Providing Second Chances
America is a nation founded on the idea of second chances, yet we close doors that lead to a better life for a whole segment of the population. People with criminal convictions are stigmatized in the labor market and barred from specific jobs, unable to vote, and shut out of public housing.
But policies once rationalized as just desserts and good for public safety increasingly are viewed as counter-productive. Key arenas for creating second chances are in higher education and housing. What we’ve found: The payoff of bringing college back into prison, and using it as a sturdy bridge to support reentry. And that many people caught up in the justice system and then barred from public housing can live there safely with their families without compromising the safety of other residents—and that welcoming them is the smart thing to do.
College in Prison
Postsecondary education opportunities for incarcerated people
People involved in the criminal justice system have, on average, much lower education levels than the general population. Research suggests that education is key to improving many long-term outcomes for incarcerated people, their families, and their communities—including reducing recidivism and increasing employability and earnings after release. T...
NYCHA Family Reentry Pilot
Reuniting Families in New York City Public Housing
This two-year pilot program aims to help formerly incarcerated people by reuniting them with their families in public housing. The program builds on the growing nationwide momentum to ease public housing bans on people with criminal convictions. In this first phase, 150 people wishing to live in public housing—all of whom have been released from a ...
In New Orleans, the housing authority is helping people with criminal convictions rejoin families
Think about a particularly trying time in your life. Now think about not having a place to stay or family to support you during this time of hardship. Would you have made it? For people recently convicted of a crime, having a place to stay and the support of family are often the most influential factors in their success. But for decades, housi...
A Direction Home
In Recognition of National Reentry Week
Report to the New York City Housing Authority
Applying and Lifting Permanent Exclusions for Criminal Conduct
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is conducting an internal review of its policies related to permanent exclusions for criminal conduct on NYCHA property. Permanent exclusion (PE) occurs when a NYCHA tenant—rather than risk eviction—enters into a stipulation that those associated with the resident who have engaged in non-desirable behavi...
Expanding Access to Postsecondary Education in Prison
Fact Sheet for Corrections Leaders
Starting in 1994 with the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, students in state and federal prisons were barred from accessing Pell Grants, which provide financial aid for postsecondary education. In July 2016, the Second Chance Pell Experiment reinstated Pell Grant eligibility for some incarcerated students. Vera is cu...
Innovative Reentry Practices for Incarcerated People Coming Home
For an incarcerated person, leaving prison can be both exhilarating and overwhelming: freedom is finally palpable. But, for over 700,000 people leaving prisons and jails annually, the pressure of finding a home is an immediate and paramount strain. The mark of a past criminal record eliminates many housing possibilities precisely at the moment when...
An Evaluation of the New York City Housing Authority’s Family Reentry Pilot Program
Public housing authorities across the nation historically have barred many with criminal records from public housing residency. However, given evidence of the critical role stable housing and family reunification plays for people coming back to their communities from incarceration, some housing authorities are rethinking their practices. This repor...
Series: Unlocking Potential
Increasing interest in and passion for learning throughout the prison system
Former intern Monnero Guervil interviews Baz Dreisinger for this blog post. What inspired you to create John Jay College of Criminal Justice’s Prison-to-College Pipeline (P2CP) program? How does it differ, if at all, from other college in prison programs? I was volunteering in an educational capacity in prisons. This started be...
Opening Doors to Public Housing
Expanding Access for People with Conviction Histories
Vera, which is guiding implementation of the largest public housing reentry pilot program in the country, is launching a national project to assist public housing authorities, community supervision agencies, and reentry service providers to work together to promote family reunification and successful reentry outcomes for formerly incarcerated peopl...
Bringing College Back to Prison
Second Chance Pell Convening
Second Chance Pell Convening event in Washington, DC, July 19, 2016
Highlights from the convening in Washington, DC of the 69 sites selected for the Second Chance Pell Pilot program, including a conversation between U.S. Secretary of Education John King and three students who have attended college in prison.Watch: Welcoming remarks Keynote: U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates Keynote: U.S. Secretary of Educat...
Making the Grade
Developing Quality Postsecondary Education Programs in Prison
With its July 2015 announcement of the Second Chance Pell Pilot Program, the U.S. Department of Education ushered in what could be a new era of expanded opportunities for postsecondary education in our nation’s prisons. The Second Chance Pell Pilot makes students incarcerated in state and federal prisons eligible for need-based financial aid in a l...
Welcome to a New Era for Vera
Say hello to our new virtual home!
At the 1963 March on Washington, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of “the fierce urgency of now.” And as a friend of Vera, you know that we are in a moment of painful and potentially perilous urgency. Many Americans—including the public and policymakers from both aisles—are joining us to recognize criminal justice reform as one of the most pressin...
Series: Unlocking Potential
The importance of education for incarcerated women
Former intern Monnero Guervil interviews Vivian Nixon for this blog post. What is the story behind your passion for serving incarcerated women? My passion for serving incarcerated women started when I began to tutor and teach GED classes in prison. It was there that I saw the economic disparities and barriers that exist for many in...