Ending Mass Incarceration

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.

Related Work

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...

Publication
  • Margaret diZerega, John Bae
February 08, 2017
Publication
I Just Want to Come Home | Groundswell © 2015

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...

Blog Post
  • Kathleen Culhane
    Kathleen Culhane
November 14, 2016
Blog Post

Coming Home

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...

Publication
  • John Bae, Margaret diZerega, Jacob Kang-Brown, Ryan Shanahan, Ram Subramanian
November 14, 2016
Publication

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...

Blog Post
  • Monnero Guervil
    Monnero Guervil
  • Baz Dreisinger
    Baz Dreisinger
August 29, 2016
Blog Post

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...

Publication
  • Ruth Delaney, Ram Subramanian, Fred Patrick
July 18, 2016
Publication