Each year, US jails process an estimated 12 million admissions and releases. Substance addiction, job and housing instability, mental illness, and health problems are daily realities for a significant share of this population. Given that more than 80 percent of inmates are incarcerated for less than a month, jails have little time or capacity to address these deep-rooted and often overlapping issues. Life After Lockup synthesizes key findings from the Jail Reentry Roundtable and examines opportunities on the jail-to-community continuum where reentry-focused interventions can make a difference.
Over 640,000 people return to our communities from prison each year. However, due to the lack of institutional support, statutorily imposed legal barriers, stigmas, and low wages, most prison sentences are for life—especially for residents of Black and Brown communities. More than half of the formerly incarcerated are unable to find stable employment within their first year of return and three-fourths of them are rearrested within three years of release. Research has demonstrated that health, housing, skill development, mentorship, social networks, and the collaborative efforts of public and private organizations collectively improve the reentry experience.
The report documents that sexual and gender minority individuals who are incarcerated experience exceptionally high rates of sexual victimization in U.S. prisons and jails as compared to other inmates. It also notes that LGBTI people are disproportionately represented in corrections, most likely due to high rates of harassment and rejection that LGBTQI youth face from their families, schools, and communities, which contributes to the early involvement of LGBTI people in the juvenile justice system. The report also notes that historically same-sex behavior and gender variance were criminalized in the U.S. until recently.