"Every Person Is Endowed with Human Dignity and Value"
The council of the District of Columbia approved councilmember Charles Allen's Second Chance Month Recognition Resolution. April 2018 is now officially Second Chance Month in our nation's capital!
The resolution declares that "every person is endowed with human dignity and value," including the estimated 65 million Americans who have a criminal record. (Some estimates, like the one used by the District city council, are even higher.) In addition, the resolution recognizes that "redemption and compassion are American and District values."
Returning citizens account for one in 10 of the District's residents. While the District has passed groundbreaking legislation to reduce limitations on employment and housing for former prisoners, many collateral consequences (barriers to reentry) are automatic and do not consider the individual's situation or efforts to make amends.
During Second Chance Month, the council is considering reforms so that District residents with criminal records can move forward with their lives. The Mayor's Office on Returning Citizen Affairs already provides a national model for other jurisdictions by providing zealous advocacy, high-quality services, and useful information for the empowerment of previously incarcerated persons.
THE 'SECOND PRISON'
But what exactly is Second Chance Month?
We all want to be treated with dignity and have the opportunity to reach our potential. But for the one in four American adults with a criminal record, that simple dream can feel unattainable. People who have already paid their debt to society get stuck in a "second prison" of social stigma and 48,000 legal restrictions that bar their access to education, jobs, housing, and more.
Because of this, Prison Fellowship® celebrates "Second Chance Month" in April to help unlock brighter futures for 65 million Americans.
Prison Fellowship is organizing awareness efforts, including a press event, policy briefings, Second Chances 5Ks, and "Second Chance Sunday" events held by churches, as well as coordinated petitions and social media campaigns.
"The District joins states Michigan and Oklahoma in recognizing April 2018 as Second Chance Month. We now have more than 100 national partners like the Center for American Progress, Koch Industries, and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, and we hope President Trump joins this effort as well," says Craig DeRoche, senior vice president of advocacy and public policy at Prison Fellowship.