“Eliminating incarceration as a factor in food security.”

*More than 1 in 10 prisoners were homeless in the months before incarceration. For those with mental illness, the rate is closer to 1 in 5.

*Studies show that a prison record cuts wages for workers by 11 percent, cuts annual employment by nine weeks, and reduces yearly earnings by 40 percent. (Bruce Western and Becky Pettit, Collateral Costs: Incarceration Effect on Economic Mobility (2010).

*In 2016, 1 in 7 prisoners was serving a life or virtual life prison sentence. 1 in 5 of those prisoners was black. (The Sentencing Project)

*Nearly 1 in 3 life-sentenced prisoners worldwide is a US prisoner. (The Sentencing Project)

*Between 1992 and 2016, there was a 12.7% increase in the number of people on death row while over the same period the LWOP (life without parole) population rose 328%. (The Sentencing Project)

*1 out of every 3 black men will be incarcerated at some point in their life. This compares to 1 in 17 white men. (Fair Housing Center, 2017)

The criminal justice system is broken. The evidence is growing that the system is not fair and impartial. The inequities in the system are stark and alarming. The brokenness of the criminal justice system leads to hunger and poverty. One part of the system — incarceration and its policies and practices — is a major factor in food insecurity.

People returning from incarceration face daunting re-entry challenges, and the families of prisoners often struggle to make ends meet while their loved ones are not available to provide care and income. Hunger is one bad but avoidable result of a legal and penal system that incarcerates millions, disproportionately people of color. A reform in our nation’s criminal justice system is critical to ending poverty and hunger in America.

That may seem like a daunting task to the average community citizen. However, you don’t have to go to law school to see change take place. We can start by treating each individual, regardless of race, religion or criminal history as a valuable and needed part of our community.