Strengthening Families and Communities

Restoring Community and Family Bonds

Roughly 600,000 people are released from prison every year. The number leaving county jails is exponentially higher—and the hard work of fostering stronger connections between incarcerated people and the communities they come from and return to has only just begun.

With our government partners, we’re using higher education as a sturdy bridge between life inside and life after incarceration. Bringing college back into prison and supporting people in their studies for two years after release pays off in increased rates of employment and higher incomes, as well as much lower recidivism rates—individual outcomes that also benefit the low-income families and communities formerly incarcerated people often rejoin. We’re exploring the potential of video visitation, to preserve family bonds no wall should sever. We’re helping cities reconsider blanket prohibitions that bar formerly incarcerated people from public housing, replacing them with individual assessments that can promote family reunification and prevent homelessness. And our Family Justice project pioneered a truly holistic approach to reentry that honors and marshals that natural support system that every person has. 

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 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

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

Series: Unlocking Potential

Producing active, informed, and engaged citizens through postsecondary education

What led you to your interests in education and mass incarceration? I started graduate school in September of 1971. In the third week of my coursework, the Attica rebellion occurred. This significant historical event was an uprising at a New York Correctional Facility derived from prisoners' demands for improvements in living conditions as well as...

Blog Post
  • Todd Clear
    Todd Clear
  • Rana  Campbell
    Rana Campbell
April 04, 2016
Blog Post

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...

Blog Post
  • Mathilde  Laisne
    Mathilde Laisne
March 30, 2016
Blog Post

A New Role for Technology

Video Visitation in Prison

Research shows that prison visitation is integral to the success of incarcerated people, reducing recidivism, facilitating their reentry into the community, and promoting positive parent-child relationships. However, people are often incarcerated long distances from their home communities in areas that are difficult to reach by public transport, cr...

Publication
  • Léon Digard, Margaret diZerega, Allon Yaroni, Joshua Rinaldi
March 02, 2016
Publication