There are a lot of Louisianians with criminal records. The state has the second-highest incarceration rate in the country, behind Oklahoma. In New Orleans, 1 in 7 African American men have been incarcerated at some point in their lives. Louisianians with felonies also face the most restrictions in the nation when it comes to getting jobs.
Cheundra Bailey and Ernest Canty both have felonies. They met as homeless teenagers in the 90’s and became fast friends. Within two years, Bailey was pregnant with her first child - she was 14- and Canty was incarcerated for drug possession. The two lost touch for nearly two decades.
Then, this spring they reconnected.
Now Bailey and Canty are living together, supporting each other and their children. But with their criminal records, each day they face a choice - turn to selling drugs, or continue the struggle to find legal work.