A Look Back at Second Chance Month 2022

Nicholas Read, Interim Director, National Reentry Resource Center

April marks Second Chance Month, when we reaffirm the importance of helping people who were formerly incarcerated reenter society.

- President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

On March 31, 2022, President Joe Biden proclaimed April 2022 as Second Chance Month. In his proclamation, the president called upon government officials, educators, volunteers, and all the people of the United States to observe the month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.

In recognition of the proclamation, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), led by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), sponsored a monthlong celebration to help individuals, communities, and agencies across the country recognize the importance of reentry and their role in supporting safe and successful reentry.

OJP’s National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), operated by the American Institutes for Research, hosted April’s events in partnership with Second Chance Act (SCA) training and technical assistance providers at AIR, the Vera Institute of Justice, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, RTI International, the Performance-based Standards (Pbs) Learning Institute, and the Robert F. Kennedy National Resource Center for Juvenile Justice, as well as federal partners across the Department of Justice and beyond.

Second Chance Month 2022 featured 30 live events for stakeholders focused on reentry basics, education, employment, housing, behavioral health, family supports, youth and young adults, and evaluation and sustainability. The month also included live workshops specifically for SCA grantees across the country.

America is a nation of second chances, and it is critical that our criminal and juvenile justice systems provide meaningful opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption. ... By supporting people who are committed to rectifying their mistakes, redefining themselves, and making meaningful contributions to society, we help reduce recidivism and build safer communities.

- President Biden

Complimenting the events, the NRRC showcased more than 80 resources, including reports, briefs, practice tools, video highlights, and more published by the White House; BJA, OJJDP, and other OJP agencies including the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice, as well as by federal partners at the National Institute of Corrections, the U.S. Departments of Labor, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Health and Human Services, and others; and SCA grantees and SCA training and technical assistance providers.

OJP’s Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Amy Solomon was joined by leaders from BJA and OJJDP to kick off and close out the momentous event, highlighting the priority of successful reentry for OJP; the investments by the federal government and cities, counties, and states around the country to provide second chances; and the lasting impact of Second Chance Month. OJP also marked Second Chance Month with blog posts from Amy Solomon and BJA Director Karhlton Moore, as well as with the premiere of two Justice Today podcasts: a conversation with the new BJA Visiting Second Chance Fellows John Bae and Angel Sanchez and an interview with Chris Poulos, the director of Person-Centered Services for the Washington State Department of Corrections.

Some of the more significant highlights of Second Chance Month were the resources and events amplifying the voices of individuals directly impacted by the juvenile and criminal justice systems. Individuals who have lived through and are currently navigating the reentry process were front and center across many of the month’s events, from panels looking at the impact of a criminal record on employment, housing, and education to individuals sharing the services and supports that made positive impacts on their lives. Individuals experiencing and supporting reentry from around the country were also the focus of the NRRC’s Reentry Matters video series, which further shined a light on the importance of supporting individuals leaving jails and prisons in their pursuit of safe, healthy, and successful lives after incarceration.

A complete archive of Second Chance Month is available by visiting BuildSecondChances.org. There, you will find recordings of all the public events and remarks, as well as direct links to the dozens of resources featured during the month. The NRRC will also showcase Second Chance Month 2022 in the latest episode of its Reentry Now podcast. The episode also highlights the NRRC’s new reentry toolkit, Building Second Chances: Tools for Local Reentry Coalitions, which was released at the start of Second Chance Month.

To learn more about the National Reentry Resource Center, visit ReentryMatters.org or contact the Center at info@nationalreentryresourcecenter.org.