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Counseling Considerations Regarding Criminal Backgrounds: VR Counselors – Factsheet

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Key Facts:

Fact 1:

As many as 600,000 individuals are released from U.S. correctional facilities each year, and it is estimated that as many as 38% of such individuals have at least one disability.

Fact 2:

Individuals with criminal backgrounds that identify as having a disability or chronic health condition comprise a specialized population in need of vocational rehabilitation services post-release.

Fact 3:

The stigmatization around criminal backgrounds in our nation further intensifies the barriers experienced by individuals that have been incarcerated, long after their sentence has been carried out.
Of the approximately 600,000 individuals released from U.S. correctional facilities each year, nearly 2 out of 5 have at least one disability.

Fact 4:

Due to potential distrust and negative associations with the overall criminal justice system, it is critical to establish a strong, positive working alliance with justice-involved individuals to maximize employment outcome potential.

Fact 5:

Utilization of strengths-based counseling techniques such as motivational interviewing can improve overall client self-efficacy to persist in the job market and overall reentry process.

Fact 6:

Vocational rehabilitation counselors are well-positioned to provide career and vocational counseling to formerly incarcerated individuals with disabilities.

Recommended Readings:

  • Bates-Maves, J. K., & O’Sullivan, D. (2017). Making the Case for Specialized Caseloads Among Vocational Rehabilitation Counselors Working With Ex-Offenders: A Pilot Study. Rehabilitation Research, Policy, and Education, 31(2), 121-134.
  • Baloch, N. A., & Jennings, W. G. (2018). Offender vocational rehabilitation services and postrelease employment: A case for inmates with disabilities. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 57(6), 402-414.

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