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Media Advisory
March 19, 2008

 

  

Contact:
Oroma Mpi, 212-382-6713

 

“Consequences of Criminal Charges” a new topic area on lawhelp.org/ny

NEWYORK Anyone who has faced criminal charges, especially those who have been convicted and are reentering society, now have a new source of assistance in their efforts to get on with their lives. Today, LawHelp.org/NY, along with Reentry Net/NY and over a dozen contributing organizations, announced the completion of LawHelp’s new topic area, “Consequences of Criminal Charges.”

The new section has nine subtopics, including:

  • Certificates that Show Rehabilitation
  • Encounters with Police
  • Family and Public Assistance Issues for People with Criminal Records
  • Housing and Immigration Issues for People with Criminal Charges
  • Voting Rights

Under these headings are links to helpful publications, some translated into multiple languages, which can be accessed for free. There is also information about the legal aid offices and social services organizations that offer assistance to those affected by the collateral consequences of criminal charges.

“Many individuals are not aware of how they can mitigate some of the negative consequences of having a criminal record,” said Collin Bull, Director of the City Bar Justice Center’s Reentry Project, a pro bono program that offers legal services to released inmates, such as cleaning up rap sheets, obtaining Certificates of Good Conduct, and challenging denials of public housing applications. “Our reentry program is one in a growing list of New York advocacy groups that can provide free advice and representation. The LawHelp site is a great supply of information compiled in a user-friendly manner, especially for the public.”

 “ When the government initiates a criminal proceeding, whole families can be swept away in the process,” said McGregor Smyth, Director of the Civil Action Practice at The Bronx Defenders, which hosts a collaborative network and online resource center for advocates on the consequences of criminal proceedings in New York State at Reentry Net/NY (www.reentry.net/ny). The Bronx Defenders/Reentry Net is adapting its advocate manual into a People's Guide on reentry issues, which will be available through the new LawHelp topic area.  “ From the moment of arrest - even for low level and minor offenses - individuals face a complex network of punishments affecting their housing, livelihood, and ability to remain united with their families or in this country.  The new LawHelp topic area will provide tools to plan for reentry, to mitigate the consequences of criminal proceedings, and to solve the everyday problems faced by people with conviction histories and their families.”

The Immigrant Defense Project of the New York State Defenders Association also re-wrote resource guides that had originally been developed for attorneys. Three publications are available in English and Spanish in the new LawHelp section: “Understanding the Immigration Consequences of Your Criminal Charges;” “The Consequences of Criminal Charges for Immigrants: A Reentry Perspective;” and “Immigrants and Pleas In Problem-Solving Courts: A Guide for Non-Citizen Defendants and Their Advocates.”

“Our Bar Association is committed to providing both direct legal assistance to the former inmates as well as formulating policy and legislative solutions,” said Barry Kamins, NYC Bar President. “In addition to holding a public forum in February on re-entry programs, the Task Force on Employment Opportunities for the Previously Incarcerated will be issuing a major report later this month. LawHelp’s new topic area is a much needed resource that informs the public about the legal help available to them in their local area.”

The legal information on the “Consequences of Criminal Charges” section of Law Help.org/NY was vetted by a team of experts from the following organizations: the New York State Defenders Association’s Immigrant Defense Project; the Center for Community Alternatives; the Correctional Association’s Women in Prison Project; Youth Represent; the Legal Action Center’s National HIRE Network; Volunteers of Legal Service; the Community Service Society; the Legal Aid Society; the Bronx Defenders/Reentry Net; and the City Bar Justice Center.

 LawHelp.org/NY is a statewide legal information clearinghouse based at the City Bar Justice Center that provides information in 15 areas of the law about legal rights; referral information for hundreds of local legal aid offices; and information about the New York courts. The Web site also provides downloadable forms and self-help resources, a directory of legal and social services providers, and links to government websites. In 2007, LawHelp.org/NY received approximately 1.5 million hits.

Consequences of Criminal Charges” is located at : http://www.lawhelp.org/link.cfm?2153 .

About the Association
The New York City Bar Association (www.nycbar.org) was founded in 1870, and since then has been dedicated to maintaining the high ethical standards of the profession, promoting reform of the law, and providing service to the profession and the public. The Association continues to work for political, legal and social reform, while implementing innovative means to help the disadvantaged. Protecting the public’s welfare remains one of the Association’s highest priorities.

 

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