Lee spent most of his adult life committing crimes and going in and out of jail and prison. But now he says he's ready to change. Why? He learned he could have a second chance.
Lee was incarcerated in Ohio, where he connected with Prison Fellowship®. First he received a free Inside Journal® NLT Life Recovery Bible. Then he participated in a Second Chance™ 5K inside his facility.
"This fellowship really opened my eyes to a whole new world and life that's here for me," he says. "I'm grateful for this chance to change."
For the next six months, Lee will serve the remainder of his time in a halfway house. Once he completes his sentence, he'll face an uphill battle against 44,000 legal barriers to housing, education, and jobs.
UNLOCKING SECOND CHANCES
Since 2017, Prison Fellowship has spearheaded Second Chance™ Month every April to raise awareness of those barriers and to unlock second chances for some 70 million Americans with a criminal record.
Through storytelling, awareness-building events, a nationwide media campaign, and government resolutions and proclamations, Second Chance Month affirms that people with a criminal record have the dignity and capacity to make important contributions to society. Prison Fellowship provides opportunities for people with criminal records to speak about their experiences, challenging negative stereotypes with narratives of hope and transformation.
The effort continues to build momentum, and April 2019 was the best Second Chance Month yet! Here are some of the highlights.
'This fellowship really opened my eyes to a whole new world and life that’s here for me.
I’m grateful for this chance to change.'
Prison Fellowship urged government bodies at the state and federal levels to issue proclamations or resolutions officially recognizing April as Second Chance Month. This year saw more proclamations than ever. The White House and 23 states declared April 2019 as Second Chance Month.
Leading up to those proclamations, 630 Prison Fellowship Justice Advocates sent more than 1,100 letters to their governors and President Trump encouraging them to support Second Chance Month. In addition, members of our leadership and staff attended second chance events hosted at the White House and Department of Labor.
As part of its ongoing advocacy for a more restorative justice system, Prison Fellowship's policy team pursues reforms that help unlock second chances year-round, including investing in higher education for incarcerated students, state occupational licensing reform, voting rights restoration, and many other restorative reforms.
'This month, we celebrate those who have exited the prison system and successfully reentered society and renew our commitment to providing support and resources that former inmates need to meet their responsibilities, rediscover their self‑worth, and benefit from the gift of a second chance.'
President Donald Trump, Second Chance Month Proclamation, 2019
PARTNERING FOR CHANGE
Along with government bodies, Prison Fellowship also partnered with churches, businesses, and other organizations who are leading the charge to unlock the potential of formerly incarcerated people. We now have 317 Second Chance Month Partners. That's more than a 50% increase from last year! Our partners include a diverse range of organizations, like the NAACP, the Heritage Foundation, ACLU, and Koch Industries.
Marcus Bullock is the CEO of another Second Chance Month Partner organization named Flikshop, a company that sends high-quality, security-friendly postcards to men and women in prison. Marcus was also formerly incarcerated. "If you had come into my cell," he says, "I would not have believed there [were] people here to support me. I am thankful for my second chance, and we can't overestimate what Second Chance Month will mean to so many others."
SPREADING THE WORD
To help spread the word about Second Chance Month, Prison Fellowship hosted events, prayer walks, and social media chats. More than 30 Second Chance Month events were held around the nation, including Second Chance 5Ks, which saw 1,700 people walk or run a total of 5,270 miles in prisons and communities. The commissioner of Minnesota's Department of Corrections ran alongside prisoners inside the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Stillwater, where a corrections officers was killed in the line of duty in 2018. In the community, some of the 5K participants were former prisoners who ran while incarcerated, and today choose to run for second chances for themselves and other returning citizens.
Our advocacy team hosted four #SecondChanceMonth Twitter chats that featured 26 guest panelists. The U.S. Secretary of Labor Rene Acosta joined Prison Fellowship and our partners for one of the chats and discussed a wide range of second chance topics. Altogether, 17.3 million people from 68 countries saw #SecondChanceMonth social media posts in April.
Special thanks to our Champion sponsor!
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