Anything worth doing is hard, but for individuals attempting to reenter society after incarceration, doing worthwhile things can be even harder. Barriers to healthcare, restrictions on housing and employment options, and a lack of education and support among the community are just a few of the obstacles faced by men and women coming out of prison.
An individual doesn’t overcome them by accident; success is always the product of hard work, determination, and a dedicated support system for their journey. Having the right people in their corner who will see their value, advocate for them, and walk side by side can make a lifechanging difference for an individual, their family, and the entire community.
This is why The Way Back provides unparalleled, transformative reentry support to formerly incarcerated individuals to help them go from crisis to self-sufficiency. Incarceration doesn’t define a life—but a second chance can.
There is a lot the average person does not know about life in prison and the barriers to reentry.
Learning about these challenges can help grow our capacity for compassion and enable us to support these men and women in critical areas of need.
Did you know? Some prisons don’t have air conditioning.
Many prisons in the State of Texas do not provide air conditioning for their inmates. More than two-thirds of the state’s 100 prisons don’t have air conditioning in most living areas, putting tens of thousands of men and women in increasingly dangerous conditions. The lack of proper cooling systems has led to heat-related deaths among prisoners and prison officers. Prisoners have been forced to sit in swelteringly hot cells with no access to cool water, showers, or air conditioning.
These deaths have cost millions of taxpayer dollars in wrongful death and civil rights lawsuits—in one such case the cost of the legal battle to block air conditioning in an aging prison was $7 million, while the actual installation costs were only $4 million.
A few years ago the Texas House passed a measure to incrementally install air conditioning in all prisons by 2029, capping total costs at $300 million. Lawmakers didn’t provide the money, however, and the Senate never took up the bill. This year, the House had been pushing to include $545 million—a hefty sum, though a relative drop in the bucket in the state budget—to cover two phases of a four-phase plan to install air conditioning in all Texas prisons by 2031. But the Senate dashed those hopes, offering no money for that purpose.
The health of those in prison and those who work in prisons is a humanitarian concern and deserves compassion—and compassionate solutions.
Did you know? Those reentering from prison face limited access to physical, behavioral, and mental healthcare.
Dallas ranks in the bottom three percent of cities in the country for health insurance rates. This makes it the second least insured large city in the country—Houston, Texas takes the number one spot. In fact, Texas has nine out of ten of the country’s worst citywide health insurance rates.
If citizens without convictions in Texas face challenges in getting health insurance and proper healthcare, imagine how much more difficult it can be for a formerly incarcerated individual.
Without health insurance, many individuals go without the physical and mental healthcare they need to stay healthy and well. This can lead to compounding issues that build up over time to create much more serious health needs or emergencies.
Did you know? Being incarcerated can make it very difficult to find a job.
Most of us are aware that a conviction makes getting a good job very difficult. What’s more, any of the jobs available for someone with a prison record are low-skill jobs in food service, wholesale, maintenance, or manufacturing.
These industries come with few opportunities for advancement or additional training and education, as well as fewer benefits. Opportunities for jobs in public and private job sectors can be challenging to get as well because former offenders are unable to obtain professional and technical licenses.
Most states allow employers to refuse jobs to individuals who were previously arrested but never even convicted of a crime. Even when a job is secured, many previously incarcerated individuals are paid lower wages than they could have earned before incarceration. Some businesses have capitalized on the vulnerability of these circumstances and have exploited those with conviction histories by offering them lower wages and fewer working protections.
Poverty and hopelessness are massive factors in recidivism (the tendency to repeat an offense or relapse into criminal behavior). If an individual cannot find employment, housing, or health insurance, is it any wonder that a feeling of desperation may set in?
What you can do
Criminal conviction limits employment opportunities, public housing assistance, and social services. Even a minor criminal record creates substantial barriers and has far-reaching effects on families and communities. At The Way Back, we believe in giving our clients the support they need to achieve their greatest future potential.
By walking together with compassionate understanding and a desire to be a part of positive change, we can help someone overcome obstacles and create a brighter tomorrow. You can be a part of that second chance for someone. You can volunteer your time and services, or you can support The Way Back with a donation. Even a small, monthly recurring gift helps.
We are here to empower individuals, restore families, and create safer communities. Help us be part of the change by supporting The Way Back today.