For more than a year, Murray Wilson has bathed, fed, and clothed his 75-year-old mother, whose chronic inflammatory condition confines her to a bed most days.
He became his mother’s caregiver upon his release from prison in July 2021. This newfound responsibility coupled with his emancipation made navigating reentry uniquely challenging until a pilot universal basic income program made caring for his loved one feasible.
“When I got out, I hadn’t seen my mom in so long, and I wanted to be a part of helping her out,” said Wilson. “But, knowing there’s a part of me that gotta get my life together and get myself back on track, it was hard to balance.”
Wilson’s mother found unexpected ways to thank him for caring for her. Every now and then, she’d try to slip a few dollars into his pocket, but he always found it hard to accept the cash. Given that she had been such a wonderful parent to him, he said, he couldn’t possibly take her money.
Not that he couldn’t use the cash—reentry after incarceration is expensive, especially in Florida. A person with a felony conviction in Florida can owe, on average, as much $8,000 in restitution, not to mention being strapped with court, attorney, and probation fees. The cost of supervision, a probationary fee for people reentering, in Gainesville is $50 per month.