RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam has issued a proclamation declaring May as Second Chance Month in Virginia. During the month of May, the Governor and members of his administration will facilitate conversations and participate in events focused on criminal justice reform and reentry programming. The Northam administration is committed to ensuring that returning citizens have the support and resources they need to be successful and make positive contributions in their communities.
“Redemption is a fundamental American value, and I believe that returning citizens who have repaid their debt to society deserve a second chance,” said Governor Northam. “We recognize that former offenders face many challenges after their release—from finding a job to obtaining housing and healthcare. That is why my administration will remain focused on providing effective reentry services to transform lives and create safer communities for all Virginians.”
Last week, Governor Northam announced that he will not sign any new mandatory minimum sentence legislation for the remainder of his term in office. During the 2019 reconvened legislative session, Governor Northam proposed, and the General Assembly approved, an amendment to eliminate driver’s license suspensions because of unpaid court fines and fees. This policy change will help over 600,000 Virginians.
“Ninety-four percent of incarcerated offenders will one day be released, becoming our neighbors and members of our communities. Second Chance Month is an opportunity to raise awareness about the barriers people face as they reenter the community and we must support efforts that help returning citizens,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “We are excited to engage with community members and facilitate discussions about equitable policies and improving access to resources for the people who are returning to their communities after incarceration.”
For more information about Second Chance Month events with Secretary Moran, please visit the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Facebook page.
Read the full proclamation below:
By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution of Virginia in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:
SECOND CHANCE MONTH
WHEREAS, redemption and second chances are American values; and
WHEREAS, Ninety-four percent of incarcerated offenders will return to the community after serving time in prison or jail, or completing terms of correctional supervision; and
WHEREAS, nearly 13,000 offenders are released to the community each year after repaying their debt to society; and
WHEREAS, evidence supports that programming and reentry services are transformational in providing opportunities for offenders to change; and
WHEREAS, Virginia’s prison system has the lowest recidivism rate in the country for the third year in a row at 23.4 percent; and
WHEREAS, individuals with a criminal history face numerous challenges in finding employment, housing, health care and transportation, and these challenges may contribute to recidivism; and
WHEREAS, Virginia’s prison system offers effective programs and services for offenders, including provision of substance abuse treatment, mental health services, academic and career and technical education, faith-based opportunities and work skills through prison jobs; and
WHEREAS, effective reentry services for parents in the criminal justice system interrupts the cycle of generational crime by equipping parents to become effective role models and establish new paths for youth; and
WHEREAS, the Commonwealth partners with many committed local agencies, non-profit groups and faith-based groups to support and mentor returning citizens and their families; and
WHEREAS, former offenders in Virginia who have paid their debt to society and are living in a law abiding manner will have their civil rights restored so they are equipped to fully enter the community and participate in the legitimate economy; and
WHEREAS, reentry services result in lasting public safety through transformed lives and create safer communities across the Commonwealth for all citizens; and
WHEREAS, the designation of May as Second Chance Month contributes to increased public awareness of these issues;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Ralph S. Northam, do hereby recognize May 2019 as SECOND CHANCE MONTH in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
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