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First Step Alliance Report – Economic Health of Justice Involved Individuals

First Step Alliance recently published an eye-opening report on the"Economic Wellbeing of U.S. Adults with Experiences with Incarceration & Unpaid Legal Costs." The information and observations are based on data obtained from the 2019 Federal Reserve Board Survey of Household Economic Decision-making (SHED), a study the Fed conducts every year to understand the range of financial challenges and opportunities facing families in the United States.



The study reveals some very disturbing information and further reinforces the systemic issues formerly incarcerated individuals face, often resulting in poor financial health:

  • One in five (20%) U.S. adults have had a member of their immediate family imprisoned or jailed.

  • Discrimination: those with prison experience were 2x more likely to have experienced discrimination (35% vs.17%)

  • Financial Outlook: fewer than two-thirds reported they were at least “doing ok” vs. 79%.

  • Credit: 2x more likely to have “Poor” or “Very Poor” credit scores (16% vs. 7%) and 2x more likely to have been turned down for credit (35% vs.18%).

  • Access to Banking: 2x more likely to be unbanked or underbanked (32% vs.15%).

  • Alternative Financial Services: 2x more likely to have used these high cost services (29% vs.13%).


First Step Alliance is committed to increasing access to financial services for justice-involved individuals. Our goal is to help change these outcomes through our Fresh Start Financial Education and Banking initiatives, and improve the financial health and wellbeing of formerly incarcerated people and their families.


You can read our entire report here




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