Is there a relationship between gentrification and recidivism?

Today, roughly 1.5 million people are incarcerated in America. And these numbers only reflect the incarcerated population, not those who are on the inside and haven’t been sentenced.

I’m going to make an assertion that will be tough for some people to swallow: if the process of preparing people to return to society started while people are incarcerated, rates of recidivism would drop. In my opinion, there will be no sustainable drop in rates of recidivism, until we embrace effective reentry strategies as antidotes for mass incarceration.

The success of people returning to their homes after release or serving time is critical to the reentry process and the policies that govern it. Folks leaving prison face challenges in terms of integrating themselves as new residents in a different neighborhood and obtaining housing, employment and education. Recidivism of those who are released from prison depends on many different factors, but the upward movement of gentrified neighborhoods is something criminal justice experts haven’t deeply considered before.

What is gentrification? Gentrification is the mass movement of affluent people into poorer neighborhoods. In the last twenty years, cities across the United States have been experiencing major revitalization projects. Neighborhoods that were once filled with dilapidated buildings and dangerous slums were destroyed or converted into new gated communities where wealthy individuals buy condos or rent high rise apartments.

It is my opinion that the process of gentrification profoundly impacts individuals like me and my community. If you think about it, most folks are returning back to low-income neighborhoods with high unemployment rates and high crime rates. New prosperity and higher incomes can sometimes outweigh the costs associated with gentrification.

What are its costs? Increased prices in residential housing can cause rent hikes for residents, making it unaffordable for them to continue residing there.

So I have 3 suggestions to address this issue:

If we are to improve the success rates of people returning home from incarceration, we must implement broad, far-reaching,local and state fair chance housing and employment policies.

If we are to reduce crime rates, we must address the conditions that perpetuate high levels of poverty and inequality.

If we approach the root causes of crime from a holistic and comprehensive perspective, removing the disparities in race, class and education we will inevitably see a reduction in crime.

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Writer | Formerly Incarcerated

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