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Note - The Missing Pieces in Federal Reentry Courts: A Model for Success


With incarceration rates at an all-time high and over-criminalization rampant, there is a growing need for programs aimed at rehabilitating ex-offenders following release from prison. These programs are critical to com-batting the collateral consequences associated with imprisonment. Perhaps the most significant of those collateral consequences ex-offenders face are housing and employment. More specifically, due to ex-offenders’ criminal histories, landlords may refuse to rent spaces to ex-offenders, and employers may discriminate against them. Although there has been significant progress in the area of employment by way of “Ban the Box” legislation, which prohibits employers from requiring applicants to disclose criminal history, there is still much progress to be made.

There is a growing trend toward combating collateral consequences and assisting ex-offenders in successfully rehabilitating following release from prison through a collaboration between courts and correctional institutions. Specifically, local, state, and federal reentry courts are cropping up throughout the country with the goal of assisting ex-offenders in securing housing and employment, and addressing additional issues ex-offenders face following reentry into the community. While all of these programs are a step in the right direction toward providing necessary assistance to ex-offenders, some are more effective than others, and Philadelphia’s Federal Reentry Court has proven to be especially successful.