Commissary Club wants to help formerly incarcerated people find community
Y Combinator -backed employment platform 70 Million Jobs is launching a new social network geared toward helping formerly incarcerated individuals connect with each other. While 70 Million Jobs focuses on helping people with criminal records find jobs, Commissary Club wants to serve as a place for folks to find community.
“Folks with [criminal] records have always, since prisons were first built, lived in the shadows,” 70 Million Jobs founder Richard Bronson told TechCrunch. “They’ve lived in fear and in shame — afraid to emerge with this terrible stigma, being treated as second-class citizens in every single way.”
Through Commissary Club, folks can find community through topic-specific clubs, explore education courses and find mentors, jobs and housing.
The unemployment rate for formerly incarcerated people, as of 2018, is 27%, according to Prison Policy. As a result of the pandemic, however, that percentage is likely much higher.
But in addition to facing barriers in employment, formerly incarcerated people face barriers to accessing stable housing and financial services. These types of barriers are a key driver of recidivism for the more than 600,000 people who are released from prison each year. Between 2005 and 2014, an estimated 68% of people released in 2005 were arrested again within three years. Within nine years, 83% of those released in 2005 were re-arrested, according to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Bronson said he believes Commissary Club is in an ideal position to service this community. Already, through 70 Million Jobs, there are millions of people Commissary Club knows how to reach.
“This is a huge population, but nobody pays any attention to them at all and if they do, it’s negative,” Bronson said. “No political candidate has ever sought their vote. The problem is they’ve never come together, they’ve never been connected and have never been able to come together with one voice.”
Image Credits: Commissary Club
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