On April 27, the Greenfield Recorder published an opinion piece from Alyssa Golden, Senior Supervising Attorney for Community Legal Aid’s CORI/Re-entry Project. An excerpt of the op-ed is below.
April is National Second Chance Month — an effort to highlight the importance of supporting formerly incarcerated community members.
The CORI/Reentry Project of Community Legal Aid believes in more than second chances. The criminalization of poverty, substance use and mental illness, and the over-policing of communities of color, results in a cycle of incarceration and other forms of state supervision that are incredibly destructive for families and communities. There must be room for more than just a second chance.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, around 70,000 Massachusetts residents are booked in local jails across the state each year. In 2018, approximately 22,000 residents were incarcerated in a jail, state or federal prison, or juvenile detention center. Even years after people have served their sentence and remained free of further criminal involvement, the records of their incarceration follow people and have an impact on their lives, making it hard to return to work or find a stable place to live.
The result is that many people are locked out of opportunities to secure steady employment or affordable housing.