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The reentry struggle: COVID makes path to productive life harder for ex-offenders

Rich Mathias knows firsthand the despair of being in prison — and the despair of being released.

“Being in prison, especially during a holiday, is one of the worst things you can go through,” he told me this week, with Thanksgiving just around the corner. Read More

October 22, 2020 Virtual Women in Reentry Forum

Hosted by Inside Out Reentry Community, the Women in Reentry Forum explores the gender-based inequalities and challenges women face both within the criminal justice system and when returning to the community. Read More

Formerly incarcerated women in Iowa share the challenges they faced during re-entry

Lisa Smith felt like “nothing was done” to prepare her for re-entry following the six years she served at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. She also wasn’t prepared for the loneliness she would feel.

“I was surrounded by women all the time, and when I got out, not only did I not have this huge community of women around me that I had lived in a small space with for six years, I was not allowed to speak to any of them — not even on the phone — or it would have sent me back to prison,” Smith said. Read More

Virtual Forum! Women in Reentry October 22

Inside Out will be hosting a virtual forum with keynote speaker Michelle Daniel Jones, followed by a panel of formerly incarcerated women and reentry service providers, on Thursday October 22nd from 12 – 1:30 pm. The forum will focus on women in reentry, highlighting the gender based inequities that exist both in the criminal justice system and when returning to the community. Register now:

Thousands on parole still can’t vote and one hurdle may be inability to pay restitution

The last time Marlon Graham Sr. was allowed to vote, he cast his vote for Barack Obama while he was living in Minnesota.

But back in Des Moines where he’s lived most of his life, Graham is still waiting for his chance to make his voice heard on matters ranging from who should be president to who should sit on the local school board.

Graham, 42, is a father to 11 children, and some of them will soon turn 18 and be allowed to cast their first ballots. Read More

Rich Mathias, formerly of Burlington, plays role in restoration of Iowa felon voting rights


The Hawk Eye, 6 August 2020, by Robin Opsahl Des Moines Register]

IOWA CITY — Rich Mathias, formerly of Burlington, hoped the bumpy road to regaining his right to vote could help end Iowa’s status as the nation’s most unforgiving criminal suffrage state, where tens of thousands of people like him were banned from the ballot box.

He had been calling on Gov. Kim Reynolds to keep a promise she made in June to sign an executive order restoring felons’ right to vote.

She finally came through on that promise Wednesday when she signed the executive order into law. Read More

‘How we treat the formerly incarcerated doesn’t rank very high in the minds of most folks’: With COVID-19, the fight against recidivism in Iowa is even more urgent


Little Village Magazine, 17 June 2020, by Izabela Zaluska]

Eddie Walker was released from prison last June after being incarcerated for 18 years for a robbery charge. Now living in Iowa City, Walker recalled the arduous process of finding an apartment after his release; in one instance, he was told by a rental company that he was an ideal potential renter, but they wouldn’t draw up a lease for him due to his criminal record.

“That can be crushing, because you’re thinking ‘Man, I got a place,’ … and then someone says no because you have that X in that box,” Walker said. Read More

Governor Reynolds pushing to approve more felon voting rights applications prior to caucuses


KCRG, 9 January 2020, Aaron Scheinblum]

With just a few weeks until Caucuses night, Gov. Kim Reynolds is continuing to push to restore voting rights for felons that have been released from prison.

Pat Garrett, Communications Director for the governor, said Reynolds “has directed her administration to do everything possible to review and approve as many felon voting rights applications before the caucuses.”

Currently, Iowa is the only state that permanently bans felons from voting or running for public office. Read More