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Governor Hochul’s State of the State Address sends a message that our fellow New Yorkers who have been incarcerated or otherwise impacted by the criminal justice system have the potential, and deserve the chance, to build lives of contribution to their families and communities. The Fortune Society applauds Governor Hochul for pledging to seek increased and much-needed funding for Alternative to Incarceration (ATI) and reentry programming. Fortune has provided ATI and reentry services for 55 years. Every day, we work with people who are in the process of rebuilding their lives, reuniting with their families, and creating plans for their futures while living safely in our communities.
Legislative action is also needed, however, to break down the barriers to successful reentry posed by the stigma of a criminal conviction. A conviction can prevent someone from accessing employment, obtaining housing, securing a wide range of professional licenses, and continuing education; without access to these opportunities, people are prevented from supporting their families and contributing to stronger, safer communities. We hope that Governor Hochul will champion the passage of the Clean Slate Act, which would open doors that are often closed to people with conviction histories even when they have transformed their lives and had no further system involvement.
We look forward to working with the Hochul Administration and other elected officials in the coming year to ensure that all New Yorkers, particularly those accused of crimes and those with conviction histories, are treated with dignity and provided equitable access to opportunities.