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Second Chance Month

We’re Working to Ensure That a Record Doesn’t Become a Lifetime of Exclusion’

AV’s Co-Founder John Arnold and VP of Criminal Justice Julie James discuss how second chance policies are maximizing opportunity and minimizing injustice.

In 2019, 81 percent of defendants convicted of federal crack cocaine distribution were Black. (Getty Images)

April is Second Chance Month, a nationwide campaign highlighting the onerous collateral consequences that accompany a criminal record and promoting second chance opportunities for people to reintegrate into society. The nearly 70 million people in the United States with a criminal record face thousands of legal barriers that limit their access to and may dissuade them from seeking employment, housing, and education. There is little evidence that these barriers make communities safer, and making it significantly harder for someone to reintegrate into society may actually undermine community safety and resilience.

In this video, Arnold Ventures Co-Founder John Arnold and Vice President of Criminal Justice Julie James discuss how providing second chances means extending opportunities to people who often pose little risk to public safety, the role of the business community in fostering reintegration, and the broad public support behind second chance policies.

There are so many unjust outcomes for people who have these criminal records. It’s not good for anybody — it’s not good for the individual, it’s not good for community safety, it’s not good for the economy, and most importantly, it’s not good for children,” says Arnold.

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Arnold Ventures funds projects to understand problems and identify policy solutions.

Map of the U.S. made of Arnold Ventures icons