Celebrating 30 years: 1981-2011The Center for Community Alternatives (CCA) is a leader in the field of community-based alternatives to incarceration.  Our mission is to promote reintegrative justice and a reduced reliance on incarceration through advocacy, services and public policy development in pursuit of civil and human rights.

CCA serves people in trouble: youth at risk; families in crisis; people struggling to address drug and alcohol problems and HIV and AIDS; and people who have been involved in the criminal justice system who are seeking community reintegration and productive, law-abiding lives.  CCA endeavors to address these issues by emphasizing personal empowerment, self-respect and concern for one's community.

News & Events

February 27, 2019 CCA is pleased to share with you the latest publication written by our Senior Policy Fellow, Marsha Weissman, in collaboration with Norman Brown, the Deputy Director of Project New Opportunity (PNO). The article, “Half-Stepping Criminal Justice Reform” draws upon the experience of PNO, a program intended to help individuals released under the Obama administration clemency initiative and federal drug law sentencing reform. Dr. Weissman and Mr. Brown explain that while such programs provide benefits for those are released, they fall short of real criminal justice reform. The First Step Act, recently enacted by Congress, makes the article particularly timely.

The piece which appears in the latest issue of PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America, includes video interviews with Mr. Brown, who was a clemency recipient released after serving 24 years in federal prison.

You can read the article in PDF format using this link or at the PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America website.

The full issue, Beyond Mass Incarceration: New Horizons of Liberation and Freedom, can view be viewed online at PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America.

December 20, 2018, New Justice Strategies Report - Lessons for Sentencing Reform and Reentry: A Case Study of Project New Opportunity.
CCA's latest Justice Strategies report looks at the development and implementation of Project New Opportunity (PNO), a demonstration project created to provide reentry support to people being released from federal prison under President Obama's Clemency Initiative and the United States Sentencing Commission's (USSC) 2014 reduction in drug sentencing guidelines.

The key elements of PNO's model were a staffing plan that relied on formerly incarcerated people as Reentry Consultants, and an "inside/outside" connection that introduces incarcerated people to their Reentry Consultant prior to their release and continues after release.

The new report is timely in light of the Senate's recent passage of the "First Step" legislation. PNO provides another example of the benefits of sentencing reform, shorter sentences and early release mechanisms.

June 11, 2018, New Research Report Highlights Challenges in Reducing Mass Incarceration. It's widely known that the total number of individuals incarcerated in the United States has come down over the last several years. The question remains: What does this mean for the future? Have we turned the corner on mass incarceration, or is it just a brief head fake? In a fascinating new research report, Malcolm Young, provides informed answers to these questions based on rigorous research. He shows where the declines in incarceration have actually taken place over the past 18 years, where they have not, and what this suggests for the future. Mr. Young, who has led CCA's Project New Opportunities Program in Washington, D.C., is a prison reform attorney and activist.

February 24, 2018, "Protect the pardoned; release stigma of past". David Condliffe, CCA's Executive Director, responds to a Times Union editorial demanding that Governor Andrew Cuomo release the names of people who received pardons for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies committed when they were 16 or 17 years old. The recipients have all lived crime-free for at least ten years and deserve the benefit of anonymity to properly restore access to employment and other opportunities.

CCA is delighted that the State of New York has raised the age! In doing so, we join 48 other states that recognize that young people are still growing and as such need developmentally appropriate ways to be held accountable. The legislation raises the age of criminal responsibility from 16 to 18. CCA is proud of having participated as a lead member of the Raise the Age NY campaign. We were honored to work with affiliates of the Gamaliel Network in mobilizing Upstate support for Raise the Age. The Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse (ACTS), the Rochester Alliance of Communities Transforming Society (Roc/ACTS), VOICE-Buffalo, and the Niagara Organizing Alliance for Hope (NOAH) each spearheaded powerful coalitions of faith leaders and other community members. We thank those public officials who stood firm and passed this legislation. We must continue our advocacy to ensure that this new law is implemented in the spirit in which it is intended. We are grateful to the Tow Foundation for their support of our work on Raise the Age.

"Education Suspended: The Use of High School Disciplinary Records in College Admissions" - This report highlights findings from CCA's national surveys of college admissions officials and high school guidance counselors. It concludes that the collection and disclosure of high school disciplinary records in the college admissions process is arbitrary and likely to disproportionately create barriers to higher education for students of color and students with disabilities. Click here to read more about "Education Suspended."


"Boxed Out: Criminal History Screening and College Application Attrition" - This report builds upon CCA's 2010 study, "The Use of Criminal History Records in College Admissions Reconsidered" and explains how the criminal history box on college applications and the supplemental requirements and procedures that follow create barriers to higher education for otherwise qualified applicants by the phenomenon of "felony application attrition." Click here for the “Boxed Out” publications.