The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Since the inception of the War on Drugs and “tough on crime” policies in the 1980s, the U.S. prison population grew from 300,000 to over 2 million.
Today, a staggering 7 million Americans are currently behind bars or under the supervision of probation or parole; the vast majority of these individuals are people of color. Mass incarceration not only locks people behind physical bars but also create long lasting barriers that restrict their economic mobility and stability in the future. Once released, individuals face legalized discrimination in housing and employment, and social ostracization.
Our Transition programs support TAY and older adults who are coming home after a period of incarceration in San Francisco and Alameda counties. They combine restorative justice, cognitive behavioral therapy, artistic creation, and family systems work to support the transition from incarceration to home.
Our case managers work with clients to co-create a customized plan for short-term goals around housing, work, education, family and therapeutic support. While completing the plan, clients are encouraged to work toward personal empowerment and healing in order to be well-prepared for life on the outside.
Our Women’s Rising and Young Men’s Reentry program offer gender-responsive programs for transitional age youth exiting San Francisco jails, using a youth development lens. Women Rising also includes Rising Voices, an arts-based theater component that allows clients to express themselves for further healing and self-reflection. We are also partners in the No Violence Alliance (NoVA), where we provide intensive wraparound services for people with multiple arrests in San Francisco.
At a time in my life when I was surrounded by chaos and insanity, Women Rising/Rising Voices gave me a safe place to escape to where I was welcomed by young women who were facing the same struggles as I was. Many times, this was the only positive thing I did all week. When I was ready to change, they guided me, helped me, and loved me through it. If it wasn’t for the care and love that my Director and Case Manager showed, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. – Adriana
Our Alameda County Restorative Reentry program focuses on restorative justice-based groups, reentry case management, and system navigation support for TAY and adults coming home from jail or prison. This work includes our Building Beats healing circles, where our clients and staff work together to use music to unpack concepts and emotions related to their healing. Then, as a group, they explore topics like historical trauma and the male role belief system.
The healing circles are changing the mindsets of people who probably don’t have older people who talk to them and believe in them. – AJ
In 2021, Community Works launched the country’s first guaranteed income pilot for people coming home after incarceration, thanks to funding from the Remy Fund for Racial and Environmental Justice and COVID-19: A Just East Bay Response Fund at the East Bay Community Foundation.
The program will provide individuals with an income of $500 per month for at least 12 months. The money is unconditional: there are no work requirements and no restrictions on how the money can be spent. The target population will consist primarily of Black and Brown adults who are returning home from prison or jail and reside in the Bay Area. Each participant will have access to a peer advocate can link participants to financial coaches, business incubators, networking events, or other financial planning supports that allow participants to actualize their goals. Unconditional cash assistance offers people dignity and self-determination: an income floor to achieve stability and the autonomy to define and build their life on their terms.