Returning Citizen Stimulus program provides cash assistance to formerly incarcerated
Giving financial support to people getting out of prison is having a positive effect on their lives. Last April, formerly incarcerated people in 28 cities in six states across the country began receiving an average of $2,750 over three months.
Californians are part of the program through For the People, a nonprofit organization that advocates for reduced sentences for people serving what have been deemed unduly long sentences.
One of the success stories is in Stockton, Calif., were 125 low-income people received $500 a month for two years – no strings attached. That project was initiated by a former mayor, Michael Tubbs, a frequent San Quentin visitor.
The Returning Citizen Stimulus began making cash payments to 10,500 formerly incarcerated people who did not qualify for federal pandemic relief because they lacked recent work histories, New York Times reporter Patricia Leigh Brown wrote on July 7.
The program, started by The Center for Employment Opportunities, a New York-based nonprofit group, also provides paid transitional employment, job counseling, and related services for formerly incarcerated people around the country.
With 650,000 people released from U.S. prisons each year, the program affects less than 2% of the formerly incarcerated.
One in three American adults who have criminal records also suffer other “collateral consequences” that stem from incarceration, such as restrictions on housing and employment, according to the Times article. These restrictions directly relate to recidivism, studies show.
The Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law reports that many people get out of prison without savings or other financial resources. Annually, they earn on average around half of what people who have never been incarcerated earn.
According to the Brennan study, people who are imprisoned as young adults will have lost an average of $484,000 in earnings by the end of their working lives.
An ongoing analysis suggests that the cash payments have had a positive effect on employment; 42% of recipients found employment within five months.