The Muslim Re-entry Initiative is an effort to help formerly incarcerated Muslims who were unable to have their various needs addressed following time spent in prison. They need help finding housing, employment, counseling, assistance uniting with their families upon their return and most of all, places to worship with other congregants.
The project works on behalf of currently incarcerated and formerly incarcerated Muslims to decrease the rate at which Muslims return to prison following release.
Muslims are in America’s prisons!
Nationally, 30% of African-Americans in prison are Muslims.
An estimated 350,000 Muslims are housed in Federal, state or local prisons around the country.
About 5% of all Muslims in America and 12% of all African American Muslims are in prison or jail across America.
25% of African Americans in New York State prisons are Muslims.
About 80% of those seeking faith while in prison come to Islam.
Between 30,000 and 40,000 convert to Islam while in prison each year.
95% of all State prisoners will eventually be released from prison.
The number of Muslims in New York State prisons is staggering and likely to be under-reported since 9/11 when some ceased reporting their religious affiliation. Among the orthodox Muslims the numbers counted over the years have fluctuated:
7,787 in 1990
11,634 in 1995
11,769 in 2000
9,044 in 2005
Current estimates of the number of Muslims in New York State prisons range between 6,000 and 10,000. The New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision reported that in 2013 about 11% (more than 6,000 of the estimated 54,000) of the its incarcerated population were Muslims.
While the work Muslims have done in prison is known, on issues of reentry Muslims do not have structured programs, policies, or positions related to transitioning formerly incarcerated Muslims into the Muslim Community. Moreover, Muslims have few if any links to the broader community, community-base or other faith-based movements engaged in advocacy and services related to reentry.
Other findings leading to the work of the Muslim Re-entry Initiative
United States Constitution
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. The 13th amendment has facilitated racism at every phase of the US Criminal Justice system. As a result, incarceration is utilized as a matter of policy for dealing with mostly poor people of color.
The problem of mass incarceration in the United States is the human/civil rights issue of the 21st century.
More than 7 million US citizens are on probation, in jail/prison or on parole
3.2% of all United States adult residents
1 in every 32 adults
In the United States, citizens of color are disproportionately represented in the ranks of the incarcerated.
Whites are least likely to be sent to prison when convicted of a crime.
The largest percentage of the people under custody in New York State are African Americans and Latinos.
Muslim, like others, have basis needs when seeking to re-integrate into the community!
A place to worship
A wholesome place to gather
Substance abuse treatment
Physical/mental health issues
Muslims have a moral obligation to respond to this community crisis!
The believers, men and women, are Auliya’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another (Qur’aan)
Why it matters:
Islam is growing rapidly inside prisons
Muslims face unique challenges while incarcerated
Muslims face unique challenges when released from prison
The believers are friends and protectors of each other
The resources available to Muslims are vast but not effectively used to aid their formerly incarcerated brothers and sisters. Those available are:
The Muslim Community
Faith based organizations
Community based organizations
The only question remaining is what are we going to do Fisabillahi (in the way of Allah) to address this issue?