Insights and Perspectives

Insights and Perspectives


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National Second Chance Month: The Impact of Reentry Programs.gif

What is Second Chance Month?
Started in 2017 by the Prison Fellowship, National Second Chance Month is an national observance celebrated in April that aims to raise awareness and support for reentry programs that help reintegrate incarcerated individuals back into society before and after their release. During Second Chance Month, human service organizations, communities, and government agencies across the country come together to shed light on the challenges faced by incarcerated individuals as they reenter society.

The Role of Reentry Programs
Reentry programs play a pivotal role in the process. They provide a range of services designed to address the needs of individuals who are transitioning back into society. These programs offer job training, educational opportunities, housing assistance, counseling, as well as soft and hard skills. 

Organizations, such as the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), have been at the forefront of innovative reentry programs, helping prepare incarcerated individuals for productive lives outside of prison, thus lessening the likelihood of recidivism. The organization offers 128 nationally recognized accreditations, including programs in AutoCAD, computer coding, metal fabrication, optical, dental, underwater welding, and more. Their latest program, Entry to Employment (E2E), aims to connect second-chance employers to CALPIA’s database of skilled and willing workers to help them find a job prior to release.  

“We provide meaningful job skills and training to approximately 5,700 incarcerated individuals with the ultimate goal that they never return to prison,” said Bill Davidson, CALPIA’s General Manager. “Our programs are helping to reduce recidivism while also improving conditions in prison and providing greater public safety, along with saving taxpayer money.”

Reducing Recidivism

In 2022, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that almost 448,400 incarcerated people were released from state and federal correctional facilities. Unfortunately, a majority of these individuals are likely to be rearrested within 10 years of their release, according to an earlier study conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice. However, there is hope in reducing the rate of recidivism by providing these individuals with the necessary tools, skills, and resources through reentry programs such as those spearheaded by CALPIA. 

Breaking the cycle of recidivism requires addressing common barriers such as lack of education or life skills, unemployment, substance abuse, and mental health issues. However, it's important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to reentry. While providing personalized plans that cater to individuals' unique needs can greatly increase their chances of success, it can be challenging due to limited staffing, funding, and resources in many organizations and government agencies.

Despite these challenges and limitations, reentry programs and services, such as those offered by CALPIA, are making a difference in the lives of individuals by providing them with stability and opportunities. In fact, a recent study from the University of California, Irvine found that incarcerated individuals who participated in CALPIA’s programs have lower rates of rearrests, reconvictions, and reincarcerations compared to those who did not participate in CALPIA.   

What’s Next?
National Second Chance Month serves as a reminder that everyone deserves an opportunity to rebuild their lives and contribute positively to society. Through the implementation of effective reentry programs, we can create a more inclusive and supportive community for all individuals, regardless of their past mistakes. Together, we can create a society that believes in second chances and provides the necessary support for successful reintegration.

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