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

From Corrections to College in California

An Evaluation of Student Support During and After Incarceration

California is a national leader in providing higher education to justice-involved people. A key driver of this movement has been the Renewing Communities initiative, a joint project of the Opportunity Institute and the Stanford Criminal Justice Center that sought to expand access to higher education among justice-involved people in California, both ...

Publication
  • Lionel Smith, Léon Digard
June 10, 2020
Publication

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