Articles on Prisoner Reentry

Under pressure from criminal justice reform advocates, the Justice Department reversed a Trump-era legal opinion that could have required several thousand federal convicts to return to prison from home confinement if the Biden administration declares an end to the pandemic national emergency. That seems remote with the rise of the Omicron variant, but the opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel meets demands from reformers and lawmakers that officials find a way to allow prisoners who've been living at home for a year or more under pandemic-related legal authorities to remain at home to serve the remainder of their sentences, Politico reports.

"We do not lightly depart from our precedents, and we have given the views expressed...

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A new survey by the Virginia Department of Corrections found that South Carolina has one of the lowest rates of recidivism in the country, reports The State . About 21.9 percent of inmates released from South Carolina prisons return within three years. When surveyed against 42 other states that make their data available, recidivism ranged from South Carolina's low rate to Delaware's rate of 62.2 percent. South Carolina Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling attributed the lower rate of recidivism to the department’s efforts to prepare inmates for reentry to the world after incarceration.

Those programs include educational opportunities, vocational training and job preparedness courses. The department has also partnered with other state agencies to help...

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Washington, D.C.'s newest elected advisory neighborhood commissioner is believed to be the first incarcerated person to win office in the nation's capital. Joel Caston, 44, has been locked up for 26 years since being convicted of fatally shooting an 18-year-old man in a parking lot, reports the Washington Post . On Tuesday, Caston won an Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) seat that had been vacant since its creation in 2013. He will represent the city's Hill East neighborhood, which includes the jail where he is incarcerated, the Harriet Tubman Women's Shelter and a recently opened luxury apartment complex. Caston expects to be released from jail in about six months.

As a commissioner, Castón will be serving in D.C.’s...

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Freed at 42 after more than a decade in New Jersey prisons, Boris Franklin scrambled to find a place to live. He lived with one sister, then another. Convicted of manslaughter after a drug deal that turned deadly, Franklin, 48, learned he could not lease an apartment on his own. On Thursday, New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill that bars landlords from asking about criminal convictions on housing applications, marking a major step in a long effort to create a system where people's past mistakes do not perpetually derail them, the New York Times reports. Cities including Newark, San Francisco and Seattle have adopted similar legislation, and Colorado in 2019 offered protections to prospective tenants with criminal...

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More states are restoring voting rights for formerly incarcerated people with felony convictions as the energy to restore these rights continues to swell. California voters passed Proposition 17, which restored the voting rights of 50,000 people released from prison, reports Pew Stateline . New York and Washington enacted laws in the past two months that automatically restore voting rights to convicted felons after they are released. After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed an executive order in March to restore voting rights to 69,000 Virginians, an amendment was proposed to the state’s constitution to make that change permanent. “If you’re living your life on parole, you’re leading a law-abiding life,” said Democratic Assembly member...

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In an effort to reduce crime among former prisoners, a bipartisan group in Congress is trying to create new resource centers to help ex-prisoners get a new start. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) and Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) are launching the proposal to offer new access to housing, medical care, job searches and legal services. The One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act already has passed the House once. Klobuchar, a former prosecutor, said the bill would help "coordinate access to job training, medical and mental health services, and financial counseling," NPR reports.

Lawmakers say their plan would reduce offenses among newly released prisoners who struggle without access to critical...

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White House officials held a virtual listening session with criminal justice advocates who had been incarcerated to discuss how to advance prison reform. The White House said officials solicited policy recommendations from advocates "to reduce incarceration, end racial disparities, and facilitate successful reentry." White House counsel Dana Remus, domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and public engagement director Cedric Richmond led the listening session Friday, which included leaders from 10 advocacy groups such as Forward Justice, the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, and JustLeadershipUSA, The Hill reports. Advocates have been pressing President Biden for more action on criminal justice and police reform, in particular to address the racial disparities in prison populations and racism...

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Dean Anthony Niedwiecki of Mitchell Hamline School of Law proctored the Law School Admission Test this month for two law school hopefuls who are Minnesota prison inmates. The school believes the April 10 and 11 exams are the first time the LSAT has been administered in a prison. It was the first step in what the school and local prisoner advocacy groups hope will become a prison-to-law school pipeline, with Mitchell Hamline delivering an American Bar Association-accredited J.D. program to inmates, reports Law.com. The concept has the support of the Minnesota Department of Corrections, and backers are raising funds to make it happen.

The school hopes to leverage its existing hybrid J.D. program, where students take the...

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Thursday, March 25, 2021

Facebook is building a service for people who are transitioning from prison back into society, part of an effort within the company to create more products for marginalized communities, Bloomberg reports. A promotion for new software called The Re-Entry App was shared at the top of some users' Instagram feeds on Wednesday. The notification, promising help with "preparing for life after prison with community support," asked users to click for early access to try the app and provide feedback.

"We've been exploring different ways to help close gaps faced by those in marginalized communities across our apps," a Facebook spokeswoman said. "This was only intended to be an internal test and we took down the notice as...

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam restored voting rights to 69,000 Virginians under new criteria that automatically allow felons to cast a ballot after release from prison. Northam had reinstated eligibility only for felons who completed parole or probation requirements, a process that began under his predecessor, Terry McAuliffe, the Wall Street Journal reports. Under Virginia law, anyone convicted of a felony loses his or her civil rights, including the right to vote as well as the right to serve on a jury, run for office or carry a firearm. The governor has sole discretion to restore voting eligibility. With Tuesday's executive action, Northam has restored voting rights to more than 111,000 people since taking office in January 2018. The...

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Last August, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds granted people who had been incarcerated for a felony the right to vote on completing their sentences. It was a huge win for criminal justice advocates. Iowa was the only state that permanently barred people convicted of felonies from voting unless they appealed to the governor after dozens of other states expanded voting rights for felons over the past quarter-century. The story is more complicated, and the future of felon voting rights in Iowa remains uncertain, Politico reports. In 2019, Reynolds said she would support extending voting rights to felons who have completed their sentence by amending the state constitution. The question was whether the legislature, controlled by her own Republican party,...

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Almost 1 in 3 U.S. adults has a criminal record, and finding a job when you have a past arrest or conviction never is easy. It's become more difficult in the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 health crisis that has left millions unemployed and significantly increased the competition for jobs, reports USA Today . "Because of COVID-19 ... everybody is having a harder time, and that would be exacerbated for people who are being released from prison,'' says Kristen Broady of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution. Low-wage positions are in high demand and short supply. Restaurants and other industries that offer lower-paying jobs have struggled amid virus shutdowns With a national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent,...

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