• Each year, more than 700,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons.1
  • At least 95 percent of all inmates in America will ultimately be released and returned to the community.2
  • Another 9 to 10 million more people cycle through local jails annually.3
  • Roughly 40% of former federal prisoners and more than 60% of former state prisoners are rearrested within three years of release.4
  • The costs of imprisonment and jail in the past 20 years have grown at a faster rate than nearly any other state budget item.5
  • It costs an average of $78.95 per day to keep an inmate locked up.6
  • The U.S. now spends more than $68 billion annually on federal, state and local corrections.7
  • High rates of recidivism (the act of reengaging in criminal behavior that results in being rearrested, reconvicted, or returned to custody within three years of release from prison or probation) means more crime, more victims and more pressure on an already overburdened criminal justice system.8
  • Studies indicate that high quality jobs diminish the likelihood of recidivism.9
  • Research suggests that ex-offenders who maintain a steady job and have close ties with family are less likely to renew their involvement in criminal behavior.10
  • Most ex-offenders lack a competitive resume, employment credentials, are under-skilled relative to the general population of job-seekers, have the added stigma of an arrest or prison record, and by virtue of their record, face an especially narrow range of job opportunities; which are all considerable barriers to employment. 11 12
  • Studies have found that employers were unwilling to hire ex-offenders even when they exceeded the qualifications for the position. Nearly 60% of employers surveyed in 4 large U.S. cities reported that they would “definitely not” or “probably not” hire an ex-prisoner.13
  • By reducing the rate of offenders who return to prison, we keep communities safer, families more intact, and can therefore, begin to reinvest incarceration dollars into other critical areas.14
  • Those of us with social capital have the ability to influence individuals who have the authority to hire an applicant, despite their criminal record, based on inside knowledge about the applicant’s character that may be gleaned from a third party source.15
  • Successful reintegration into the workforce translates into: a) safer neighborhoods, b) stable families, c) prosocial structured activity for an ex-offender, d) reduced taxpayer costs for reincarceration, e) living wages for an ex-offender to support himself/herself and family, and f) income for restitution to victims, court and correctional supervision fees, continued mental or behavioral health treatment, and child support, when necessary.1-16

 

FEDERAL INTER-AGENCY REENTRY COUNCIL: 

WASHINGTON – Each year, more than 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons, and 11.4 million cycle through local jails. In addition, a broader population— some one in three Americans of working age—has an arrest record, mostly for relatively minor, non-violent offenses, sometimes from decades in the past. The long-term, sometimes lifetime, impact of a criminal record will keep many people from obtaining employment, accessing housing, higher education, loans and credit—even if they have paid their debt to society, turned their lives around, are qualified and are unlikely to reoffend. At the same time, research shows that people who stay out of trouble for just a few years are largely indistinguishable from the general population in terms of their odds of being arrested again in the future. Further, pro-social activities such as employment, education and civic engagement—the very things that people with criminal records are often barred from participating in—reduce recidivism.

At the Second Chance Conference on Dec. 16, 2015, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said, “At this critical juncture – this moment of rare bipartisan agreement – it is more important than ever that we harness this momentum and continue to push forward, so that every American returning from prison can find dignified work and adequate shelter; so that they can receive fair treatment and full opportunity; so that they return to a society that values them as fellow citizens; so that they can, in fact, truly return home.”

To address these large-scale issues, the Federal Interagency Reentry Council has been working together for five years to reduce recidivism and improve employment, education, housing, health and child welfare outcomes. Comprised of more than 20 federal agencies, the Reentry Council coordinates and leverages existing federal resources that are targeted to reentry; uses the bully pulpit to dispel myths, clarify policies and provide visibility to programs and policies that work; and reduces the policy barriers to successful reentry. The council was recognized in a 2014 GAO report as one of four model interagency collaborations, and the

council’s collective work at the federal level has set a positive example for many states, several

of which have started similar councils.

In its first five years, the Reentry Council has:

Enacted policy changes that reduce post-prison barriers to employment, education, healthcare and housing. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued guidance regarding the appropriate use of arrest and conviction records in employment decisions. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued similar fair housing guidance that explains when barriers to housing for those with a criminal record violate the anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act. The Small Business Administration expanded its Microloan eligibility rules, and the Department of Justice directed all of its components to take collateral consequences into account when proposing any new regulation or guidance. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will soon propose a “Ban the Box” rule change to delay inquiries into criminal history for federal employment until later in the hiring process.

Built on groundbreaking research, such as a federally-funded correctional education study, by expanding correctional education resources and reentry programs that have been found to reduce recidivism, boost employment and save taxpayer dollars. As part of this effort, the Departments of Education (ED), in collaboration with the Department of Justice, launched the Second Chance Pell pilot, providing a limited waiver of the statutory ban on Pell for incarcerated students in federal or state prisons in order to help pay for postsecondary education and training programs. ED and the Department of Justice also released joint guidance on correctional education and co-invested in adult and juvenile reentry in an effort to bridge the gap between institution and community-based education and support services.

Developed new systems, such as the Veterans Reentry Search Service (VRSS), that quickly and systematically identifies incarcerated individuals with a record of military service so that reentry planning and connection to the Department of Veterans Affairs’ services can begin early. VRSS is now active in 218 jurisdictions in 28 states.

Increased access to healthcare coverage and treatment for justice-involved populations who disproportionately experience mental health and substance abuse health problems. The game-changing opportunity—created by the Affordable Care Act—is poised to increase public safety, improve public health and ultimately save taxpayer dollars.

Started to address the widespread issues resulting from a minor or erroneous criminal record. HUD and the Department of Justice are awarding first-time Justice Reentry Assistance Program (JRAP) grants to aid eligible youth in public housing to expunge or seal their records so that they can access employment and education opportunities. The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Justice will soon launch a National Clean Slate Clearinghouse to provide technical assistance to help with record-cleaning and expungement. And the Federal Trade Commission continues to provide education to businesses and job seekers on the use of background checks in employment and other decisions.

Raised public awareness, through fact sheets, like the Reentry Myth Busters, and events, such as the White House Champions of Change convenings, that shine a light on key issues including improving outcomes for children of incarcerated parents, reentry and employment. The White House Fair Chance Business Pledge is engaging employers, large and small, that are making substantial commitments to provide individuals with criminal records a fair chance to participate in the American economy.

Created direct and centralized access to critical information that is often hard to find—about Social Security benefits and child support modification, for example—via dedicated reentry webpages on existing federal websites. The council also created (in collaboration with the National Reentry Resource Center) an interactive map that identifies the federal reentry grants in every state and a one-stop webpage of funding opportunities.

Established new positions to support and institutionalize reentry efforts. The Department of Justice designated Prevention and Reentry Coordinator positions in each U.S. Attorney’s Office “to ensure that this work is, and will remain, a top priority throughout the country.” The Bureau of Prisons created a new Reentry Services Division, and an assistant director position to lead that division.

Led by example. The Department of Justice also brought on board its inaugural Second Chance Fellow, Daryl Atkinson. Recognizing that many of those directly impacted by the criminal justice system hold significant insight into reforming the justice system, this position was designed to bring in a person who is both a leader in the criminal justice field and a formerly incarcerated individual. Mr. Atkinson works as a colleague to the Reentry Council, an advisor to the Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance programs and serves as a conduit to the broader justice-involved population to ensure that the council is hearing from all stakeholders.

Taken together, these are significant milestones in the council’s work to provide a second chance for those who have served their time and paid their debts—to compete for a job, attain stable housing, support their families and contribute to their communities.

For more on the Reentry Council, visit https://csgjusticecenter.org/nrrc/projects/firc/ (Will open in new window). 


1 Federal Interagency Reentry Council. (2011). REENTRY In Brief. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice.

2 Pew Center on the States, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons (Washington, DC: The Pew

Charitable Trusts, April 2011).

3 Merica, D., & Perez, E. (2013, August 12). Eric Holder seeks to cut mandatory minimum drug sentences.

Washington, DC, United States of America.

4 Merica, D., & Perez, E. (2013, August 12). Eric Holder seeks to cut mandatory minimum drug sentences.

Washington, DC, United States of America.

Electronic Reference: http://www.cnn.com/2013/08/12/politics/holder-mandatory-minimums/

5 Federal Interagency Reentry Council. (2011). REENTRY In Brief. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice.

6 Pew Center on the States, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons (Washington, DC: The Pew

Charitable Trusts, April 2011).

7 Federal Interagency Reentry Council. (2011). REENTRY In Brief. Washington: U.S. Department of Justice.

8 Pew Center on the States, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons (Washington, DC: The Pew

Charitable Trusts, April 2011).

9 Berg, M. T., & Huebner, B. M. (2011). Reentry and the Ties that Bind: An Examination of Social Ties, Employment,

and Recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 28(2), 382-410.

10 Berg, M. T., & Huebner, B. M. (2011). Reentry and the Ties that Bind: An Examination of Social Ties, Employment,

and Recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 28(2), 382-410.

11 Berg, M. T., & Huebner, B. M. (2011). Reentry and the Ties that Bind: An Examination of Social Ties, Employment,

and Recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 28(2), 382-410.

12 Pew Center on the States, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons (Washington, DC: The

Pew Charitable Trusts, April 2011).

13 Berg, M. T., & Huebner, B. M. (2011). Reentry and the Ties that Bind: An Examination of Social Ties, Employment,

and Recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 28(2), 382-410.

14 Pew Center on the States, State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America's Prisons (Washington, DC: The

Pew Charitable Trusts, April 2011).

15 Berg, M. T., & Huebner, B. M. (2011). Reentry and the Ties that Bind: An Examination of Social Ties, Employment,

and Recidivism. Justice Quarterly, 28(2), 382-410.

16 Rakis, J. (2005). Improving the Employment Rates of Ex-Prisoners Under Parole. Federal Probation, 69(1), 7-12.

 

This information has been provided by

The United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Georgia, Community Outreach

75 Spring Street, SW, Ste. 600, Atlanta, GA 30303 Phone: 404-581-6000