Skip to content
Second Chance Month

White House Issues Proclamation on Second Chance Month

President Biden officially designates April 2023 as Second Chance Month” to recognize the benefits, and moral imperative, of helping people with an arrest or conviction record reintegrate back into their communities.

President Biden calls for redemption by proclaiming April "Second Chance Month" for those with an arrest or conviction record. (Getty Images)

On Friday, March 31, President Biden officially proclaimed April 2023 as Second Chance Month.” 

I believe in redemption,” he wrote. But for hundreds of thousands of Americans released from State and Federal prisons each year, or the nearly 80 million who have an arrest or conviction record, it is not always easy to come by.” 

Concluding his remarks, Biden called on all government officials, educators, volunteers, and all the people of the United States to observe the month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities.” 

At Arnold Ventures (AV), each week of April we will be observing and celebrating Second Chance Month by lifting up the work and voices of some of our grantees and staff who are working tirelessly throughout the year to improve community and family wellbeing and safety through second chance advocacy and initiatives. 

Second Chance Month was originally launched by the Prison Fellowship, an AV grantee, in 2017 to raise awareness around the many social and economic challenges people with a criminal record face — including access to housing, employment, business licenses, and education. That year, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution — co-sponsored by Sens. Rob Portman, R‑OH., Amy Klobuchar, D‑MN., James Lankford, R‑OK., and Richard Durbin, D‑IL. — designating April as Second Chance Month. 

In 2018, President Trump became the first president to issue a Second Chance Month proclamation, and 2023 marks the sixth consecutive year such a proclamation has been made — a period spanning both Republican and Democratic presidents. This year, like in the past, many governors have also issued Second Chance Month proclamations. This includes Republican Govs. Bill Lee (Tennessee), Brian Kemp (Georgia), Mike Dunleavy (Alaska), Brad Little (Idaho), Mike Parson (Missouri), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Henry McMaster (South Carolina), and Jim Justice (West Virginia); Democratic Govs. Laura Kelly (Kansas), John Bel Edwards (Louisiana), Tim Walz (Minnesota), and Roy Cooper (North Carolina); and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. 

These proclamations are more than mere political rhetoric. They highlight and celebrate significant ongoing policy achievements at the local, state, and national levels. For instance, as the AV-supported Clean Slate Initiative documents, in recent years over one million people in America have received a second chance through automated record sealing of eligible arrest or conviction records. Millions more are in line to have their record automatically sealed as additional states implement policies already signed into law and more states continue to advance additional Clean Slate legislation.”

President Biden’s proclamation similarly details a number of policy advances, including substantial investments in re-entry, job training, mental health, and substance abuse programs, as well as changes to the Pell Grant program that will allow people to earn a college degree while incarcerated and full pardons for Federal and D.C. marijuana possession convictions. 

Read more about AV’s reintegration portfolio here.