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Per ABC News, in a collaborative effort between the guaranteed income pilot program Just Income GNV and Mayors for a Guaranteed Income (MGI), selected formerly incarcerated Gainesville residents to receive $1,000 in January, followed by $600 each month for a year.

Is there a Catch?

While the funding is no-strings-attached, recipient spending is monitored for research purposes. Steady is the technology firm and app that helps distribute money to recipients. They claim to track recipients’ spending as part of their own research and to advocate for its practical usefulness.

Adam Roseman, Steady’s CEO and co-founder denounced stereotypes that low-income earners spend money irresponsibly or that recipients aren’t financially literate. Roseman validates the program: “They’re spending the money on things that are important to their daily lives, food, housing, paying down debt payments, acquiring new skills through career programs.”

The program aims to address the cycle of financial inequality that often affects people impacted by the criminal justice system, especially in Florida which, according to the Prison Policy Initiative, outpaces the overall U.S. incarceration rate. “We’ve actually seen income lifts as sizable as 40 or 50% for those individuals that received emergency cash or universal basic income,” Roseman said.

Freed prisoners often face an abundance of discrimination and barriers to economic opportunities that make recidivism rates rise. Along with criminal fines, debt, fees, and parole costs, freed men and women can feel confined well beyond their served sentence.

But this is where Just Income GNV and MGI step in. Cash assistance, according to Sukhi Samra, director of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, has been extremely helpful.

Guaranteed Income helps those in need.

Samra says she’s seen people escape abusive marriages, address their mental health, outlast unemployment, and stabilize their lives however necessary. The ultimate goal: “a federal policy. We are investing in pilots like the one in Gainesville to build the evidence base for a federal guaranteed income,” Samra said.

If these programs garner national support and implementation, it could be the very assistance many need to not only reintegrate into society but have a helping hand along the journey.

Hailing from Charlotte North Carolina, born litterateur Ezekiel J. Walker earned a B.A. in Psychology at Winston Salem State University. Walker later published his first creative nonfiction book and has...