The nationwide movement for second chances continues despite COVID-19 pandemic.
April is an important month for Prison Fellowship®. It's when we celebrate Second Chance®Month—a nationwide campaign to unlock second chances for the tens of millions of Americans with a criminal record who have paid their debt to society.
Though 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.
As you know, April was a big month in the U.S. for another reason—COVID-19.
PANDEMIC IMPACTS EVERYDAY LIFE
The COVID-19 pandemic is like nothing we've ever seen before. It has impacted and changed people's lives forever--including the lives of those in prison. The virus has impacted our justice system, our prison system, and even Prison Fellowship's Second Chance Month prayer walks, which were changed to virtual prayer walks in response to the virus.
Yet COVID-19 has also shown how incredibly strong prisoners are. When faced with challenges and lockdowns, men and women behind bars handled it with grace, even inspiring the outside society, who turned to those on the inside for ideas on how to deal with being isolated from family.
The pandemic has given us even more urgency in the second chance movement. We recognize that today's world creates even more uncertainty and challenges for returning citizens.
Knowing this, it was all the more important for us to press on with Second Chance Month, despite the disruptions from the pandemic.
SECOND CHANCE MONTH 2020 HIGHLIGHTS
The virus didn't stop the White House from issuing a proclamation, signed by the president, on April 1, declaring April as Second Chance Month for the third year in a row. Seventeen state governors and Washington, D.C., did the same.
"During Second Chance Month, we celebrate those who have set out to create better lives following incarceration and recommit to helping former inmates contribute to the strength and prosperity of our Nation."
—President Donald J. Trump
The proclamations were spurred on by 1,279 of our Justice Advocates from all 50 states, who sent 2,460 letters to their governors and the president about Second Chance Month.
In addition to these proclamations, 383 partner businesses, churches, and organizations joined Prison Fellowship in advocating for second chances. Throughout April, social media campaigns, prayer groups, Twitter chats, and other activities centered around Second Chance Month took place around the nation. Some 40 million people from 47 countries saw #SecondChanceMonth social media posts. Forty-six panelists—including Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., author Trillia Newbell, and several of our Second Chance Month Sponsors— took part in four #SecondChanceMonth Twitter chats.
Prayer leaders in Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Lincoln, Oklahoma City, Fresno, and San Bernardino joined forces for a Road to Second Chances Virtual Prayer Meeting, where more than 489 community members from all these cities came together to cover our nation with prayer. To help people cope with being quarantined at home due to stay-at-home orders, Prison Fellowship partnered with ConBody and Fit Results—both owned and operated by formerly incarcerated people—to send workout videos to our network. Altogether, tens of thousands of calories were burned around the country.
Thank you to our Second Chance Month sponsors:
IN THE NEWS
SECOND CHANCE MONTH IN THE NEWS
- Governor Declares April Second Chance Month, (The Clanton Advisor, 3/27/20)
- Second Chance Month Prayer Meeting: Interview with Pastor Kelly (Fox News clip, 4/23/20)
- 'Second Chance Month' Highlights Need to Help Inmates Successfully Reintegrate to Society, (Enid News & Eagle, 4/5/20)
- Advocates Fight for Vulnerable Inmates to be Released from What They Call a Coronavirus 'Death Sentence', (The Orleans Gambit, 5/4/20)
SECOND CHANCE MONTH PRESS RELEASES
- Prison Fellowship Praises Secretary Devos' Expansion of Higher Education in Prison, (Prison Fellowship, 4/24/20)
- Office of Justice Programs Observes Second Chance Month, (Office of Justice Programs, 4/29/20)
- Prison Fellowship Praises Sen. Portman for Standing Up for Entrepreneurs with Criminal Records During Pandemic, (Prison Fellowship, 5/1/20)
SECOND CHANCE MONTH OPINION EDITORIALS
- Editorial: Help is in Enid During Trying Times, (Enid News & Eagle, 4/7/20)
- An Opportunity to Celebrate Second Chances, (The Detroit News, 4/16/20)
- Congress Should Include Second Chances in Coronavirus Relief Bill (The Hill, 5/6/20)