June, 22

Readout of Second Chance Fellows Panel Event

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Readout of Second Chance Fellows Panel Event

The Office of Justice Programs capped off Second Chance Month by hosting a panel discussion featuring three current Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Fellows. Moderated by inaugural Second Chance Fellow and reentry and social justice advocate Daryl Atkinson, the discussion highlighted the current fellows, their unique contributions to OJP, the challenges they see in the field and the goals they hope to accomplish.

Assistant Attorney General Amy L. Solomon provided opening remarks for the event, recounting the history of the Second Chance Fellows program and detailing OJP’s support of reentry initiatives and programs. Last fall, OJP awarded more than $100 million in Second Chance Act grants, she said, and has been instrumental in facilitating policy changes across government that have benefitted those transitioning back into their communities.

Daryl Atkinson

Atkinson, who co-founded and co-directs Forward Justice, spoke about the culture change that was brought about by the advent of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council ten years ago and the Second Chance Fellows program that grew out of the Council’s efforts. He also gave his views on the current reentry climate before introducing the panel of speakers: Angel Sanchez, an LLM candidate at Yale Law School whose fellowship has focused on education and maximizing the potential for Pell reinstatement, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Education; John Bae, director of the Opening Doors to Housing Initiative at the Vera Institute of Justice, whose fellowship has focused on developing a comprehensive reentry blueprint, as well as working in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on their action plan for removing unnecessary barriers to housing for people with criminal records; and Stanley Frankart, housing programs supervisor for the Licking County (Ohio) Coalition for Housing whose fellowship is focused on addressing barriers to securing and sustaining housing after incarceration.

Second Chance Fellows Panel

Each of the fellows spoke about his motivation to apply for the fellowship, which varied from exploring how federal funding is leveraged and how it can be distributed more equally, to maximizing the benefit of the Pell Grant program for incarcerated students. When asked about the biggest challenges they see in the field, the fellows cited the need to create pathways to housing and homeownership, remove the structural barriers to inclusion that justice-involved individuals face and change the narrative around reentry so that it’s viewed as a community issue instead of a criminal justice issue.

It has been 15 years since OJP launched its Second Chance Act programs. Since then, OJP has awarded more than 1,100 grants that support youth and adult reentry programs and funded research. These grants have provided a number of services, such as substance use treatment, job placement and vocational training, to some 400,000 people. Just last year, BJA launched the Second Chance Community-based Reentry Incubator Initiative, which provides micro-grant funding to community-based organizations that usually don’t have access to federal funding and are uniquely positioned to serve people returning home from incarceration.

About the Office of Justice Programs

The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime; advance equity and fairness in the administration of justice; assist victims; and uphold the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at


CONTACT: OJP Media at [email protected]

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