President Biden has declared April as Second Chance Month to "reaffirm the importance of helping people who were formerly incarcerated reenter society." Biden says that, "By supporting people who are committed to rectifying their mistakes, redefining themselves, and making meaningful contributions to society, we help reduce recidivism and build safer communities." More than 640,000 people are released from federal and state prisons each year. More than 70 million Americans have a criminal record that "creates significant barriers to employment, economic stability, and successful reentry into society," the president says.
"Thousands of legal and regulatory restrictions prevent these individuals from accessing employment, housing, voting, education, business licensing, and other basic opportunities," Biden says. "Because of these barriers, nearly 75 percent of people who were formerly incarcerated are still unemployed a year after being released." The president calls for rethinking the criminal justice system, including who we send to prison and for how long; how unaddressed trauma and abuse "create pipelines to incarceration," how people are treated behind bars, how prepared they are to reenter society once they have served their time, and how racial inequities lead to disproportionate numbers of prisoners of color and from other underserved groups. The president says he is working to eliminate "exceedingly long sentences and mandatory minimums that keep people incarcerated longer than they should be" and providing quality job training and educational opportunities during incarceration.