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Washington, D.C. – Considering President Biden’s recent announcement of a series of pardons, commutations, and steps to help formerly incarcerated people re-enter society, Juliene James, vice president of criminal justice at Arnold Ventures, issued the following statement: 

The reality is that over 90% of those incarcerated will be released at some point and try to rejoin their families: and reforms that focus on reentry are critical to ensure that those coming back into society get good-paying jobs and have the support they need to stay on track, which will keep communities safer. The actions announced by President Biden today do much to recognize and address the persistent and complex challenges of reentry. And no single government agency is responsible for reentry success, so President Biden’s integrated, whole-of-government approach is necessary to meet the needs for those returning home from incarceration. 

But much more needs to be done. The problems that face the arc of our system won’t be solved by executive orders alone. Both parties in Congress must take action to address the significant legal barriers to employment and housing that persist for people with criminal records by providing opportunities to clear records, participate in the workforce and secure housing. That’s why bipartisan record sealing efforts in states like Michigan and Pennsylvania are so important, and we commend federal efforts to follow suit. A job is the surest deterrent to reoffending, which means safer communities. Reforms that break barriers to employment down are smart and safe. We hope to see more.”

Arnold Ventures is a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States. It is a team of more than 120 subject-matter experts headquartered in Houston with offices in New York and Washington, D.C. It works in four key issue areas: Criminal Justice, Education, Health, and Public Finance. Its work is guided by Evidence-Based Policy, Research, and Advocacy.