WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), James Lankford (R-OK), and Dick Durbin (D-IL) introduced a resolution to designate April 2019 as “Second Chance Month” and honor those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. Portman, who is the author of the Second Chance Act, introduced a similar resolution in April 2018 and the Senate passed it unanimously.
“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 Portman. “I’m pleased the president signed legislation to reauthorize and strengthen the Second Chance Act into law last year. Since the Second Chance Act was first signed into law in 2007, thousands of Ohioans and more than 164,000 people in 49 states have received reentry services, 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 know that our criminal justice system must ensure the fair administration of justice while keeping our communities safe. I also believe that people are capable of change and many deserve a second chance,” said Klobuchar. “This resolution will bring awareness to the challenges people face after they leave prison and promote opportunities for them to find a job, continue their education, secure housing, and to live honest and productive lives once again.”
“Second Chance Month honors the remarkable and difficult work of communities, nonprofit originations, congregations, employers, and individuals across Oklahoma and our nation who work to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with a second chance,” said Lankford. “We should remove unnecessary barriers that prevent individuals from fully contributing to society after they have paid their debt to society. While work remains, I am pleased the First Step Act passed the Senate and was signed into law last December. First Step provides rehabilitative resources that allows individuals to get the second chance they deserve.”
“Last year, Congress passed historic and bipartisan criminal justice reform bill that is helping countless individuals receive a second chance at life. Designating April as ‘Second Chance Month’ would highlight the importance of building on the First Step Act reforms by working together on bipartisan policies that help ex-offenders succeed when they return to their communities,” Durbin said.
“We thank Senators Rob Portman and Amy Klobuchar in leading the U.S. Senate in passing a resolution to join us in fighting for those who continue to face tens of thousands of barriers to education, jobs, and housing after paying their debt to society,” said James Ackerman, President and Chief Executive Officer for Prison Fellowship. “ “This resolution represents those 70 million Americans with criminal records—one in three adults—who wish to regain their dignity and make important contributions to society.”
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.