Why the effects of incarceration last long after leaving prison
There are over 44,000 laws across the country that prevent people with criminal records from fully participating in society, says professor and MacArthur award winner, Reuben Miller.
Correction facilities in the U.S. are intended to rehabilitate citizens. But we know from surveys, direct reports and recidivism rates that people are infrequently healed as they re-enter society.
Many individuals report feeling pain and struggle long after their sentence is up. A few years ago, professor Reuben Miller documented some of these stories in his book, “Halfway Home: Race, Punishment, and the Afterlife of Mass Incarceration.”
That text was filled with statistics and poetic stanzas about the pain we inflict on people not just during incarceration, but long after. In writing the book — which recently helped him win a MacArthur Fellowship — Miller drew on his time as a volunteer chaplain at Chicago’s Cook County Jail and experiences with his own brother’s incarceration.
“19,000 laws, policies or sanctions prevent people with records from getting jobs. 1,000 prevent them from getting housing. 4,000 prevent their civic participation.” — Reuben Miller, professor and MacArthur Fellow
Listen: What life looks like for many people returning from prison.
Professor Reuben Miller is a sociologist, criminologist, and social worker at the University of Chicago. In his work, he explores what life looks like for citizens returning from prison and is now researching the moral worlds of people who society deems violent.
Miller says there are thousands of policies that prevent people with a criminal record from leading full lives.
“19,000 laws, policies or sanctions prevent people with records from getting jobs. 1,000 prevent them from getting housing. 4,000 prevent their civic participation,” says Miller.
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