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Three teen girls smiling and looking at camera. Racial Equity & Social Justice challenge logo in bottom-left corner.
WEEK 3: CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Today's topic: After Prison
Life after prison can often be just as difficult as time spent behind bars. Most former convicts struggle with culture shock, mental health issues, disenfranchisement, unemployment and a whole host of other problems upon release. Today we will learn more about some of those issues and the struggle the formerly incarcerated face when trying to re-engage in society. 
WE CHALLENGE YOU TO TAKE...
After release from prison, former inmates hope to rebuild their lives on the outside. However, a complex web of laws and rules limit their access to employment, housing, education and other benefits necessary for a successful transition back into the community. Watch this short video about the challenges facing ex-offenders and the impact of these barriers on ex-offenders and on our society. 
Maryam Henderson-Uloho was convicted of obstruction of justice and she was sentenced to 25 years in a Louisiana prison. When she was released she felt dehumanized. Watch the incredible story of how she turned her life around - and continues to support other female ex-offenders. 
Dr. Yusef Salaam was just 15-years-old when he, along with four others, was wrongfully convicted in the 1989 Central Park jogger case. He spent nearly seven years in prison. Chanda Baker Smith of the Minneapolis Foundation sat down with Yusef for a one-on-one conversation about the power of owning your narrative, the scars of lost time, and how to get up and move forward after being knocked down.  
Formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of over 27% - higher than the total U.S. unemployment rate during any historical period, including the Great Depression. Read this article which outlines the barriers formerly incarcerated people face when looking for unemployment. 
ACT | CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM WEEK
Level I: Think about whether calling the police is the best response in any situation before automatically making the call. Compile and keep a list of local hotlines and services that may be better equipped to respond to situations involving mental health, substance abuse, homelessness or other social problems. Add these resources to your phone contact list and use them when appropriate.
Level II: Research how the communities that you are a part of interact with police systems: your City, your State, your children's school, your workplace. Do these communities have disparities in arrest rates or incarceration? Do these communities have policies that prevent over-policing or excessive use of force? Are health policies that meet the needs of female inmates in place? Write a letter to the leaders of your communities and share your concerns.
Level III: Find a local reentry program that helps formerly incarcerated individuals successfully transition to their community upon release and get involved by volunteering or donating in support of their work.
Please join our work to eliminate racism, empower women and strengthen families and communities. Your contribution will support our racial justice initiatives and invest in the success of adults and youth overcoming disparities in housing, employment and educational achievement. Thank you for helping us continue to provide life-changing services.
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