How the bail bag helps former incarcerates get back on their feet
The modern American justice system turned out to be exactly that – plus a system than a benevolent entity of justice. It is run by for-profit companies that care little for those who re-enter the company, all in the hope that they will become returning customers. In the state of California, the average parolee released from prison leaves with $ 200 in public funds, mountains of time-consuming paperwork and the clothes they walked in. For those without a safety net like family and friends to rely on, this may seem like little more than a ticket back behind bars.
According to a 2005 to study conducted by the US Department of Justice (this type of study is always overdue because it spans years), 67.8% of the 404,638 state prisoners released in 30 states were arrested in the three years after release and more than 75% within five years. The first indications are that these numbers will only get worse – due to rising homelessness across the country and growing economic inequality. According to Prison policy initiative, the rate of homelessness is particularly high among those recently released from prison, as well as those who have been incarcerated more than once, hitting people of color and women the hardest.
Without a strong support system, the challenge of successful reintegration into society is immense. Corn Alia kruz – actress, producer, activist and founder of the Bail Bag Foundation – is doing her part to change that. His work hopes to fill in the gaps, in a very practical sense, when the justice system lets down those awaiting trial or parole.
Surety bag foundation is a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization that helps formerly incarcerated people successfully reintegrate into society by providing every parolee with a gym bag filled with essentials.
âImagine that scenario,â Kruz says, âyou are released on a hot summer day in the outfit you wore when you were arrested four years ago. Then you have to take a two hour bus across town to get a phone that doesn’t require a credit check. The cost of this trip plus the phone is around $ 110, followed by a sandwich on the side for $ 8. On top of that, a $ 60 a night motel. Now you have $ 22 to last until you find a job, work it for two weeks, then wait for a check .. while returning to work in the same four year adjustment. And this assuming that you have found a job the first week of your absence! ”
Each bag consists of a full tracksuit, a pair of sneakers, dress shoes, casual dress pants, collared shirt, undershirts, boxer shorts, socks, clothing products. essential hygiene and a journal costing around $ 300. By donating these essentials, Kruz hopes that Bail Bag can help people get back on their feet faster and avoid recurrence.
âPersonally, I shop for each of these people and tell you that the expression on their faces when they see that someone has specifically thought of them is worth it,â Kruz says. âI understand, a lot of these people have committed crimes. No one is trying to victimize them. But releasing people in such conditions is unworthy of their dignity and likely to create conditions similar to those that led them to leave. She pauses, adding. “Therefore, it is counterproductive for society as a whole.”
Kruz hopes those who have just been released from prison can use the materials provided for future job interviews or to return to school. And although this is a small-scale program, so far it has proven to be successful – Bail Bag has delivered over 100 bags to recipients in Southern California and has become a powerful resource. in six major counties in Southland, with steadily increasing demand.
Kruz is already seeing how the program can evolve to respond to the present moment.
âIn-kind sponsorships are huge! ” she says. âPartnerships with businesses that are willing to donate items are essential. Sketch [shoe company] has been so generous with us that I cannot even speak the words. As we expand, we would also like to create private labels to reduce the cost of the bags themselves. “
While Kruz’s primary goal is to complement both the elements and empathy that the current prison system lacks, she also wants to educate the public about the challenges parolees face.
âWe see a lot of detainees released without their ID cards,â she said. âThis appears to be a solved problem, given that when citizens are incarcerated, all of their information is right in front of them. There should be a two-part system that frees citizens with ID from the start. ”
Responding to a system that often seems counterintuitive is a constant challenge. But Kruz is optimistic that we can strengthen our respective communities by taking action like a community. And she doesn’t hesitate to ask for help from her own community while raising awareness of the challenges parolees face.
âJust be aware of our own social stigma towards former incarcerates,â she said. âAnd if you want to support our initiative, spread the word, share a link, tell someone about it, pass it on to someone else who might be interested in supporting or who has a cause similar to ours. As of now, we’re self-funded, so every dollar you donate goes directly to the cause. ”