Being arrested or incarcerated doesn’t just physically remove a person from their home and neighborhood. It takes an enormous toll on their social and community ties, causes massive emotional and financial stress for their families, and destabilizes entire neighborhoods.
Think about it: what are some of the things that make us all feel human? Our relationships with our family, friends, and loved ones; our sense of belonging in our jobs, schools, or places of worship; the feeling we get when we walk into a space and feel truly seen, included, and worthy. When we feel connected to one another, we are more likely to contribute positively to our relationships and communities. Being torn away from those people, groups, and spaces—or being constantly afraid that you might be—has a cost that goes far beyond the individual.
Social support and community connection do more than help people cope with the challenges associated with arrest, incarceration, and reentry: they are actually restorative, preventing crime and improving trust, stability, and safety.
In the name of public safety, policymakers and legal system actors can prioritize policies that foster human connection, not undermine it. By ensuring that people navigating the criminal legal system are able to maintain healthy community ties, we can help preserve their humanity and find stability; and by shrinking the criminal legal system, we can prevent the destruction of those ties.