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

Growing Momentum to Expand Access to Quality Postsecondary Education for People in Prison

Postsecondary education in prison cuts costs, which provides opportunities to reinvest in communities. “Safer communities” is another way of saying less crime and less taxpayer dollars spent on prisons. According to the findings of Vera’s 2015 “Price of Prisons” report, states spend upward of $45 billion a year incarcerating people, but continue to...

Blog Post
  • Fred Patrick
    Fred Patrick
June 18, 2019
Blog Post

Finding housing is hard—but for people leaving prison and jail, it’s almost impossible

We need to open doors for people reentering society, not shut them.

In recent years, however, there has been growing momentum to ease restrictions around housing for formerly incarcerated individuals. In 2017, Vera launched the Opening Doors to Public Housing initiative to expand access to housing for people with conviction histories. Now, with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistan...

Blog Post
  • Jack W. Duran
    Jack W. Duran
August 30, 2018
Blog Post