For Immediate Release: May 13, 2021
Contact: Renee Alves, 559-916-5939
Charleston, WV – Across the United States, citizens returning from prisons and jails face numerous obstacles as they reintegrate into their communities, including finding steady employment and stable housing, obtaining reliable transportation, and navigating the requirements of community supervision. The challenge in overcoming these obstacles is heightened in West Virginia, a rural state with limited access to transportation and living wage jobs, as well as little coordinated reentry support among state and local agencies and nonprofits.
Our new report, The State of Reentry and Barriers for Returning Citizens in West Virginia, written in partnership with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), explores these reentry challenges, as well as the efforts being made by community groups to help returning citizens successfully transition back into mainstream society. This report, which includes two distinct parts, was co-authored by WVCBP’s criminal justice policy analyst, Quenton King, and the director of AFSC West Virginia’s Economic Justice Project, Rick Wilson.
Part 1 of the report, by King, focuses on key issues that formerly incarcerated people have long faced in West Virginia and provides policy recommendations that could improve the reentry process across the state. “To reduce recidivism and to provide returning citizens with the best chances at success, West Virginia should invest taxpayer funding in a coordinated reentry support network,” King states.
Part 2, written by Wilson, provides a closer look into the lives of people who have or are currently experiencing reentry or who work to make reentry a less daunting task for our state’s returning citizens. To write this portion of the report, Wilson interviewed a number of people directly impacted by incarceration and directly involved in reentry service provision, and he relies heavily on quotes from these individuals.
Wilson states, “If West Virginia is going to move in the direction of healing justice, this will require the action and voices of directly impacted people and their allies. Fortunately, in a remarkably brief period of time amid a challenging political environment and a global pandemic, individuals and groups that didn’t know each other a short time ago have come together to make a difference. These networks and coalitions of Reentry Councils, recovery groups, faith communities, advocacy organizations, and individuals have created the basis for long-term change.”
You can find the full report here.