Second Chances

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 system-impacted people, reentering their community after incarceration can be incredibly difficult when there are so many barriers that stem from having a record. Access to life essentials—such as employment, housing, education, and health care—is especially hard to come by when trying to successfully reenter society. These barriers are even more stark for people of color and other historically marginalized communities.

Second chance policies are 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.

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.

An attendee wears a pin that reads “I'm for second chances.”
An attendee wears a pin that reads “I'm for second chances” before a Democratic presidential town hall at Eastern State Penitentiary on October 28, 2019 in Philadelphia. (Getty/Mark Makela)


Compact View

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.