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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.