Reentry is a broad term used to refer to issues related to the transition of offenders from prison or jail to the community. Over 50% of inmates released in New Jersey are rearrested within three years and almost a third are reincarcerated (NJ DOC). The successful reintegration of formerly incarcerated persons returning to the community is a critical aspect of improving public safety and improving the lives of individuals and communities.
The average returning citizen has a low level of education, limited job skills, and often issues with substance abuse and/or mental health. Incarceration has a disparate impact on African Americans and Latinx and those that grew up in poverty. Having a criminal record creates obstacles to employment, housing, public assistance, education, family reunification, building good credit, and many other areas.
Being incarcerated often means breaking up families and especially has a negative impact on children. It can induce household financial instability, create a need for others to take over custody (sometimes the child welfare system) and lead to trauma as a result of the arrest, separation, stigma, and other contributing factors.
Incarceration that is concentrated in low-income communities becomes a community problem as well. Having a sizeable turnover of individuals moving in and out of prison creates transient populations, a high rate of single-parent households, and fewer dollars invested into community-based businesses. Low-income neighborhoods that suffer from this lack of economic development can translate into a few employment opportunities available post-release, leading many back to prison.