|Posted:||March 18, 2019 04:31 PM|
|From:||Representative Joanna E. McClinton|
|To:||All House members|
|Subject:||Dignity for Incarcerated Women: Healthy Inmate Re-Entry|
|For the thousands of inmates in the criminal justice system, re-entry is often one of the most stressful and anxious events they can experience. Freshly-released offenders are suddenly expected to resume their lives, apply for benefits, and pay for basic needs for themselves and their families, all while attempting to prevent their re-entry into the prison system.
Prisons are constitutionally mandated to provide health care, but that responsibility ends upon release, putting inmates struggling with ailments, addiction or mental health concerns at risk of re-lapsing. A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that former inmates are 12 times likelier to die in the two weeks following their release from prison than other residents of their state, while some offenders walk out of prison without support in place to keep them healthy or ease the transition back into the workforce.
Although the Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services currently assist every inmate in completing an application for medical assistance prior to release, I believe more needs to be done. My legislation would codify that application assistance in state law and expand it to other state and federal benefit programs, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants and Children (WIC), home heating assistance, long-term living services, and subsidized child care.
For some offenders, the support of these programs is vital to their successful reintegration in the community, providing a helping hand as they get back on their feet and reducing the likelihood they will again end up behind bars. As legislators, it is our duty to encourage the rehabilitation of our inmates and give them a second chance at life through re-entry into society. Please join me in continuing to show support for our incarcerated constituents through this legislation.
Introduced as HB1015