The United States, with 7.1 million people, or 1 in 33 adults, under the supervision of adult correctional authorities, has the highest incarceration rate in the world. The United States also imprisons more of its racial minorities than any other country in the world. In Washington, D.C., the numbers are even higher – three out of every four young black men are expected to serve some time in prison. An estimated 60,000 people in Washington, D.C., have criminal records, and about 8,000 of them return to the city each year after serving sentences in prison or jail. According to one local advocate, “For the generation of black children today, there’s almost an inevitable aspect of going to prison.”
After serving time in prison, many are resolved to turn their lives around and avoid being sucked back into the cycle of drugs and violence. However, they are released back into society with little or no transitional support. Persons with an arrest or conviction record encounter significant barriers that persist long after their criminal sentence is completed, including unemployment, lack of available housing, restrictions on their eligibility for public assistance, substance abuse, and physical and mental health problems.
Moreover, imprisonment affects many other people besides the incarcerated individual. It is estimated that, for every person that is incarcerated, there are about ten people, including children, family members, and community members, who are also directly affected.
This project offers the first-person accounts and insights of formerly incarcerated men on the process of reentry. It casts light on their plight in the hope that we will do more to help these men succeed in becoming productive members of society and caring family members.