Our Mission Statement

CoRA is a New York State coalition of advocates who work to change laws and policies to ensure that people who have had contact with the criminal justice system have a fair chance to succeed as full community members.

In our Mission Statement, we use the term “criminal justice system” with the understanding that this system is fraught with injustice. One great source of this injustice is the life-altering consequences that flow from a conviction, or even just an arrest. In 2006, after a comprehensive review of some of the “formidable barriers” facing “those attempting to re-enter society following interaction with the criminal justice system,” a Special Committee of the New York State Bar Association concluded that many of our laws and policies restrict “access to the essential features of a law-abiding and dignified life,” including family, shelter, work, education, civic participation, and financial stability. CoRA believes that these laws and policies must be dismantled if the goal of promoting dignity and respect for all people in our communities is to be achieved. Doing so will also enhance public safety by reducing recidivism. 

The experiences of people directly affected by unjust laws and policies drive CoRA’s agenda and inform the work we do as a coalition. Accordingly, we seek to fulfill our mission of eradicating barriers to full community membership through a variety of activities, including the following:

• Identifying state and local laws that need to be changed and drafting legislation to effect this change;

• Advocating to state and local administrative agencies, through written correspondence and/or personal meetings, to change administrative rules and policies;

• Advocating to elected officials to develop a progressive legislative agenda that accords with our mission;

• Advocating to elected officials to support and enact the legislative changes CoRA has drafted;

• Providing information through written materials and presentations in various forums; 

• Providing technical assistance to policy-makers, elected officials, and other groups; and

• Collaborating on effective strategies regarding the litigation in which our various coalition members are engaged; supporting the litigation of other advocates and service providers through technical assistance and through filing amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) briefs.