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11/29/2021 03:17 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
https://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/Legis/CSM/showMemoPublic.cfm?chamber=H&SPick=20210&cosponId=35934
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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: June 23, 2021 11:43 AM
From: Representative Regina G. Young
To: All House members
Subject: Dignity for Incarcerated Women: Healthy Inmate Re-Entry
 
The barriers to successful reentry for individuals formally incarcerated are immense. Typical factors that can prevent a smooth and positive transition include difficulty obtaining employment, housing, and healthcare, to name just a few.  
 
Not surprisingly, for the thousands of inmates in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, re-entry is often a very stressful and anxious event. Newly released individuals are suddenly expected to resume their lives, apply for benefits, find a job, and pay for basic needs for themselves and their families, all while attempting to prevent their re-entry into the prison system. Nationally, the statistics surrounding recidivism are alarming. For example, within three years of their release, roughly 2 out of 3 people are rearrested. While the factors surrounding this statistic are complex, as policymakers, we should be doing all we can to bring our recidivism rate down and remove barriers preventing individuals that paid their debt to society from bettering their lives on the outside.  
 
While prisons are constitutionally mandated to provide health care, that responsibility ends upon release – putting inmates struggling with ailments, addiction, or mental health concerns at risk of re-lapsing and re-offending. Although the Department of Corrections and Department of Human Services currently assist every inmate in completing an application for medical assistance (MA) prior to release, more needs to be done. My legislation would codify the current MA 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 childcare.  
 
While not everyone will qualify, for the ones that do, getting this assistance can be a game changer. In fact, individuals getting ready to be released may simply not know about the array of programs that can aide them in having a successful transition. For some offenders, the support of these programs is vital to their successful reintegration in the community, reducing the likelihood they will end up again behind bars. Please join me in continuing to show support for our incarcerated constituents through this legislation.

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Introduced as HB1968