The First Step Act Offers a Second Chance for Individuals

Since the First Step Act was passed on a bipartisan basis and signed into law last December, roughly 1,000 second chance individuals have returned home from federal prisons. Due to sentencing reforms within the act, another 2,200 individuals will reenter their communities next month. Imagine searching for a job after being out of work for several years. What would it be like to not have a LinkedIn profile or know what an Indeed or online application is? How would you define your skills, much less market them to a potential employer?

These are some of the challenges faced by second chance individuals who are coming to local Goodwill® organizations around the country for assistance.

At Goodwill, we are committed to the success of people who are returning to our communities after being incarcerated. Our mission is to help people overcome challenges and reach their full potential through learning and the power of work. This has been our purpose for more than 100 years, and we often partner with federal and local policymakers and organizations.

We were honored to be recognized as a leader in second chance hiring and continue our history of collaborating with the last several administrations to bring solutions to the table that address our neighbors’ employment challenges when the White House called and asked that Goodwill Industries International (GII) attend their second chance hiring event.

Monthly, more than 50,000 second chance individuals return to our communities from state and federal prisons. Annually, more than 100,000 come to Goodwill for earn-and-learn opportunities, wraparound services, housing and connections to other services that help them get on track and support their families.

Three current U.S. Department of Labor re-entry grants via GII, have yielded impressive results where local Goodwills are achieving a recidivism rate of less than 5% after a year.  Local Goodwill professionals have proven they know how to provide the right services at the right intensity at the right time.

As the First Step Act is implemented, it is time for community leaders in the public and private sectors to step up their efforts to ensure we give people a second chance. You can help support our efforts by taking action via the GII Legislative Action Center and ask Congress to invest in important workforce programs that help all the individuals we serve, including second chance individuals and their families, who benefit from the supports and services intended in the new law.