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Reentry Council Issue Areas and Additional Resources

Reentry Council Issue Areas

The Federal Interagency Reentry Council addresses a broad range of reentry topics. For each issue area, the Reentry Council's report provides an overview of the challenge, summarizes the Council's accomplishments to date, and lays out priorities moving forward.

For more information, please see the Executive Summary of the FIRC report.

Selected Policy Documents and Other Resources


Microloan Program Expanded Eligibility and Other Program Change: Final Rule (SBA)
The final rule provides more flexibility to SBA non-profit intermediaries, expands the pool of microloan recipients, and increases accessibility in SBA programs. The change will make small businesses that have an owner who is currently on probation or parole eligible for microloan programs, aiding individuals with the highest barriers to traditional employment to reenter the workforce.

What Employment Background Screening Companies Need to Know About the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FTC)
This guidance will help companies in the business of compiling background information for employment purposes better understand when their work defines them as a Consumer Reporting Agency under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Recruitment, Selection, Placement (General) and Suitability: Final Rule (OPM)
This final rule ensures that applicants with a criminal history have a fair shot to compete for Federal jobs. The rule effectively “bans the box” for a significant number of positions in the Federal Government by delaying the point in the hiring process when agencies can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until a conditional offer is made. This change prevents candidates from being eliminated before they have a chance to demonstrate their qualifications.

The White House Fair Business Pledge
The pledge represents a call-to-action for all members of the private sector to improve their communities by eliminating barriers for those with a criminal record and creating a pathway for a second chance.

Background Checks: Tips for Job Applicants and Employees (FTC)

This guide from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) explains the legal rights of job applicants and employees regarding background checks. It discusses when and how employers are legally allowed
to inquire about a job applicant or employee’s background, including information regarding their criminal record and other public records, medical history, credit or financial information, and their race, national origin, sex, religion, or age.

Updated Guidance on Use of Criminal Records in Employment Decisions (EEOC)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s revised guidance calls for employers to assess applicants on an individual basis rather than excluding everyone with a criminal record through a blanket policy.  It provides new detail and direction for employers as to how to consider three key factors: (1) the nature of the job; (2) the nature and seriousness of the offense; and (3) the length of time since it occurred – both in writing a hiring policy and in making a specific hiring decision.  The updated guidance also emphasizes that employers should not reject a candidate because of an arrest without a conviction, as arrests are not proof of criminal conduct.

Training and Employment Guidance Letter No. 31-11 (DOL)

The Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and Civil Rights Center issued a joint guidance for the public workforce system regarding employer job postings that contain hiring exclusions or restrictions based on arrest and conviction history.

Directive to Federal Contractors and Subcontractors (DOL)

DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs issued a Directive advising federal contractors and subcontractors of their obligations regarding the use of criminal records as an employment screen.

Contractor Fitness Adjudication Best Practices Guide (OPM)

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has developed a best practices guide which addresses employment fitness adjudication for contractor applicants and employees who support Federal agencies. 

Consumer Protection Documents: For Employers and Employees (FTC)

The Federal Trade Commission advises employers and employees on individuals’ rights with regard to the access and use of consumer reports and background checks in employment decisions.


Blog Posts on Tenant Background Checks: Screening Tenants? Check Out the FTC's New Guidance and Renting an Apartment? Be Prepared for a Background Check (FTC)

It Starts with Housing: Public Housing Agencies Are Making Second Chances Real (HUD)
This report highlights promising reentry housing models that expand access to public and federally subsidized housing for people with criminal records. The report encourages public housing authorities (PHAs) to collaborate with partners to “make second chances real for the men and women returning” from jail and prison.

Guidance on Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transactions (HUD)
This guidance addresses how the discriminatory effects and disparate treatment methods of proof apply in Fair Housing Act cases in which a housing provider justifies an adverse housing action–such as a refusal to rent or renew a lease–based on an individual’s criminal history.

Guidance for Public Housing Agenicies and Owners of Federally-Assisted Housing on Excluding the Use of Arrest Records in Housing Decisions (HUD)
The purpose of this notice, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is to inform Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) and owners of other federally-assisted housing that arrest records may not be the basis for denying admission, terminating assistance or evicting tenants, to remind PHAs and owners that HUD does not require their adoption of "One Strike" policies, and to remind them of their obligation to safeguard the due process rights of applicants and tenants.  

HUD Letters on HUD-assisted Housing: For Public Housing Executive Directors and Multi-family Property Owners (HUD)

The Secretary of Housing and Urban Development sent these letters to public housing executive directors and multi-family owners clarifying HUD's position on the eligibility of people with criminal records for public housing.


FAQs: Excluding the Use of Arrest Records in Housing Decisions (HUD)
These FAQs address questions raised in Secretrary Donaovan's Letters on HUD-assisted Housing. 



Reducing Recidivism for Justice-Involved Youth (ED)
The U.S. Department of Education has released these guides and resources to help justice-involved youth make a successful transition back to traditional school settings. The resources promote successful transitions by emphasizing the importance of early planning and working with family, mentors, facility staff, and school employees at every stage of the process.

Beyond the Box Resource Guide (ED)
This guide provides information for colleges and universities to help remove barriers that can prevent the estimated 70 million citizens with criminal records from pursuing higher education. The guide also suggests alternatives to inquiring about criminal histories during college admissions and provides recommendations to support a holistic review of applicants.

  • Letter from U.S. Education Department of Educcation to college and university leaders announcing the Beyond the Box Resource Guide (ED)

Second Chance Pell Pilot Program (ED)
The U.S. Department of Education is inviting institutions of higher education to join a new pilot initiative that makes Federal Pell Grant fundingavailable for incarcerated individuals pursing postsecondary education and training.

Reentry Education Model (ED)

In partnership with other agencies, the Department of Education (ED) developed a research-based reentry education model, which is now being tested in the field. 

Student Financial Aid Information (ED)

This information is geared to individuals with criminal histories or who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. 

Take Charge of Your Future, Get the Education and Training You Need (ED)

This ED guide is intended for use by incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals. Additional publications related to community based correctional education, partnerships with community colleges, and ED’s Reentry Education model are available here.

Children of Incarcerated Parents

Children in Foster Care with Parents in Federal Prison: A Toolkit for Child Welfare Agencies, Federal Prisons, and Residential Reentry Centers (Federal Interagency Working Group for Children of Incarcerated Parents)
In 2007, 1.7 million children had a parent in prison on any given day, and even more have experienced parental incarceration at some point during their childhood.  Parental incarceration can be associated with financial instability, unstable housing situations, school behavior and performance problems, and social stigma.

Children of Incarcerated Parents Initiative Fact Sheet (Federal Interagency Working Group for Children of Incarcerated Parents)
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2007, an estimated 1.7 million children under the age of 18 had a parent in prison, an increase of almost 80 percent since 1991.  The negative consequences for children with an incarcerated parent can be substantial, including financial instability, changes in family structure, shame, and social stigma.  However, research also shows that supporting healthy and positive relationships between these vulnerable children, who are the innocent bystanders of adult decisions, and their families has the potential to mitigate negative outcomes.


Collateral Consequences

Memorandum to Heads of Department of Justice Components and United States Attorneys (Office of Attorney General)
This memorandum was released by the Attorney General on August 12, 2013. It gives direction to the Department about consideration of collateral consequences in rulemaking.  

Attorney General’s Letter on Collateral Consequences (DOJ)

The Attorney General sent a letter to every state Attorney General, encouraging them to review the collateral consequences in their states to determine whether those that impose burdens on individuals convicted of crimes without increasing public safety should be eliminated.

National Inventory on the Collateral Consequences of Criminal Convictions (DOJ)

A project of the National Institute of Justice of the U.S. Department of Justice, this resource assists lawyers, policymakers, individuals involved in the criminal justice system, and advocates in understanding the sanctions and restrictions that individuals may be subject to in a particular state as a result of a criminal conviction.

Treatment, Healthcare and Benefits

Medicaid Guidance (HHS)
This guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services updates decades-old policy and clarifies that individuals who are currently on probation, parole or in home confinement are not considered inmates of a public institution.

Incarceration and the Marketplace FAQs (HHS)
These FAQs provide guidance on the definition of “incarcerated,” and “incarceration-pending the disposition of charges” for the purposes of eligibility for enrollment in a Qualified Health Plan through the Marketplace.

Issue Brief: The Importance of Medicaid Coverage For Criminal Justice Involved Individuals Reentering Their Communities (HHS)
This issue brief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, explains why Medicaid and access to the health benefits the program covers can play a key role in improving the health not only of justice involved individuals, but also of their communities. The brief focuses on the characteristics of the justice involved population, how they access care, and it discusses how this population can benefit from Medicaid expansion to low income adults.

Benefits After Incarceration: What You Need to Know (SSA)
This website, from the Social Security Administration, provides information about social security benefits that some recently released individuals may be eligible to receive. 

Child Support

Flexibility, Efficiency, and Modernization in Child Support Enforcement Programs: Final Rule and Overview (HHS)
The final rule makes changes to increase the effectiveness of the child support program for all families, including families of incarcerated individuals, which will result in an increase in timely payments to families, a decline in the nonpayment rate, and an increase in the number of noncustodial parents working and supporting their children.

PAID (Project to Avoid Increasing Delinquencies) Fact Sheet Series (HHS)

The PAID Initiative of the Office of Child Support Enforcement promotes activities to increase the collection of current child support and to prevent and reduce arrears. This fact sheet series shares research and innovative practices in child support systems.

Office of Child Support Enforcement Reentry Page (HHS)
This webpage provides a list of resources for parents who are returning to their communities after incarceration.  

Second Chance Fellow

In July 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Daryl Atkinson as the first Second Chance Fellow. In creating the position, DOJ acknowledged that many of the people directly impacted by the criminal justice system hold significant insight into reforming the justice system. In the 15 years since Atkinson was released from incarceration, he has become a leader in the criminal justice reform movement. Read entries from Atkinson's DOJ blog below: 

Daryl Atkinson: From the Criminal Justice System to the Department of Justice (4/26/2016)

Daryl Atkinson: Working Together to Prevent Cycles of Harm (4/18/2016)

Daryl Atkinson: Return on a Chance (1/15/2015)


About the Reentry Council

The Reentry Council, established in January 2011, represents a significant executive branch commitment to coordinating reentry efforts and advancing effective reentry policies.

Reentry MythBusters

Reentry MythBusters are fact sheets designed to clarify existing federal policies that affect formerly incarcerated individuals and their families in areas such as public housing, employment, parental rights, Medicaid suspension/termination, voting rights and more.



National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map (DOJ)
The National Criminal Justice Initiatives Map includes descriptions of the major federal reentry initiatives and identifies active reentry grants in each state.

Reentry Funding Opportunities (DOJ)
The National Reentry Resource Center collects news about grant solicitations for agencies and organizations implementing reentry initiatives.

What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse (DOJ)
This resource is a user-friendly, one-stop shop for practitioners and service providers seeking guidance on evidence-based reentry interventions, as well as a useful resource for researchers and others interested in reentry.


Reentry Toolkit for US Attorneys (DOJ)

The Department of Justice created this primer on reentry issues, research, and initiatives for U.S. Attorneys.


Legal Aid Helps Successful Reentry (DOJ)
This resource explains how civil legal assistance can play a critical role for people leaving jail and returning to society. For example, securing an occupational license or an expungement for an eligible ex-offender may make the difference in that individual’s ability to get a job, or preventing an illegal eviction may help to avoid homelessness and keep a family together. In addition, this resource also lists federal programs that support legal services for people with criminal records.


Legal Aid Reentry Project Chart (Legal Services Corporation)
This chart identifies both Legal Services Corporation (LSC) and non-LSC legal aid programs that recently reported offering reentry-related legal services. The list is not meant to be comprehensive. There may be other active reentry legal services projects, and other local legal aid and pro bono programs or projects willing to develop a reentry pro bono program and/or partner with other reentry social service providers.