Home > Journals > LAWREVIEW > Vol. 95 > No. 4 (2022)
Race, Class, and Second Chances: The Impact of Multiple Identities on Reentry and Reintegration
Race, class, and other identities directly impact the process of reentry and the successful reintegration back into society for individuals who have had prior involvement in the criminal justice system. Collectively, persons convicted of a crime face numerous legal barriers that interfere with or prevent successful reentry and reintegration back into society, such as being prevented from securing housing and obtaining employment among other collateral consequences. For many, the process of reentry and reintegration is made even more difficult because of prior discriminatory policies and practices that were based solely on demographic factors, some of which are innate or immutable traits and others which are due solely because of circumstance.
Persons with prior criminal justice system involvement comprise a broad and diverse group of individuals. While all persons with prior criminal justice involvement face a host of formal legal barriers and challenges that impede the process of reentry thus hampering their successful reintegration back into society, all do not bear the same social stigma or face the same impact of multiple identities on their reintegration. As a group, individuals with prior criminal justice involvement are legally prevented from exercising the rights and privileges afforded to all citizens depending on where they are returning upon release.
The deprivation or denial of the rights and privileges associated with citizenship is based solely upon the status of being a convicted person. Within the sub-group of persons with prior criminal justice involvement, however, race and socioeconomic status (or class) make the process of reentry and reintegration even more difficult. Individuals with prior criminal justice involvement that are either black, poor, or a combination thereof have to overcome challenges and obstacles that were systemically created and systematically enforced long before they entered the criminal justice system. The processes of reentry and reintegration are made even more difficult because of the historical and contemporary discrimination and marginalization of these multiple identities within the criminal justice system and in society writ large. Preexisting societal conditions that operated before persons entered the criminal justice system--that is, race-based and class-based policies that are beyond their control at a macro-level, which discriminate against people of color and poor people--are institutionalized and thus negatively impact the ability of these persons to reenter and reintegrate society successfully.
Civil Rights and Discrimination Commons, Law and Race Commons, Law Enforcement and Corrections Commons