Reentry Resources

Getting Identification

1. Driver’s License or ID

Some states have systems in place to help individuals reentering society get the necessary ID.

Seven states allow individuals to exchange their corrections-department documentation for a state-issued ID or for other documents that meet identification requirements.

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Illinois
  4. Montana
  5. Ohio
  6. Utah
  7. Wisconsin

10 states provide individuals with a state-issued ID upon reentering society.

  1. Alaska
  2. Colorado
  3. Florida
  4. Maryland
  5. Minnesota
  6. Mississippi
  7. Missouri
  8. Nevada
  9. New Jersey
  10. Wyoming

Since the process to get a driver’s license or ID varies from state to state, your local DMV is a good resource to help you figure out the steps you need to take.

Find your state’s DMV and search for the closest local office

State Specific Information

2. Social Security Card

Request a replacement social security card online

To apply online you must:

  • Create or have a “my Social Security” account.
  • Be a U.S. citizen age 18 or older.
  • Have a U.S. mailing address (this includes APO, FPO, and DPO addresses).
  • Have a driver’s license or state-issued identification card.

Note: You cannot apply online for changes—like a name change—to be made to your card, only a replacement.

The following states do not allow you to file for a replacement card online, you’ll need to visit your local social security office to get a replacement.

  • Alabama
  • Minnesota
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • West Virginia

Find the address of your local social security office

As of 8/8/2020, all social security offices are closed due to the pandemic. However, they are still providing critical services by phone and fax.
Call: 1-800-772-1213 for more information.

3. Birth Certifcate

Americans born in the U.S.

To replace your birth certificate, you’ll need to contact the local office of Vital Records where you were born. Use this tool from the CDC to find the office you need.

Once you find the office, follow the instructions for requesting copies and paying fees. If you need a copy fast, ask about expedited service or shipping when you place your order.

Americans born abroad

“If you were born to American parents abroad, they should have registered your birth with the country’s U.S. embassy or consulate. If they did, they would have received a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA). You can get a copy of this report from the U.S. Department of State. Depending on the country, a vital records office in the nation may also list the birth.

If the Department of State can’t locate your CRBA and you were born on a military base abroad, your parents may not have registered your birth with the U.S. embassy. In that case, you may have to contact the hospital where you were born.”

Born abroad and adopted by U.S. parents

“A child born in a foreign country and adopted by a U.S. citizen will not receive a U.S. birth certificate. The country in which you were born will have issued it. To get a copy, contact the nearest foreign embassy or consulate for that country. If you need an authenticated copy and it’s not in English, ask the embassy for help to get it translated.

If you were adopted from another country by a U.S. citizen, you should have copies of your naturalization/citizenship papers. If you don’t, submit an application for replacement of naturalization/citizenship form. For help, contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.”

Housing

Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development is the Federal agency responsible for national policy and programs that address America’s housing needs, that improve and develop the Nation’s communities, and enforce fair housing laws. HUD’s business is helping create a decent home and suitable living environment for all Americans.

HUD “assists” low-income households with rental subsidies in the private sector, primarily through Section 8 certificates and vouchers. Families seeking assistance apply thorough their local public housing agency (PHA).

Find your local PHA

Find your local HUD office

Catholic Charities

The mission of Catholic Charities is to provide service to people in need and to advocate for justice in social structures. They offer a wide variety of services including help finding affordable housing, procuring food, and medical services.

Find Catholic Charities near you

The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC)

“The NRRC was established by the Second Chance Act (Public Law 110-199). Signed into law in 2008 and reauthorized in 2018, the Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide reentry services—including employment assistance, substance use treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services—and to support corrections and supervision practices that aim to reduce recidivism.”

The NRRC developed a Reentry Services Directory to help individuals who have been incarcerated and their families find local reentry services in their state.

Access the directory

Contact Local Government and Church Groups

The county and city you live in should have a list of housing resources that are available for folks that are getting back on their feet. Check out the county or city website or give them a call. Many local churches also have housing programs in place or can point you in the direction of one.

Employment

70 Million Jobs

70 Million Jobs is an American employment website and employment agency made for people with criminal records. Apart from access to jobs they also provide:

  • Resume building
  • Interview Tips
  • Financial Planning

All the services they offer are free.

Check our 70 Million Jobs

Center for Employment (CEO)

The Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO) is dedicated to providing immediate, effective, and comprehensive employment services to men and women with recent criminal convictions. Their highly structured and tightly supervised programs help participants regain the skills and confidence needed for successful transitions to stable, productive lives.

Check out CEO

CareerOneStop

This website offers information, tips, and resources to help people with criminal convictions overcome barriers they might face in their job search including:

  • State-specific resources for help with basic needs or getting ready to job search
  • Work restrictions that apply to certain convictions
  • Paying for training or college

Check out CareerOneStop

The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC)

“The NRRC was established by the Second Chance Act (Public Law 110-199). Signed into law in 2008 and reauthorized in 2018, the Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide reentry services—including employment assistance, substance use treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services—and to support corrections and supervision practices that aim to reduce recidivism.”

The NRRC developed the Reentry Services Directory to help individuals who have been incarcerated and their families find local reentry services in their state.

Access the directory

Hire Felons

The main purpose of HireFelons.org is to help individuals with a criminal record find a job. They have job postings and listings that are updated regularly.

They also publish articles focusing on issues that individuals who have a criminal record face.

  • Housing
  • Public Assistance
  • Transportation
  • Education

Check out HireFelons.org

Jobs For Felons

This website contains a list of over 1,077 companies—some large, some small—that actively hire individuals with criminal records and current job postings. In addition to these features, the website includes:

  • Lists of Reentry Programs
  • Housing Resources
  • Temp Agencies
  • Education Resources

Check out Jobs For Felons

Note: Some companies have criminal record friendly employment policies, but local policies vary. For instance, MacDonald’s corporate policy states they believe in giving second chances and in hiring folks with criminal records, but local franchise owners may choose not to implement the policy.

Help for Felons

Sources and directories with information about finding jobs. As well as information about reentry, legal and financial help, and housing.

Check out Help for Felons

State Resources

Minnesota

Career Planning for People with a Criminal Conviction (CPPCC)

CPPCC “helps job seekers with felony convictions and other criminal charges know their work options, set goals, get training, and step ahead to a successful job search.”

Check out CPPCC’s website

New York

Institute for Justice and Opportunity

“The Institute for Justice and Opportunity creates access to higher education and pathways to satisfying careers.”

“Career Pathways prepare people for successful careers in human services and community justice.”

Career Pathways

“Offer[ing] a combination of college preparation, transitional support, and professional development to help students achieve their goals.”

Educational Pathways

Education

Financial Aid and Pell Grants

If you are reentering the community, you are eligible for financial aid and Pell grants!

Your eligibility can be limited due to the type of conviction you have. If you were convicted of a drug-related crime, you’ll need to:

  1. Complete an approved drug rehabilitation program, or
  2. Pass two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program.

Once you’ve completed this, your eligibility can be restored.

What is an approved drug rehabilitation program?

“A drug rehabilitation program that is:

(1) qualified to receive funds from a federal, state or local government or from a federally or state-licensed insurance company; or

(2) administered or recognized by a federal, state or local government agency or court, or a federally or state-licensed hospital, health clinic or medical doctor.”

You can find a program near you using this tool from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

You can also try this tool from Addiction Center.

Not sure where to start? Try these articles and videos.

Important Note: As you may already know, filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is one of the first steps you’ll take to get federal or state financial aid. Filling out the FAFSA is 100% free. If you find yourself on a site that asks for a fee to “help” you fill out your FAFSA get out of there! The best place to find your FAFSA form is the U.S.’s Federal Student Aid website, you can access it here.

Articles
  1. Types of Financial Aid
  2. How to Apply for Financial Aid
  3. What is FAFSA?
  4. What do you need to fill out the FAFSA?
  5. FAFSA Deadlines
Videos
  1. What is FAFSA?
  2. How to Fill Out the FAFSA
  3. You Filled Out Your FAFSA, Now What?

Medical Resources

Free Clinics

Check your area for clinics that offer medical care at little or no cost to low-income individuals. Available services tend to vary, so make sure you call in advance to see if they provide what you need.

Find a Free Clinic near you

Health Department

Local health departments offer multiple health services at minimal to the public. Including immunization, well checks, and sick visits. Call your local health department to find out what services they offer.

Find the contact information for your local health department here

Medicaid

“Medicaid is a health coverage program operated by states, within broad federal guidelines. Although the federal government pays a portion of the costs, Medicaid is administered and operated by states, and each state's program is a little different depending on the needs and goals of that state. Your state will determine if you qualify for Medicaid.”

Contact your state for renewal or application information.

The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC)

“The NRRC was established by the Second Chance Act (Public Law 110-199). Signed into law in 2008 and reauthorized in 2018, the Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide reentry services—including employment assistance, substance use treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services—and to support corrections and supervision practices that aim to reduce recidivism.”

The NRRC developed a Reentry Services Directory to help individuals who have been incarcerated and their families find local reentry services in their state.

Access the directory

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

If you need to find a substance use treatment program or a mental health provider, SAMSHA provides resources to help you find them near you.

Check out SAMHSA’s resources

ScriptSave WellRx

The ScriptSave WellRx program works with individuals who have no insurance or limited coverage. The program provides “a prescription savings card that offers instant savings at the register on both brand name and generic prescription medication.”

  • There are no enrollment fees and no limits on usage.
  • Everyone in your household can use the same card.
  • You can use the card at 65,000 participating pharmacies across the county including chain and independent retail pharmacies.

Get a ScriptSave WellRx card

GoodRx

GoodRx is a startup company that operates a free-to-use website and mobile app that tracks prescription drug prices in the United States and provides free drug coupons for discounts on medications. GoodRx checks more than 75,000 pharmacies in the United States.

Sign up or learn more at GoodRx

Financial Assistance

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)

This program is federally funded and provides monthly cash grants to individuals who need financial assistance.

Program Qualifications:

  • Must be the caregiver of a minor child
  • Meet low-income guidelines
  • Be a legal citizen

How do I apply for TANF?

To sign-up for temporary benefits, you can:

General Assistance

General Assistance programs are available in 25 states. It does not require that you have a minor child to receive assistance; however, eligibility requirements vary from state to state. Individuals who are approved for General Assistance will receive monthly cash assistance that can be used for living expenses.

To learn more about General Assistance contact your state’s TANF office.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)

South Carolina is the only state that has a lifetime ban on SNAP for individuals who have been convicted of a felony. The other 49 states have no restrictions or modified restrictions.

You can find out if you’re eligible here.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

“The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is a federally funded program that helps low-income households with their home energy bills. They offer help with the following:

  • Home energy bills
  • Energy crises
  • Weatherization and minor energy-related home repairs

The requirements for the program vary from state to state, but in general, to qualify for the program, you must need help paying your home energy costs. Your annual household income (before taxes) must also be below the maximum income level for your state and household size.”

Find a local LIHEAP program contact information

Federal Assistance Programs

Learn about government programs that provide financial help for individuals here.

Social Services

Contact your county's local social services department to find out what local programs offer financial assistance for individuals who are getting back on their feet. You should be able to find the contact information with a quick online search.

You can also check your state’s social services agency for information about state benefit programs and more.

Find your state’s social service website

The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC)

“The NRRC was established by the Second Chance Act (Public Law 110-199). Signed into law in 2008 and reauthorized in 2018, the Second Chance Act authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide reentry services—including employment assistance, substance use treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services—and to support corrections and supervision practices that aim to reduce recidivism.”

The NRRC developed a Reentry Services Directory to help individuals who have been incarcerated and their families find local reentry services in their state.

Access the directory

Catholic Charities

The mission of Catholic Charities is to provide service to people in need and to advocate for justice in social structures. They offer a wide variety of services including help finding affordable housing, procuring food, and medical services. Some local branches offer financial assistance.

Find Catholic Charities near you

Lifeline

“Lifeline typically provides up to a $9.25 monthly discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers. Subscribers may receive a Lifeline discount on either a wireline or a wireless service, but they may not receive a discount on both services at the same time. Lifeline also supports broadband Internet access service and broadband-voice bundles. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household.

Lifeline is available to eligible low-income consumers in every state, commonwealth, territory, and on Tribal lands.

To participate in the Lifeline program, consumers must either have an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participate in certain federal assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Medicaid. You can see if you are eligible by reviewing the information available at lifelinesupport.org.”

Childcare Assistance

ChildCare.gov

Sponsored by the federal government, this tool allows you to find local resources for child care, health and social services, financial assistance, support for children with special needs, and more.

Search ChildCare.gov

Head Start

Head Start and Early Head Start programs provide free learning and development services to children ages birth to 5 from low-income families. Eligibility is generally based on family income at or below the poverty level according to the Poverty Guidelines published by the federal government. Children in foster care, homeless children, and children from families receiving public assistance (TANF or SSI) are eligible regardless of income. Contact your local Head Start program for more information on how to enroll.

Find your local Head Start

Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R)

There are over 400 CCR&R agencies in the United States. Your local CCR&R can help families find childcare options near your home or work. They also offer access to state by state resources about available childcare, financial assistance, and health and social services.

Check out CCR&R’s Resources

Check your local Department of Social Services (DSS)

DSS should have a list of local childcare resources available in your county. Check their website or call the office for information.

California

CalWorks Childcare

If you live in the state of California, you may be able to get childcare assistance through the CalWorks Childcare program. The program provides childcare payment assistance for children up to the age of 12. To enroll, you’ll need to contact your county's welfare department.

Learn more about CalWorks Childcare

Find your local welfare office

ONLINE LEGAL SUPPORT

Avvo

If you have legal questions you might be able to get them answered on Avvo. Avvo has a Q&A forum where you can post questions and—if they are not too complex—get free answers from attorneys in your state.

Tips:

  • Avvo’s Q&A is a public forum, remember to protect your privacy! Don’t post your real name or contact information.
  • Do include your state and the type of law the question falls into.

Check out Avvo

Justia

You get the answers to basic legal questions about family law, employment law, criminal law, and more from Justia.

Tips:

  • Protect your privacy! Don’t post your real name or contact information.
  • There is a character limit, so be direct and brief.

Check out Justia

American Bar Association (ABA) Free Legal Answers (FLA)

The ABA set this service up to mimic a “free walk-in model.” Individuals can get free advice about civil issues from lawyers in their state.

Note: ABA’s FLA can only assist with civil non-criminal issues.

Check out ABA’s Free Legal Answers

FLA’s archives past questions that are accessible here (scroll down to the bottom of page).

Tips for Finding Online Legal Help

  • Make sure it’s really free!
    If the service asks you for your credit card information before allowing you to access your “free” advice, abandon ship. In the same category, watch out for services that offer a free consultation, but charge for follow-up information.
  • Know the source.
    There are lots of places to find free legal advice online.
    • Twitter
      Some lawyers will respond if you tweet a respectful question at them.
    • Quora
      Ask a group, but you’ll need to create an account and be willing to wait for an answer.
    • Legal Advice Subreddit
      Make sure you read the rules and follow them, or you’ll get banned.

    However, before you follow any of the advice you receive, check the source for credibility.

Ask:

  • What authority are they speaking from?
  • Are they a legal professional or officer of the court?
  • What evidence or source are they citing to back up their assertions?

If the source is an individual citing the experience of a friend of their third-cousin, in a completely different situation, in a different state, that is not advice you want to follow.

LEGAL SERVICES

State Bar Association (SBA)

Your SBA should be able to provide you with a list of attorneys that do pro-bono work in your state.

Find your SBA

Pro Bono Resource Directory

If you strike out with your SBA, try this resource from the ABA listing pro bono resources in your state.

Check Out ABA’s Pro Bono Directory

Legal Aid

“Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 134 independent nonprofit legal aid organizations in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. Territories.”

Find a Legal Aid Office

LawHelp

“LawHelp helps people of low and moderate incomes find free legal aid programs in their communities, answers to questions about their legal rights and forms to help them with their legal problems.”

Find information about your legal rights by topic, such as housing, divorce, child support, and debt collection.

Check out LawHelp

STATE SERVICES

ABA’s Other Resources

Find a state-by-state list of legal resources available in your state.

Check out ABA’s Other Resources

Voting

Do you live in Maine or Vermont? You can vote! Individuals never lose their right to vote in these states, even while incarcerated.

As of August 5, 2020, all states have a pathway to voting restoration. However, who is eligible and the process to have voting rights restored varies from state-to-state. The tools below can help you find the answers you need.

See a comprehensive list of each state’s voting rights restoration policy

Still not sure? Answer a set of anonymous questions and this simple form will tell you if you are eligible to vote in your state and what you need to do register to vote.