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Prison Policy Initiative Report Shows How Criminal History Influences Experiences of Homelessness

Prison Policy Initiative

Nowhere to Go: Homelessness Among Formerly Incarcerated People looks at the estimated 5 million formerly incarcerated individuals living in the United States. This report dives into the breakdown and impact of the statistics identified in a survey conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. It measures this population’s experience of homelessness, housing insecurity (which is broken down into sheltered and unsheltered housing options) and marginal housing (rooming houses, hotels or motels).  

The report includes many major findings, not limited to the discovery that:   

  • Demographic experiences of homelessness and housing instability vary greatly, with “women [being] more likely to be homeless than formerly incarcerated men…but men [being] less likely to be sheltered than women.” Racial breakdowns show that Black women face the most prominent barriers to housing and services, with rates four times higher than white men and two times higher than Black men. 
  • Out of every 10,000 formerly incarcerated individuals, 203 were identified as homeless and 570 were housing insecure.   
  • Excluding formerly incarcerated people from safe and stable housing can “reduce access to healthcare services, make it harder to secure a job, and prevents this population from accessing educational programs”.  

The report discusses the negative, “revolving door” problem faced by the formerly incarcerated population in the U.S. Once they exit the criminal justice system, finding services and stable housing (which correlate positively with successful re-entry) are significantly harder to access, leading to high rates of recidivism and large prison populations. 

Click here to read the full report.


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