Bearing the Barriers

The justice system, specifically the housing system, of America can make life much more difficult for someone with a criminal record. For example, though millions of people are released from jails and prisons combined every year in America, many of them have no family to move in with and have trouble finding proper housing of their own upon release. Those with mental illness are even more likely to face this kind of dilemma. With that being said, homelessness is a common issue amongst people who come out of jails and prisons trying to acclimate themselves back into the real world. Not only does this contribute overall to homelessness in America in this direct manner, but in many cases, it also causes people without criminal records to have to compete with them for the very same housing assistance resources. In many cases, people with criminal records are denied public housing altogether. 

Prisoners and jail inmates should automatically be assigned social workers before release, or at least, be offered a course that will help them learn how to obtain housing on their own. These services should be offered a month before the prisoner or inmate is set to be released so that they will feel better prepared to move forward and have a better chance for turning their life around once they are released. Another helpful option would be to offer them their own housing areas designated specifically to accommodate people fresh out of jail or prison, so that they would not have to compete with the general population for already limited housing. This could help homelessness across America as a whole and help to make life easier for people who are trying to move on beyond their criminal record histories, especially being that they also face the issue of difficulty obtaining work upon their release.

Written by: Roshawn C. Evans