January 28, 2022

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‘How are we even citizens?’ How the formerly incarcerated continue to be punished after prison

For most formerly incarcerated people, leaving prison doesn’t mark the end of their punishment.
That was the case of Jay Jordan who signed a plea deal and spent seven years in prison. On his release, he learned that ‘collateral consequences’ –rules about where a formerly incarcerated person can work or what they can do–would keep him from a lot of jobs and everyday activities that most people take for granted.

“I cannot even volunteer at my own kid’s school. We just bought a house, I can’t even join the HOA [Home Owner’s Association]. I can never coach my son’s little league team, I can’t ride on the bus with him on field trips,” said Jordan, who is the national director of the TimeDone — a national campaign to organize people living with past convictions. Jordan joined a panel of fellow experts on a "Searching for Justice" event hosted on Dec. 2 by PBS NewsHour digital anchor Nicole Ellis.
“It’s about my humanity. It’s about the humanity of the people.”

Jordan said about a quarter of jobs in the economy, including the ones that require some form of professional licensing, are out of reach for the formerly incarcerated.

“How are we even citizens? How am I full citizen if I’m locked out of the economy? I’m locked out of society and I’m locked out of my child’s life,” Jordan said.

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