Helping People Transition from Incarceration to Society During a Pandemic

Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 375-2020

The Justice Collaborative

Data for Progress

Health in Justice Action Lab

10 Pages Posted: 22 May 2020 Last revised: 3 Nov 2020

See all articles by Sterling Johnson

Sterling Johnson

Angels in Motion

Leo Beletsky

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences; Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health, UCSD School of Medicine

Date Written: May 12, 2020

Abstract

The First 72+, a nonprofit in New Orleans that works with people reentering society after incarceration, keeps an office directly across from the New Orleans Parish Jail. This makes it easier for people who are released from jail to walk across the street and immediately receive a helping hand. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, all interactions must happen at least 6 feet apart. So, there’s a phone in a mailbox and a list of mentors to call. But the residents and mentors at First 72+ were insistent on one thing — those reentering society needed help now more than ever.

In the best of times, the reentry process is extraordinarily difficult and emotionally taxing. Returning people are rarely truly free, as they typically must navigate a long list of onerous rules. This may include electronic monitoring, housing restrictions, and curfews. They must also struggle against the sanctioned stigma of a criminal record, restricting education, employment, and housing opportunities. Since healthcare, substance use treatment, and other support services are utterly lacking behind bars, reentry is a time of extreme physical and mental health risk.

Keywords: reentry, incarceration, coronavirus

Suggested Citation

Johnson, Sterling and Beletsky, Leo, Helping People Transition from Incarceration to Society During a Pandemic (May 12, 2020). Northeastern University School of Law Research Paper No. 375-2020, The Justice Collaborative, Data for Progress, Health in Justice Action Lab, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3608298

Sterling Johnson

Angels in Motion ( email )

Leo Beletsky (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - School of Law; Northeastern University - Bouvé College of Health Sciences ( email )

416 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
United States
617-373-5540 (Phone)

Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health, UCSD School of Medicine ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
MC 0507
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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