Dismantling Barriers to Reentry in New York

Advocates head to Albany today to lobby for reentry reform.

May 20, 2008


*Cross-posted from
ReformNY 

Expanding
access to higher education in prisons and for those leaving prison.
Extending voting rights to people on parole. Limiting the imposition of
fees and fines on those leaving prison.

These are a few of the
proposals that reentry advocates will raise with the state legislature
today at the 2nd annual Advocacy Day in Albany.

The New York Reentry Roundtable has created a comprehensive agenda
for reform that identifies reentry legislation the Roundtable is
supporting on matters relating to employment, housing, family
reunification, higher education, healthcare, financial debt, political
participation, and sentencing reform.

As we’ve mentioned in past posts on ReformNY,
New York’s laws that disenfranchise people on parole are not only
unfair, but lead to confusion about who is eligible to vote, even among
county Board of Election officials. This confusion further contributes
to the de facto disenfranchisement of thousands of eligible voters and
dilutes the voting power of the state’s communities of color.

Today, advocates will be lobbying in favor of a number of bills that address these very issues: A. 5555, a bill to extend voting rights to people on parole, S. 1934,
a bill to correct the U.S. census policy of counting prisoners where
they are incarcerated instead of their home communities, and S. 7012, the Voting Rights Notification and Registration Act,
which will provide notice about voting rights eligibility to
individuals within the criminal justice system’s supervision or
recently discharged who are eligible to vote.

Barriers that
discourage formally incarcerated individuals from becoming full,
productive members of society are counter-productive to the communal
goals of enhancing public safety and reducing the costs of prison. We
encourage legislators to open their doors and listen closely to the
advocates visiting Albany today. It is in everyone’s interest to make
successful reentry a reality in New York.