April is Second Chance Month in North Carolina, a time to remember the obstacles faced by the more than 20,000 people returning to their communities after leaving state prisons.
More than one-quarter of North Carolinians have criminal records that frequently triggers collateral consequences limiting their housing and employment opportunities.
Reentry programs help individuals to rebuild their lives and reintegrate back into communities by connecting them with resources from government, nonprofit and business groups. Those efforts begin them long before they leave incarceration so that support is already in place and established in their home community.
“Everyone deserves a second chance,” said Secretary Todd Ishee. “Considering that roughly 95 percent of people in prison will eventually return home, we owe it to our communities and the formerly incarcerated to make even greater investments in our reentry efforts.”
“We are four months into the new Department of Adult Correction, and as a stand-along cabinet agency we can be more nimble and responsive to the needs of individuals returning home,” said Deputy Secretary for Rehabilitation and Reentry George Pettigrew.” We are examining all of our current efforts and programs so that we can provide the best possible services and help justice-involved people have a successful reentry experience. “
Gov. Cooper has also implemented efforts to reduce employment barriers for the formerly incarcerated including Executive Order 158 to implement fair chance policies at state agencies to increase employment opportunities for people with criminal records. Among other things, Executive Order 158 removes criminal history questions from the state employment application, prohibits inquiries into an individual’s criminal history during the initial stages of the hiring process, and requires state agencies to provide a reasonable opportunity for applicants to explain the circumstances of their conviction.
The Department of Adult Correction’s Rehabilitation and Reentry section, along with the State Reentry Council Collaborative and local reentry councils across the state, work every day to help people who are returning to their communities be successful. Everyone deserves a second chance. Find out more here.