WASHINGTON, D.C.—Prison Fellowship®, the nation’s largest Christian nonprofit serving prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, released the following statement after the Biden administration’s announcement of 75 commutations and a set of twenty policy initiatives to promote access to economic opportunity for men and women who have left prison.
"Access to work allows men and women who have served their time to fully pursue a journey of redemption, restoration, and renewal," said James Ackerman, President and CEO of Prison Fellowship. "As Second Chance® Month draws to a close, we are thrilled to see President Biden align word and deed and pursue critical policy tools to better ensure the 70 million American adults with a criminal record can live out their God-given potential through gainful employment."
"We also commend the President’s use of his clemency powers to correct punishments that did not fit the crime and honor the pursuit of redemption behind bars," said Heather Rice-Minus, Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Church Mobilization. "It is our prayer and hope that robust use of executive clemency and bold removal of barriers to success in reentry become a sustained tradition of Second Chance Month in the years to come."
- The Biden administration announced twenty policy initiatives to advance opportunity for returning citizens, including a new workforce development partnership between the federal prison system and the Department of Labor and a comprehensive review of housing restrictions for people with a criminal record by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
- The White House also highlighted the recent invitation of 73 new colleges and universities to participate in the Department of Education’s Second Chance Pell Experimental Site Initiative, which allows a select number of institutions to receive provide higher education in prison using federal dollars. Prison Fellowship played a critical role in the restoration of Pell Grant eligibility for incarcerated students, which is expected to be implemented in July 2023.
- The announcement follows President Biden’s proclamation of April 2022 as Second Chance Month, building on proclamations from 2021 and the previous administration. This year, 25 states and the District of Columbia have joined Prison Fellowship and over 700 organizations in proclaiming April as Second Chance Month® and highlighting the barriers facing the one in three American adults with a criminal record.
SECOND CHANCE MONTH 2022 EVENTS
- Prison Fellowship’s Virtual Second Chance Month Gala will be taking place on Thursday, April 28 at 7pm EDT. Businesses, communities, churches, and families will gather to hear transformation stories and conversations highlighting the need for second chances.
- A final Second Chance Month Twitter chat will happen on April 27 at 1pm EDT. Criminal justice experts will discuss second chances and safer communities. Follow @JusticeReform and search #SecondChanceMonth.
- Road to Second Chances Prayer Walk will take place on Saturday, April 30 in Oklahoma City. Local speakers will share personal stories of living out their second chance, and Oklahoma faith leaders will respond in prayer.