Do you believe in second chances? I do. And my work in Connecticut’s state prisons since 2005 has only strengthened my belief that people deserve a second chance, especially when they demonstrate repeatedly that they are doing so much better than the mistake that brought them to a carceral setting proving that they are capable of being constructive and caring citizens when they return to the community.
In my experience, this is not a rare instance, and it has been one of my greatest joys to see participants in JDPP programs at York Correctional Institution and Cybulski Correctional Institution come home, gradually acclimate while overcoming the obstacles of a less-than-receiving world, continue to persist, and ultimately thrive.
JDPP in-prison residency participants have completed a bachelor’s degree begun in prison and gone on to study law; become a peer counselor in a mental health facility; been invited to be on a community first response team; been named a department manager at a large corporate facility; received a scholarship to become certified in mindfulness; started a nonprofit to assist others reentering society, and followed through on a determined promise to help marginalized populations, all the while trying to heal the distances between family and friends that incarceration imposes.
These are second chances that do not come easily but these are individuals who do not give up. They deserve to have the doors open and the supports waiting so they have the best second chance possible.
April is Second Chance Month. Initiated by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP), it is a time to recognize the importance of helping individuals, communities, and agencies across the country support the safe and successful reentry of those returning from carceral settings. Helping to realize that vision, JDPP is joined by such terrific community partners as Community Partners in Action, Community Renewal Team, SCRIP (Second Chance Reentry Initiative Program), the Hartford Reentry Welcome Center, and more.
Please join us in this mission by observing Second Chance month in April with us and may it be a model for every month thereafter.
Ways that you can help: