Finding a job after you’re released from prison is difficult. Some employers discriminate against people with criminal records, and explaining a gap in your resume is tricky. New York City recently passed the Fair Chance Act to protect formerly incarcerated New Yorkers from employment discrimination, but figuring out what employers can and can’t do under the new legislation can be confusing. What is and isn’t legal for employers to ask when hiring? What are your options if you think that an employer has treated you unfairly because of your criminal record? 

CUP teamed up with VOCAL-NY, designer Lizania Cruz, and illustrator Natalie Ramirez to create A Fair Chance, a guide to help formerly incarcerated people understand their rights under the Fair Chance Act, advocate for themselves, and hold employers accountable. The guide gives steps that people can take to strengthen their employment applications and connect to professional services to support them. 

Resources & Links

Voices of Community Activists and Leaders (VOCAL-NY) is a statewide grassroots membership organization of people affected by HIV/AIDS, the drug war, and mass incarceration. They work to create healthy and just communities through a variety of community organizing strategies. 

Lizania Cruz is a New York-based designer working in education, adovcacy, and the arts. She brings a decade of design experience to her current work at the branding studio Language Department. Lizania recently launched her own jewelry line called Bagavundas. 

Nathalie Ramirez is an illustrator from the Dominican Republic who has been freelancing for various international clients for over 10 years.

Making Policy Public is a program of the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP). CUP partners with policy advocates and graphic designers to produce foldout posters that explain complicated policy issues, like this one.

Funding Support

Support for this project was provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Aairs in partnership with the City Council.

General support for CUP’s programs is provided in part by the David Rockefeller Fund, Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, New York Foundation, Surdna Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Special Thanks

Christine Gaspar, Oscar Nuñez, Jazlyn Patricio-Archer, Ray Box, Ronald Day, Jeffery Foster, Paul Levine, Elizabeth Owens, Starsky Rivas, Daryl Robinson, Eddie Rodrigues, Carl Stubbs, Judy Whiting, Jawanza Williams


  • CUP
  • Ingrid Haftel
  • Mark Torrey
    Advocacy Partner
  • Alyssa Aguilera
  • Designer 
  • Lizania Cruz
  • Illustrator
  • Nathalie Ramirez