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Barriers to Re-Entry Lead to Poverty and Homelessness

Legal Action Center

Many state and federal laws make it extremely difficult for people with criminal records to successfully transition from prison to community. After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry, a two year study of the legal barriers faced by people with criminal records conducted by the Legal Action Center (LAC) found that over 630,000 people are released from state and federal prisons every year to face inadequate public support to help them re-integrate into society.

LAC lists the legal barriers to employment, housing, benefits, voting, access to criminal records, parenting, and driving that states put in place. Below are some of the laws Connecticut has with regards to people with criminal backgrounds:

  • Connecticut modified the ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Food Stamps by requiring completion of sentence of treatment before people with criminal backgrounds are eligible for TANF and Food stamps.
  • They cannot vote until completion of sentence.
  • Connecticut prohibits all employers and occupational licensing agencies from considering arrests not leading to conviction.

Overall CT is ranked 26 out of all the states with a score of 31.5 for the extent its laws and policies create roadblocks, unfair or counterproductive barriers to reentry.

These barriers often prevent people with criminal records from finding jobs and affordable housing which can lead to recidivism as well as homelessness and poverty.

LAC recommends a number of policy chances to allow the successful reintegration into society of people with criminal records. Included in those recommendations are:

  • An arrest alone should never bar access to rights, necessities, and public benefits.
  • States should enact legislation to provide for the automatic sealing or expungement of any arrest that never led to conviction and of conviction records after an appropriate amount of time has elapsed. States also should issue certificates to qualified people with criminal records that acknowledge rehabilitation and lift automatic bars.
  • A conviction should never bar access to a citizen’s right to vote or to basic necessities such as food, clothing, housing, and education.

Click here to read the full report - After Prison: Roadblocks to Reentry.


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