Barriers to re-entry

Your rights after rehabilitation

Dear New Yorkers,

Across our state, individuals with criminal histories face barriers to re-entering their communities and becoming productive members of society.

After leaving prison, adequate rehabilitation often depends on access to important resources, such as employment, education and housing.

Fortunately, New York State laws exist to protect the rights of New Yorkers with criminal records to secure gainful employment, pursue an education, and obtain housing. This brochure explains some of those laws and includes information about what to do if you believe an employer, municipality, licensing agency, or background check company is standing in the way.

New York State is committed to providing opportunities to everyone seeking a better future. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

New York State Attorney General Signature
Headshot of Attorney General Letitia James

State laws: how you are protected

The New York State Human Rights Law and the New York Correction Law prohibit employers, municipalities, licensing agencies, and background check companies from discriminating against applicants and employees on the basis of criminal history.

Under NYS Human Rights Law 296(16) employers and licensing agencies cannot ask or make decisions about applicants on the basis of:

  • A youthful offender adjudication.
  • A sealed record.
  • A pardoned offense.
  • An arrest not resulting in conviction.
  • Adjournment in contemplation of dismissal.