We know that there are significant challenges associated with the reintegration of currently incarcerated people into the community and now more than ever, these challenges will be highlighted. People leaving prison already experience significant barriers during their reintegration, without the added challenges of a pandemic. Access to housing, employment and social support are key elements of a successful reintegration process. A person leaving prison in today’s world of social distancing will struggle to find an employer who is able to hire them, a landlord who is willing to rent to them, and would not be allowed to see family and friends who could support them. With unemployment on the rise, increasing housing costs and the need to physically distance ourselves, people leaving prison are facing challenges like never before.
Despite these challenges, given the public health emergency created by COVID-19, the immediate release of low risk prisoners into the community is necessary. Here’s how we can help: Community Justice Initiatives’ Stride program has been offering support to folks leaving prison for over 20 years. In the face of COVID-19, we are working hard to continue to support people virtually and on the phone in order to decrease their social isolation. We have over 50 trained volunteers ready to help and we are ready to partner with Correctional Services Canada to support these individuals in their return to our community.