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

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

Opening Doors

Safely Increasing Access to Public Housing for People with Conviction Histories

For more than 600,000 people leaving prison and the nearly 11 million cycling through jails annually, research shows that safe, affordable housing is essential for them to succeed after they are released. While all public housing authorities (PHAs) must, by law, place lifetime exclusions on people who are lifetime-registered sex offenders or who ha...

Publication
  • Brian Walsh, Jessica Jensen
August 30, 2018
Publication

Beyond Second Chance Month

Let's Renew Our Commitment to Support Formerly Incarcerated People Every Day

More than 600,000 Americans return home from prison each year across the country to rejoin society with a desire to rebuild their lives.  Yet, too often we close doors to this entire population as they grapple with the challenges that come with reentering their communities. Through barriers to things like housing, education, and employment, a forme...

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

#SecondChanceMonth is an Opportunity to Examine What Happens After Incarceration–and Make It Better

Welcoming people who are formerly-incarcerated home into our communities and providing them access to opportunities is the smart thing to do. Not only does it make communities safer, it creates the potential for the kinds of individual transformation that can spur community renewal and change the economic trajectories of entire families. Join us as...

Blog Post
  • Vera Staff
    Vera Staff
April 13, 2018
Blog Post

New Report Highlights California’s Success in Expanding Access to College for Incarcerated People

And Shows the Rest of the Country How It Can Be Done

Today, California has more in-person postsecondary education programs—offered in 34 out of the state’s 35 prisons—than any other state in the nation. CDCR is offering higher education to nearly 4,500 incarcerated students. Programs that meet students outside the prison walls have expanded in correlation to inside programs, as more people who starte...

Blog Post
  • Heather Erwin
    Heather Erwin
April 04, 2018
Blog Post

Majority of Americans Say Voting Rights Should be Restored for People with Felony Convictions

Most Americans believe that people with conviction histories should have their voting rights restored as soon as they’ve completed their sentences, according to a new poll from YouGov/Huffington Post. A solid majority—63 percent—of those surveyed agreed that people with felony convictions should not be permanently barred from voting. This consensus...

Blog Post
  • Karina Schroeder
    Karina Schroeder
March 22, 2018
Blog Post