Washington, D.C. — Last week, President Joe Biden announced April as Second Chance Month, an opportunity to “reaffirm the importance of helping people who were formerly incarcerated reenter society.” In response, Akua Amaning, director of Criminal Justice Reform at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement:
Today, approximately 1 in 3 U.S. adults have a criminal record, and the stigma of that record often means a life sentence to poverty that causes collateral damage spanning generations. For many people, reentering their community after incarceration can be incredibly difficult when there are so many barriers that stem from having a record—barriers that are even more stark for people of color and other historically marginalized communities also facing institutionalized discrimination. Consequently, as President Biden noted, nearly 75 percent of formerly incarcerated people are still unemployed one year after being released.
Second Chance Month is an important opportunity to recognize these challenges and uplift the comprehensive policy solutions that will help to significantly reduce the collateral consequences of incarceration and a record for those who are ready to rebuild toward a brighter future. In many cities and states across the country, there is already growing bipartisan momentum for these reforms—such as “clean slate” automatic record clearing and fair chance licensing—which have proven to reduce recidivism and allow individuals with criminal records to become productive members of society.
The Biden administration has also taken important steps, including by reconvening the Reentry Coordination Council and expanding access to justice. It is time to reimagine our criminal justice system, uplift reforms such as these, and give returning citizens an opportunity for rehabilitation—not only for themselves but also for their families and communities.
For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Tricia Woodcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.