Second chances — An effective community safety strategy

Involvement in the justice system can create life-long barriers for people – even after they have paid their debt to society. People with a prior arrest or conviction can experience challenges to obtaining employment and housing. Without the stability provided by employment and housing, people more easily fall back into past poor behaviors.

Removing barriers to employment

Michigan’s unemployment rate is at a historic low and many businesses are suffering from a shortage of qualified employees. Yet, the unemployment rate for people on parole is 67 percent. Many of the 10,000 people paroled annually, even those with low-level nonviolent convictions, are legally banned from employment in many industries.

An arrest or conviction history should not result in a lifetime of barriers. People with arrest and conviction histories represent a talented workforce for many employers desperately seeking skilled employees.

Safe & Just Michigan advances strategies such as Clean Slate, which removes certain convictions from a person’s record, and decreasing employment licensing restrictions. We also work with business leaders statewide that support smart justice policies and lead by example by employing formerly incarcerated people.

Improving access to jobs is a smart public safety strategy. Jobs help people create a better future for themselves, their families, and the community.

Seeking safe and affordable housing

Safe and affordable housing is critical for people returning to the community after a period of incarceration. Despite this essential basic need, people with arrest and conviction histories face extensive barriers to housing.

Most government agencies require a background check for public housing applicants, often resulting in denials based on a conviction history. Families can also face eviction, if family members with conviction histories reside in the home.

Without safe and secure housing, people are at greater risk for criminal justice involvement and victimization. Stable housing reduces the risk of reoffending, and without it the likelihood of incarceration or re-incarceration increases.

Safe & Just Michigan knows everyone needs to have a place to call home. We support the work of organizations such as Michigan Coalition Against Homeless to create greater access to safe and affordable housing opportunities for all of Michiganders.

Homecoming: Opening doors to jobs & housing for justice-involved people

Watch the recorded videos from the Homecoming Summit hosted with the Michigan Coalition Against Homelessness and Still Standing on November 14, 2019.

Media Coverage

Watch SJM Outreach Director Troy Rienstra discuss housing and employment barriers with Kiyerra Lake at WLNS Channel 6 News.