek employment generally rather than for
a specific job).
In addition to employment bans under New York state law,
there are numerous federal law restrictions on employment of
individuals with criminal records. Many of these restrictions were
put in place after September 11: for example, airport baggage
handlers are now required to obtain security seals from the Bureau
of Customs and Border Protection, which are denied an applicant
convicted of one of a long list of crimes within five years prior to the
application “or any longer period that the [Bureau] deems appropriate for the offense in question.”33 As another example, individuals convicted of a criminal offense involving dishonesty may not
be employed by or otherwise work in a federally insured depository
institution (except, in certain instances, with the written permission
of the FDIC or more than ten years after conviction).34
Employer Reluctance to Hire

Statutory and administrative prohibitions or limitations on
employment are at least clear and specific, if not always understandable and defensible. In contrast, several published surveys have
demonstrated that the most difficult barriers to employment of the
formerly incarcerated are subjective, rooted in a deep-seated and
often not wholly rational reluctance to employ a person coming out
of prison or jail. Moreover, the presence of a prison record has been
found to compound existing racial bias.35

17

The previously incarcerated are at the very bottom of the
hierarchy of potential employees. Consider the affirmative survey
responses of a group of 619 employers in the Los Angeles area who
were asked whether they would definitely or probably hire an individual falling into one of the following categories:
Current or former welfare recipients ...........................93%
Recipients of a GED diploma ......................................97%
Individuals unemployed for a year or more ..................80%
Individuals with a spotty employment history ..............66%
Ex-prisoners ............................................................ 21%36
The modal (most frequent) response of the 619 establishments surveyed was that their willingness to hire previously incarcerated individuals would depend on the nature of the crime of which
the individual was convicted; 36.4% of the employers gave that
response.37 In contrast, fully 42.6% responded that they definitely
(18.5%) or probably (24.1%) would not hire such an individual,
regardless of the nature of his or her conviction history.38
The industries most willing to employ formerly incarcerated
applicants are those whose workers have little customer contact, like
manufacturing and construction. 39 Those industries have a preponderance of unskilled or low-skilled jobs, in contrast to establishments
in the service sector.
It is instructive to probe the reasons given by employers for
their reluctance or hesitancy to hire an individual with a conviction
history. In doing so, we draw upon three surveys conducted in the
past seven years:

18

„ the survey just mentioned, which was conducted by telephone in
Los Angeles between May 2001 and November 2001;
„ four focus groups interviewed in New York City in June 2006,
consisting of business owners or individuals with hiring responsibility in companies with more than 5 but fewer than 250
employees;40 and
„ an October 2007 survey conducted by this Task Force of the
human resources directors at 21 large New York City-based law
firms.41
The Law Firm Experience

While the Task Force survey results may not be statistically
valid, its teachings are nonetheless helpful. Eleven law firms
responded to the survey questionnaire (a response rate of 52.4%);
three declined to participate; one was unable to provide information because of a recent merger with another law firm; and the
remaining six failed to respond. When asked whether they would be
willing to hire an individual with a prior criminal history for various
employee categories (assuming the individual were qualified), nine
answered “yes;” two responded that it “depends.”42 In response to
a question as to why they might be reluctant to hire an individual
with a criminal record, four firms cited safety concerns; four pointed
to “trust/honesty” issues; two expressed concern with “comfort/fit;”
and two were suspicious of an individual’s willingness to volunteer
complete information about his or her criminal record.43
Three firms noted (not in response to a specific question) that
their willingness to hire a previously incarcerated individual would
depend on the crime of which the individual had been convicted
(the modal response in the 619-establishment survey discussed
above).44 Notably, all eleven responding law firms stated that they
had at some point hired an employee who had been convicted of a
crime, although one qualified its response by noting that it had not
known of the conviction at the time of employment (and that may
have been true of others as well).45
19

Fears of Negligent Hiring Liability

Many employers are reluctant to hire formerly incarcerated
individuals for fear of liability if they hire a person with a criminal
record who then commits a criminal or tortious act causing injury
to person or property. Although the Task Force survey did not
specifically isolate employer fear of liability as a reason for refusal
or reluctance to employ former prisoners, other studies suggest
that this fear is perhaps the single largest obstacle to employment confronting a person released from prison. Not surprisingly,
employer reluctance is greatest in the case of individuals convicted
of a crime of violence; employers are five times more likely to hire a
drug offender than a perpetrator of violence. 46
Employer liability concerns are not without foundation,
because New York, like most if not all other states, has accepted the
doctrine of negligent hiring, retention and supervision. Under this
doctrine, an employer may be held liable for injury inflicted by an
employee when the employer knew or should have known that the
employee posed a risk of harm to others.
There is reason to believe, though, that many prospective
employers, even legal employers, fail to appreciate fully the separate
elements that must be established before an employer may be held
liable under this theory.
A plaintiff must first establish that the defendant owed him or
her a duty of care, that is, that the plaintiff was a member of a class
of foreseeable victims.47
Second, the plaintiff must show that the employer either knew
or, after making appropriate inquiry under the circumstances, would
have known, that the employee might commit a wrongful act.48 In
practice, actual knowledge may have to be shown, because “courts
virtually never find employers liable because they ‘should have
known’ of an employee’s harmful propensities.”49

20

Third, the plaintiff must establish that the employer’s negligence in hiring or retaining the employee was the proximate cause
of the plaintiff’s injury. Thus, for example, the Appellate Division,
First Department, has held that an employer who hired as a building
porter a person convicted of manslaughter was not liable when the
porter many years later abused a child who resided in the building.50
Notably, in negligent hiring and retention cases, both the
Court of Appeals and the Appellate Division, First Department, have
recognized (in the former’s words) “[t]he importance of employing
former inmates, and reintegrating them into society, without risk of
absolute liability for those who open doors to them….”51

21

Employment: Solutions

Statutory Protections for Job Applicants

Both the federal and New York State governments recognize
the reluctance of business establishments to employ individuals
released from prison or jail, and both have enacted legislation that
protects an employer’s right to make legitimate inquiry concerning
a job applicant’s background while at the same time protecting job
applicants from discrimination because of a criminal record.
According to a recent report by the American Bar Association
Commission on Effective Criminal Sanctions, New York affords a
greater protection to the formerly incarcerated against discrimination in employment and provides more effective enforcement of
those rights than most other states. 52 Under Section 752 of the
New York Correction Law (part of Article 23-A of the Law, by which
it is commonly known), an employer may not discriminate against
a job applicant on the ground of a prior conviction — and it is
unlawful for a state or local authority to deny a license application
on that ground — unless either:
(i) there is a direct relationship between one or more of the
previous criminal offenses and the specific license or employment sought, or
(ii) the issuance of the license or granting of the employment
would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the
safety or welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
The Correction Law provides guidance in applying Section 752
by defining “direct relationship” to mean that “the nature of [the]
criminal conduct for which the person was convicted has a direct
bearing on his fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties
or responsibilities necessarily related to the license or employment
sought.”

23

Section 753 of the Law provides further guidance in making
the Section 752 determination by enumerating relevant factors
to be weighed in arriving at that determination. A prospective
employer “shall consider” (a) “the public policy of this state…
to encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously
convicted of one or more criminal offenses;” (b) the “specific duties
and responsibilities” of the prospective job; (c) “the bearing, if any,
the criminal offense or offenses for which the person was previously
convicted will have on his fitness or ability to perform one or more
such duties and responsibilities;” (d) “the time which has elapsed
since the occurrence” of the offense; (e) “the age of the person” at
time of the offense; (f) the “seriousness of the offense . . .;” (g) any
available information regarding the person’s “rehabilitation and
good conduct;” and (h) the “legitimate interest of the . . . employer
in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.53
Read together, Sections 752 and 753 clearly require, as the
courts have in applying the statute, an individual assessment of
each applicant and his or her record; flat bans on employing persons
with conviction histories violate the statute. So long as the employer
weighs in good faith the various factors enumerated in Section 753,
the resulting determination will not be overturned54
We believe that compliance with Article 23-A should effectively foreclose liability for negligent hiring.
Article 23-A is reinforced by the New York State Human
Rights Law, Section 296(15) of the New York Executive Law and
Section 8-107(10)(a) of the New York City Human Rights Law, which
make it unlawful to deny employment or a license to an individual
in violation of Article 23-A.55 Prospective employers should also
be aware that it is a violation of Section 296(16) of the Executive
Law to ask a job applicant about, or act adversely on, any arrest or
criminal accusation not then pending that was resolved favorably to
the applicant (or Youthful Affender adjudication or sealed violationlevel conviction).

24

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, job applicants
are similarly protected against discrimination in employment. Guidance provided by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
admonishes employers not to exclude job applicants with criminal
convictions from employment unless there is a “business necessity”
to do so, taking into account the gravity of the offense, the time that
has elapsed since the conviction and/or completion of the sentence,
the nature of the job sought and the applicant’s employment
history.56 There is a complementary prohibition against denying
employment because of an arrest record in the absence of a
“business justification” (defined similarly to “business necessity”).57
The foregoing federal and state law substantive protections
are reinforced by the New York State Fair Credit Reporting Act,
which prohibits a credit reporting agency from reporting or maintaining information regarding an arrest or criminal charge unless
there has been a criminal conviction or the charge is still pending.58
In addition, the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that where
an employer intends to make an adverse employment determination (such as denying a job) based on a “consumer report” (defined
include commercially prepared criminal background checks), the
employer is required to provide the applicant with a copy of the
report prior to making the determination.59 This requirement gives
the applicant an opportunity both to check the report for errors and
to explain the circumstances described in the report and whatever
rehabilitation she or he has undertaken since any conviction was
entered. While no time is specified in the law, it has been suggested
that employers do so at least five days prior to denying employment.

25

One lesson to be drawn from state, local and federal legislation is that fears of some prospective employers that a formerly
imprisoned person may renew criminal conduct in the workplace are
in fact recognized by government, but only to the extent these fears
are rationally related to the characteristics of the job under consideration. Individual consideration of each applicant is the touchstone.
While none of these laws requires that an employer hire a person
with a conviction history, they do require that prospective employers
analyze the nature of the crime committed and how long ago it took
place against the backdrop of the applicant’s rehabilitation, achievements and fitness for the job in question.
The foregoing review of New York State, New York City and
federal law is informative, but does not itself provide a useful guide
to human resources directors and others engaged in hiring who
obtain commercially a background check that discloses a criminal
conviction. A detailed and practical guide has been prepared by
the National H.I.R.E. Network and is reproduced in Appendix 4.60
Additionally, the Labor and Employment Committee of this Association is preparing informational brochures for both employers and
prison releasees seeking employment.
The Role of Workforce Intermediaries in Overcoming
Employer Reluctance to Hire

As we have seen, there are supply-side and demand-side
barriers to reentry of prisoners into the workforce after release.
These barriers are powerful; neither side of the employment equation can alone overcome them, nor is it practical to expect them to
work together to surmount those barriers without assistance. There
is, fortunately, a category of organization that can and does successfully interface between the employer and employee and bring them
together. These organizations, known as workforce intermediaries,
provide job readiness and solid skills training, job placement assistance, and continuing support once the applicant is employed. They
work with both the applicant and the employer to assure, as best
they can, that the placement works. New York City is fortunate to
have several such organizations.
26

They include (in alphabetical order):
„ the Center for Employment Opportunities (see Appendix 5),
„ ComALERT (see Appendix 6),
„ the Doe Fund (see Appendix 7),
„ the Fortune Society (see Appendix 8),
„ the Osborne Association (see Appendix 9) and
„ STRIVE (see Appendix 10).
Five are not-for-profit organizations; the sixth, ComALERT
(the acronym for Community and Law Enforcement Resources
Together), was created by the Kings County District Attorney’s
Office in 1999 under the personal leadership of District Attorney
Charles J. Hynes and is rapidly expanding (in 2006, 365 parolees
entered the program; it hopes to serve 1,200 in 2008). Most
recently, Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau last
month announced his office’s Fair Chance Initiative, which will work
with reentry service providers to address the major issues, including
employment, facing individuals recently released from incarceration. 61
As the tables on the following pages show, these intermediary
agencies provide a wide array of services including both “soft skills”
and “hard skills” training, and some have chosen to partner with
others (the Doe Fund’s Ready, Willing and Able program provides
transitional employment and housing to participants in ComALERT).
What they have in common is that they all contribute in one or more
ways to provide connections between, and support for, formerly
incarcerated job seekers and prospective employers.62 In addition to
securing employment for former prisoners and assisting employers
in identifying job applicants, the workforce intermediaries offer
continuing services to assist previously incarcerated employees in
gaining additional training and education and developing social
skills that will qualify them for advancement in their careers.
27

Hard Skills Training Offered by Work Force Intermediaries

The Doe Fund
Supervisory Training

Pest Control

Culinary Arts

Janitorial and
Advanced Building Maintenance

Computer Skills —
Microsoft Office Suite

Office Skills/Mail Room/
Direct Mail

Security

Driving/Commercial Driving
(referred out)

Heavy Duty Cleaning

General Landscaping

CEO

Maintenance
Fortune Society
Computer Skills

Asbestos Handling

Janitorial Maintenance

Culinary Arts

Computer Technician

Office Operators (Beginning 2008)

Environmental Revalidation

Building Maintenance

HVAC Repairs

Automotive Repairs

Osborne
STRIVE

28

Employment and Related Services Available to
Formerly Incarcerated Individuals and their Employers
Providers

The
Doe Fund
In-House

Referral

Fortune
Society

CEO
In-House

Referral

In-House

Referral

Osborne
In-House

STRIVE

Referral

In-House

•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•

Referral

Services for Participants: Employment
Pre-Employment/Soft Skills Training
Transitional Employment
Hard Skills Training (see below)
Job Placement Assistance
Career Development/Advancement Services
Post Placement Support/Follow-Up

•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•

•

•

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•

Services for Participants: Non-Employment
Case Management/Counseling/Mentoring Services

•

Mental Health Services
GED/Continuing-Higher Education
Computer Courses
Financial Management Assistance
Substance Abuse Services
Housing Placement Assistance
Housing (On-Site)
Legal Services
Fatherhood Services/Child Support Advocacy

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•

•
•

Health Services/Counseling
Family Services

•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•
•

•
•

•
•
•

•
•
•

•

•
•

•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•

Services for Employers
Federal Bonding
Assistance Accessing Tax Credits
Pre-employment Screening
Post Placement Support
Wage Subsidies

•
•
•

•
•
•
•

•
•
•

•
•
•
•

•
•
•
•

•

29

How effective are the programs operated by these organizations? That effectiveness can be portrayed anecdotally.
„ Phillip A. was released from prison in 2006 after serving a
sentence for criminal sale of a controlled substance. He entered
CEO’s Paid Transitional Employment program, where he learned
resumé preparation and interviewing skills. After initially gaining
employment as a sheet metal laborer, Phillip was laid off during
a business downturn. CEO subsequently placed him in a position as a forklift driver. He has been promoted twice in ten
months and now supervises a staff of four.
„ Derrick S. embarked on a path of addiction and violence that
led to imprisonment for more than five years. He found The Doe
Fund Ready, Willing & Able (RWA) program in mid-2006, participated in its food services vocational training track, received a
New York City Department of Health food handler’s certificate
and was hired as a cook by a major national company in 2007.
He currently participates in The Doe Fund’s Graduate Services
program.
„ James L. came to CEO following his release after conviction and
imprisonment for sale of a controlled substance. After working
with a Job Developer and Job Coach, James was hired by a
national ice cream chain, which has subsequently promoted him
to train new hires.
„ Rudolph W. was recruited into The Doe Fund’s RWA program as
a trainee just before his release from prison in December 2005.
After a year in the program, following 25 years of drug addiction, imprisonment and homelessness, Rudolph was hired by a
private company and earned a salary increase after only a few
weeks of employment.

30

The effectiveness of the workforce intermediary programs
can also be measured statistically, although caution must be taken
in using the data because individuals may avail themselves of
differing services offered by different organizations — or even
within the same organization. With that qualification, an October
2007 evaluation report on the ComALERT prisoner reentry program
noted that ComALERT graduates were nearly four times more likely
to be employed than a comparison group with similar criminal
history.63 Indeed, ComALERT graduates during the evaluation
period (October 1, 2004-December 31, 2006) who participated in
the Ready, Willing and Able program of the Doe Fund exhibited an
especially high 90% rate of employment, 64 and only 5% of Ready,
Willing and Able Criminal Justice graduates were rearrested within
one year of graduation.65 In a separate study of the Center for
Employment Opportunities’ reentry population, using a random
assignment research methodology, fewer than 1% of the people
entering CEO were sent back to prison for a new crime during the
year after entering the program, and only 9.1% were reincarcerated
for technical parole violations and other non-criminal activity.66
With the training and support these organizations offer —
free of charge — it would be expected that employers would
frequently turn to them for help with hiring and retention. However,
this is not the case. Why is this so? A previously cited recent
survey of several hundred business establishments in New York
City concluded that “employers are virtually unaware of staffing
resources in the form of intermediary organizations and transitional programs.”67 Efforts, therefore, need to be made to alert
employers — large and small, within and beyond the legal community — to the existence of these organizations and to the benefits
they provide. Similarly, workforce development organizations should
be encouraged to seek more connections with legal and other
employers.

31

Additional Employer Incentives

Recognizing that employers face certain real and perceived
obstacles in hiring persons with conviction histories, the federal
and New York State governments have created certain incentives
in order to increase employer willingness to hire such persons. The
Federal Bonding Program of the Department of Labor issues fidelity
bonds to protect employers against theft, embezzlement or forgery
by covered employees. The program was created because many
private agencies will not bond job applicants with a criminal record.
The employer need not pay any premium. Coverage is usually up
to $5,000 with no deductible, but may be increased up to $25,000;
coverage is extended to any at-risk applicant, including individuals
with criminal records. The bonds are issued by a local agency certified by the Federal Bonding Program.68
Another incentive to employment of the formerly incarcerated
is the Work Opportunity Tax Credit authorized by the Small Business
Job Protection Act of 1996, which has been subsequently reauthorized and most recently extended through August 31, 2011.69
This federal tax credit reduces an employer’s federal income tax
liability by as much as $2,400 per qualified new worker. Among the
categories of qualifying new hires are persons convicted of felonies
who are members of low-income families. The individuals must have
been hired not more than one year after their conviction or release
from prison.
Finally, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability
Assistance operates a wage subsidy program for Family Assistance
recipients who have been unable to find or retain employment
and other families with household incomes less than 200% of the
federal poverty level. Under this program, nonprofit communitybased organizations place individuals in wage-subsidized jobs which
the organizations develop with employers. Most current providers
use a three- or six-month subsidy period. Employers receive 80% of
wages and can claim the remaining 20% if the employee is retained
for 90 days.70

32

Recommendations

Our study of employment opportunities for the formerly
incarcerated leads us to make the following six specific recommendations:
„ In accordance with the stated legislative policy “to encourage
the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted
of one or more criminal offenses,” law firms and other legal
employers should be as willing to interview and hire such
persons as any other individuals possessing comparable job skills
„ Consistent with the quoted legislative policy, law firms and
other legal employers should provide the same opportunities for
advancement to individuals released from prison as they do to
other employees possessing comparable job skills.
„ Law firms and other legal employers should take full advantage
of the job placement and post-placement services provided
by workforce intermediaries to identify, employ and provide
supportive services to individuals released from prison or jail.
„ All appropriate steps should be taken to publicize broadly the
availability of workforce intermediaries, the variety of services
they provide and the success they have achieved in placing
formerly incarcerated individuals in productive and remunerative
employment.
„ Law firms and other legal employers should encourage suppliers
and organizations to which they outsource functions such as
food service to employ and promote formerly incarcerated
persons and to utilize for that purpose the services of workforce
intermediaries.
„ All statutory and regulatory restrictions and disqualifications
on licensure and employment based upon criminal convictions
should be reviewed and modified, so that denial of employment
or licensure is not automatic, but rather requires an individualized determination (i) there is a direct relationship between the
conduct constituting the offense and the license or job sought,
or (ii) granting the license or employment in the job would pose
an unreasonable risk to individual or public safety or property.
33

The foregoing recommendations are addressed in the first
instance to law firms and other legal employers. But it bears
emphasis that the recommendations are equally applicable to all
other establishments with hiring needs in both the private and the
public sectors. The effects of the failure to reverse the policies that
have swollen our prison population and the failure to reintegrate
into society individuals released from prison extend far beyond the
legal profession.
Nevertheless, it is appropriate that lawyers “lead the way.”
To that end, the Association is committed to enhancing the employment opportunities for the previously incarcerated. In furtherance of
that commitment, the Association will collaborate with its members,
bar leaders, legal and other employers and workforce intermediaries
to implement the recommendations of this report. The Association’s
reentry project director will consult with law firms and corporate law
departments that request assistance in this area, and the Association will encourage the development of opportunities for individuals
released from prison to enhance interviewing skills and meet with
prospective employers through such approaches as mock interviews
and job fairs.

34

Conclusion

Providing secure employment with prospects for advancement
to the formerly incarcerated will reduce recidivism, reduce the costs
of maintaining a huge prison population (thereby lowering taxes
or reducing the pressure to raise them), strengthen family ties, and
enhance public safety — all of which are important social objectives. Moreover, there is an economic value to having a diverse,
inclusive workforce, reflecting the self-evident fact that needed skill
sets exist within groups of employees of diverse backgrounds.
As we have seen, employment is not easily found by the
formerly incarcerated, for there are numerous, significant hurdles,
some caused by prejudice and misinformation and others by law or
social circumstances. To overcome these hurdles requires a “matchmaking” that can be brokered and supported by workforce intermediaries. These groups not only assist the prospective applicant with
appropriate training and support, but also assist the prospective
employer with opportunity for feedback and help if the employee
requires it. The Task Force believes that the services of these groups
are fundamental to shattering employers’ misconceptions about the
formerly incarcerated and to helping the prospective employees both
cross the hiring threshold and remain in work that provides financial
support and fosters reintegration into society.
New York City Bar Association
Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
March 2008

35

Endnotes

36

1

New York State Comm’n of Corrs., available at http://www.scoc.state.ny.us/pop.htm.

Roy Walmsley, Int’l Ctr. for Prison Studies, King’s College London, World Prison Population List (7th ed. 2007), available at http://www.
kcl.ac.uk/depsta/rel/icps/world-prison-pop-seventh.pdf. As of January 1, 2008, more than 2.3 million adults were incarcerated in this country;
China was second with 1.5 million, and Russia a distant third. The Pew Ctr. on the States, One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008 at 5, available at http://www.pewcenteronthestates.org/uploadedFiles/One%20in%20100.pdf (hereinafter “Pew Center Report”).

2

New York State Dep’t of Corr. Servs., Admissions and Releases 2006, available at http://nysl.nysed.gov/uhtbin/cgisirsi/fA4WoRwVtz/
NYSL/3230014/523/80525.

3

The Indep. Comm. on Reentry and Employment, Report and Recommendation to New York State on Enhancing Employment Opportunities for the Formerly Incarcerated People 2 (2006) (hereinafter “Independent Committee Report”).

4

5

See id. at 4. In fiscal 2007, New York State spent $2.622 billion on corrections expenditures. See Pew Center Report at 30.

Patrick A. Langhan & David J. Levin, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, Special Report Washington, D.C. 2002: Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994, available at http://ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/ascii/rpr94.txt.

6

See Independent Committee Report at 9; see also Debbie A. Mukamal, Confronting the Employment Barriers of Criminal Records: Effective Legal and Political Strategies, JOURNAL OF POVERTY LAW AND POLICY (Jan.-Feb. 2000).

7

8

A recent report by a Special Committee of the New York State Bar Association stated that “[r]esearch from both academics and practitioners suggest that the chief factor which influences the reduction of recidivism is an individual’s ability to gain ‘quality employment.’” Special
Comm. on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Proceedings, New York State Bar Ass’n, “Re-Entry and Reintegration: The Road to Public
Safety,” 59 (May 2006) (hereinafter “Re-Entry and Reintegration”), available at http://www.nysba.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Substantive_
Reports&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=11415.

9

The Pipeline Crisis/Winning Strategies Initiative is a consortium of individuals and organizations in the legal, financial services and business communities who are pooling their talents, know-how and resources to help reverse the rising rates of school drop-outs, joblessness and
incarceration among young black men, and to increase their representation in the pipeline to higher education and professional endeavors.

10

Joan Petersilia, When Prisoners Come Home: Parole and Prison Reentry 119 (2003).

11

Re-Entry and Reintegration at Introduction n.1.

12

See Pew Center Report at 3.

Harry J. Holzer, Steven Raphael & Michael A. Stoll, Nat’l Poverty Ctr., The Effect of an Applicant’s Criminal History on Employer Hiring
Decisions and Screening Practices: Evidence from Los Angeles 1 (Dec. 2004).

13

14

Id.

Press Release, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Dep’t of Justice, More than 5.6 Million U.S. Residents Have Served or Are Serving Time in
State or Federal Prisons (Aug. 17, 2003); see also Bruce Western & Becky Pettit, Black-White Wage Inequality, Employment Rates, and Incarceration, 111 AM. J. SOC. 553 (2005).

15

16

See id.

17

Black Student College Graduation Rates Inch Higher but a Large Racial Gap Exists, J. BLACKS HIGHER EDUC. (Winter 2006/07).

18

Non-custodial parents’ child support obligations do not abate when they are incarcerated: incarceration is considered by law to be
“voluntary unemployment.” See Re-Entry and Reintegration at 279-81. By the time they are released from prison, these parents have often
accrued arrears in the tens of thousands of dollars, and lack means by which to repay them. Id.

See Solomon et al., Reentry Roundtable, Urban Inst. Justice Policy Ctr., From Prison to Work: The Employment Dimensions of Prisoner
Reentry 12 (Oct. 2004).

19

20

The New York City Housing Authority, which receives state and federal funds, prohibits individuals with conviction histories (ranging from
non-criminal violation-level convictions through serious felonies) from applying to reside or residing in its project apartments or from receiving
Section 8 housing vouchers that defray the cost of renting a private apartment. The prohibition period differs depending on the severity of the
offense and begins to run only after the individual is released from parole or probation supervision. While the prohibition may in a very few
cases be overcome by a showing that the individual has been “rehabilitated” following commission of the offense at issue, this showing is
difficult to make without the assistance of specially trained advocates or attorneys. Re-Entry and Reintegration at 231-39.

37

21

Legislation passed last session to become effective April 1, 2008 requires that Medicaid coverage be “suspended” during the period
of an individual’s incarceration in state or local custody. N.Y. Soc. Servs. L. § 366(1)(13)(d)(1-a) (eff. Apr. 1, 2008). However, the majority of
inmates enter jail and prison without Medicaid coverage and so must apply for it when they are released. The application process generally
takes three months, and sometimes longer.

22

These flat bans may violate both the New York State and New York City Human Rights Laws. Employers are required to evaluate each
job applicant individually. See Statutory Protections for Employment Applicants, infra pp. 23-26.

23

See, e.g., Jeremy Travis, But They All Come Back—Facing the Challenges of Prisoner Reentry 168 (2005).

24

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/pub/pdf/ecp.pdf p. 10 of 12.

25

See Travis at 158.

26

See Independent Committee Report at 6; see also Mukamal.

27

See Independent Committee Report at 3.

28

See Petersilia, supra note 10, at 113.

See Re-entry Policy Council, Charting the Safe and Successful Return of Prisoners in the Community 294 (2005) (cited hereinafter as
“Re-entry Policy Council Report”).

29

30

See Legal Action Ctr., New York State Occupational Licensing Survey, reproduced in Independent Committee Report App. C.

See Petersilia, supra note 10, at 114-15. In collaboration with the Legal Action Center, this Association’s Labor and Employment
Committee is attempting to prioritize the statutes that, if amended, would have the most beneficial effect in reducing barriers to employment.

31

32

See N.Y. Corr. L. §§ 702, 703, 703-a (2007).

33

See 19 C.F.R. § 122.183 (2007).

34

See 12 U.S.C. § 1829 (2008).

See Solomon et al., supra note 19, at 14; see also Paul Von Zielbauser, Study Shows More Job Offers for Ex-Convicts Who Are White, N.Y.
Times, June 17, 2005, at B5.

35

36

See Holzer, Raphael & Stoll, supra note 13, at 8.

37

Id. at Figure 1.

38

Id.

39

See Solomon et al., supra note 19, at 6, 13.

40

The focus groups were conducted by Global Strategy Group, LLC, which was commissioned for that purpose by The Independent
Committee on Reentry and Employment (see Independent Committee Report App. A).

41

A tabulation of the results of this survey may be found in App. 3.

42

See App. 3.

43

See id.

44

See id.

45

See id.

46

See Holzer, Raphael & Stoll at Fig. 3.

See Haddock v. City of New York, 75 N.Y.2d 478, 485-86 (1990) (discussing the foreseeability that a park employee with a rape conviction would have unsupervised contact with children in the park).

47

48

See, e.g., T.W. v. City of New York, 729 N.Y.S.2d 96 (1st Dep’t 2001).

Dermot Sullivan, Note, Employee Violence, Negligent Hiring, and Criminal Record Checks: New York’s Need to Reevaluate its Priorities to
Promote Public Safety, 72 ST. JOHN’S L. REV 581, 593 (1998) (finding only one such case in a survey of negligent hiring cases).
38
49

See Ford v. Gildin, 613 N.Y.S.2d 139, 142 (1st Dep’t 1994) (noting that the employee resided in the building, had befriended the child’s
mother and became the child’s godfather, and reasoning that “Taylor’s sexual assaults upon the infant plaintiff had nothing to do with his
employment as a porter . . .”).

50

51

Haddock, 75 N.Y.2d at 485; see also Ford, 613 N.Y.S.2d at 141.

American Bar Ass’n Comm’n on Effective Criminal Sanctions, Report to the House of Delegates on Employment and Licensure of Persons
with a Criminal Record n. 25 (2007).

52

53

This Association’s Labor and Employment Law Committee has proposed legislation that would create a rebuttable presumption in favor
of an employer sued for negligent hiring or retention if the employer, after learning of an applicant’s or employee’s conviction history, has evaluated the factors enumerated in Section 753 and determined in good faith that such factors militate in favor of hiring of the applicant or retention of the employee. A prior proposal by the Committee, which would have created a statutory affirmative defense to a negligent hiring claim
if the employer could demonstrate compliance with Article 23-A, has been noted in a recent report issued by the New York State Commission
on Sentencing Reform. New York State Comm’n on Sentencing Reform, The Future of Sentencing in New York State: A Preliminary Proposal for
Reform 50 (Oct. 15, 2007).

54

But if a job applicant is refused employment and the record reveals that a significant statutory factor was not considered, the employment decision will be overturned. See Gallo v. State, Office Of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 830 N.Y.S.2d 796, 797 (N.Y.
App. Div. 2007) (remanding petition in Article 78 proceeding because of a failure to consider the “public policy…to encourage the . . . employment of persons previously convicted . . . .”); see also Hollingshed v. The New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental
Disability, Index No. 6848/07 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Bronx County, Feb. 11, 2008), reported in N.Y.L.J. Feb. 20, 2008 p. 27, col. 1 (granting relief under
Article 78 and holding that OMRDD had been arbitrary and capricious and had abused its discretion in rejecting petitioner’s job application
given the facts that “[h]is felony convictions are decades old and they are not related to the job he will be performing . . . .”).

55

The New York State Human Rights Law was amended last legislative session to apply not only to job applicants but also to current job
holders. The New York City Human Rights Commission interprets the New York City Human Rights Law to apply to current job holders as well.

See EEOC Notice No. 9-105, Policy Statement on the Issue of Conviction Records Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Feb. 4,
1987), EEOC Compliance Manual § 604.10 2089 (CCH).

56

See EEOC Notice No. N-915-061, Policy Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Sept. 7, 1990), EEOC Compliance Manual § 604 App. 2094.

57

58

N.Y. Gen. Bus. L §380-j. Credit reporting agencies thus violate this law if they report or maintain information regarding a conviction for
a non-criminal offense, such as a violation. With this understanding, the New York State Office of Court Administration last year stated that it
would no longer include information about non-criminal convictions in the records it sells to the public, including to credit reporting agencies.

59

15 U.S.C. § 1681b(b)(3) (2008).

Protecting Yourself When Using Criminal Background Checks. H.I.R.E (an acronym for Helping Individuals Reenter through Employment)
is a project of the Legal Action Center and has issued a number of other informative publications on workforce and related topics. See, e.g.,
Employment Discrimination in New York and What to do about it, available at http://hirenetwork.org/publications.html.

60

See Press Release, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, (Feb. 8, 2008) http://www.manhattanda.org/whatsnew/press/2008-02-08.shtml)
(last visited Mar. 6, 2008).

61

62

In addition to the direct service providers identified above, there is a valuable information resource on the national H.I.R.E. web site
http://www.hirenetwork.org.

63

Bruce Western & Erin Jacobs, Report on the Evaluation of the ComALERT Prisoner Reentry Program 72 Table 19 (Oct. 2007).

64

Id. at 60.

65

Press Release, Ready, Willing and Able Day Program, The Doe Fund, (Feb 24, 2008), http://www.doe.org/news/pressdetail.
cfm?PressID=279 (last visited Mar. 7, 2008).

Dan Bloom et al., MRDC, Transitional Jobs for Ex-Prisoners: Early Impacts from Random Assessment Evaluation of the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) Prisoner Reentry Program, iii (Nov. 2007).

66

67

See Independent Committee Report at 21.

68

See Re-entry Policy Council Report at 296.

69

See Small Business and Work Opportunity Tax Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-28 § 8201(a); see also 26 U.S.C.S. § 51.

70

See http://www.otda.state.ny.us/main/pma/programs/WSP_2007-2008.asp (last visited Mar. 7, 2008).
39

Appendices

40

Appendix 1

A Note on Sources

There is a large and growing body of literature on the subject
of prisoner reentry and reintegration into society upon release from
prison or jail. The magnitude of the prison population and the social
and economic costs of initial imprisonment and recidivism have
commanded increasing attention in recent years, yielding a rich
harvest of sociological studies, reports by governmental bodies and
private organizations, and data compilations.
This Report draws principally upon the following sources in
addition to numerous web-based materials:
Independent Committee on Reentry and Employment, Report and
Recommendations to New York State on Enhancing Employment
Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated Persons (2006)
Harry J. Holzer, Steven Raphael & Michael A. Stoll, The Effect of
an Applicant’s Criminal History on Employer Hiring Decisions and
Screening Practices: Evidence from Los Angeles Nat’l Poverty Center
2004)
Joan Petersilia, When Prisoners Come Home—Parole and Prisoner
Reentry (Oxford 2003)
Re-entry Policy Council, Charting the Safe and Successful Return of
Prisoners to the Community (2005)
Reentry Roundtable, From Prison to Work: The Employment Dimensions of Prison Reentry (Urban Inst. 2004)
Special Committee on Collateral Consequences of Criminal Proceedings, Re-Entry and Reintegration: The Road to Public Safety (N. Y. St.
Bar Ass’n (2006)
Jeremy Travis, But They All Come Back—Facing the Challenges of
Prisoner Reentry (Urban Inst. Press 2005)
Bruce Western and Erin Jacobs, Report on the Evaluation of the
ComALERT Prisoner Reentry Program (Oct. 2007)

41

Appendix 2

The following is a list of the members of the New York City
Bar Association Task Force on Employment Opportunities for the
Previously Incarcerated, including their principal occupations:
„ Michael A. Cooper (Chair), former Partner and now Of Counsel,
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP;
former New York City Bar Association President
„ Sharron M. Davis, Director-Human Resources,
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
„ William J. Dean, Executive Director,
Volunteers of Legal Service
„ Hon. Laura E. Drager, Supreme Court Justice,
First Judicial District
„ James L. Lipscomb,
Executive Vice President and General Counsel,
MetLife, Inc.
„ Bettina B. Plevan, Partner, Proskauer Rose LLP;
former New York City Bar Association President
„ Richard Roberts, Managing Director,
Doe Fund Real Estate and Property Services
„ Frederick A.O. Schwarz, Jr., Senior Counsel,
Brennan Center for Justice
„ Robert C. Sheehan, Managing Partner,
Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP
„ Hon. George Bundy Smith, Partner,
Chadbourne & Parke LLP;
former Judge of the New York Court of Appeals
„ William J. Snipes, Partner,
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
„ Mindy Tarlow, Executive Director & CEO,
Center for Employment Opportunities
„ Judith Whiting, Senior Staff Attorney, Legal Action Center and
Chair, City Bar Committee on Corrections

42

Appendix 3

New York City Bar Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
Questionnaire for Law Firm Human Resources Directors

Questions
Question 1.
How many employees (other than managers
and supervisors) are there in the following
departments of your firm?

Average
Number of
Employees

Number of
Firms

Low

High

cafeteria/food service 1

25

2

20

30

computer/IT operations

62

8

3

102

facsimile/telex

6.2

5

3

10

mail clerk

18.4

7

2

40

maintenance

12.4

10

5

28

records

17.1

9

7

28

reproduction and printing

20.4

7

8

40

messenger and related services
reception
supplies
other service or support functions

2

30

3

2

56

13.1

10

4

48

2.4

10

1

5

25.6

5

6

61

HS Dip./GED

Associate’s

Tech School

BA/BS

Varies or Depends

3

1

3

2

3

Question 2.
What educational requirements (None; HS
Diploma/GED; Associate’s; BA or BS) does
your firm have for the following positions?
cafeteria/food service

2

computer/IT operations

3

facsimile/telex

5

mail clerk

6

maintenance

9

records

6

reproduction and printing

5

messenger and related services

5

reception

8

supplies
other service or support functions

None

2

2
1

2

1

1

1
1

2

8

1

5

1

1

43

Appendix 3 continued

New York City Bar Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
Questionnaire for Law Firm Human Resources Directors

Questions
Question 3.
What background check, if any (Credit;
Criminal; Educational) does your firm
conduct for employees in the following
positions?

Credit

Criminal

Education

cafeteria/food service (3 respondents)

1

3

1

computer/IT operations (9 respondents)

4

9

4

3

2

facsimile/telex (5 respondents)

2

5

2

1

1

mail clerk (6 respondents)

2

6

2

1

1

maintenance (9 respondents)

3

8

3

2

1

1

Other

None

1

1

records (9 respondents)

2

8

3

2

2

reproduction and printing (6 respondents)

2

6

2

1

1

messenger/related services (6 respondents)

2

6

2

1

1

reception (10 respondents)

3

9

4

3

2

1

supplies (9 respondents)

3

8

3

2

1

1

other service or support functions 2
(8 respondents)

4

8

3

2

2

Question 4.
Please list the source(s) your firm uses to
hire for the foregoing non-legal positions
(e.g., classified ads; walk-ins; employment service; job posting website; etc.)
(Responses listed in descending order)

44

Prev. Employment

employee referrals
Internet job board/posting website
(i.e. hotjobs, career builder) & internet advertising
employment agencies / services

9

firm website

4

job posting

4

classified ads

3

college postings/college placement offices

2

temp to permanent agreements/agencies

2

walk-ins
workforce intermediaries & skills, training &
vocational programs
job fairs

2

1

welfare agencies

1

8
7

2

Appendix 3 continued

New York City Bar Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
Questionnaire for Law Firm Human Resources Directors

Questions
Question 5.
Which of the following functions are
outsourced entirely or partly by your firm?
(Responses listed in descending order)
cafeteria/food service

8

messenger and related services

8

mail clerk

7

reproduction and printing

6

facsimile/telex

5

maintenance

2

records

2

other service or support functions

2

computer/IT operations

1

supplies

1

reception

0

Question 6.
Has your firm ever hired anyone with a
criminal record?
All eleven respondents in this survey answered “YES” to Question 6.
Question 7.
If the answer to Question 5 is YES
a. What was (were) the source(s) of
the hire?
(Responses listed in descending order)
employment agency

3

employee referral

3

temp to perm/hire

2

job board

1

rehire

1

response to advertisement

1

varied sources

1

vendor

1

write-in

1

45

Appendix 3 continued

New York City Bar Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
Questionnaire for Law Firm Human Resources Directors

Questions
Question 7, continued:
b. In which department(s) was (were)
such individual(s) hired
(Responses listed in descending order)
Global Tech Solutions/PC Support/IT

3

records

2

maintenance

2

secretarial services/office services

2

financial services

1

messengers

1

paralegal

1
4

Question 8.
Would your firm hire an individual with
a prior criminal history for the following
departments, assuming the individual was
qualified for the position?

Yes

No

Depemds

cafeteria/food service

3

0

2

computer/IT operations

9

0

2

facsimile/telex

5

0

2

mail clerk

5

0

2

maintenance

8

0

2

records

8

0

2

reproduction and printing

5

0

2

messenger and related services

6

0

2

reception

8

0

2

supplies

7

0

2

other service or support functions

2

15

2

Question 9.
If your firm would be reluctant to hire
individuals with prior criminal histories
for the departments listed above, which
of the following causes that reluctance?
(Responses listed in descending order)
trust/honesty

46

4

safety concerns

4

other (please describe)6

4

comfort/fit

2

conviction or other info not disclosed

2

skill level

0

attitude

0

Appendix 3 continued

New York City Bar Task Force on Employment Opportunities
for the Previously Incarcerated
Questionnaire for Law Firm Human Resources Directors

Questions
Question 10.
Would your answer to question 8 change
if the individual and your firm could call
on a workforce intermediary that provides
support services such as, for example, skills
training, counseling and welfare services?
Most respondents did not provide an answer to this question. Two firms said “No”, one said “Not Sure” and one said “Probably”.
Question 11.
Has your firm ever used a workforce
intermediary for placement services?
Question 12.
If the answer to Question 11 is yes,
was your experience satisfactory,
and if not, why?

Yes

No

Not Aware

6

4

1

Yes

No

Mixed

4

27

Table Footnotes
1

Most firms outsource cafeteria/food services; therefore, a good data set does not exist for this category.

2

“Other” service or support functions includes Telephone Operators, Word Processing/Document Production, Finance-Related Employees, Security and Taxi Desk employees.

3

If a firm stated that they considered different degrees for different job categories, they were included in both categories.

4

A few firms did not answer this question with a simple “yes” or “no.” Therefore, a “Depends” category was added.

5

The firm that said “no” stated that it would not hire an individual with a criminal history into its Security Department.

6

Responses included “depends on the nature of the conviction” and “stability, dependability, reliability.”

7

One firm described the experience as “somewhat successful” and noted that it “required substantial supervisory time and commitment.”
Another described the experience as having “pluses” and “minuses.”

47

Appendix 4
Protecting Yourself when Using Criminal Background Checks
The National HIRE Network recognizes that employers have legitimate concerns about hiring job applicants with criminal records.
We also understand that although a job applicant may be highly qualified, a conviction history may make the applicant appear to
be more of a liability than an asset. Below is information to provide you with guidance when reviewing a job applicant’s criminal
record. Adhering to this guidance will help ensure you are compliant with relevant federal and New York State law and will minimize liability risks. It will assist you in developing fair and appropriate hiring practices.
Laws Governing an Employer’s Use of Criminal Background Checks in the Hiring Process
May an employer use a background check when evaluating a job applicant in New York State?
YES. New York State allows employers to use background checks for employment purposes. Background check companies and
the production and use of these reports are governed by New York State’s Fair Credit Reporting Act (N.Y. GEN. BUS. L § 380) and
the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (15 U.S.C. § 1681).
May a background check contain records of criminal convictions (misdemeanors or felonies) in New York State?
It depends. If the position an applicant is seeking has an annual salary of less than $25,000, then the background check may
only report criminal convictions that occurred in the previous seven years. If the position has an annual salary equal to or greater
than $25,000, then all criminal convictions may be reported.
May a background check contain only a record of arrests or charges In New York State?
NO, unless the charges are still pending when the background check is conducted. However, if the record includes a criminal
conviction, the background check can include the initial arrest charges that led to that conviction. See N.Y. Gen. Bus. L §380-j.
May a background check contain records of non-criminal convictions (violations) in New York State?
NO. A background check MAY NOT report non-criminal convictions regardless of how long ago they occurred. It is also illegal for
a background check to include information about dismissed cases.
Does an employer need to notify a job applicant before running a background check?
YES, if the employer will be using a commercial background check company, or if the employer is a government agency entitled
to receive a report from the Division of Criminal Justice Services, the agency that maintains rap sheets for New York State.
What type of notice to the applicant is required when an employer intends to order a commercial background
check?
The applicant must be informed in writing, or in the same manner in which the application is made, that the employer intends to
request a consumer report in connection with the application.
What information must be included in this notice?
The applicant must be informed that: (1) the applicant’s background check may be requested from a reporting agency and (2)
the applicant may request to be notified whether or not the background check was requested, and that if it was requested, then
the applicant will be informed of the name and address of the reporting agency that provided the background check.
Why should an applicant be notified that an employer is conducting a background check?
Applicants are legally entitled to review their commercial background check reports because reports are often inaccurate. This
is often true for record of arrests and prosecution (RAP sheets). For example, in a study the Legal Action Center conducted in
1995 (“Study of Rap Sheet Accuracy and Recommendations to Improve Criminal Justice Recordkeeping”), 87% of all records
contained at least one mistake or omission. Also, many background checks are only based on name and date of birth instead of
fingerprints. Since many people share the same name and birth date, their records may be switched. Applicants have the right to
dispute and correct records.
48

Appendix 4, continued
Protecting Yourself when Using Criminal Background Checks
Laws Governing Employers’ Inquiries About Applicants’ Arrests
What may an employer ask about an applicant’s prior arrests?
NOTHING. Under New York State and City law, it is illegal to ask: “Have you ever been arrested?”
What may an employer ask about an applicant’s past criminal charges that were dismissed or terminated in the
applicant’s favor?
NOTHING. Under New York State and City law, it is illegal to ask: “Have you ever been charged with a crime?”
What may an employer legally ask about an applicant’s criminal background?
New York State law expressly prohibits employers from asking: “Have you ever been convicted of an offense?” New York City
law is interpreted the same way.
When are criminal charges “favorably terminated”?
• When a criminal action is terminated in favor of the accused, the arrest and prosecution of that individual is deemed a nullity,
and he or she is restored to the legal status occupied before the arrest or prosecution.
• There are many ways in which a criminal action can be favorably terminated:
• The complaint, accusation or charges were dismissed;
• The individual was acquitted by a jury;
• A guilty verdict was set aside by the court;
Example: The trial court determines—after a guilty verdict has been rendered, but before sentencing—that new evidence
or a new legal ground warrants dismissal of the charges against the defendant and does not order a new trial.
• An unfavorable judgment was vacated by the court;
Example: The trial court determines—after a finding of guilt has been officially rendered—that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated, new evidence has come to light, evidence was misrepresented during trial, etc., and the judge
dismisses the charges and does not order a new trial.
• Prior to filing a complaint in court, the prosecutor chooses not to prosecute the individual; or
• The arresting police agency elects not to proceed further.
May an employer ask about an applicant’s arrest record or past criminal charges that were favorably terminated
if it does not act upon this information?
NO. New York State and City law state that an employer may not inquire about and may not act upon adversely information
pertaining to an applicant’s prior arrests or criminal charges that were terminated favorably.
May an employer ask about an applicant’s out-of-state arrest record or past criminal charges that were favorably
terminated?
NO.
May an employer inquire about the arrest or prosecution that resulted in the filing of criminal charges that were
eventually terminated in the applicant’s favor?
NO.

49

Appendix 4, continued
Protecting Yourself when Using Criminal Background Checks
Laws Governing Employers’ Consideration of Conviction Records
Can I refuse to hire or promote an individual, or can I fire that individual, simply because he or she has a criminal
record?
NO. Article 23-A of the New York Correction Law prohibits employers from denying an individual employment or terminating a
person from a current job simply because he or she was previously convicted of one or more criminal offenses. This means that
it is illegal for an employer to have a flat policy that it will not hire a person with a criminal record, period. There are a few areas
of employment where Article 23-A does not apply, such as some positions in law enforcement agencies. Otherwise, all private
employers with ten employees or more are subject to this law.
Are there any instances where I could use an individual’s criminal record to deny employment?
An employer must look at each applicant, and his or her conviction history, individually. Having done this individual evaluation,
an employer may only deny employment based on an applicant’s conviction history in two circumstances.
• First, employment may be denied if there is a direct relationship between the criminal offense committed and the employment
sought. A “direct relationship” exists if the nature of the criminal conduct directly bears on the fitness or ability of the applicant to perform the duties or responsibilities of the job.
• Second, employment may be denied if the applicant would pose an unreasonable risk to property or the safety or welfare of
others. This includes a risk to specific individuals or the general public.
How do I determine whether either of these exceptions apply?
Article 23-A requires that employers consider several factors in determining whether an individual may be denied employment
based on past criminal convictions. The employer must consider:
• The state’s public policy of encouraging the employment of individuals previously convicted of criminal offenses.
• The duties and responsibilities related to the job sought.
• What bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which the individual was convicted has on his or her fitness or ability
to perform these duties or responsibilities.
• The amount of time that has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses. This refers to how long it
has been since the individual committed the offense, not how long it has been since the applicant was convicted. In some
instances, the date of the conviction may be years after the person actually committed the offense.
• The applicant’s age at the time of the criminal offense or offenses.
• The seriousness of the offense or offenses.
• Any information produced by the individual, or on his or her behalf regarding rehabilitation and good conduct.
• The interest in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.
Also, if the person being considered has been issued a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct, the
employer must take that into consideration. The certificate creates a presumption of rehabilitation, meaning that the employer
must take it as evidence that the applicant has been rehabilitated.
What is the difference between a certificate of relief from disabilities and a certificate of good conduct?
• Individuals who have no more than one felony conviction (and any number of misdemeanor convictions), may apply for a
certificate of relief from disabilities. Each certificate applies to only one offense, so an applicant may have more than one
certificate of relief from disabilities.
• Individuals who have two or more felony convictions (and any number of misdemeanor convictions) may apply for a certificate
of good conduct. An applicant will not have more than one certificate of good conduct, as it applies to all previous convictions. In order to receive this certificate, the individual must have remained out of prison for at least 3 to 5 years.
50

Appendix 4, continued
Protecting Yourself when Using Criminal Background Checks
• Both types of certificates are granted only after a probation or parole officer (depending on the individual’s criminal record)
conducts an investigation and determines that the individual has been rehabilitated.
How do I weigh the factors?
Past employment discrimination cases provide guidance for weighing the Article 23-A factors. Examples from these cases
demonstrate that a greater number of convictions, or convictions of criminal offenses that sound more serious, do not necessarily
disqualify a job applicant. Instead, greater consideration is often given to the amount of time that has elapsed since the offense
occurred. However, it is important to remember that the employer must consider each applicant on a case-by-case basis.

• A court found that the New York State Office of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities (OMRDD) was wrong to
deny applicant a house manager job at one of its regulated agencies simply because he had a 1985 conviction for attempted
possession of a firearm. The court found that OMRDD failed to consider the Article 23-A factors in evaluating the applicant,
stating that the rejection of the applicant “suggests to this Court that in the view of the OMRDD, there is no
such thing as rehabilitation, or overcoming a conviction, and that the notion that one with a conviction can
benefit from this state’s public policy of affording jobs to the once-convicted is illusory.” (Boatwright v.
OMRDD, 2007)
• A woman with nine drug possession/prostitution convictions, and one manslaughter conviction, was held to be properly
employed as an eligibility specialist with the Human Resources Administration. The drug possession/prostitution convictions
were over ten years old and she had since completed a detoxification program and college courses. While the manslaughter
conviction was more recent, she received the minimum sentence, was considered a model parolee, and had relevant prior
work experience. The judge found that had the employer properly considered the factors under Article 23-A, he could not have
reasonably concluded that she should be disqualified from employment. (City of New York v. City Civil Service Commission,
1988)
• An applicant for a firefighter position was found to be an unreasonable risk to property and the welfare and safety of the
general public based on his drunken driving convictions and disciplinary actions received in past employment. The court hold
that he was properly denied employment. (Grafter v. New York City Civil Service Commission, 1992)
• A court found that an applicant’s nine-year old manslaughter conviction was not directly related to the position of housing
caretaker, and that based on this conviction the applicant did not pose a risk to property or public safety. However, when
considered in light of the applicant’s three-year old convictions for criminal possession of a narcotic drug with intent to sell
and criminal possession of a controlled substance, the court held that the applicant had demonstrated a lack of rehabilitation
and that his involvement in drugs and violence posed an unacceptable risk to the housing tenants. (Soto-Lopez v. New York
City Civil Service Commission, 1989).
What if I consider all the factors and decide not to offer the applicant a job?
If the employer is relying, in whole or in part, on a commercial background report as the reason for denying the applicant the
job, the employer must give the applicant a copy of the background report in advance, along with a Federal Trade Commission
brochure listing an applicant’s rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act. This gives the applicant a chance to see the report and
to point out mistakes and/or explain the contents. Commercial background reports contain errors, just like rap sheets.
If, after considering the required factors, providing the applicant with a copy of the background report and giving him or her a
chance to explain it, the employer chooses to deny the individual employment, the applicant is entitled to a written statement
giving the reasons for this denial The employer must provide this statement within 30 days of the applicant’s request.
If I do offer the applicant a job, can I later be held liable for negligent hiring?
Of all the negligent hiring claims previously filed in the State of New York, less than ten percent were based on the hiring of
persons with criminal records. In such cases, the plaintiff won about half the time. However, a “win” is counted as any time the
court denied the defendant’s motion to dismiss; it does not mean that the plaintiff was necessarily awarded damages.

51

Appendix 4, continued
Protecting Yourself when Using Criminal Background Checks
If a negligent hiring claim was filed against me, how could I effectively defend myself?
The legal standard for all negligent hiring claims in New York is the same; it does not matter whether the employee was
previously convicted of a criminal offense. Thus, in reviewing any negligent hiring claim, the judge will be trying to determine
whether the employer knew of the employee’s propensity for the alleged acts, or whether the employer should have known of
the employee’s propensity had the employer conducted an adequate hiring procedure. In other words, the judge will evaluate
whether the alleged acts of the employee were foreseeable by the employer.
What is an adequate hiring procedure?
Past negligent hiring decisions suggest that if the employer offers evidence that basic hiring techniques were employed, and the
plaintiff is unable to refute this evidence, the judge will grant the employer’s motion to dismiss the claim. While New York state
courts have noted that the depth of the inquiry required varies in proportion to the level of responsibility the job entails, courts
have found that if the employer checked an employee’s references and took into account the employee’s prior relevant work
experience, the employer conducted an adequate hiring procedure.
However, keep in mind that prior case law also suggests that once hiring procedures are developed, they must be followed. New
York state courts are more likely to find for the employer if that employer properly implemented its own hiring policies.
What if, after conducting a background check, I find that an applicant has falsified his/her job application or has lied?
It is our opinion that lying is an unacceptable practice and you are within your rights to not hire or terminate individuals who
based on the questions you ask, have lied, omitted, or misrepresented themselves on an application or in an interview. We
do, however, caution that when you are evaluating a person’s job application against information you obtain from a criminal
background check, you must be sure that you have accurate and complete data. Among other things, you should review the
background check with the applicant to see if it is accurate. Remember that federal law requires that you provide the applicant
with a copy of the background check and an opportunity to explain it before you deny him or her the job based on conviction
history. Remember, too, that you should only be considering convictions, not arrest charges. As you know, the fact that a person
was arrested for a given charge does not mean that he or she is guilty of that charge.
Although we do not condone lying and we understand that it is the responsibility of the job seeker to know his/her rights and
responsibilities, we have learned through our assistance of thousands of individuals with criminal records and practitioners who
serve them that many job seekers have been ill-advised about completing employment applications and disclosing relevant criminal record information. Therefore, as long as someone has responded “yes” to an application question about having a criminal
history, it is wise to give the individual an opportunity to explain the circumstances of the criminal record verbally or in writing.
Are there resources my company could utilize if I hire someone with a criminal record?
YES:
• Under the Work Opportunity Tax Credit program, employers who hire individuals convicted of a felony can reduce their
federal income tax liability by up to $2,400 per qualified new worker.
• Empire Zone and Zone Equivalent Area Tax Credits: Employee Wage Tax Credits that are applied against a business’s
state tax liability. An Empire Zone employer, paying employees at least 135% of minimum wage, may be entitled to a $3,000
credit for targeted employees or $1,500 credit for all non-targeted employees. Both credits may be taken for up to five
consecutive years, beginning with the first tax year in which Empire Zone wages are paid.
• The Federal Bonding Program provides individual fidelity bonds of $5,000 to employers at no cost for six months insuring
employers against employee dishonesty or theft. The bond is immediately available with no paperwork or deductible.
• Third party intermediaries: There are several workforce development programs in New York City that can help you
immediately access qualified individuals who can help meet your businesses’ needs while also helping you access financial
incentives. These organizations provide free human resource support that can ultimately reduce your staffing expenditures,
help fund support for on-the-job training, support recruitment, training and retention, reduce your hiring risks, and get you
motivated employees.
52

Appendix 4, continued
Protecting Yourself when Using Criminal Background Checks
Useful Definitions and Additional Legal Information
What is an “arrest”?
An arrest is the taking or keeping of a person in custody by the police on probable cause or without a warrant.
• When someone is arrested, it does not mean that he or she has committed a crime or has been found guilty of an offense.
• Law enforcement officials only need a reasonable belief that an individual has committed or is committing a crime to place
him or her under arrest. This reasonable belief is less than the proof and certainty necessary to convict someone in court.
What is a “conviction”?
A conviction is a final judgment (by a guilty verdict after a trial OR by a plea) that a person is guilty of committing an offense.
What is a “criminal charge”?
New York defines criminal offenses as “misdemeanor” or a “felony”:
• Misdemeanor: An offense for which a sentence of imprisonment to more than 15 days and not more than one year may be
imposed.
• Felony: An offense for which a sentence of imprisonment in excess of one year may be imposed.
An individual in New York may also be charged with a non-criminal offense, including a “violation”:
• Violation: An offense for which a person may be sentenced to imprisonment for no more than 15 days.

Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act: 15 U.S.C. § 1681
New York’s Fair Credit Reporting Act: N.Y. GEN. BUS. LAW § 380 et seq.
Regarding convictions and arrests reported in background checks see § 380-j; regarding employers’ notification obligations when
conducting background checks see § 380-b; and regarding job applicants’ rights to review and dispute records: §§ 380d-f.
Article 23A of New York’s Correction Law: N.Y. CORRECT LAW §§ 750-754
Certificates of Relief from Disabilities and Good Conduct: N.Y. CORRECT LAW §§ 700-703
New York State Human Rights Law: N.Y. EXEC. LAW § 296 (16

53

Appendix 5

TM

Center for Employment Opportunities

Contact:
Miriam Trokan
Tel: (212) 422-4430 ext. 358,
E-mail: mtrokan@ceoworks.org
CEO (Center for Employment Opportunities) is dedicated to offering
effective and comprehensive employment services to men and
women returning home from prison and jail to New York City. CEO
believes that anyone returning from prison who wants to work
should have the preparation and support needed in order to find a
job and keep it. Our highly-structured, tightly-supervised programs
help participants regain the skills and confidence needed for a
successful transition to a stable, productive life. CEO offers immediate, paid, time-limited employment and job coaching to formerly
incarcerated individuals to ease their way back into the workforce
and gain the essential work experience that employers value. At the
same time, CEO works with private employers to place participants
in permanent employment. During the past decade, CEO has made
over 10,000 full time job placements.
CEO acts as a full service human resources provider for employers to
find reliable and dependable workers. CEO provides its services at
no cost to employers. We offer in-depth assessment of our participants and a full human resources team to ensure that our pool
of workers is trained and ready. Some other benefits we offer to
employers of CEO participants: job developers to solve any conflicts
or issues on the job; well-screened applicants who are willing to
work; a $2,400 tax credit on a pro-rated basis; federal bonding
program for up to $10,000 at no cost to employers for the first 6
months, and over 30 years of experience.

54

Appendix 6

ComALERT

Contacts:
Vanda Seward -Executive Director
John R. Chaney -Deputy Executive Director
Tel: 718-250-5557
The ComALERT (“Community and Law Enforcement Resources
Together”) program was designed by District Attorney Charles
J. Hynes to act as a bridge between prison and the community
for returning parolees. ComALERT assists formerly incarcerated
individuals to make a successful transition from prison to home by
providing drug treatment and counseling, mental health treatment
and counseling, GED, and transitional housing and employment.
ComALERT also provides permanent job placement assistance
to those parolees who have marketable skills upon their release.
ComALERT services begin almost immediately upon release from
prison, increasing the success rate for its clients compared to the
non-treated re-entry population.
ComALERT’s goal is to reduce criminal recidivism by providing
the formerly incarcerated with the tools and support they need to
remain drug-free, crime-free, and employed. Most ComALERT clients
have substance abuse issues, and many are actively abusing illegal
drugs and alcohol. This abuse places them in direct contradiction of
standard conditional release mandates and increases the likelihood
that they will engage in illegal behaviors and return to prison. Thus,
substance abuse treatment and counseling form the basic framework for ComALERT’s initial three-month enrollment. In addition to
drug counseling and treatment, most clients will receive a referral
to, and preferential placement in, the ComALERT “Ready, Willing &
Able” program, which provides transitional employment through the
Doe Fund. Thereafter, ComALERT assists graduates with permanent
employment placement.

55

Appendix 7

The Doe Fund

Contact:
Valerie Westphal - Director, Workforce Development
Tel: (917) 577-1454
E-Mail: vwestphal@doe.org
The Doe Fund’s mission is to develop and implement cost-effective,
holistic programs that meet the needs of a diverse population
working to break the cycles of homelessness, addiction, and criminal
recidivism. All of The Doe Fund’s programs and innovative business
ventures ultimately strive to help homeless and formerly incarcerated
individuals achieve permanent self-sufficiency.
Ready, Willing & Able is The Doe Fund’s holistic, residential, work
and job skills training program which helps homeless individuals
in their efforts to become self-sufficient, contributing members of
society. Ready, Willing & Able has helped more than 3,000 men and
women become drug-free, secure full-time employment, and obtain
their own self-supported housing. The program targets the segment
of the homeless population considered the hardest to serve: single,
able-bodied adults, the majority of whom have histories of incarceration and substance abuse. Criteria for acceptance into the program
is that the applicant be ready, willing and able, both physically and
mentally, to work and maintain a drug-free lifestyle. In 2001, The
Doe Fund, in partnership with the Kings County District Attorney’s
Office, adapted the Ready Willing & Able program to meet the needs
of former prisoners who were not homeless. This program, now
called Ready, Willing and Able - DAY, offers paid transitional work,
case management, education, vocational training and job placement for parolees and has recently expanded to accommodate more
former prisoners.

56

Appendix 8

The Fortune Society

The Fortune Society

Contact:
Brian Robinson, Senior Director of Development
Tel: (212) 691-7554
The Fortune Society is working to create a world where all who are
incarcerated or formerly incarcerated can become positive, contributing members of society. We do this through a holistic, one-stop
model of service provision that includes: substance abuse treatment,
counseling, career development, education, housing, recreation
and lifetime aftercare. Our service model is based on nearly forty
years of experience in working with this unique population – we’ve
found that without a solid base in core skill areas, too many clients
will continue the self-destructive behaviors that result in crime and
incarceration. Our continuum of care, informed and implemented by
professionals with similar cultural backgrounds and life experiences
as our clients, helps ensure their success.
Fortune serves approximately 4,000 men and women annually via
our four New York City-area locations – offices on 19th and 23rd
Streets in Manhattan, the Fortune Academy in West Harlem and the
Drop-In Center in Queens – and our program models are frequently
recognized for their quality and innovation. The U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have cited our
housing and substance abuse treatment services as model programs,
and the National Institute for Justice (NIJ) is currently evaluating our
programs with an eye toward replication.

57

Appendix 9

The Osborne Association

Contact:
Alicia D. Guevara -Director of Development
Tel: (718) 707-2642
E-Mail: aguevara@osborneny.org
The Osborne Association provides a broad range of treatment,
education, family and vocational services to people affected by
incarceration, including those who are currently or formerly incarcerated, their children and other family members. For more than 70
years, Osborne has been securing jobs for people leaving jail and
prison, ranging from 300 - 800 per year. Osborne’s Employment
and Training Services (ETS) offer comprehensive vocational services
including assessment, testing, career and educational counseling,
job training and post-employment support in adjusting to the
demands of the workplace and staying employed. Osborne’s job
readiness program addresses the full range of needs from resume
preparation to cognitive skills training. Job training and/or direct
employment is offered in janitorial maintenance and culinary arts.
The employers who utilize ETS receive cost-free services, reducing
their recruiting costs. Osborne’s wage subsidy program offers
employers direct subsidies during the initial training period, and
we assist employers in accessing tax credits and other incentives.
ETS assists employers by pre-screening candidates--which lowers
turnover costs--and by immediately replacing any employee who
doesn’t work out with another well-qualified ETS client. Osborne’s
Janitorial Maintenance Services provides services to public facilities
throughout New York City, and also contracts with private employers
to provide cleaning services, offering formerly incarcerated individuals an opportunity for training and experience, and providing
employers with a well-trained workforce.

58

Appendix 10

STRIVE

Contact:
Angelo Rivera – Chief Operating Officer
Tel: (212) 360-1100
E-Mail: info@striveinternational.org
The founding principle behind STRIVE is to address, head-on, the
adverse factors that impact communities and the potential success
of their residents — including homelessness, substance abuse,
crime, teen pregnancy, domestic violence, and the lack of health and
child care. People living in poor neighborhoods often face isolation,
lacking personal networks, role models and access to job information. Self-defeating attitudes, spotty work histories, and poor selfpresentation skills often compound these circumstances. STRIVE is
a recognized leader in securing jobs for the chronically unemployed,
supporting them in taking the critical first step towards achieving
self-reliance. Our job-readiness training program combines attitudinal training with fundamental job skills, and long-term participant
follow-up. Graduate job-retention rates surpass those achieved by
governmental workforce programs and other agencies.
First introduced in New York City in 1984, our program model has
been widely adopted in partnership with affiliated non-profit organizations throughout the U.S. and beyond. STRIVE serves the most
neglected, yet able, unemployed and under-served people — the
formerly incarcerated, public-assistance dependent, homeless, and
recovering drug abusers. Participants are guided from a smile and a
handshake through job placement and into a variety of subsequent
supportive services. As they make the life-changing transition into
self-reliance, program graduates begin to gain the respect of their
families and their communities. And with newly-born self-respect
coupled with active support systems, STRIVE graduates take incremental steps towards true responsibility and achievement.

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