Beyond Second Chances: What is Working and What is Needed to Help Returning Citizens Succeed
On Thursday, December 10, 2015, CCE held its annual December board meeting and program. This years program was titled "Beyond Second Chances: What is Working and What is Needed to Help Returning Citizens Succeed", pointing to CCE's reentry work that goes back to 2006 and includes legislative proposals, policy recommendations, and structural reform in the areas of expungement, unemployment and recidivism, parole, and clemency.
Two leaders in the reentry community spoke about the national and local issues facing returning citizens and their families: Glenn E. Martin, founder of JustLeadershipUSA, an organization dedicated to cutting the US correctional population in half by 2030, and Mike Curtin, CEO of DC Central Kitchen, whose training programs have changed the lives of nearly 1,400 men and women, 75% of whom have criminal records.
In a dynamic conversation moderated by Avis E. Buchanan, Director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, both speakers talked about the challenges faced by returning citizens and some of the positive changes that have occurred nationally and locally over the last decade. Glenn Martin referred to the $475 million that has been given out in grants in the last 11 years since the Second Chance Act was passed. Still, the US has spent $80 billion on prisons, law enforcement, and the courts. One of Glenn Martin's many eloquent statements was that he is an exception to what happens to so many people who have been incarcerated only because he was presented with exceptional opportunities, and we must not let people in prison live without hope. Mike Curtin talked about the importance of breaking the cycle of violence, trauma, addiction, abuse, and poverty, about the need to have an honest conversation about the outcome of having a criminal record which affects 65 million people, and about the importance of getting over our own perceptions of men and women who have been incarcerated. We must work on our heads and our hearts.
Once again, thank you to our program sponsors for making this event possible: