As a nationally recognized leader in reentry services, Peaceprints of WNY is on the front lines of the social justice and racial equity movement. We exist to disrupt and put an end to the cycle of incarceration that plagues our region to realize a just society in which all have equitable opportunity to live productive lives. We recognize that no two individuals are the same, and that circumstances, abilities, and needs of the people we help vary greatly. In providing the most effective service to our clients, we offer a range of personalized services, programs, and resources designed to meet each individual where they are on their transformation.
In the United States, 2.3 million individuals are currently being held in incarceration across federal, state, local prisons and jails. These 2.3 million people comprise 25% of the world’s prison population, despite our country representing only 4% of the global population. More shameful, America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, beating out Russia and North Korea for the dishonor.
The fiscal burden taxpayers shoulder from our current policies is just as shocking. With some institutions paying $100,000 per prisoner per year, the rate of incarceration costs taxpayers $75 billion dollars annually.
Despite the data showing that the rate of crime has decreased almost 29% since 1984, in the same span of time, we have seen the rate of incarceration increase over 400%. It is a self–perpetuating system, with 68% of all released prisoners re-arrested within three years of their release, often for a technical or supervision violation. A large reason for the high recidivism rate is the difficulty returning persons face assimilating back into the community. Because re-entering individuals are often ineligible for food stamps, student loans, welfare, and public housing, they face immense barriers to independence. As a result, formerly incarcerated persons experience high rates of homelessness, unemployment, recidivism, and suicide.
The practice of mass incarceration doesn’t only impact those behind bars. Nearly 50% of all adults in the US have a family member who is or has been incarcerated, and 1 in 12 children has experienced parental incarceration. The experience of having a loved one leaves its mark on families, adding an emotional and financial stress, and leaving some relationships irreparably altered. However, the current state of our criminal justice system affects everyone across all communities in the country, even those who have no experienced first-hand the incarceration of a loved one.
Although so many people are affected by the criminal justice system, mass incarceration does not affect every group of people equally. Despite making up only 13% of the US population, African Americans in particular make up 40% of the prison population. In fact, if the current rate of incarceration continues, 1 in 3 black boys can expect to go to jail or prison in their lifetime. The reason for the disproportionate rates of incarceration are complex and embedded in our country’s shameful history of slavery, oppression, and unequal rights. For example, even today, African Americans are disproportionately likely to be stopped on the street by police. This directly correlates to their disproportionate likelihood to be repeatedly arrested in the same year. Even for low level offenses, the juvenile justice system confines black youth at up to 4x the rate of white youth.
While incarcerated, people of color continue to be treated unjustly. They are over-represented in solitary confinement, on death row, and in cases of individuals serving life sentence. And after incarceration, the statistics remain grim.
After release, African Americans reentering are 66% more likely to experience homelessness, 17% more likely to experience unemployment, and earn $4,350 less annually than their previously incarcerated white counterparts.
Peaceprints of WNY is a 501©3 non-profit organization.
The United States incarcerates more of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Increasing from less than 200,000 in 1972 to 2.2 million today, with another 4.5 million people under probation or parole nationwide.
The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but nearly 25 percent of its prisoners.
Today, over 50 percent of prison and jail inmates in the United States have a diagnosed mental illness, a rate nearly five times greater than that of the general adult population. Nearly one in five prison and jail inmates has a serious mental illness.
At Peaceprints of WNY we believe that hope is not a way out but a way through. It is our mission to strengthen our communities by rebuilding the lives of the individuals we serve. Only then will we achieve our vision to have a just society in which all have equal opportunities to live productive lives.
Peaceprints of WNY offers a wide array of services to the formerly incarcerated and the greater community. Services include: Support Groups, Empower Youth, Hope Campus & a food pantry.
Peaceprints of WNY recognizes that safe, affordable and stable housing is one of the biggest barriers for successful reentry from prison back to the community; we support this need with our portfolio of transitional, supportive and independent housing options.
Meeting our goals requires persistence and many hands. The backbone of our organization is our volunteers. It takes many volunteers to attend our support groups, perform community outreach, and help out at our events. We invite you to join our team!