How Incarceration Rates Places Those Facing Homelessness at an Unfair

People who face homelessness can experience a cycle living in prisons and on the streets, which places these individuals at a major disadvantage. As more and more cities criminalize homelessness, it becomes difficult for the unhoused to live without facing charges. Those with a criminal record may be denied from shelters and potential job opportunities. As a result, breaking the cycle of homelessness becomes nearly impossible. 

The criminalization of homelessness has been an ongoing obstacle for the unhoused. Many cities are making sleeping on the streets, digging through the trash, and setting up a tent in public illegal. Such activities are necessary for individuals experiencing homelessness to survive. The criminalization of homelessness only exacerbates the issue; Those with a ciminial record are five times more likely to be unemployed than someone without a criminal record. Additionally, homeless shelters are more likely to deny entry to those that have been incarcerated in the past. These barriers inhibit individuals’ ability to fully reintegrate into society.  

Additionally, those who have previously been incarcared face a higher chance of becoming homeless after their release from prison. A study done by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness focused on 17,226 people between January 2016 and January 2019. The study found that 8,187 of the individuals in homeless shelters were previously incarcerated. It was also discovered that 1 in 5 people who used homeless shelters were released from prison within the past 3 years.

Making a positive change for individuals who are unable to break the cycle of homelessness is not an easy task, but it can be done. It is vital that we give those experiencing homelessness a equal opportunities. An individual who is considered a “criminal” for sleeping on the street should not have to spend decades stuck in a cycle of homelessness due to their record. When is comes to relieving homelessness, any help is welcomed. Consider donating, volunteering, voting, or advocating for change. It is important educate others and understand why the viscous cycle of homelessness persists. Destigmatizing the topic can hopefully lead to the removal of laws that criminalize homelessness and place so may at a disadvantage. 


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