One in Four Formerly Incarcerated People Face "Second Prison" Upon Release
Date:  06-07-2016

Lost economic output from collateral consequences is $65 billion annually
Via Fox News

Recently, U.S. Attorney General Lynch released the “Roadmap to Reentry,” a set of principles to reduce recidivism through federal reentry reforms. The roadmap is a laudable beginning, but it stops short. Beyond individualized plans for those in the Bureau of Prisons, the roadmap provides no specific answers regarding the difficult terrain returning citizens must traverse in their life after release. Beyond the gates await 44,000 documented barriers that restrict where those with criminal records can live and study, what kind of work they can do and whether they can vote or access credit. These restrictions are so omnipresent that they constitute a form of perpetual punishment, a “second prison.”

The second prison is not a small problem. More than 600,000 Americans are released from custody each year, and 65 million people—or one in four—have some form of criminal record. Even if a person’s arrest relates to a minor offense in the past, a criminal record will continue to have serious, ongoing consequences for them and their families. In communities where many people have a criminal record, the cumulative effects are devastating; one out of 13 African Americans of voting age is unable to cast a ballot due to criminal disenfranchisement. Nationally, the second prison costs as much as $65 billion in lost economic output each year.

We need comprehensive national action to help address the second prison. This should be done thoughtfully; some ongoing restrictions on some people are necessary and appropriate. But many other aspects of the second prison are arbitrary and counter-productive. To reduce recidivism and address decades of over-incarceration, we must do more than invest in people’s reentry while they are incarcerated. We must make sure they have access to opportunities once they are prepared to contribute to the community instead of taking from it. Read more