The Reentry Connection

Reentry Facts for Returning Citizens

According to the Department of Justice: Nearly 650,000 people are released from state and federal prison yearly and arrive on the doorsteps of communities nationwide. A far greater number reenter communities from local jails, and for many offenders and/or defendants, this may occur multiple times in a year. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) study of 15 states, more than two-thirds of state prisoners released from incarceration were re-arrested and more than half returned to prison within three years of their release. (We have to break the cycle!)

It is a civil rights issue: “Notice the unique reference here to ‘returning citizens’ rather than to ‘ex-cons.’ The emphasis is on what one is rather than what one was. And this is where the civil rights focus comes in. To use the term “returning citizen” emphasizes that the civil rights of those who have paid their debt to society should be recognized. And that means working to change laws that, for example, restrict voting rights or deny job opportunities to returning citizens.” –The Center for Public Justice:

Inaugural Reentry Council Convened
On January 5, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder convened the Inaugural Cabinet-Level Reentry Council. This council, composed of members from various federal agencies, will address both short and long-term goals through enhanced communication, coordination and collaboration across federal agencies. The mission of the council is threefold: to make communities safer by reducing recidivism and victimization; to assist those returning from prison and jail in becoming productive, taxpaying citizens; and to save taxpayer dollars by lowering the direct and collateral costs of incarceration.
(The Government is interested in Reentry)

Employment- (We have to turn this around!)

According to the Dept. of Labor: Offenders often have other characteristics which make them unattractive to potential employers . A profile of male participants in a number of manpower projects for offenders yields the following characterization of them and of the offender population in general . The typical male project participant : ” Comes from an area characterized by a high crime rate and high residential mobility . Emerges from a ‘female-based’ household harboring feelings of hostile dependency toward his parents. Is a drop-out or push-out from high school . Spends free time ‘hanging around .’ Forms superficial peer group relationships . Lacks ‘middle-class’ goals, aspirations, and values . Is untrained, unskilled, and with no career potential . Has a history of crime which started during the early teens . Has a low self-concept and no self-confidence . Has been socialized into a culture of failure . In addition, because ex-offenders are perceived to be security risks, employers avoid hiring them . Released inmates often face labor markets resistance to their employment, such as government service and many licensed occupations .”

Substance Abuse-

According to The Reentry Policy Council (RPC): The majority of people in prison and jail have a substance use disorder.Despite the promise demonstrated by some treatment programs for people who are incarcerated, just a fraction of the people who need services for substance abuse receive it. Connecting people who are incarcerated to treatment programs proven to be effective, prioritizing resources for those nearing release, and encouraging community-based aftercare will ensure better outcomes for people released from prisons and jails, and the communities to which they return.

Mental Health

  • The incidence of serious mental illnesses is two to four times higher among prisoners than it is in the general population.
  • In a study of more than 20,000 adults entering five local jails, researchers documented serious mental illnesses in 14.5 percent of the men and 31 percent of the women, which taken together, comprises 16.9 percent of those studied — rates in excess of three to six times those found in the general population. (RPC)

Housing & Homelessness

  • More than 10 percent of those entering prisons and jails are homeless in the months before their incarceration. For those with mental illness, the rates are even higher — about 20 percent. Released prisoners with a history of shelter use were almost five times as likely to have a post-release shelter stay. (RPC)


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