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Reentry Resource Center - New York

Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

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Folder: Main Menu > Public Benefits & Welfare

New York does not participate in the "welfare ban" for people convicted of drug offenses--New York State residents can apply for and receive government benefits like Food Stamps, Medicaid, TANF and cash assistance, no matter how many convictions they may have on their rap sheets.

However, arrest and incarceration can temporarily affect government benefits in New York State. This section includes information on what can happen to public benefit eligibility if a person is arrested, serves time, or has an open warrant, with a particular emphasis on "fleeing felon" laws.

Other Resources:
» Obtaining vital documents such as government-issued ID is critical to eligibility for all forms of public benefits. It is often, however, very difficult for people coming out of jail or prison to assemble the proper documentation. Click here for extensive practical resources on obtaining vital documents.

» More extensive information for public benefits advocates in New York State can be found on the Empire Justice Center and Western New York Law Center websites.

» For information on non-governmental social services, please see the Links/Get Help section.


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  • Federal Benefits for People With Serious Mental Illness Who Have Been Incarcerated (Bazelon Center)

  • One Flawed Policy. Thousand of Families at Risk (Community Service Society)

  • Public Assistance Laws Affecting Individuals with Criminal Convictions (Legal Action Center)

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