Behind the Bird: Reentry from the Inside Out

Behind the Bird: Reentry from the Inside Out


We are excited to share ‘Behind the Bird,’ additional content around the theme of our most recent edition of Fortune News, Prison Conditions Inside and Out. These articles highlight additional guest writers and include extended versions of pieces in the publication. 

Our second installment of “Behind the Bird” details one of the David Rothenberg Center for Public Policy’s legislative priorities for 2022, Reentry from the Inside Out (RIO). Our Policy Counsel, Lily Shapiro, shares why this bill is so critical.

We all know that people returning from prison face barriers to signing up for public benefits, accessing necessary treatment, getting jobs and finding stable places to live.  These barriers have an even bigger impact on people and communities of color across New York State, since people of color are incarcerated at disproportionately high rates.  We also know that having a government-issued identification card – that does not define a person as recently-released, setting them up to be stigmatized and judged – is a necessary key to opening so many doors.  That is why one of Fortune’s top policy priorities for 2022 is getting the “Re-Entry from the Inside Out” (RIO) bill passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Hochul.     

RIO would accomplish four main things:   

  • Assist people in applying for benefits before they are released, including safety net assistance, supplemental security income, and state supplemental payments; 
  • Connect people to re-entry services before they are released;  
  • Provide free state-issued non-drivers’ identification cards from the Department of Motor Vehicles prior to release; 
  • Establish a new “reintegration” pilot program for at least 100 people in three state prisons over five years, to connect them with services before they are released, and continue those services upon reentry.  Services would include treatment for mental health, substance abuse issues, as well as job training and connections to housing.

    We are going to fight for the passage of RIO because we believe that everyone deserves to come home connected to the tools, benefits and services they need to support themselves and their families.  

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