Re-entry

The ACLUworks in courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.

Smart Justice issue image

What's at Stake

The impact of the U.S. Criminal legal system is as pervasive as it is profound, so much so that have an immediate family member who is formerly or currently incarcerated. In fact, one in three adults in America has a criminal record. There are over 2 million people in our nation鈥檚 prisons and jails鈥攁 500 percent increase over the last 40 years after nearly five decades of punitive policies that have created a culture of mass incarceration and a reality of mass punishment.聽

People with arrest and conviction records are actively blocked from getting jobs, housing and educational opportunities by federal, state, and local legal restrictions because of these records. Around the country, there are nearly 50,000 such legal restrictions. They drive re-arrest and significantly contribute to high rates of re-arrest and re-incarceration of people who have been released from prison.

Some 650,000 Americans return to their communities from prison each year. About half of them will return to prison within a few years. These people need gainful employment, suitable housing, and educational opportunities to build stability and find success after incarceration.

Ignoring reentry disregards the challenges people will face when they leave incarceration or supervision, some of these are the same challenges that brought them into those systems in the first place. Formerly incarcerated people need gainful employment, suitable housing, and educational opportunities to build stability and find success after incarceration.In fact, research has found that joblessness is the single most important predictor of recidivism.

The impact on Black and Latino communities has been particularly destructive. Pervasive racial disparities in the criminal justice system exacerbate bias in the employment arena. For African Americans, the adverse effect of a criminal record on getting a job interview is 40 percent greater than for white Americans with similar histories. When combined with the denial of access to licenses and professional certifications, the pervasive discrimination against people with a criminal record has resulted in nearly 75 percent of formerly incarcerated people remaining unemployed a year after release.

The ACLUCampaign for Smart Justice is working to be a聽 transformational vector of change, by helping to expand the rights of people who have been released. If prison is meant to rehabilitate people, then rehabilitation and support must extend beyond the prison walls and into the re-entry process. The principle mission is to remove punitive restrictions on housing and employment and create programs that support people with arrest and conviction records. These programs will address the complex issue of reentry by helping to provide access to professional development, training, and sustainable employment opportunities for people negatively impacted by the U.S. criminal and legal systems.

The impact of the U.S. Criminal legal system is as pervasive as it is profound, so much so that have an immediate family member who is formerly or currently incarcerated. In fact, one in three adults in America has a criminal record. There are over 2 million people in our nation鈥檚 prisons and jails鈥攁 500 percent increase over the last 40 years after nearly five decades of punitive policies that have created a culture of mass incarceration and a reality of mass punishment.聽

People with arrest and conviction records are actively blocked from getting jobs, housing and educational opportunities by federal, state, and local legal restrictions because of these records. Around the country, there are nearly 50,000 such legal restrictions. They drive re-arrest and significantly contribute to high rates of re-arrest and re-incarceration of people who have been released from prison.

Some 650,000 Americans return to their communities from prison each year. About half of them will return to prison within a few years. These people need gainful employment, suitable housing, and educational opportunities to build stability and find success after incarceration.

Ignoring reentry disregards the challenges people will face when they leave incarceration or supervision, some of these are the same challenges that brought them into those systems in the first place. Formerly incarcerated people need gainful employment, suitable housing, and educational opportunities to build stability and find success after incarceration.In fact, research has found that joblessness is the single most important predictor of recidivism.

The impact on Black and Latino communities has been particularly destructive. Pervasive racial disparities in the criminal justice system exacerbate bias in the employment arena. For African Americans, the adverse effect of a criminal record on getting a job interview is 40 percent greater than for white Americans with similar histories. When combined with the denial of access to licenses and professional certifications, the pervasive discrimination against people with a criminal record has resulted in nearly 75 percent of formerly incarcerated people remaining unemployed a year after release.

The ACLUCampaign for Smart Justice is working to be a聽 transformational vector of change, by helping to expand the rights of people who have been released. If prison is meant to rehabilitate people, then rehabilitation and support must extend beyond the prison walls and into the re-entry process. The principle mission is to remove punitive restrictions on housing and employment and create programs that support people with arrest and conviction records. These programs will address the complex issue of reentry by helping to provide access to professional development, training, and sustainable employment opportunities for people negatively impacted by the U.S. criminal and legal systems.

{{ showFullContent ? 'Hide more content' : 'Expand to read more' }}
Support our on-going litigation and advocacy work