2021 was a watershed year for Second Chance® Month. This movement is growing rapidly and deepening across the United States.
Led by Prison Fellowship® every April, Second Chance Month is 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. In light of the ongoing pandemic, we modified this year's observance with a virtual emphasis to respect public health and safety.
Although this meant that we could not meet in person as we have in years past, our virtual events allowed us to reach and engage with a broader audience than ever before. This is so encouraging given how COVID-19 has made the reentry climate even more difficult for those returning home and in need of a second chance in a pandemic world.
WHITE HOUSE AND U.S. SENATE PROCLAMATIONS
On March 31, President Joseph Biden. proclaimed April 2021 as Second Chance Month:
By focusing on prevention, reentry, and social support, rather than incarceration, we can ensure that America is a land of second chances and opportunity for all people.
In a statement released April 5, Prison Fellowship President and CEO James J. Ackerman thanked the Biden Administration for the proclamation, adding, "We believe the approximately 70 million Americans with criminal records—that's 1 in 3 people—are more than their worst choices and affirm their God-given dignity and potential in life."
Later in the month, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution proclaiming April 2021 as Second Chance Month. The bipartisan resolution was sponsored by Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.
"We believe it's possible for people to rise from their worst choices, make amends, and help restore communities they once harmed," said Heather Rice-Minus, senior vice president of advocacy and church mobilization at Prison Fellowship in a statement addressing the resolution and thanking Portman and Klobuchar. "We hope that this growing cultural movement in honor of second chances gives courage to lawmakers to repeal unfair and unnecessary barriers that prevent Americans who have paid their debt from reaching their full, God-given potential."
Over 604 businesses, churches and organizations held 45+ events to celebrate second chances.
'The states are really leading on this issue [of criminal justice reform]. We're happy to see such a wide range of bills passing in red and blue and purple states across the country.'
Lauren Krisai, Senior Policy Analyst, Justice Action Network
MOBILIZING THE CHURCH
CELEBRATING SECOND CHANCES
'I do what I do because I'm broken, too. It is the broken among us that can teach us to love mercy, do justice, appreciate God’s grace, [and] understand our own humanity.'
Bryan Stevenson, Founder and Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
Second Chance Month made the news around the country. For a more complete list, visit In the News.
- Christians Should Change How They Talk About People with a Criminal Record (Religious News Service, 4/16/2021)
- Equipped with Chris Brooks: Providing 2nd Chances (Moody Radio, 4/19/2021)
- Lecrae Teams Up with Prison Fellowship to Give Inmates Hope During Second Chance Month (Christian Headlines, 4/19/2021)
- The Church Must Be a Place of the Second Chance … Starting with Returning Citizens (Church Leaders, 4/26/2021)
- From Prisoner to Pastor: How Churches Can Support Second Chances (The Christian Post, 4/29/2021)
'Men and women who have been involved in the justice system are not the sum of their conviction history.'
James J. Ackerman, President and CEO, Prison Fellowship
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