About The Campaign

By Joining the End the Stigma/Expand Opportunities campaign you are showing your support for millions of Americans and their families who are impacted by discriminatory policies that hinder them from becoming self-supporting, productive and contributing citizens.

Far too many formerly incarcerated men and women are disconnected from opportunities and full citizenship because they’ve been branded as ex-offenders. This lifetime stigma touches anyone who has a criminal record, and it takes a particularly heavy toll on people of color.

The oppressive legal barriers and sanctions that undergird the stigma are the building blocks of modern-day inequality, keeping millions of deserving Americans on the fringes of mainstream society.

Think Outside the Cell is tackling this problem head-on by developing a formal national coalition and full-scale national campaign that work to dismantle these barriers.

The coalition and campaign include stakeholders from America’s rich tapestry of professions, experiences, affiliations and pursuits, including but not limited to the following: incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people; media; probation and parole officials; local, state and federal legislators and government officials; civil and human rights advocates; business leaders; labor union members; private and public employers; nonprofit administrators; students; teachers

Together we can break down the legal barriers and sanctions that support and strengthen the stigma. Until we do, this nationwide web of oppressive laws and policies will continue to

  • deny employment—even though the lack of a job is a major factor in recidivism
  • deny housing—even though the lack of stable housing is directly tied to returning to prison or jail
  • deny access to college—even though the more education the formerly incarcerated receive, the better the job they can secure, and the less likely they are to return to prison
  • deny the right to vote—even though civic participation can make a person feel that he has a stake in his community, and lessen the chances of re-arrest
  • deny public benefits—even though food stamps and welfare assistance too often offer the last hope of staying afloat and avoiding prison’s revolving door