Creating Economic Mobility for Reentering Citizens

Many challenges exist in the way of ensuring economic equity for all and closing the wealth gap in the United States. Among the barriers is the lack of opportunities and resources to support marginalized groups, such as reentering citizens. Individuals returning to the community after incarceration are met with inadequate support and convoluted rules. In addition to the challenges unique to an individual in transition, there are challenges that persist – such as economic inequities – despite their separation from the community. 


Reentering Citizens

Each year, approximately 600,000 individuals return from federal and state prisons to communities across the country; and about 11.4 million people move through local jails.1 Unfortunately, little to nothing is done to prepare returning citizens or to help them reacclimate. Upon returning home it can be difficult for individuals to secure housing, find employment, and secure opportunities like educational funding, affordable financial services, and more. This can have negatives outcomes that impact them and the communities they are part of.

How a Criminal Record Can Impact Economic Mobility  

A criminal record can have an immediate and subsequent impact on one’s ability to build a life after incarceration. Apparent obstacles like employment and housing lead to additional barriers like the inability to conduct other day-to-day business that is essential to operating in society. There are no legal protections against being denied housing based on a criminal record. This limits housing options substantially, in turn making it more difficult to access services and opportunities that require things like adequate identification and a permanent address. This is just one example. This has great implications for creating economic mobility for the individual, families, and the community. 

Until the system does a better job of preparing reentering citizens and a collective effort is made to support their transition back into the community, this will continue to be an uphill battle. In the meantime, reentry support – like the Free Criminal Expungement Clinic – offered by community organizations will remain essential.

On Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, Wallie the Sensei partnered with Social Justice League LLC, Beauty Behind the Bricks, and other community partners to host the ‘Clear Your Record’ Freedom Fair at Compton's Enterprise Park.