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Financial information and tools available to help people transitioning from incarceration

Often, individuals who are in, or are recently released from, jail or prison struggle with money or financial issues. Every year approximately 636,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons. An estimated 70 to 100 million individuals in the country have criminal records and oftentimes face obstacles to getting jobs, obtaining housing, and getting an education as a result.  

To address the needs of individuals affected by the criminal justice system, the Bureau has worked with correctional facilities, prison libraries, workforce programs, state departments of corrections, drug court programs, and reentry or other community organizations to provide financial empowerment materials to individuals transitioning from incarceration.  

Among our most requested resource has been our Behind on Bills booklet , also available in Spanish . This colorful, compact booklet includes a selection of simplified tools from the Your Money, Your Goals toolkit. The booklet can assist frontline staff working with individuals in the criminal justice system to prioritize their debt payments to make sure they understand the consequences of not paying certain debt or prioritizing some debts over others. The Bureau is now making these booklets available to prisons without bindings to accommodate the security needs of correctional facilities. Facilities can order the booklet here

The Bureau’s Your Money, Your Goals toolkit also includes the Focus on Reentry companion guide.  The guide provides meaningful and timely financial resources and tools to help people successfully transition out of incarceration and back into the community. The Focus on Reentry guide is available for free download on our website.  

The companion guide enables frontline staff to help their clients:

  • Identify financial challenges to successful transition;
  • Create goals and identify steps to achieve them;
  • Obtain documents related to identification to help ease the transition process;
  • Identify and prioritize debt—both debt arising from involvement in the criminal justice system (criminal justice debt) and consumer debt;
  • Access and review credit reports; and
  • Understand individual rights to obtain and review criminal background screening records during the employment application process. 

Everyone deserves a second chance and these resources can help with financial challenges that may be barriers to achieving successful transition.  

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