GROUND TRUTHING RESEARCH
The goal of the research project is to assess social conditions this population faced in their communities that led to incarceration and how the criminalization of women, girls and gender non-confomring individuals correlates with trauma.
We find that women, girls and gender non conforming individuals who have been arrested and incarcerated are extremely certain to have experienced one or more of the following at home either currently or at an early age: physical abuse, sexual abuse, parental seperation due to incarceration or violence, violence, and alcohol abuse.
After being arrested they are further traumatized by having to abide by largely male prison standards and experience more trauma during incarceration. With no treatment many are left unprepared and with little alternative to recovering from trauma and incarceration.
This participatory action research report is collectively put together by the Safe Return Community and puts forth a set of recommendations to stop arresting trauma and start providing care to addressing trauma in our community of women, girls and gender non-confomring individuals.
SPEAKING TRUTH ON COMING HOME
Fulfilling health and safety needs in Richmond relies on the community creating an effective system for receiving and reintegrating residents returning from incarceration. We envision a Richmond where community members involved in the criminal justice system have strong relationships with their family and community have real opportunities for sustainable employment and a stable place to live and have access to the information and services that ensure they have the necessities for building successful lives.
INVEST IN PEOPLE NOT PRISONS
Mass incarceration presents one of the great threats to the future of American democracy and shared prosperity. At the same time, this crisis presents a tremendous opportunity to build strategic alliances that help transform our region, state, and country.
Today, more than half of California's counties are investing funding they received from the state to build or expand local jails. Contra Costa County is the first county in the state of California to defeat a proposed jail expansion and has invested in an ambitious strategy to build pathways to self-sufficiency and lifelong liberty that shuts the revolving door to prison.
We believe that there are important lessons from the organizing and movement-building experience in Contra Costa County that can help to inform a powerful movement to dismantle mass incarceration and expand freedom and opportunity to the most marginalized communities in California. It is critical to understand that the current conditions are neither natural, rational, inevitable nor sustainable. They can only be resolved by sustained confrontation and dialogue about our values and a commitment to live in a multiracial and equitable democracy. This is not a technical challenge about planning and policy, but rather a more fundamental exploration of the essential questions of racial equity, control, and power in California.
COMMUNITY REINTEGRATION AND EMPLOYMENT
For both practical and psychological reasons, gainful and steady employment after incarceration is a critical pathway toward community reintegration. A job immediately provides formerly incarcerated people with much-needed money. Without a source of income, they must rely on others for shelter, food, and other basic needs; those without family or friends to rely on may not have these needs met at all.
Under dire economic circumstances, individuals have a very real incentive to turn to illegal activities - for some, the same ones that may have landed them in prison or jail in the first place. But a job presents formerly incarcerated persons with more than just financial means. On a symbolic level, finding and holding a job sends a strong signal to one’s family and community that one is working toward a productive life outside of prison and helps rebuild trust and relationships.
HOUSING AND COMMUNITY REINTEGRATION
Finding a secure place to sleep is often the foremost concern the first night out of a correctional institution. Lack of a stable home and mailing address is not only a housing issue, but also creates obstacles to obtaining a job, developing positive relationships, and avoiding re-incarceration. Research has found that housing serves as a "platform" for successful reintegration after incarceration.
In the immediate term, the most available housing arrangement might be with a friend or family member—indeed, surveys of individuals a few months out of prison found that most stay with relatives or acquaintances in the period immediately after release. In the long term, the most suitable housing arrangement will depend on the circumstances of the individual. Formerly incarcerated persons who have healthy family relationships would greatly benefit from being able to stay with parents, siblings, partners, or children. Those struggling with substance abuse may be best supported by a well-run residential treatment program. Renting or leasing housing on the public or private market may be the best option for individuals with greater self-sufficiency. Whatever the arrangement, procuring housing is integral to the reintegration of formerly incarcerated individuals in their communities.
CURBING THE SCHOOL TO PRISON PIPELINE
The goal of this report is to identify and address issues in the West Contra Costa County community and school district in regards to the school to prison pipeline, juvenile incarceration, heavy school policing, and lack of resources and support for parents with students returning from incarceration impacted by the legal system.
This report is part of a series that shares the findings and recommendations arising from Safe Return research and engagement with thousands of community members, service providers, elected officials, community stakeholders, and others. In addition to this report, the other topics in the series are:
• Rebuilding Family and Community Ties
• Employment and Community Reintegration
• Public Benefits and Essential Reentry Services
• Access to Quality Health Services after Incarceration
• Mass Incarceration and Community Reintegration
• Community Reintegration and Assembly Bill 109 Realignment
COLLECTIVE IMPACT INSTITUTE
The Collective Impact Leadership Institute fosters leadership among adults and youth who have been directly impacted by the criminal legal system.
The Collective Impact Leadership Institute is committed to investing in the personal transformation of all of its students. The goal is to equip them with the leadership, civic engagement, and community organizing skills to thrive and be change-makers in their community.