We work to counter the disproportionate effect the criminal justice system has on the poor and communities of color by raising awareness, developing policy proposals, building alliances between community groups, and advocating on behalf of the formerly incarcerated at city and state levels of government.

The Criminal Justice System Perpetuates Poverty 

A criminal record, even for a minor charge, greatly limits options for young people and adults alike. Many New Yorkers with conviction histories find that well-paid work or safe, affordable housing is impossible to attain because their records act as a barrier.

This barrier, together with the increasing lack of opportunity for a decent education and continued reductions in social support, perpetuates poverty.  This in turn decreases civic engagement and increases rates of recidivism in New York City’s hardest-hit neighborhoods. Compounding the problem, law enforcement officers patrol low-income communities more frequently and with more intensity, leading to higher arrest rates in affected neighborhoods, and interactions with the criminal justice system.

All these factors contribute to keep people in poverty.

Helping Formerly Incarcerated New Yorkers Rebuild Their Lives 

A successful transition from incarceration back into the community is crucial to breaking the cycle of poverty and recidivism. Finding employment is key to the process. We’re working on multiple fronts to assist men and women, and their families, in pulling their lives back together after their incarcerations.

Our work even extends to the courtroom. We bring litigation, and support others doing so, by filing amicus briefs, when employers unlawfully deny jobs, licensing agencies turn down qualified applicants, or landlords unlawfully deny housing.

Ending the Cycle of Poverty and Incarceration

Over the last nine years CSS has convened roundtable discussions with partner organizations to build alliances, to exchange information, to broaden our impact, and to develop and advance an agenda of reform at the state and local levels.  Also, in 2011-2012, we conducted a pilot project called the CSS Youth Roundtable, to assist struggling young people on the path to education, employment, and civic engagement.

We're working through the courts, to enforce the rights of people who have unlawfully been denied jobs or housing; and to challenge statutory barriers to employment-related licensing.

Our comprehensive approach to reentry challenges supports and encourages second chances, and helps New Yorkers work to rebuild lives.

 

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