For Immediate Release
Dec. 16, 2020
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Durham, N.C. — The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) has launched a new criminal justice reform initiative to better prepare individuals who have been released from federal or state prison to navigate the re-entry process. A key component of this initiative is the “Your First 48 Toolkit,” a guided resource that connects formerly incarcerated individuals with the resources and service providers they will initially need to help conquer the barriers to a successful re-entry.
The toolkit promotes social and economic independence through relationship building, strong community involvement, education and public support. It outlines key steps for everything from getting a driver’s license and finding housing to applying for financial aid to help pay for college or vocational training.
An average of 3,351 individuals were released from North Carolina prisons each month in 2019, and more than 1.7 million people in the state have a criminal record.
“Returning to your community with a criminal record can be an uphill battle due to the collateral consequences of incarceration that limit access to employment, housing, healthcare and education,” said Sala Abdallah, Southern Coalition for Social Justice Community Organizer and one-time offender. “Before leaving prison, I took a re-entry course, but I was given unreliable information that led to many disappointments upon my release. That experience inspired me to want to find ways to create a more positive release experience for others, and this toolkit is a good first step towards that goal.”
Nationally, there are nearly 38,000 laws that create economic and social obstacles for individuals re-entering society. Additionally, 86% of employers consider a person’s criminal record when making hiring decisions, making it difficult for formerly incarcerated individuals to obtain gainful employment.
“This toolkit underscores how imperative it is to quickly connect with the correct resources once released from prison,” said Marcus Pollard, Counsel for Justice System Reform with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. “Our hope is that individuals can use this to have the correct resources, get some form of security and develop a solid plan.”
While it contains information and advice relevant to any individual being released from incarceration, the initial “Your First 48 Toolkit” focuses on resources available in Durham County. In the coming months, additional toolkits focused on resources in other parts of the state will be released. SCSJ has also created a video to supplement the toolkit. The video, the toolkit and additional resources can be found online at southerncoalition.org/yourfirst48.