Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement, published a White House blog post on the administration’s historic convening to discuss the challenges people face building a life after receiving clemency.
“Yesterday, the White House hosted an historic convening of formerly incarcerated citizens, academics, private sector and foundation leaders, and Administration officials to discuss the challenges people face building a life after receiving clemency. The event highlighted our collective responsibility to ensure those who have paid their debt and earned a second chance successfully land on their feet. It is an obligation we have not just to those who have been incarcerated, but to their families and loved ones, whose lives are deeply affected as well.
“We heard the moving stories of Americans who had faced the challenges of reentering society after receiving clemency – of adjusting to the often sudden freedoms we so frequently take for granted. They spoke of how hard it was to find work and housing, and to re-establish relationships that often suffered from years of separation – of having to adjust to our daily dependence on the internet and technology, from cell phones to ATMs. Their families spoke of the difficulties of living without their loved ones at home, and the cycles of poverty that are often reinforced when we separate mothers and fathers from their children.
” … As I said in my closing remarks, we are in a unique moment. Because of the grit and determination of the folks I met who have been granted clemency, and those who support them, I am more optimistic than I’ve ever been that we can take substantial steps to heal a system that has torn apart families and communities for too long. We are our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers, and we all must make our voices heard. Because we each have the responsibility to pick up each other when we fall.”