Welcome to the Cornell Project for Records Assistance (CPRA). The CPRA will educate you about your criminal record and how to fix your criminal record.

The CPRA will also train you about your legal rights with an aim toward getting a job and keeping a job. Your criminal record may seem confusing at first. The CPRA is an important step in making your criminal record easier to understand and learning about the help available to you.

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About Us

The CPRA is part of the remedy in the Gonzalez v Pritzker class action case against the US Census Bureau. The CPRA provides education and training to Black and Latino individuals who applied for positions with the 2010 Census and were denied employment based on their unconfirmed criminal histories.

The CPRA is part of the Labor and Employment Law Program within the Industrial and Labor Relations (ILR) School at Cornell University. The ILR School at Cornell University is the preeminent school in the country studying the workplace and employment. We research, educate, and inform policymakers about changes in the law, policy, and human resource practices—those things that impact the workplace.

The Labor and Employment Law Program has been in the forefront of bringing together diverse constituencies to discuss, analyze, and propose best practices on the issue of employment of individuals who have had contact with the criminal justice system, the mitigation of criminal records, and collateral consequences of having a criminal record.

Who We Are

Esta R. Bigler, Esq., Director of Cornell University ILR’s Labor and Employment Law Program and the Cornell Project for Records Assistance, uses her extensive background in labor and employment law to convene conferences and forums studying the relationship between social science research and law to address labor and employment law and workplace issues with the goal of influencing legislation and public policy decisions. A major focus of her work since 2008 is reducing barriers to employment of people with criminal records. Her work involves the use of criminal records as a screening device for employment, the impact of employment on reducing recidivism, employer attitudes toward hiring people with criminal records, and the collateral consequences of incarceration.

Ms. Bigler is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and was the 2006 Recipient of the Alice H. Cook and Constance F. Cook Award for commitment to women’s issues and for improving the climate for women at Cornell. She is the current Chair of the New York State Apprenticeship Council and was appointed to the Advisory Committee on Governor Cuomo’s Task Force investigating worker exploitation.

Ms. Bigler earned her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and B.S. from Cornell ILR.

Timothy McNutt, Esq., Manager for the Cornell Project for Records Assistance, is using his experience working in the criminal justice system to assist people with criminal records in reducing barriers to reentry and improving employment outcomes. As a former Assistant Attorney General at the New York State Attorney General’s office, Tim investigated and prosecuted white-collar crimes. Prior to working for the Attorney General, Tim served as an Assistant District Attorney at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office prosecuting violent crimes from arrest to trial or disposition. There, he served as lead counsel in felony and misdemeanor jury and non-jury trials and presented numerous cases to the grand jury. Tim also served as a Special Assistant District Attorney at the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office where he conducted long-term narcotics investigations.

Prior to law school, Tim represented over 200 clients in the St. Louis City Drug Court successfully advocating for their placement in the diversion program in lieu of incarceration. Tim also served on the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors, an organization dedicated to providing effective representation to underserved communities and causes.

Tim earned his J.D. from California Western School of Law and B.A. from The George Washington University. Tim is licensed to practice law in New York and the District of Columbia and is a member of the bar of the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Rachel Colman, LMSW is the Criminal Outreach Specialist for the Cornell Project for Records Assistance. Passionate about advancing human rights through the development of effective reentry programs, Rachel has analyzed the systemic policies governing the criminal justice system and their impact on communities. She has direct experience providing one-on-one counseling in prison and community-based settings, writing mitigation pieces, conducting oral advocacy in the courts, performing case management, and providing overall support for clients transitioning in and out of prisons in the federal system. In her previous role as Assistant Clinical Director for an educational organization, Rachel developed tailored programs to meet the specific needs of individuals and families to promote emotional, social, behavioral, and cognitive well-being.

Rachel received her Masters of Social Work from Columbia University School of Social Work and earned her B.S. in Marketing Management with a minor in Psychology from Syracuse University. Rachel is a Licensed Master Social Worker and a member of both the National Association of Social Workers and Coalition of Social Workers for the Defense. Rachel has received awards in recognition of excellence in both the conceptual and technical components of proposal development as well as analysis and evaluation of pressing contemporary social work issues using a variety of practice methods through Columbia University.

Rachel Joseph, MSW joins Cornell University ILR’s Labor and Employment Law Program with experience in implementing criminal justice initiatives, building strategic partnerships, and public speaking. Prior to working at Cornell, Rachel oversaw the reentry program at the New York County District Attorney’s Office (DANY). She enhanced partnerships between local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and community-based organizations to create and implement effective reentry initiatives to improve the process of individuals returning home from prison, in an effort to increase public safety and reduce crime/recidivism in Manhattan.

In her role, Rachel served on the Manhattan Reentry Task Force, which was established in 2005 by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). The goal of the task force is to reduce recidivism by coordinating and strengthening community supports in response to high-risk offenders transitioning from prison back to the community. In addition, Rachel worked with the New York City Department of Probation to create crime prevention strategies for 16-24 year old justice-involved youth. Rachel is passionate in providing opportunities and pathways to success for individuals affected by the criminal justice system.

Rachel was a 2013 recipient of the Mayor’s Graduate Scholarship Program and a 2014 Roothbert Fund Fellow. She earned her Masters Degree in Social Work from New York University Silver School of Social Work and a B.A. in Criminal Justice from Stockton University.