Fair Housing Rights For Felons

  • by: Sagan C
  • recipient: Washington State Legislatives
As the Second Chance Re-housing for both former and informally incarcerated persons research group project, we will be presenting to you cited facts from previous studies that show The Housing First, Fair Housing Act of Washington and other sources; has defined that the numbers of homelessness in the Tacoma area is at a constant rise. Rehousing, meaning to return to permanent housing, has been a challenge and it is at an all time high in Pierce County due to criminal discrimination that both former and informally incarcerated persons face because of past criminal history.
Because of racial discrimination coupled with past or present felony criminal charges, it is almost impossible for those who are people of color and have completed rehabilitation to successfully reenter into society. Based on previous research, both former and informally incarcerated persons have challenges which are mainly housing first and work second. Also, they have limited credit, rental history and finances that contribute to the limitation of housing opportunities (Helfgott, 1997).
According to International Journal of Drug Policy, both former and informally incarcerated persons who do find housing, may only find it in impoverished neighborhoods. These conditions where urban policies restrict resources for families and children, such as living in HUD and Section 8 communities. People with criminal records are less likely to find employment due to lack of housing and past criminal convictions which is again the second key obstacle to successful social reentry (Bradley et. al.,2001, Peteraili 2001,Visher, Baer, & Naser, 2006).
Due to society ignoring Erickson's hierarchy of needs, the primary needs are not being met for people with felonies. First being the basic need for food and shelter. Based on those needs an ex-offender's probable chances of reoffending are higher.
Through our project we will be informing the community, raising awareness about these social barriers, and the discrimination that formally and informally incarcerated people face towards securing adequate and stable housing. Also we plan to provide people with felonies helpful community resources, communicating the need for the implementation of change, and advocating for people of color with criminal background charges.
Through group work “the second chance re-housing for felons project”, we will be helping engage and spread knowledge to the public about the difficulties that both former and informally incarcerated persons face once they are released back into social environments. This being after the completion of their rehabilitation period. Also the group will include facts and evidence about the long lasting effects of being an ex-offender.
The process of reentering the community can be very difficult for both former and informally incarcerated persons especially for those that have had to serve lengthy sentences. Some of the re-entry programs that the community provides can be very helpful once they are out of incarceration. As of today, there are a mass comprehensive list of re-entry programs which provides assistance from state to state.
In Washington State alone, over 8,200 persons with past criminal convictions and that have served time are released into the community every year. The people are then released with little or no support, the estimate of about $40, for medication to last two weeks if not more depending on the type of suffering from mental illness. Also, they are allowed one set of clothing. They have often accrued significant debt, known as Legal Financial Obligations, which is one of the stigma of incarceration.
Another large and unspoken barrier these people are likely to face is education. Former and informally incarcerated persons are undereducated and barred from employment opportunities, thus remaining in a cycle of intergenerational poverty, debt, and homelessness.
It is for these reasons that 43% will return to prison within the first five years with one or more new felony convictions. This is what can be called the gate to failure upon reentry to the cell. The statistics showed that, in 2008, of the 28,671 former and informally incarcerated persons actively supervised on probation,and a staggering 3,867 were known to be homeless. The high levels of incarceration cost of one individual is $36,000 per year. However, the actual cost including arrest, prosecution, court fees, attorney fees, etc. total more than $500,000 of taxpayer money per person.
According to the Post-Prison Education Program it has proven that for $6,700 per person per annum, one can meet the legitimate needs of former and informally incarcerated persons, which is a significantly more than a cost-effective method of reducing recidivism, increasing public safety and curbing high costs to society. As a group we will come together and give displays of substantial information and lots of resources which can be helpful. The group will pass out pamphlets, use interviews from reliable sources,reports, journals and statistics from (PPEP) The Post- Prison Education Program.
Our method of our research consists of library research, online research, conducting a phone interview with an inmate who is currently incarcerated at Stafford Creek Correctional Facility. The interview will be his own experiences and thoughts about the lack of education and resources for both former and informally incarcerated persons regarding the barriers he will face once he is released back into society.
We will design petitions against racial and criminal discrimination of people of color with felonies and based on the crimes that have been committed within certain criminal limitations. Meaning those limitations being the same as the standard list for criminal acceptance for section 8 housing, employment in the government fields of work, and those of at least middle class living standards.
As a group our focus will be too elaborate on issues in which both former and past informally incarcerated persons face when exiting from the prison systems, back into society. Our focus can demonstrate knowledge and hindsight of today's obstacles and to give visuals presentations and information. This will be the booths in which we as students set up for display and the visitors are welcomed. With the display comes explanation of the research used to bring together a successful outcome.
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