This chapter introduces the six focal participants who will be prominently featured throughout the book and describes the characteristics and prior experiences of formerly incarcerated individuals in the United States more broadly. The formerly incarcerated come from family backgrounds of extreme disadvantage, including high rates of poverty, low levels of education, foster care, trauma and victimization, family histories of substance abuse and mental illness. They themselves have low levels of education and work experience, high rates of addiction and mental illness, and chronic health conditions. In short, prisons hold some of our most vulnerable citizens, who begin the process of reentry and reintegration with few resources with which to confront its many challenges.
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