Kana Hansen is a Membership Clerk at Do Space. They have a background in social justice work, music technology, and public health.
According to the 2018 “Out of Prison, Out of Work” report from the Prison Policy Initiative, the 27% unemployment rate among formerly incarcerated persons is nearly 5 times the general U.S. unemployment rate, with further disparities for Black men (35.2%) and Black women (43.6%). The challenges of finding stable and non-exploitive employment for system-impacted persons creates ripples within our communities.
The “digital divide” refers to the gap between those who have access to computers and the Internet, and those who do not. According to the latest American Community Survey (2014-2018), 17.4% of households in Douglas County lack broadband Internet access at home, and 11.0% of households lack access to a computer. Omaha’s digital divide fuels a broader knowledge gap in that those who lack access to the Internet and computers also often lack the digital skills needed to use that technology. This lack of access to, and comfort with, technology creates a significant barrier to citizen success — limiting information access, educational attainment, and future job prospects. Addressing the digital divide is especially important for formerly incarcerated persons who often encounter both a learning curve to new technologies and media as well as limited access both during their incarceration and while in the community (Reisdorf & Ricard 2018).
At Do Space, we believe that the future belongs to those who understand technology. That’s why our members have free access to powerful fiber Wi-Fi Internet, high-end computer stations, 3D printers, and technology-focused learning opportunities for all ages and levels of technological experience. In addition to what we provide for the community, we want to highlight two local organizations doing amazing work especially in the realm of career assistance for system-impacted persons: Black and Pink and RISE.
Black and Pink (B&P) was founded in 2005 on two central principles: dismantling the criminal punishment system and liberating LGBTQIA2S+ people and those living with HIV/AIDS who are affected by that system through advocacy, support, and organizing. Earlier this year, B&P opened the Lydon House here in Omaha, a transitional living space for formerly incarcerated LGBTQIA2S+ persons. B&P’s R.E.A.P Program focuses on addressing the difficult issues that formerly incarcerated queer and transgender people face when they are reentering into the community, from a lack of safe residency and medical care to employment and self-development. If you are formerly incarcerated, a part of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, and in need of assistance, please complete this form.
RISE is an innovative “inside-out” program serving incarcerated people through an intensive six-month reentry preparation class at seven Nebraska prisons and providing reentry services to released program graduates. Their Nebraska reentry program helps the previously incarcerated from their program with case management, transportation, housing support, basic needs, and employment services. Securing solid employment is a critical piece of reentering the community post-incarceration. By offering resume and online job readiness training, they’re doing what they can to aid the system-impacted in our community. RISE reports an impressive overall employment rate of program graduates of 91%! You can learn how to get involved with RISE here.
If you or someone you know might benefit from their services and the community they provide, we absolutely recommend reaching out. For those who are not system-impacted themselves but are looking to help, please feel free to promote these organizations and the amazing work that they are doing for our community.
Couloute, L., & Kopf, D. (2018). Out of Prison & Out of Work: Unemployment Among Formerly Incarcerated People. Prison Policy Initiative. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/outofwork.html
Reisdorf, B. C., & Rikard, R. V. (2018). Digital Rehabilitation: A Model of Reentry Into the Digital Age. American Behavioral Scientist, 62(9), 1273-1290. doi:10.1177/0002764218773817
This blogpost follows language use recommendations from the following guide: https://undergroundscholars.berkeley.edu/news/2019/3/6/language-guide-for-communicating-about-those-involved-in-the-carceral-system