Published in The Washington Post

By Emmanuel Felton

The Justice and Mobility Fund boosts the economic mobility of the 77 million people in the U.S. who have criminal records, from skills training and employment support.

There were a lot of things LaTanicia Rogers needed when she was released from federal prison last May.

After serving 10 years of a 15-year sentence for Medicare fraud, Rogers was released early as covid-19 overran the prison where she was incarcerated. She saw guards and inmates become ill, and a woman in the cell next door died of the virus. She was grateful to have survived the pandemic, but returning home in the middle of the corresponding economic downturn presented a new set of challenges for Rogers.

“When I got home, my husband was living paycheck to paycheck, and there were all of these things I needed,” said Rogers, 45. “I needed everything. I had nothing. I needed clothes, food, hygiene products, glasses, I had made all kinds of doctors appointments. I had doctors appointments for months.”

But jobs were scarce for everyone, let alone for felons. The situation was overwhelming for Rogers, so she turned to her case manager at Total Community Action, a New Orleans-based nonprofit organization that provides services for people returning home from prison. Her case manager suggested a new program called the covid-19 Returning Citizen Stimulus Initiative, which was working with reentry programs in 28 cities to provide cash assistance to people released from prison during the pandemic.

The Ford Foundation

The Ford Foundation is an independent organization working to address inequality and build a future grounded in justice. For more than 85 years, it has supported visionaries on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. Today, with an endowment of $16 billion, the foundation has headquarters in New York and 10 regional offices across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.

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