Hundreds are expected to gather Saturday in Washington for a community walk to raise awareness about the need for prison reform.
Sponsored by Prison Fellowship, a Christian nonprofit that advocates prison reform and helps former inmates integrate back into society after they’ve served their time, the event will host a number of speakers, ranging from representatives of the mayor of Washington, D.C., to pastors of local churches.
More than 130 organizations from across the country are partnering with Prison Fellowship for the event. It’s scheduled to include a prayer walk, personal “second chance” stories, and a re-entry job fair at the D.C. Dream Center, a community center in Washington, D.C., that offers employment counseling and networking for families affected by incarceration.
“Many formerly incarcerated individuals could end up becoming productive, law-abiding members of society if they are given a second chance,” Heritage Foundation legal expert John Malcolm told The Daily Signal.
“There appears to be some political momentum behind prison reform, which focuses on expanding evidence-based prison programs—such as educational, job skills, mental health, and substance abuse programs—that are likely to reduce the risk that an offender will recidivate upon release,” he added. “This is a positive development.”
The event follows President Donald Trump’s proclamation to make April 2018 “Second Chance Month.”
Prison Fellowship specifically pointed to a bipartisan bill sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in the Senate and Rep. Jason Lewis, R-Minn., in the House, which also designates April 2018 as “Second Chance Month.”
Dozens of organizations—including The Heritage Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union, and FreedomWorks—support making April “Second Chances Month.”
States that have also declared April “Second Chance Month” include Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, according to Prison Fellowship.
“President Trump has taken a bold move in helping Prison Fellowship and more than 135 organizations fight for those who have paid their debt to society. The president is right to stand up for those who continue to face tens of thousands of barriers to education, jobs, housing, and the things they need to lead a full and productive life,” said James Ackerman, the president and CEO of Prison Fellowship.
“Lawmakers should reconsider some of the myriad of collateral consequences that are imposed on ex-offenders once they are released that make it exceedingly difficult for them to reintegrate into society,” Malcolm said. “Unless and until these changes are implemented, prisons are likely to remain what they too often are today—a revolving door.”