ALBANY, N.Y. – Executive actions by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will help New Yorkers with criminal convictions get back on their feet after prison.
The Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration, formed by the governor last year, made 12 recommendations for removing barriers that prevent many of the 25,000 people released from state prisons each year from finding jobs, housing and health care.
To Stanley Richards, a former inmate who is now senior vice president of The Fortune Society, the governor’s announcement is welcome news.
“What the governor has said is that New York State is no longer going to be involved in these lifetime collateral consequences for men and women with criminal convictions,” Richards said.
Cuomo announced Monday that he will implement all 12 of the recommendations and committed to full compliance and enforcement by the state.
Governor Andrew Cuomo is currently working on making released inmates adapt to life after prison. Removing inmate barriers will increase the ability to make positive changes to their families and communities.
Every year, Richards said, The Fortune Society works with more than 5,000 former inmates. He said their successful reintegration into the community benefits everyone by “making communities safer, providing pathways for people to reclaim and rebuild their life after prison, and a way of people diverting the cycling in and out of jails and prison.”
According to the governor’s office, it costs taxpayers about $60,000 a year to keep an inmate in prison, and removing barriers to inmates rejoining society increases their ability to make positive contributions to family and community.
Advocates say more needs to be done to reform the criminal-justice system and reduce the prison population. But Richards called the governor’s action an important first step and a model for the rest of the country.
“We should be looking at what we can do on the federal level, what we can do nationally, to move some of these issues forward,” he said. “This is a huge opportunity for our nation, not just New York State.”
The Council on Community Re-Entry and Reintegration will continue to work on ways to help those with criminal convictions successfully rejoin their communities.
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