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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

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Folder: Main Menu > Reentry & Collateral Consequences

The term "reentry" is used by many advocates, service providers, policy-makers, and formerly incarcerated people to define what happens to people coming home from prison. More broadly, it describes a process of reintegration, rehabilitation, and restoration of rights that should begin when an individual is arrested.

"Collateral consequences," is a popular label for the legal, social, and economic barriers to a person's reentry into his or her community. Although many people released from prison or jail leave with the hope of a fresh start, these barriers to reintegration can feel like the continuation of a prison sentence. In fact, these collateral consequences may take place at both ends of the criminal process system: at the beginning when an individual is arrested, charged, and perhaps considering a plea bargain; and at the end when an individual is released from prison. Even a mere arrest, or minor charges with no jail time, may result in collateral consequences.

Collateral consequences have been described as "invisible punishment" because they are not clearly set forth in the New York criminal law. Therefore, they are not usually explained the way prison terms and parole eligibility typically are, as part of the direct consequences of criminal convictions. Instead, the rules that result in collateral consequences are found scattered throughout New York and federal civil laws, making them more difficult to find and understand, and avoid. Though they can be long-lasting and very severe, many people don't learn about collateral consequences until after they have chosen to take a guilty plea.

The folder contains general overviews and bench guides of the reentry process and collateral consequences, including "A People's Guide to the Consequences of Criminal Charges." Also included are training materials targeted specifically at judges, and a collection of media pieces related to criminal justice and reentry.

Other Resources:

» Further reentry guides and overviews can be found in the Links / Get Help section.


  • Consequences of Criminal Proceedings in New York State, August 2014 (The Bronx Defenders)

  • Defender Toolkit & Padilla Compliance Guide: Using Knowledge of “Enmeshed Penalties” (or Collateral Consequences) to Get Better Results in the Criminal Case (The Bronx Defenders)

  • The Bronx Reentry & Resource Directory for Returning Residents and Families

  • Release Planning for Successful Reentry: A Guide for Corrections, Service Providers, and Community Groups (Urban Institute - Justice Policy Center)

  • From “Collateral” to “Integral”: The Seismic Evolution of Padilla v. Kentucky and Its Impact on Penalties Beyond Deportation

  • 2011 New York City Council Human Rights Report Card Issue Brief: Access to Civil Legal Services

  • Strategies for Release - 2009 (Citizens Against Recidivism, Inc.)

  • Relevant LSC Restrictions on Representing Individuals with Criminal Records (The Bronx Defenders)

  • What's A Civil Lawyer To Do? Cross-Sector Collaboration in Reentry: Building an Infrastructure for Change (McGregor Smyth)

  • Mapping the Universe of Re-entry: The New York City Discharge Planning Collaboration

  • Reentry Advocacy and Assistance For Clients With New York State Prison Sentences (Office of the Appellate Defender)

Pro Bono and legal aid attorney resources - Pro Bono Net