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Bridges to Freedom

Bridges to Freedom was designed driven by my passion to create platforms where individuals from different backgrounds can freely engage, I created an application on my own collaborating with Unheard Voice Outreach to create a mobile platform to provide past incarcerated individuals with necessary assistance for re-entry into society.

Re-entry Design| Inclusive Design| UI/UX | 2023



The Problem: Past Incarcerated Individuals Need More Assistance to Transition Back into Their Community

Current issue: Past incarcerated individuals face many problems re-entering society; between fewer job opportunities and the ever-changing outside world, they face a greater separation from society.

Challenges facing re-entry into workforce and community:

1. The “box rule”: limits finding employment
2. Lack of resources & Gap in re-entry information
3. Compounded by feeling of insecurity & lack of acceptance

My Mission: To Provide Past Incarcerated Individuals with Necessary Recommendations to Re-entry

As a design consultant, I sought to collaborate with Unheard Voice Outreach, drawn to their mission of aiding the reintegration of previously incarcerated individuals in Tennessee to successfully transition back into the civic, economic, and technological community
After user research and many rounds of iteration, I created a platform combined with Unheard Voices Outreach’s resources that provide past incarcerated individuals with:

Contact re-entry consultant



Match suitable


Connect with 

community events

My collaborating process

Meeting as a design-consultant

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Unheard Voices Outreach

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User research with Past Incarcerated Individuals

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IDEATION Prototype

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Outcome Platform

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Research & Analysis

High Return and Recidivism in the United States

The United States criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in its custody each year, giving it the distinction of having the highest per capital incarceration rate in the world.
Nationally, each year an average of 626,000 individuals leave prison gates each year, but 10.6 million enter prison gates in the same time span

Current Life After Incarceration

The Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) offers a three-month housing assistance program for all individuals transitioning from Federal institutions, with no obligation for repayment.
Individuals lose their right to vote, their right to privacy, and even some of their First Amendment rights.
Individuals may receive support or resources from local reentry organizations or non-profit groups individuals, but still face limited employment opportunities, inadequate housing options, and barriers to social services.
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Key Insights

  • Incarcerated individuals face challenges upon release, leainging to high rates of recidivism

  • Incarcerated individuals lack awarness of access to re-entry resources

  • Incarcerated individuals within lower security prisons have access to smartphones or internet within the system

Pain Points

  • Information gap about re-entry programs, job opportunities, support services available to them 

  • Stigmatization towards individuals with criminal records which can affect job prospects and housing ptions

  • Navigating complex re-entry programs, parole , probation can become overwhelming 

Potential Opportunities

  • Make re-entry process more humane 

  • Direct communication with consultants 

  • Resource hub and matching 

  • Education tools 

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With the users identified, I researched the difficulties previously incarcerated individuals experience and how an application can benefit them post-incarceration. While some prisons grant internet access to prisoners, most institutions don't allow it, making re-entry one of the first times using technology again. Given that most of the previously incarcerated individuals may be dealing with many emotional hardships, this app should be simple and intuitive. Something else I kept in mind was keeping the tone light and being cautious with wording. 

I prioritized three feature requests based on research and user needs: available resources, contact re-entry consultants, and a community volunteer application

First-entry sign-up for incarcerated individuals

Individuals who downloaded the app will be taken to the sign-in page. When creating an account, they will select whom they are registering as, and questions and process for sign-up will vary for each individual. These screens are directed toward incarcerated individuals and differ from other groups below.

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Volunteer and consultant sign-up 

Users signing up as community volunteers or re-entry consultants will be taken to this flow. The questions differ from incarcerated individuals. Once forms are submitted, users can only edit their profile and view their application progress until approval.

Homepage for incarcerated individuals 

After sign-up, users gain access to the home page, providing resources, consultant contact, and program participation details.  Any meetings they have coming up will be displayed on the home screen. Additionally, their application progress will be displayed at the bottom of the page to help keep track of meetings and programs they have applied for. Because this app's goal is for individuals to utilize the resources available, there is a defined journey so users can get to their desired screen ASAP.

Available resources 

The "Access Resources" option on the home page leads users to UVO-approved resources. Users can filter and sort these resources to match their interests and needs. Clicking a resource offers more details, allowing users to decide its relevance before proceeding. This approach saves time by presenting critical information upfront for user convenience.

Contact re-entry consultants 

Users can choose "Contact a consultant" from the home page, where they can access basic information about UVO's consultants, including location, meeting location, and experience duration. Consultants can be sorted and filtered by location, experience, gender, and more. UVO also welcomes previously incarcerated individuals as consultants who can share their experiences, making some users feel more comfortable due to shared experiences


Users can view their basic information and reasons for consulting upon selecting a consultant. Users can schedule a quick chat or a full appointment based on their preferences, allowing for interaction flexibility. They can then send a request to initiate the consultation.

If users are not yet ready to consult but are interested in a specific consultant, they can save their profiles for future reference, accessible from their profile on the home screen.

Conclusion and reflection

What I found important during this project is understanding from an ex-incarcerated person pov, which is very different from our own. Why would they use this app? That seems to be the question surrounding all of UX, but it is even more essential for us to understand these individuals. These individuals who, once released, are not allowed many of their previous rights within society, are not allowed to vote, have little access to education, fewer job opportunities, and many other public benefits. If a user decides they want to use this second chance on their next step, this mobile app needs to provide everything the organization has to offer but at the same time not pressure the user into commitments they cannot commit to yet. 

The next steps would include testing and asking users for feedback to improve our design continuously. 

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