Portman, Colleagues Introduce Resolution Declaring April as Second Chance Month
WASHINGTON D.C. – This week, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Second Chance Month Resolution, honoring those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. U.S. Representatives Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), David Trone (D-MD), Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Don Bacon (R-NE) also introduced the resolution in the House of Representatives.
“I’m proud to lead the Senate effort to name April as Second Chance Month. Renewing and strengthening the idea that people deserve second chances is critical to our efforts to stop the revolving door of incarceration and help former inmates live up to their God-given potential,” said Senator Portman. “Since the Second Chance Act was first signed into law in 2007, it has played an important role in criminal justice reform policy, changing thousands of lives in Ohio and across the country. The mistakes of our past don’t have to define the potential for our future. By designating April as Second Chance Month, we are supporting those who are returning from prison and want a fair shot at living an honest and productive life by increasing public awareness and getting them the help they need.”
“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the challenges people face after they leave prison,” said Senator Klobuchar. “People are capable of change and many deserve a second chance. This bipartisan resolution to recognize ‘Second Chance Month’ will bring awareness to these barriers and promote opportunities for those who have served their time to access stable jobs, continue their education, and become productive members of society again.”
“Throughout my career – from the State Assembly to the LA City Council and now in Congress – I have made it a priority to fix our broken criminal justice system,” said Congressman Cárdenas. “For too long, we have relied on an antiquated criminal justice model that prioritizes wasteful incarceration over efficient, effective rehabilitation. People have already paid for their crimes and should not continue to be punished by over 44,000 legal and social barriers that prevent them from resuming their lives as free citizens. America is a land of opportunity, and that opportunity should be available to those who have paid their debt to society. Everyone deserves to live in a world where you can change for the better, and where your future is not defined by a single mistake. That is the world I am fighting for every day.”
“With this resolution, we’re addressing the challenges faced by justice-impacted individuals and helping Americans give back to their communities in a meaningful way. It's clear that the American justice system needs to stop penalizing folks who have already paid their debts and should instead focus on rehabilitation and uplifting vulnerable communities,” said Congressman Trone. “As a businessman, I chose to hire returning citizens because I believe in second chances. As a Congressman, I continue to do just that for the thousands of Americans who are effectively locked out of our economy, our education system, and our neighborhoods because of a past criminal record.”
“Second Chance Month plays an important role in raising awareness of the difficulty previously incarcerated individuals, who have paid their debt to society, experience re-entering society,” said Congressman Westerman. “We must recognize the intrinsic value and dignity of these individuals, as we look to break down the stigmas attached to incarceration. Everyone deserves a second chance. Opportunity after incineration is vital to breaking the cycle of crime and reducing recidivism. I am honored to stand with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in this effort to acknowledge the dignity of every human being and honor the desire of reformed individuals who hope to become contributing members of society.”
“Second Chance Month is a representation to all of us about the power of forgiveness and the Second Chance programs are key in that. They have helped reintegrate people back into society, heal families, and give much needed mental health services. By providing these support systems, individuals can become productive members of society, restoring dignity and respect to those who have served their time and want to contribute back to their communities and families,” said Congressman Bacon.
One in three American adults with a criminal record face significant barriers to getting their lives back on track upon release. When legal and social barriers prohibit a formerly incarcerated person from finding good-paying jobs, this not only negatively impacts them, but also affects their family for generations. Additionally, securing gainful employment and being accepted in society reduces the likelihood of these individuals returning to prison in the future, decreasing crime and improving public safety.
This resolution was also endorsed by Prison Fellowship.
NOTE: The First Step Act, signed into law on December 21, 2018, included the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, legislation co-authored by Senator Portman to reauthorize and strengthen the Second Chance Act, which supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism. Then-Congressman Portman originally authored the Second Chance Act with the late-Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio in 2005, and it was later signed into law in 2008. Since 2009, more than 850 Second Chance Act grant awards have been made to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs serving adults and juveniles. As of June 2018, more than 164,000 individuals have participated in these programs. In total, Ohio has received more than $23 million in Second Chance Act grants since 2009, which includes funds to assist Ohioans re-entering the community with services such as job training, drug rehabilitation, case management and mental health treatment.