Over the past several decades the national experience of crime and incarceration has fluctuated dramatically. Crime rose between the 1960s and 1980s, but has declined since 1990. Incarceration began rising sharply in the 1980s and peaked in the 2000s before starting to fall.
The high rates of incarceration over the last three-and-a-half decades have resulted in a large population of formerly incarcerated individuals across the United States. For these Americans, it can be challenging to come home and integrate into their communities while also trying to reenter the labor force.
Successful reintegration is not just a concern for those who return from prison: it is also a matter of public safety and economic necessity. Accordingly, a criminal justice system that emphasizes incarceration but does not support the journey home does a disservice to the formerly incarcerated as well as to the public. Reducing recidivism is critical for community safety; providing effective rehabilitation and skill development for those incarcerated and formerly incarcerated is critical to strengthening households and the economy.