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Bread for the World believes that reforming our nation's criminal justice system is critical to ending hunger and poverty in the United States. Families are directly impacted when loved ones are incarcerated, especially if they are serving long prison sentences.
People returning from incarceration face daunting re-entry challenges, and the families of prisoners often struggle to make ends meet while their loved ones are unable to provide care and income. In a study by the National Institutes of Health, 91 percent of returning citizens reported being food insecure.
Hunger is one cruel but avoidable result of a legal and penal system that incarcerates millions, disproportionately people of color. In fact, U.S. poverty would have dropped by 20 percent between 1980 and 2004 if not for mass incarceration.
Bread advocates for legislation that reduces mandatory minimum sentences, provides additional opportunities for educational and vocational training for those who are incarcerated, and expands access to re-entry services for the formerly incarcerated and their families.
The reforms should be aimed at:
More specifically, Bread advocates for providing more opportunities for formerly incarcerated people to find work, making safety-net programs available to them, and encouraging their efforts to be with and support their families. If some of the legal and social barriers are removed for returning citizens, Bread believes hunger and poverty will decrease.
By Jordan Teague, senior international policy advisor
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