Leveraging System Change
COVID-19 is testing both our civic structures and our values. State and local leaders are being forced to find ways to reduce their incarcerated populations in the interest of public health and safety. Individuals being released from incarceration, who already face barriers in the best of economic times, are facing new challenges as they return home to communities devastated by COVID-19. While the RCS program offers people autonomy to address their immediate needs, it alone will not solve our justice system’s structural challenges or heal the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color.
State and local governments to have long needed reforms that will shift spending from expensive and ineffective incarceration policies, towards increased investments in more effective community-based programs. The RCS program demonstrates effective ways to utilize funds to support returning citizens. Among other issues, CEO is advocating for the following, which will improve the prospects of justice involved individuals to reenter the workplace:
- Reduce the number of people actually incarcerated through increased releases and alternatives to incarceration
- Improve reentry systems and processes to better support people coming home
- Sustain and increase investments in critical community based reentry services
- Reduce and eliminate financial burdens (e.g. fines and fees) upon reentry
- Promote inclusive hiring and laws that address employment discrimination based on a criminal record