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Boston launches Office of Returning Citizens to help previously-incarcerated residents start anew

Mayor Walsh announced the new office this week, which will support residents who have been incarcerated reenter society.
The city wants to help those reentering society after having been incarcerated. Photo: Wikimedia commons

How does someone start to rebuild their life after they’ve been incarcerated? Mayor Marty Walsh is hoping his newly-formed office will help those ready to reenter society.

Walsh announced the creation of the Office of Returning Citizens this week, a resource to help support those returning to Boston from state, federal and county facilities.

"No one should be defined by the hardest time in their lives. Everyone deserves a second chance and a fair opportunity at success,” Walsh said in a statement. "For those who have been incarcerated, accessing things like housing, jobs and healthcare can be difficult. The Office of Returning Citizens will connect returning residents to resources throughout the city, making Boston safer and stronger — a better Boston for everyone."

Each year, nearly 3,000 people come back to Boston after being incarcerated. The new office, which is part of the city’s Office of Public Safety, will help those who have taken the right steps to move forward from “the consequences of their past actions,” according to the mayor’s office.

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A 2014 study out of Harvard University looked at how people transition back into society when released from prison. Called the “Boston Reentry Study,” the report found that previously-incarcerated people face challenges when it comes to finding permanent employment and housing, and that they need help connecting to such resources.

"For those leaving incarceration, trauma and a lack of resources hinders residents from successfully reentering society,” said Andrea Perry, executive director of YouthConnect, a program that pairs clinical social workers with at-risk youth, in a statement. “The Office of Returning Citizens is a crucial step that will help Boston's residents connect, or reconnect, to the comprehensive resources they need to reintegrate successfully into their families and communities.”

The Office of Returning Citizens will be located at 22 Drydock Ave. in Boston's Seaport District, which the mayor’s office describes as, “a neutral location designed to be accessible for all residents.”

 
 
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