ORLANDO, Fla. — The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented barriers to the already difficult process of former inmates navigating their return to society, leaving advocates scrambling for new ways to help.
The crisis has halted some reentry programs entirely, limited the resources available to their clients or forced them to operate virtually. Advocates say some returning citizens will find the help simply isn’t there.
Then there’s the always daunting challenge of finding a job. Without one, released inmates are unable to pay fines and fees associated with reentry, like the supervision fees often required for probation. Maintaining employment is often a requirement of supervision — and failing to do so can count as a violation.
Jill Viglione, a researcher and assistant criminal justice professor at the University of Central Florida, recently contacted 213 community parole and probation agencies nationwide, finding that 30% to 50% of supervised people have lost their