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The Pandemic Has Emptied Prisons. We Examine The Effects, As Well As the Challenges To Reentry

Outside view of the Men Central Jail, amid the Covid 19 pandemic, in Los Angeles, California.
Outside view of the Men Central Jail, amid the Covid 19 pandemic, in Los Angeles, California.
VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

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California has released nearly 3,5000 inmates in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak. And those leaving custody are entering a world much different from the one they left -- one with few job opportunities, a downwards trending economy and closures of government agencies that would’ve once helped them get back on their feet. 

Many reentry programs are overwhelmed and advocates say that some of the people released from custody are at risk of becoming homeless. Meanwhile, some law enforcement voices have said that recent policies, including zero bail for most misdemeanors and low level offenses, has led to repeat offenders and threats to public safety.  

We dive into the effects of inmates being released at this moment and the challenges to reentry into society. If you work with people who’ve been recently released from custody or have experienced this yourself, share your experience by calling 866-893-5722. 

People seeking reentry services can find resources here


Alex Villanueva, Los Angeles County Sheriff; he tweets @LACoSheriff

Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles District Attorney

Peter Espinoza, director of the LA County Office of Diversion and Reentry; former Los Angeles Superior Court judge

Gregory Boyle, Jesuit priest; founder of Homeboy Industries, the world's largest gang-intervention and rehabilitation program; he tweets @FrGregBoyle

Ingrid Archie, civic engagement coordinator at A New Way of Life Reentry Project, a non-profit which provides housing and other services for women rebuilding their lives after prison