On any given day, the American criminal justice system holds about 2.3 million people – the highest per capita incarceration rate among developed nations. Each year, 600,000 individuals enter state and federal facilities and more than 650,000 people are released. The collateral consequences of incarceration are far-reaching and complex, and can include problems with family, employment, housing, banking, and health. A holistic approach to reentry that enables returning citizens to become contributing members of society is essential, not only to give these individuals a real second chance but also for public safety and to help reduce recidivism.
First Step Alliance, a New Jersey registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is dedicated to improving the financial lives of formerly incarcerated people and their families. For millions of justice-involved individuals, fair treatment in banking is a huge issue, with many completely shut out of the financial system. Our mission is to help advance successful reentry through improved access to the mainstream banking services and financial education people need to achieve sustainable financial independence. We partner with reentry and other community-based organizations to provide formerly incarcerated people with access to our Fresh Start Banking & Financial Education Programs, which include a safe and affordable bank account, a state-of-the-art online learning platform with many important financial topics, and individual credit counseling services.