Senator James Lankford has joined Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) to introduce a resolution that designates April 2017 as “Second Chance Month.” The bipartisan resolution honors those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society.
“I am proud to join this bipartisan group of Senators to designate April 2017 as Second Chance Month,” said Lankford. “There are many unnecessary barriers to individuals who leave prison and return to society. Federal and local governments should work to remove barriers and help former inmates live out their God-given potential. Those who have paid their debt and are able to find ways to become contributing members of society are less likely to return to prison or revert to illegal activities. I applaud the many nonprofits, churches, and individuals who help prisoners and returning citizens with drug treatment, job training, financial literacy, and responsible parenting. Their work makes our community safer, saves taxpayer dollars, and helps change lives.”
Senator Lankford serves on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, which has jurisdiction over the Department of Justice, including the Bureau of Prisons, and Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In February, Senator Lankford joined Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to introduce the MERCY Act, a juvenile justice reform bill that would set limits on the usage of solitary confinement of juveniles who are tried in the federal system and held in pretrial facilities or juvenile detention facilities. In July 2015, Lankford welcomed President Obama’s desire to highlight criminal justice reform during a visit to Oklahoma.
In addition to the resolution designating April 2017 as “Second Chance Month”, it honors the work of communities, governmental entities, nonprofits, congregations, employers, and individuals to remove unnecessary legal and societal barriers that prevent an individual with a criminal record from becoming a productive member of society. The resolution also encourages Americans to observe Second Chance Month through actions and programs that promote awareness of collateral consequences for returning citizens who have paid their debts.
According to Prison Fellowship, a national nonprofit that serves prisoners and returning citizens, there are approximately 2.2 million Americans who are incarcerated. This year, 600,000 Americans will leave prison and return to society. There are 2.7 million children who have a parent in prison. According to Governor Fallin’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force, Oklahoma has the second-highest incarceration rate in the nation. Oklahoma currently has just over 61,000 individuals in its prison system.