After over four decades of disenfranchisement, Californians on parole now have the right to vote. Because the U.S. invests heavily in mass incarceration, the number of people who have lost their right to vote because of their parole status has risen from 1.7 million Americans in 1976 to 6.1 million in 2016. This act would…

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Welcome back to the Tales of Two Cities podcast!  This episode is about being locked up. This week we’ll meet formerly incarcerated people who share their experiences behind bars and also learn about the ways they’re getting their lives back on track after their release. We’ll also look at a different kind of lock up…

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Californians who are incarcerated in state prison or on state parole are prohibited from voting—which affects 162,000 people across the state. Taina Vargas-Edmond is seeking to change that with a grassroots initiative to put the issue before voters. Her partner in the campaign is her husband, Richard Vargas-Edmond, a prisoner organizing signature gathering from within…

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Last year in June, East Bay-resident Dieudonné Brou graduated from UCLA in African American studies. During his commencement speech, he revealed himself as formerly incarcerated. Even though higher education offers a chance to break the cycle of recidivism, barriers like financial difficulties and social stigma are high for formerly incarcerated people.

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When James Smith was released on parole in 2007, the Department of Corrections gave him $200 and pointed him out the door—he had no support, nowhere to go, nothing but the clothes on his back. It had been years since he had been on the outside. In a matter of months, Smith was asking his parole officer whether he could be sent back to prison rather than finish parole. Without a job, life outside proved to be difficult—too uncertain. “I couldn’t find a job,” said the 45-year-old Oakland native. “It’s like being a pariah.”

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