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

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...

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  • Fred Patrick
    Fred Patrick
June 18, 2019
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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...

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