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Previously-incarcerated people struggle in WA State, investment helps

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

The Kirkland Chamber Foundation’s 2022 Kirkland Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Symposium focused on the barriers of reentry that formerly incarcerated people face in Washington State.

Barriers to reentering society

Christine Hendrickson, a formerly incarcerated author, spoke at the symposium. She expressed how hard it is to build a stable life and find a job after release because of trauma and stigma. She had many barriers after release, such as a three-year probation period with electronic home monitoring and a $7.4 million restitution to pay. She said that it seemed like she was set up for failure. She thinks that education and meeting the right people at the right time are key aspects of reentry.

An other speaker, Rowlanda Cawthon, Dean of Admissions of Northwest University, interviewed hundreds of justice-involved individuals and saw that most have traumas that hinder their confidence in being successful after incarceration.

Path to success

Reentry programs significantly help formerly-incarcerated people. Besides the positive social impact, the Washington State Institute for Public Policy reports that every $1 spent on programs to reduce recidivism saves $12.68 in future criminal justice costs. One good example of local reentry programs is the Graduated Reentry Program (GRE) that provides structured supervision, access to education, and work opportunities for people transitioning from prison back to their communities.

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