WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Kevin Cramer (R-ND) introduced a bipartisan, bicameral resolution designating April as Second Chance Month. This resolution honors those who work to remove unnecessary barriers preventing formerly incarcerated individuals from becoming productive members of society. Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA), David Trone (D-MD), Bruce Westerman (R-AR) and Don Bacon (R-NE) introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives. 

“As a former prosecutor, I have seen firsthand the challenges facing those who have been formerly incarcerated,” said Klobuchar. “People are capable of change and many deserve a second chance. This bipartisan resolution to recognize ‘Second Chance Month’ will bring awareness to these barriers and promote opportunities for those who have served their time to access stable jobs, continue their education, and become productive members of society again.” 

“Too often our criminal justice system is focused on punishment instead of redemption,” said Cramer. “Christian faith teaches us to treat others with dignity and offer forgiveness whenever we can. Our resolution encourages individuals to safely and efficiently transition back into society, be productive members of our communities, and get a second chance at life. All life has value, and I hope to instill a message of opportunity for those rehabilitating their life in a positive direction.”

Klobuchar has long led efforts to support people transitioning from incarceration. In 2021, she and Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced the One Stop Shop Community Reentry Program Act to create resource centers to support formerly incarcerated Americans and connect them with the services they need to reintegrate into their communities.

Full text of the resolution is available HERE and below:

Whereas every individual is endowed with human dignity and value;

Whereas redemption and second chances are values of the United States;

Whereas millions of citizens of the United States have a criminal record;

Whereas hundreds of thousands of individuals return to their communities from Federal and State prisons every year;

Whereas many individuals returning from Federal and State prisons have paid their debt for committing crimes but still face significant legal and societal barriers (referred to in this preamble as “collateral consequences”);

Whereas collateral consequences for an individual returning from a Federal or State prison are often mandatory and take effect automatically, regardless of—

(1) whether there is a nexus between the crime and public safety;

(2) the seriousness of the crime;

(3) the time that has passed since the individual committed the crime; or

(4) the efforts of the individual to make amends or earn back the trust of the public; 

Whereas, for individuals returning to their communities from Federal and State prisons, gaining meaningful employment is one of the most significant predictors of successful reentry and has been shown to reduce future criminal activity;

Whereas many individuals who have been incarcerated struggle to find employment and access capital to start a small business because of collateral consequences, which are often not directly related to the offenses the individuals committed or any proven public safety benefit;

Whereas many States have laws that prohibit an individual with a criminal record from working in certain industries or obtaining professional licenses;

Whereas, in addition to employment, education has been shown to be a significant predictor of successful reentry for individuals returning from Federal and State prisons;

Whereas an individual with a criminal record often has a lower level of educational attainment than the general population and has significant difficulty acquiring admission to, and funding for, educational programs;

Whereas an individual who has been convicted of certain crimes is often barred from receiving the financial aid necessary to acquire additional skills and knowledge;

Whereas an individual with a criminal record—

(1) faces collateral consequences in securing a place to live; and

(2) is often barred from seeking access to public housing; 

Whereas collateral consequences prevent millions of individuals in the United States from contributing fully to their families and communities;

Whereas collateral consequences can contribute to recidivism, which increases crime and victimization and decreases public safety;

Whereas collateral consequences have particularly impacted underserved communities of color and community rates of employment, housing stability, and recidivism;

Whereas the inability to find gainful employment and other collateral consequences inhibit the economic mobility of an individual with a criminal record, which can negatively impact the well-being of the children and family of the individual for generations;

Whereas the bipartisan First Step Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–391; 132 Stat. 5194) was signed into law on December 21, 2018, to increase opportunities for individuals incarcerated in Federal prisons to participate in meaningful recidivism reduction programs and prepare for their second chances;

Whereas the programs authorized by the Second Chance Act of 2007 (Public Law 110–199; 122 Stat. 657)—

(1) have provided reentry services to more than 164,000 individuals in 49 States and the District of Columbia since the date of enactment of the Act; and

(2) were reauthorized by the First Step Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–391; 132 Stat. 5194); 

Whereas the anniversary of the death of Charles Colson, who used his second chance following his incarceration for a Watergate-related crime to found Prison Fellowship, the largest program in the United States that provides outreach to prisoners, former prisoners, and their families, falls on April 21; and

Whereas the designation of April as “Second Chance Month” may contribute to—

(1) increased public awareness about—

a)       the impact of collateral consequences; and

b)       the need for closure for individuals with a criminal record who have paid their debt; and

(2) opportunities for individuals, employers, congregations, and communities to extend second chances to those individuals: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) designates April 2023 as “Second Chance Month”;

(2) honors the work of communities, governmental institutions, nonprofit organizations, congregations, employers, and individuals to remove unnecessary legal and societal barriers that prevent individuals with criminal records from becoming productive members of society; and

(3) calls upon the people of the United States to observe “Second Chance Month” through actions and programs that—

a)      promote awareness of those unnecessary legal and social barriers; and

b)      provide closure for individuals with criminal records who have paid their debts to the community.