Each April, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) celebrates Second Chance Month, recognizing the importance of helping individuals, communities, and agencies across the country appreciate their role in supporting the safe and successful reentry of people returning from incarceration each year. Second Chance Month aims to inform and highlight the many opportunities for state, local, and community-based organizations (like Breakthrough!) to build meaningful second chances for our returning community members.
Every year, over 600,000 people are released from State and Federal prisons. More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record that creates significant barriers to employment, economic stability, and successful reentry into society. Thousands of legal and regulatory restrictions prevent these individuals from accessing employment, housing, voting, education, occupational licensing, and other basic opportunities. Because of these barriers, the unemployment rate for previously incarcerated individuals stands at 27%, higher than the unemployment rate during the Great Depression.
How individuals are prepared to reenter society once they have served their time is a critical part of determining their success upon reentry. Ensuring they have support systems in place, stable housing and employment are three critical factors; two of which are extremely difficult to obtain if you have a criminal record.
At Breakthrough, we believe that no one is defined by one moment in their life. We create opportunities for people to be their fullest self- so they no longer have to be defined by their interaction with the justice system. Through compassion, connection, and community, we rebuild people’s lives and ultimately help them reintegrate into society. We work with employers to educate them on the benefits of Fair Opportunity Hiring, and bring in volunteers to support our participants and provide them with hope and increased self-confidence. Perhaps best of all, our volunteers often become advocates who help shift societal perceptions about individuals who have been incarcerated, and help open doors to future opportunities.
The unemployment rate for previously incarcerated individuals stands at 27%, higher than the unemployment rate during the Great Depression.Prison Policy Initiative Report
Recommitting to empower Americans who have paid their debt to society and to provide them with a true chance to participate, contribute, and succeed is part of Second Chance Month. After all, breakdowns can become breakthroughs. Won’t you join us?