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Mission Matters - June 2023

Why do White Americans have on average 13 times more wealth than African Americans? There have been government policies since the Civil War that have led to this disparity. Bread for the World has documented some of these policies. Here is their Policy # 11 contributing to the gap.

Minding the Gap: Life After Incarceration: Consequences of the War on Drugs

When people are released from jail or prison, they are hoping for a second chance. But they face more than 48,000 separate restrictions, known as collateral consequences. Some examples of lifelong penalties include being denied the right to vote in some states, being prohibited from applying to higher-paying jobs, being ineligible to participate in social safety net programs such as SNAP (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps), and other restrictions, such as being banned from getting a barber’s license. Since blacks are up to 10 times as likely as whites to be stopped, arrested, and sentenced, they are

also up to 10 times as likely to face these restrictions.

How do post-incarceration restrictions relate to the racial hunger, income, and wealth gaps?

When people are released, they are likely to be denied a second chance when seeking employment and housing—preventing them from providing for themselves and their families. Since African Americans are frequently racially profiled and are more likely to be arrested, sentenced, and incarcerated, they are also more likely to have a family member who is a returning citizen, and thus to face these obstacles.

With 600,000 people being released from prison every year, and 11 million people cycling in and out of our jails, collateral consequences not only make it harder for families and communities to avoid hunger—they affect the entire country as well. The United States will not be able to end hunger and poverty as long as returning citizens face the difficulties they do today.

Mending the Gap:

To learn more, here are some websites with information about post-incarceration:

1. Collateral Consequences: Protecting Public Safety or Encouraging Recidivism. The Heritage Foundation. March 2017.

2. Collateral Costs: Incarcerations’ Effect on Economic Mobility. The Pew Charitable Trusts. 2010.


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