Nearly one-third of working-age Americans has a criminal record. Even without a trial or “guilty” charge, a record of arrest or other involvement with the justice system dramatically limits future job, housing, civic engagement, and lifetime earnings prospects. Reflecting a criminal justice system that fails to correct, and a lack of public trust in that system, reentering citizens face a lifetime of punishment and exile, and are prevented from fully re-joining their communities. Rather than defining community members by the worst mistake they’ve ever made, we must provide these individuals the tools they need to be successful after release. Comprehensive reentry programs should include case management, connections to housing and work training, temporary assistance for basic needs like food and transportation, and a seamless continuum of mental health and substance use treatments. All of these elements should begin prior to release and continue, as needed, afterward. To do less is to guarantee failure.
- Successful reentry is often measured by recidivism, which tracks whether someone is re-arrested or sentenced for a new crime following their retuIncrease access to affordable, supportive housing, and eliminate release to homelessness
- Remove barriers to employment, education, and vocational training
- Ensure continuity of health care
In a recent review of the literature on prisoner reentry, Brookings Institution Nonresident Fellow Jennifer Doleac summarized the best evidence on how to improve the lives of the formerly incarcerated. One of the most striking findings ...
Four months after he was released from prison, Steven Cave, 36, sat between the couple he calls his parents in Bloomsburg, Pa., and explained how their kindness showed him how to end a lifetime of chaos. Steven Cave’s imprisonment at the...
“Society is not taking this issue seriously,” Thad Tatum says of the mental health needs of formerly incarcerated people. An estimated 20 percent of people in jails and 15 percent in state prisons have a serious mental illness, accor...