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Second Chances

These are the 10 most common obstacles faced by Latinos leaving prison

Getting an ID, housing and a stable job are some of the most frequent barriers preventing a formerly incarcerated person from staying out of prison for good. For Hispanics, machismo is an obstacle, while families are a key factor in safeguarding this ‘Second chance’ (*).
(Lee este artículo en español)
13 Dic 2019 – 05:24 PM EST
Identificación válida. Crédito: Composición David Maris

Television series like Law and Order, Criminal Minds, Dexter or CSI have featured hundreds of cases which show the cruelty and harm people are capable of inflicting. Less discussed are the stories of those who leave prison: the difficulties of reentry, rehabilitation or the success stories, which do in fact exist.

The more than 650,000 people released from state prisons each year practically match the population of Las Vegas, Nevada or El Paso, Texas

Why is it that just 17% of these people who leave ready to restart their lives manage to avoid arrest for the nine years following their release? ( We are interested in knowing your story)

Kevin Wright, director of the Center for Correctional Solutions and associate professor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University (ASU), says a lack of opportunities is the main cause of recidivism. “These people don’t find a sustainable and respectful way of life within the law. That can mean a job, healthy use of free time and healthy family and social relationships.”

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"It's not just one person who is sentenced, but the whole family"

The obstacles can be divided into four main areas: logistical, financial, health or emotional. That’s the takeaway from reading the descriptions of programs run by several organizations which offer help with reentry, as well as hearing the opinions of a retired judge, a criminology professor, a spokeswoman for an organization which offers financial support for formerly incarcerated poeple and a person who managed to reintegrate successfully after leaving prison.

In the case of Hispanics, apart from the barriers which everyone experiences, there are added cultural differences such as machismo - which prevents them from recognizing their vulnerabilities or asking for help - or a lack of English.

These are the main barriers people encounter:


This work forms part of the “Second chance” project, thanks to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

Coordination: Tamoa Calzadilla and Olivia Liendo.

Research and production assistance: Ana María Carrano, Alexandra Barrera, Albany Urbaez Tahuil and Carolina Rosas.

Photography and photography layout: David Maris.

General production: Emilce Elgarresta and Stephen P. Keppel.

Social media: María Carolina Hurtado, María Dayana Patiño and Liliana Castaño.


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