New Report Finds that Many Families of Inmates Struggle to Meet Basic Needs

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Families with an incarcerated family member struggle with basic needs such as food and housing, finds a survey by the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Forward Together and other community organizations that work with imprisoned individuals, the New York Times reports. 

According to the report, almost two-thirds of such families struggle to meet their basic needs, including about half that cannot afford adequate food and housing. The cost associated with having an imprisoned family member, including traveling for visits, and court fees and fines, etc., puts more than one-third of families into debt.

The impact of having an incarcerated family member, often a mother or father who had been the primary breadwinner, is often overlooked, the report notes. On top of that, even after the family member is released, having a criminal conviction means that a family loses eligibility for government-subsidized housing. In addition, former inmates cannot compete for federal student grants or loans, and most find it difficult to find good jobs.

Quoting the study, the Times notes that some 26 percent of the more than 700 former inmates surveyed were still unemployed five years after serving their time. The majority of those who did find jobs found only part-time or temporary positions.

This shows the link between incarceration and poverty, Azadeh Zohrabi, national campaigner for the Ella Baker Center, told the Times.

“Incarceration weakens the social fabric and disrupts the social ecology of entire communities through the way it disrupts families’ economic stability,” Zohrabi told the Times. “Often, it leaves it broken beyond repair.”

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Source: The Root | BREANNA EDWARDS

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