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Second Chance Month: What Is It All About?

According to the Department of Justice about 650,000 to 750,000 people are released from incarceration facilities in the U.S. every year. Each of them then begins the journey to reintegrate into their families and society at large.

However, they do not begin on a blank or familiar slate.

On one hand, returning citizens have to catch up on everything that changed while they were away; lifestyle, community structures, professional practices, and much more.

On the other, they also need to positively rebuild their lives to avoid regressing into a life of crime. All this while possibly restoring relationships that were disrupted by incarceration and overcoming the stigma of having served time.

To put it briefly, reentry is not easy. Yet, at the same time, we (in society) need it to work so that we can keep recidivism low and our brothers, sisters, parents, or friends away from re-incarceration.

These concerns have been plaguing society for as long as correctional institutions have been functional in the U.S. To their credit, a few organizations have been making efforts to help returning citizens make successful reentry over the years. Unfortunately, this was barely coordinated and they hardly had any support.

So, in April 2016, the DOJ took the initiative to hold a National Reentry Week in a bid to lower recidivism and tackle the long-standing hurdles of reentry. The events, resources, and information shared during that week were inspiring. More importantly, they were eye-opening enough to help legislators, community leaders, and other stakeholders see that returning citizens not only deserve but can make a positive turnaround when given a second chance.

In 2017, the Prison Fellowship took the cue and declared April to be Second Chance Month. This too was marked by a series of events centered around how returning citizens can prepare for and navigate reentry as well as how society and relevant organizations can support this journey.

Better still, this garnered the support of the U.S. Senate and led to the White House proclaiming April of each subsequent year as Second Chance month.

But, what exactly is the essence of Second Chance month? Is it just a series of events for stakeholders in the justice system?

Well, the events, podcasts, financial aid initiatives, and conversations are certainly key aspects of this important month. However, the true goal is to encourage all of us to support returning citizens in our communities.

The truth is, the justice system does not exist in a bubble. It affects all of us. It could be directly through friends or family that are serving time or set to reenter society soon. Alternatively, it could be indirectly because high recidivism often means a higher rate of crime in your community and more resources being spent on incarceration.

So, this April, we hope you embrace the beautiful burst of spring and also join us in observing Second Chance month. Not sure how to participate? You can begin by donating a reentry workbook or staying tuned to our blog and social media pages for news on events and ways for you to support the cause.

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