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How Much Is A Discharge Grant From Prison?

The day you walk out of those prison gates can feel liberating and overwhelming all at once. Perhaps you served years or even decades behind bars. Now you’ve been handed the keys to a second chance at life. But that newfound freedom comes with many challenges and unanswered questions.

Where will you live? How will you get a job and provide for yourself with a criminal record? What public assistance programs are available to help you get back on your feet? This guide covers everything you need to know to successfully restart your life after doing time.

Preparing For Release

The first step to a smooth transition is using your time in prison wisely. If possible, participate in educational, vocational, and rehabilitation programs. Learn skills that will help you secure employment. Earn certifications or college credits. Build up your resume. Stay focused on setting yourself up for success.

Start Planning Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out your release plan. The earlier you start making arrangements and lining up resources, the better prepared you’ll be to hit the ground running when you get out. Handling matters like:

  • Housing
  • Employment
  • Transportation
  • Healthcare
  • Finances
  • Parole requirements

Apply for Assistance Programs

Many public assistance programs can help provide housing, food, healthcare, job training, and other services both while incarcerated and after release. Explore all options and apply early:

  • Transitional Housing – Temporary, subsidized housing and support services.
  • SNAP – Food stamps/nutrition assistance money.
  • Medicaid – Health insurance if you meet eligibility criteria.
  • Workforce Development – Job search assistance, skills training, career counseling.
  • Community Resources – Clothes, transportation, mentoring, substance abuse counseling.

Obtain Identification Documents

You’ll need a driver’s license or state ID, Social Security card, and birth certificate to access benefits, housing, employment, and more. Request documentation through your case manager if needed.

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Make a Realistic Budget

Figure out what your basic living expenses will be for housing, food, transportation, clothing, healthcare. Then identify potential income sources through work, assistance programs, family/friends, savings. Create a realistic budget so you know how much money you’ll need to earn and save.

Finding Housing

One of the biggest worries after being incarcerated is wondering where you’ll lay your head that first night out. With limited resources, securing affordable and stable housing is crucial yet challenging. But there are solutions if you plan ahead.

Temporary and Transitional Housing

These programs provide subsidized, short-term housing for ex-offenders getting back on their feet. They may also offer supportive services like counseling, career assistance, healthcare referrals. Options include:

  • Halfway houses
  • Sober living homes
  • Nonprofit transitional programs
  • Emergency shelters
  • Religious organization housing

To get accepted, you’ll need to apply and interview before release. This temporary housing can serve as a stepping stone while you work towards finding permanent residence.

Applying for Your Own Place

Eventually you’ll want to get your own apartment or house. Be prepared to address your criminal background on applications. Highlight positive renter attributes like steady income, good references, participation in reentry programs. Options for finding housing include:

  • Classified ads
  • Rental agencies
  • Public housing
  • Section 8/Housing Choice Vouchers
  • Roommates/shared housing

Save up for security deposits, first month’s rent and furnishings. Having a transition housing counselor or parole officer help can also improve chances with landlords.

Finding Work and Income

Gainful employment provides financial stability and a sense of purpose after prison. But jobs don’t come easy with a record. Arm yourself with the skills, knowledge and attitude to overcome this challenge.

Build Your Resume

Showcase relevant work experience, training programs, education and skills on your resume. Explain any employment gaps due to incarceration in your cover letter. Be ready to pass background checks. Focus on highlighting positives like:

  • Certifications earned
  • Vocational skills
  • People/customer service skills
  • Participation in counseling/rehab
  • Volunteer work

Search for “Second Chance” Employers

Seek out companies willing to hire ex-offenders. Look into warehouse, construction, manufacturing and temp agency jobs. Target employers offering apprenticeships and on-the-job training. Search online and check with career counselors for felon-friendly leads.

Consider Self-Employment

Starting your own business allows you to avoid background checks and workplace stigma. Mobile, gig economy and home-based businesses offer low start-up costs. Develop your entrepreneurial skills and business plan pre-release. Crowdfunding, small business loans and incentives exist for ex-convicts pursuing this path.

Seek Additional Income Sources

While establishing your career, supplemental income can help cover basic expenses. Look into part-time and temporary work. Apply for public assistance programs providing unemployment benefits, disability income, work stipends, career grants and more. Don’t overlook tax refunds, child support and help from family.

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Getting Support You Need

Beyond economic necessities, returning citizens have a range of other reintegration needs from healthcare to counseling. Seek out resources and services to help you overcome challenges and temptations.

Access Healthcare Coverage

Get medical and mental wellness support. Medicaid offers free or low-cost coverage that assists with:

  • Managing chronic health conditions
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Counseling for PTSD, anger issues, abuse
  • Continuing medications

If ineligible for Medicaid, community health clinics provide affordable care options.

Continue Education

More education improves career prospects. Local colleges offer financial aid and support programs catered to ex-offenders. You can earn an associate, bachelor’s or trade degree. Certain prisons allow inmates to start taking college courses before release.

Lean on Your Support Network

Don’t go it alone. Having close friends, family and a faith community around you builds a positive environment. Join peer support groups with others sharing the reentry journey. If lacking such connections, mentoring programs can help fill the gap.

Avoid Old Connections and Hangouts

To stay out of trouble, you may need to cut ties to negative influences and environments. Make a fresh start with new social circles. Use your self-discipline to steer clear of old stomping grounds like bars, drug corners and gang territories that can trigger relapse.

Stay on Top of Parole Requirements

Strictly follow all parole conditions related to reporting, drug testing, geographic restrictions and behavioral standards. Parole is an opportunity for greater freedom after prison, not a free pass to slip back into criminal ways.

Financial Assistance Programs

Funds are tight when first getting back on your feet after incarceration. Apply for any and all assistance programs you might qualify for to cover basic necessities until you gain self-sufficiency again.

Release Money

The Discharge Grant or Gate Money given at release offers $50-200 to cover immediate expenses like transportation, food, housing and clothes. The small amount stresses the need to save up and plan ahead.

Food Stamps (SNAP)

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly funds on a debit card to buy groceries. You may use SNAP at approved retailers or farmers markets. Eligibility and benefit amounts depend on your household size, income level, assets and expenses. Apply at local social services offices.

Cash Assistance

Your state may offer temporary monthly payments to extremely low-income adults without dependents through General Assistance programs. Cash aid can be used for any basic living expense like rent, utilities and medical care. Eligibility rules vary widely by state. Apply through social services.

Healthcare Coverage

Medicaid provides free or affordable health insurance to qualifying low-income individuals. Benefits include doctor visits, prescriptions, hospitalization and substance abuse treatment. Some states expanded coverage to childless non-disabled adults under the Affordable Care Act. If ineligible, community health clinics are low-cost options for the uninsured.

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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSI pays monthly benefits to disabled, blind and seniors over 65 with limited income and assets. Applicants must prove they are physically or mentally unable to work substantial gainful activity. Maximum monthly benefits are $841 for 2023. A disability determination can take 3-5 months.

Family and Community Support

Don’t be too proud to accept help from family and friends as you work to build a new life. Let loved ones provide housing, transportation, groceries and encouragement. Also seek aid from religious groups, nonprofits and social services. Show them you’re motivated to work hard.


The road to getting reestablished after incarceration has many challenges but also valuable opportunities. Take it step-by-step. Build a strong foundation through education, job training, counseling and financial planning before release.

Then keep pushing forward each day as a free citizen to create a stable, responsible life. Surround yourself with positive people. Accept temporary setbacks as part of the process. With determination to see your second chance through, you can thrive again.

Table of Crimes and Convictions

CrimeDate ConvictedQuote on Conviction
Armed RobberyMarch 2012“My conviction for armed robbery was a wake up call. I knew I had to change the path I was on.”
Drug TraffickingJanuary 2009“Getting locked up for drug trafficking turned my life upside down, but it ultimately saved my life.”
Aggravated AssaultJune 2005“After being convicted of aggravated assault, I learned violence only breeds more violence instead of solving problems.”
BurglaryNovember 2001“The burglary conviction when I was 18 taught me I can’t build a future by taking from others.”
DUI ManslaughterSeptember 1999“Receiving a 10-year sentence for DUI manslaughter haunted me every day. I vowed to honor the victim by changing myself.”

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money will I get when released from prison?

Most prisons provide a small discharge grant of $50-200 to cover immediate transportation, food and housing upon release. The limited funds given at the prison gate means you should save money and plan for expenses ahead of time.

Where can felons find jobs after release?

Felon-friendly employers include warehouses, construction companies, manufacturers, temp agencies, and some franchises. Focus your job search on second chance employers. Small businesses and self-employment are other options.

What documents and IDs do I need after incarceration?

To restart your life, obtain a state ID or driver’s license, Social Security card, birth certificate, educational records, medical records, housing documents, and court/parole documents.

What types of government assistance can ex-felons get?

Needy ex-offenders can qualify for food stamps (SNAP), Medicaid health coverage, welfare cash assistance (TANF or GA), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), unemployment benefits, work stipends, and other aid. Transitional housing programs also provide support.

How do you explain a felony conviction on a job or housing application?

Briefly account for the conviction in your cover letter. Focus on positive steps since your offense like rehabilitation programs, vocational training, volunteer work, and support community. Highlight skills and motivation to add value as an employee or tenant.

Prison Inside Team

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We are dedicated to exploring the intricacies of prison life and justice reform through firsthand experiences and expert insights.

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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