Housing and Recidivism: The Critical Link to Reducing Louisiana’s Bulging Prisons
24 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2019
Date Written: April 28, 2019
Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the United States in part because it has a high recidivism rate. One of the reasons ex-offenders return to jail is that they cannot find adequate housing after serving their time. As an inexperienced property manager of a mobile home park in rural Louisiana, the author gained an awareness of the re-entry hurdles ex-offenders face, in a most unexpected way. The park refused any potential resident who had a criminal background. One day a small unassuming man walked into the office, crumbled criminal background check in hand. His rejection certain, he nevertheless pulled out a large three-ring binder. “I know I’ve messed up in my life, but I’ve turned it around, and here’s my proof.” The author sat in silence as he paged through numerous certificates and glowing letters from prison guards, employers, and teachers both during and after his incarceration. The author was able to secure a waiver of the policy, and he became one of the best tenants the park ever had.
This Article explores housing problems faced by the formerly incarcerated. It continues with a discussion of the problems faced by property managers in considering ex-offenders’ applications. Louisiana’s antiquated criminal system denies the formally incarcerated any easy means to prove the extent of their rehabilitation. To further complicate matters, property managers are denied access to the very information they most need to assess applicants’ qualifications.
The Article recommends a three-pronged approach: (1) expand the criminal record to include communication about the ex-offender’s behavior while incarcerated; (2) allow web access to property managers regarding justice of the peace housing judgments; (3) and enact legislative changes that would protect the formerly incarcerated from discrimination.
Keywords: Recidivism, Housing for ex offenders Discrimination Recidivism Ex-offender, Housing for ex Prisoners, Re-entry, Incarceration, Housing discrimination
JEL Classification: D63
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation