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Five Charts That Explain the Homelessness Jail Cycle — and How to Break It

"It’s critical that local leaders understand this connection between homelessness and the criminal justice system to develop strategies that better address homelessness, reduce the use of jails, build stronger communities, and ensure everyone has access to safe and stable housing."

Homelessness and the criminal justice system are deeply intertwined. People experiencing homelessness are more likely to interact with the criminal justice system, and people currently or previously involved in the criminal justice system are more likely to experience homelessness.

In five charts, Urban Institute experts dive into the data to explain the homelessness-jail cycle, and how to break it. As the researchers found, the pandemic has shown that communities can change their law enforcement practices as they consider more permanent changes to how they address homelessness.

“To make their communities’ COVID-19 recoveries more equitable and sustainable, local leaders can stop using punitive tactics that trap people in homelessness-jail cycles and implement evidence-based Housing First strategies that help people access the housing and services they need to achieve stability,” said Urban researcher Sarah Gillespie. Read more on Urban’s website.