April is Second Chance Month, a time to raise awareness of the challenges facing people exiting the justice system and to spotlight the important work being done to empower these individuals to successfully reenter their communities, including programs and services offered by local Goodwill® agencies across the country. President Trump issued a proclamation in recognition of Second Chance Month. “This month, we celebrate those who have exited the prison system and successfully reentered society and renew our commitment to providing support and resources that former inmates need to meet their responsibilities, rediscover their self‑worth, and benefit from the gift of a second chance,” declared Trump. “We also express our sincere gratitude to all those who play a significant role in helping reduce recidivism, including faith‑based and community organizations and employers willing to hire workers notwithstanding a criminal history.”
Throughout April, federal agencies are hosting events and engaging in other public awareness activities that focus on programs and initiatives to support people exiting the justice system. Goodwill Industries International was represented at the U.S. Department of Labor’s conference on increasing employment for Americans reentering the workforce from the justice system, which featured remarks from Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, as well as a panel of local providers of reentry services. The discussion touched on policies and best practices to promote wrap-around support services, reduce recidivism, recruit community mentors, and address barriers to obtaining occupational licenses for people with criminal backgrounds. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education held its own summit on rethinking correctional and reentry education. The department used the event to highlight the Second Chance Pell experimental site initiative, a pilot project launched in 2016 that extends Pell Grant financial aid to certain incarcerated individuals who are pursuing higher education and training.
Additionally, the Trump Administration has noted the reauthorization of the Second Chance Act, which was signed into law as part of the First Step Act In December 2018. It extends a number of reentry programs including mentoring and transitional service grants to nonprofit organizations. Goodwill believes that helping people with criminal backgrounds earn and retain jobs is essential to reducing recidivism, strengthening families, and empowering communities that are disproportionately affected by crime. We urge Congress to fully fund these critical programs in Fiscal Year 2020.