Every year, more than 5,000 citizens return to neighborhoods across Iowa after serving time in state prisons. When we support returning citizens, we have an opportunity to turn around a life, avoid future victims, repair a family, and support a community. To ensure that returning citizens have a successful transition back to our community, this work group is addressing their multiple needs, including:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Mental health services
  • Access to government assistance
  • Community-based organizational involvement and support

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Works at Bridgestone Firestone & received training in prison through Central Iowa Works

Incarceration: By the Numbers

  • 70 percent of children with an incarcerated parent will follow in their  footsteps.
  • In 1972, fewer than 350,000 people were being held in prisons and jails nationwide. Today, more than 2 million are being held.
  • Each person who is incarcerated costs the American taxpayer an average of $31,000 a year.
  • African Americans are nearly six times more likely and Latinos are nearly twice as likely to be incarcerated than white Americans.
  • One year after release, up to 60 percent of people convicted of a crime are not employed, according to the National Institute of Justice.
  • More than two-thirds of those released from state and federal prison will be re-arrested for a felony or serious misdemeanor within three years.
  • Approximately 5,000 men and women are released from Iowa prisons each year.
  • 85 percent of adults who reported growing up with an incarcerated family member experienced other types of childhood trauma.


Formerly incarcerated prisoners face challenges at every level. A person may successfully re-enter society by meeting six basic life needs:  

  1. Livelihood
  2. Residence
  3. Family
  4. Health
  5. Criminal justice compliance
  6. Social connections.

Attaining each of these basic life needs presents unique challenges, many of which are interconnected.

One out of every 20 U.S. citizens will serve time in prison in their lifetime and most will return to our communities. Hiring individuals with criminal records can help you build a loyal, hard working workforce and receive incentives. This guide provides recommendations for recruiting and hiring people with a record.

Sections include:
• Why hire job seekers with a record
• Recruiting and hiring practices to implement
• Answers to frequently asked questions

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD: Guide for Hiring Returning Citizens



Convene a task force to coordinate efforts to support the transition for returning citizens. Convened a first-of-its-kind Re-entry Task Force focused on a coordinated system to help returning citizens more effectively transition back to the community.
Disseminate and implement the Re-entry Simulation to raise community awareness. Hosted Re-entry Simulations that reached more than 300 people, helping them better
understand the issues and barriers in our 
community for formerly incarcerated individuals.




Support expanding educational opportunities for returning citizens.
  • Develop strategic plan for community
  • Increase training opportunities for individuals while incarcerated.
  • Bring the Offender Workforce Development Specialist training to Iowa

Research and implement strategies to build employment opportunities for returning citizens and increase employer awareness.

  • Increase entrepreneurship for returning citizens.
  • Work with employers to Ban the Box, background checks, and other barriers to employment.
  • Develop a multi-organizational, collaborative training center.
  • Increase employer awareness and engagement to value hiring returning citizens.
Investigate housing issues related to returning citizens and strategize to expand housing options.
  • Collect information on housing barriers that returning citizens experience, while taking inventory of current housing options for returning citizens.
  • Increase housing available for returning citizens.
  • Create/find affordable housing assigned to returning citizens.
  • Identify and decrease barriers to housing.
  • Review practices regarding Fair Housing for Ex-Offenders.
Build opportunities to fulfill the needs of returning citizens for social connectedness.
  • Further develop mentoring program and increase returning citizens’ participation.
  • Help incarcerated parents with placing of their children while in prison and help reunite ex-offenders with their children after incarceration.