When Russell was released in June of 2020, he was faced with a major challenge on top of an already challenging situation: reentering society during a pandemic. Opportunities for work were even slimmer than usual and support systems were largely remote or non-existent.
Russell talked about many of the struggles other returning citizens have also faced, but he also mentioned that dating has been much harder. He knows it goes back to the root of the problem, which is the stigmatization of returning citizens as “bad people.” Whether it’s a potential employer, a friend, or a potential date, everyone pegs him as a a criminal who is incapable of change. Russell believes that until the world is more accepting and open-minded, we will continue to have mass incarceration and high recidivism rates.