Prisoner Re-Entry into Society

CLASP, the [US] Center for Law and Social Policy, makes available and accessible (for free) a number of publications that relate to various aspects of prisoners in the system and those attempting to re-enter society.

As ex-offender parents struggle to make a fresh start, they encounter many legal and social barriers that make it very difficult for them to successfully care for their children, find work, get safe housing, go to school, and access public benefits. CLASP is working to encourage policies and programs that help, not hinder, ex-offenders make a fresh start with their families and the labor market.

CLASP identifies aspects that hinder ex-prisoners from successfully re-entering society:

  • Poverty when entering prison;
  • Mounting poverty and rapidly escalating level of debt while being in prison;
  • Crushing poverty and insurmountable debt load after leaving prison, and
  • Barriers to employment, especially when the ex-prisoners are Black or Hispanic.

Here are some of the publications offered by CLASP:

  • Debtors’ Prison—Prisoners’ Accumulation of Debt as a Barrier to Reentry by Kirsten D. Levingston and Vicki Turetsky. First published by the Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy in Summer 2007, this paper describes the types of criminal financial sanctions levied against people as they make their way through the criminal justice system and the child support policies that lead to unrealistic and counterproductive payment obligations. Cost-recovery policies enforced by criminal justice and child support agencies are ill-advised, undermining the criminal justice system’s rehabilitation goals, the child support system’s goals to support children, and society’s interest in fully reintegrating people after release from prison. 13 pages. 1/30/2008
  • Parental Incarceration: How to Avoid a “Death Sentence” for Families by Tiffany Conway and Rutledge Q. Hutson. First published by the Clearinghouse Review Journal of Poverty Law and Policy in Summer 2007, this paper highlights a number of promising services and supports for incarcerated parents and recommends what attorneys representing or working with incarcerated parents and their children can do to minimize harm to children. 12 pages. 1/30/2008
  • Staying in Jobs and Out of the Underground: Child Support Policies that Encourage Legitimate Work by Vicki Turetsky. This policy brief explains why policymakers and practitioners should manage the child support obligations of incarcerated and re-entering men to help them maintain regular employment, limit participation in the underground economy, reduce recidivism, and provide steady support to their children over time. A companion brief will outline specific child support strategies to help these parents reconnect to work and family. 8 pages. 3/12/2007
  • Making the Juvenile Justice – Workforce System Connection for Re-entering Young Offenders: A Guide for Local Practice by Linda Harris with Charles Modiano, consultant. This guidebook is designed to provide advice from the field to communities who are interested in pursuing more formal connections—or strengthening existing connections—between the workforce and justice systems. It draws on experiences in eight communities and focuses on on-the-ground challenges and solutions related to blending the cultures, adapting programming, engaging employers, and meeting performance. 58 pages. 11/13/2006
  • Realistic Child Support Policies that Support Successful Re-entry by Vicki Turetsky. These slides describe 8 child support strategies to improve employment and long-term child support outcomes for parents leaving prison. Click here for the PowerPoint version of this presentation. 25 pages. 8/28/2006
  • Fact Sheets: Every Door Closed: Barriers Facing Parents with Criminal Records. An Action Agenda. Each year, approximately 400,000 mothers and fathers finish serving prison or jail sentences and return home eager to rebuild their families and their lives. As these parents struggle to make a fresh start, they encounter many legal barriers that will make it very difficult for them to successfully care for their children, find work, get safe housing, go to school, access public benefits, or even, for immigrants, stay in the same country as their children. This new set of 8 two-page fact sheets, a joint project of CLASP and Community Legal Services, Inc., of Philadelphia, details the scope of the challenges these families face and offers solutions for federal, state, and local policymakers. Pub No. 03-70. 16 pages. 9/29/2003
  • Boom Times a Bust: Declining Employment Among Young Less-Educated Men by Elise Richer, Abbey Frank, Mark Greenberg, Steve Savner, and Vicki Turetsky. During the 1990s, employment rates for less-educated young women rose significantly. Less-educated young men, however, did not experience a similar jump in employment rates. In fact, their employment rates remained stagnant during the decade, failing to return to higher rates of prior years. This report explores why these young men are not in the formal labor market and offers potential policies to raise their employment rates. Pub No. 03-49. 16 pages. 7/16/2003
  • Report: Every Door Closed: Barriers Facing Parents With Criminal Records. Last year, approximately 400,000 mothers and fathers finished serving prison or jail sentences. As these parents struggle to make a fresh start, they will encounter many legal barriers that will make it very difficult for them to successfully care for their children, find work, get safe housing, go to school, access public benefits, or even, for immigrants, stay in the same country as their children. This groundbreaking new report, a joint publication of CLASP and Community Legal Services, Inc., of Philadelphia, documents the legal challenges these families face, illustrated by compelling stories of ex-offenders who are frustrated in their attempts to rebuild their lives and families. Pub No. 02-39. 104 pages. 5/1/2002
  • Executive Summary: Every Door Closed: Barriers Facing Parents With Criminal Records. This is the 9-page executive summary for the report of the same name. Pub No. 02-40. 9 pages. 5/1/2002
  • TANF and Criminal Convictions by Mark Greenberg. This is a presentation for a National Legal Aid and Defenders Association Substantive Law Conference. It summarizes the legal consequences of a criminal conviction for receipt of TANF-funded assistance. Pub No. 99-37. 4 pages. 7/15/1999
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