WHY YOUR VOTE MATTERS
Voting is an integral piece of our freedoms as citizens. When that is threatened through disproportionate oppression and discriminatory practices, such as felon disenfranchisement, it becomes even more essential to participate.
This page is designed to provide an understanding of why engaging in the voting process is an important step to reintegration, and why it is significant in fighting recidivism and disenfranchisement.
If we use our vote to put individuals in power who promote equity, opportunity, and support for all citizens, we can move towards a more inclusive society. Throughout this page, you will information that encourages returning citizens to voice their vote and participate in elections, as well as resources needed for a successful integration into society.
WHAT IS REINTEGRATION?
Reintegration is the process of returning back to the community, neighborhood, and family after release from prison. In order to have a successful reintegration into society, it is important to access resources within the community to help get back on your feet. The most important resources to access are assistance for housing, food, employment, recovery, mental health, and family services. When a returning citizen taps into these resources, the individual has greater success of getting back to life before prison, and risk of recidivism is reduced.
WHAT IS RECIDIVIDISM?
Recidivism occurs when a person who has previously committed a crime and received sanctions or intervention, returns to criminal behavior and undergoes further intervention, such as prison time or probation. Basically, it's when someone who who was arrested in the past is arrested again and continues the cycle of criminal behavior.
A study conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics revealed that 66% of individuals released from prison were arrested again within 3 years of their release. That number jumped to 82% within 10 years of their release.
HOW VOTING IMPACTS REINTEGRATION AND RECIDIVISM
When social support systems, such as housing, employment, or mental health services are in place for returning citizens, they have greater outcomes upon release. These social support systems are largely influenced by elected officials, which is why voting is a critical step in reducing recidivism and providing community support.
STATISTICS ABOUT REINTEGRATION
Roughly 10% of all individuals reintegrating into society (up to 50% in urban areas) can face homelessness. The security of a home is a key piece in keeping those off the streets and out of harms way (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).
Around 50% of all incarcerated individuals are considered to have a substance abuse disorder. Many returning citizens face relapse or overdose within the first week of reentry. Seeking substance use assistance is critical to saving lives and finding stability (U.S. DHHS).
Formerly incarcerated individuals are 50% less likely to get a call back for an interview or an offer for a job. Finding a stable job aids in the ability to have sustainable income, which leads to more food and housing security (U.S. DHHS).
Over 50% of incarcerated individuals are suffering from a mental health condition, which contributes to homelessness and unstable employment. Accessing mental health resources can help work through struggles and dependancies that can lead to recidivism (U.S. HHS).
70% - 90% of individuals on probation or parole are facing hunger and food insecurities. Knowing where your next meal is coming from plays an important role in curbing hunger and malnutrition (National Institute of Justice).
1 in 9 children in the U.S. have at least one parent in jail. Finding adequate assistance for families will help children avoid homelessness, school trouble, behavioral problems, or mental health conditions (U.S. DHHS).
In the state of Georgia, voting rights are temporarily suspended for those convicted of a felony. Voting rights are automatically restored upon completion of prison, probation, and parole.
RETURNING CITIZEN VOTER GUIDE
FREE PDF RESOURCE
Our FREE Returning Citizen Voter Guide is designed to educate individuals on the process of reentry, with a focus on understanding and utilizing the right to vote for returning citizens.
Voting allows us to voice our opinions and elect people to positions of power who can influence the availability of reentry resources and quality of service for those resources.
This guide connects reentry with voting, tackles common myths about voting and incarceration, provides information on what is needed to vote and how to register.
HOW CAN WE HELP?
Please reach out if there is anything you need help with, you're confused about, or you need more information on. Even if we cannot directly help you, we will get you in contact with those who can.