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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Gov. Whitmer endorses Kamala Harris for president, says she's not leaving Michigan; Grilled by lawmakers on the Trump assassination attempt, Secret Service director says, 'We failed;' Teachers rally at national convention in Houston; Opioid settlement fund fuels anti-addiction battle in Indiana; Nonprofit agency says corporate donations keep programs going.

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Democrats consolidate support behind Vice President Harris, Republicans threaten legal action over changes to the presidential ticket, and a possible bipartisan consensus forms on the failure of the Secret Service to protect former President Trump.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Overcoming barriers to successful re-entry in Alabama

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024   

Alabama has a goal to reduce recidivism by 50% by 2030 but a recent report from the Prison Fellowship warned state-level barriers to critical needs may hinder progress.

Every year, thousands of men and women are released from state prisons and jails. However, despite repaying their debt to society, they encounter roadblocks to successful reintegration. The so-called "collateral consequences" affect their access to housing, education and more.

Kate Trammell, vice president of legal and advocacy for the Prison Fellowship, emphasized the need to address obstacles to empower returning citizens to build better lives.

"One of the first things that policymakers or voters should be thinking about, about their neighbors with a criminal record, is how can we help ensure that they aren't prevented from accessing safe, affordable housing?" Trammell urged. "A second thing is, how can we ensure that they aren't prevented from accessing meaningful jobs?"

Barriers exist on local, state and federal levels and their wide reach restricts access to assistance programs such as SNAP. In Alabama alone, advocates said there are 824 barriers impeding an individual's journey toward a second chance.

About 37% of state-level obstacles are related to job licensing and can play a role in keeping people from finding jobs with advancement potential. Trammell highlighted the significance of employment in securing a stable future and underscores how addressing reentry cannot only benefit individuals but communities as well.

"Research shows that just having a stable job by itself can have a deterrent effect on future criminal behavior," Trammell pointed out. "That's really significant if we're thinking about how to make sure our neighborhoods are safe and strong."

At the state level, work is underway to improve the state's reentry plan. Fifteen agencies have created a plan to support Alabama's reentry strategy by simplifying the process of getting state IDs, improving access to behavioral health and addiction treatment and increasing participation in job training.

The Prison Fellowship reports about 70 million Americans with criminal records face systematic barriers to second-chance opportunities.


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