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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

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Folder: Main Menu > Manuals and Overviews of Reentry and 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.

Other Resources:

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


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

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

  • Consequences of Criminal Proceedings in New York State, April 2015 (The Bronx Defenders)

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