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After spending time behind bars, how do formerly incarcerated Americans get back on their feet?
Amna Nawaz and the PBS NewsHour present “Searching for Justice: Life After Lockup,” a documentary that follows four people who spent time incarcerated and reveals the challenges they faced after they were released. The documentary is part of the NewsHour’s ongoing reporting on the barriers that formerly incarcerated people face once they are released — reconnecting with family and friends, finding a place to live, holding a job and staying out of jail or prison.
Watch “Searching for Justice: Life After Lockup” on Wednesday, April 13, at 10 p.m. Eastern in the player above.
The U.S. has the largest prison population in the world — with more than 2 million people behind bars, according to the World Prison Brief, a database of statistics compiled and maintained by the Institute for Crime & Justice Policy Research at Birkbeck, University of London. The country also has the highest prison population rate, with 629 per 100,000 people incarcerated.
Once incarcerated people are released, they face restrictions on their full re-entry into society. The National Inventory of Collateral Consequences of Conviction includes more than 44,000 laws and policies across the U.S. that impose limits on people who have been convicted of a crime.
After incarcerated people are released, research also shows that recidivism — the likelihood that someone who has been convicted of a crime and released from incarceration will be arrested again and/or re-offend — is a concern. Approximately two-thirds of people formerly incarcerated in state prisons were re-arrested within three years, according to data compiled by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
“We’ve taught ourselves to be afraid of people who’ve broken the law,” Reuben Jonathan Miller, an associate professor at the University of Chicago who studies the lives of formerly incarcerated people, said in the documentary. “We govern through fear.”
View PBS NewsHour’s complete Searching for Justice series here.
Dan Cooney is the PBS NewsHour's Social Media Producer/Coordinator.
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