Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former New York Governor David Paterson discuss Recidivism at Stroock Forum

Sep 25, 2012, 15:07 ET from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP

NEW YORK, Sept. 25, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Newark Mayor Cory Booker and former New York Governor David A. Paterson discussed prisoner reentry and a reduction in recidivism rates at a Government Leadership Forum hosted today by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP in the law firm's New York offices.

"Urban America:  Halting Recidivism; Prisoner Re-Entry into Society," was moderated by Stroock partner Robert Abrams, former Attorney General of New York and Chair of the firm's Government Relations practice, and by Stroock Intellectual Property partner Angie M. Hankins.  Stroock Special Counsel and election law attorney Jerry H. Goldfeder introduced the program.

"Prisoner recidivism and reentry into the community are seemingly intractable problems confronting our nation but Mayor Cory Booker and Governor David Paterson put forward creative solutions at today's forum," said Abrams.

"All of society benefits if people can have jobs when they return to society," said Booker.  "The country needs to have a sense of national urgency to address recidivism problems, and we must have the collective will to do the right thing." 

Booker discussed several specific areas he has focused on, including establishing drug, youth and veterans courts and a prisoner reentry initiative.  Newark was the first city in the country to receive a grant from the United States Department of Labor to bring a reentry system "to scale," and now more than 1,400 former prisoners have been provided with job development and retention, case management and mentoring.

He also spoke about empowering individuals to achieve their own goals, through partnering with mentor dads, parenting classes and other programs that help break the recidivism cycle and dramatically reduce the costs of incarceration. 

Paterson spoke about the long and hard-won efforts to dismantle in 2009 the draconian Rockefeller drug laws in place since the 1970s. "In 1970 the penal population in New York was 12,000; in 1998 it was 72,120, most of it involving substance abuse.  Today, there are 147 drug courts, which help people get treatment, counseling and job placement."

Paterson said that improving education and reducing recidivism go hand in hand.  He is an advocate for keeping schools open from 3 – 7 pm. "You take any group of students and put them in a better environment and they will do better," he said.  

Booker, currently serving as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, was first elected in 2006. Mayor booker just completed service as chair of the Democratic convention platform committee. He is a graduate of Stanford University, the University of Oxford (where he was a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School.

Before serving as New York's 55th Governor, Paterson represented Harlem in the New York State Senate, becoming the youngest Senator in Albany at the time. In 2003, he became the first non-white legislative leader in New York's history when he was elevated to Minority Leader of the Senate. He made history again in 2004 when he became the first visually impaired person to address the Democratic National Convention and again in 2007 when he became New York's first African-American Lieutenant Governor. He is a graduate of Columbia College and Hofstra Law School.

The event was the 10th in a series hosted by Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP during the last year. Previous participants included New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman; New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli; Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.; Congressman Jerrold Nadler; Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Thomas F. Prendergast, President MTA New York City Transit; James Vacca, New York City Council – Transportation Chair; and Gene Russianoff, Attorney and Spokesman for the Straphangers Campaign; New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, former New York City Comptroller and Democratic candidate for Mayor William Thompson; and Ambassador Ido Aharoni, the Consul General of Israel.

Today's event was sponsored by Stroock's Government Relations group, which is comprised of former prosecutors, judges, and government agency officials.  The practice is led by Mr. Abrams, who also served as President of the National Association of Attorneys General, Executive Chair of New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's Transition Committee and Honorary Co-Chair of Attorney General Schneiderman's Transition Committee.

SOURCE Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP