Reentry into society after incarceration has long been an important issue that activists have taken strides toward reforming in order to prevent recidivism.
Texas legislature recently passed HB918, as shared by Right On Crime, which is a step in the right direction to get previous inmates back up on their feet upon reentry to society by enabling them to seek employment through a much easier process.
The importance of resources such as HB918 that make smooth reentry possible is exemplified when Piper Kerman, author of bestselling Orange is the New Black, shares her personal story of how the first job after prison is what can make or break the rest of a previously incarcerated person’s life.
To help the process from incarceration into society flow even better, the FIRST STEP Act (Formerly Incarcerated Reenter Society Transformed Safely Transitioning Every Person), has been created to present opportunities of shortened sentences as “rewards” for prisoners and helps them transition into a well-functioning member of society. However, this act has not been fully implemented or fully-funded, which is being heavily pushed for today by supporters such as Heather Rice-Minus and FAMM.
Additionally, John Kuofos is attempting to build off of the First Step Act with his individualized Safe Streets and Second Chances program meant to give adequate rehabilitation back into society in terms of substance abuse recovery, mental health support, and vocational training.
Still, even with these steps towards a better reentry…without education options available, employment after incarceration may not always be easy to find. This is why other initiatives advocate for education to promote successful reentry into society, including the push for restoring access of the Pell Grant to the incarcerated.
With access to the Pell Grant, incarcerated people could be granted funds that would fuel education programs available in prisons, allowing them to be educated students and have a better chance in society once they are released. Ames Grawert, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center, recently took to Twitter to emphasize the importance of lifting this ban.
As leaders and supporters of criminal justice reform continue to work together, programs encouraging better lives for the previously incarcerated proceed to emerge and become further developed, funded, and implemented as law. With the help of these programs, ex-prisoners of the future will ideally have a much better chance at life and will not be so confined to the repeating cycle of the system.