Helping Former Inmates to Live and Work in Society Again
Steve Adubato talks with John Kufos, Executive Director of the NJ Reentry Corporation, and Larry Lustberg, Chair of Criminal Defense at Gibbons PC, about how their partnership is helping to clear small fines, such as parking violations, for inmates. The pair also explains how they are working with local government to clear crimes from ex-offender records to help with employment.
"Welcome to One On One. In this case, One On Two. We welcome two very special guests. John Koufos is Executive Director at New Jersey Reentry Corporation, and Larry Lustberg, Chair, Criminal Defense at Gibbons P.C., One of the most impressive law firms around. Guys, we are talking second chances for ex offenders. Put this in context and also let everybody know what the New Jersey Reentry Corporation is. Thank you. So the New Jersey Reentry Corporation is dedicated to helping people who have criminal backgrounds rebuild their lives and get employed. So typically, the person who has a felony background has drug addiction issues, housing issues, and specifically has a series of old fines, of old warrants, and old tickets. The New Jersey Reentry Corporation works together to clear those up with social service providers, lawyers, and other networks. By the way, we're involved in a public awareness initiative about ex offenders and where they get information during cooperation with your group. I hate to call it this... the "Readers Digest" version of your experience and why you care personally about this. Sure. So, for about the first ten years of my life, I was a criminal trial attorney. But more important than that, I was an alcoholic. Active alcoholism for 20 years. And in 2011, I made a horrible decision to drive drunk and I hit somebody and tried to lie my way out of it. My addiction caught up with me with disastrous consequences for another person. I went to prison for that and I got to see what so many of my clients had been going through for the roughly decade I had been representing them. When I had gotten out, I had asked Governor McGreevey to allow me to volunteer at a program. Governor McGreevey is actively involved and is the leader of New Jersey Reentry. He is. He is our board chair and a tremendous leader in this field and he gave me the opportunity to volunteer in Jersey City and from there, he allowed me to be part of the building of the New Jersey Reentry Corporation. So, for me, this is a daily atonement, the work I do. Larry with Gibbons. A firm we know very well. What is the connection between you and this organization? There really are two connections Steve. First, our firm provides counsel, attorneys to New Jersey Reentry Corp to assist them in exactly the mission that John has just described. In addition, I'm involved in attempting to move forward an agenda that would liberalize New Jersey's..."