Incarceration doesn’t define a life—but a second chance can. April 2023 is officially “Second Chance Month,” observed since April 2017 as a nationwide effort to raise awareness of the collateral consequences of a criminal conviction. During Second Chance Month, hundreds of organizations, churches, and businesses raise awareness and provide redemptive support for millions of formerly incarcerated Americans who are working to reenter society and create a brighter future for themselves and their families.
In a proclamation issued by the White House on March 31, 2023, President Biden said, “America has always been a land of second chances, founded on fresh starts, new possibilities, and the belief that every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. During Second Chance Month, we recommit to helping people forge the new beginnings they have earned and building a safer and more just society.”
At The Way Back, we work tirelessly every month all year to help individuals access and make the most of their second chances. Second Chance Month provides the ideal opportunity to build awareness of the difficult path the formerly incarcerated face—and to engage supporters in the effort to help.
The reality of recidivism
Recidivism—the tendency to repeat an offense or relapse into criminal behavior—is a devastating reality that impacts millions of families across multiple generations. It’s a vicious cycle—and compassion and support are essential to break it for families, individuals, and communities.
The numbers reveal the scale of recidivism: more than 1.8 million men and women are incarcerated in the United States, with 251,000 alone in the State of Texas. Forty-four percent of those on the path to reentry in Texas were re-arrested during the first 12 months following their release.
The Way Back is on a mission to walk alongside our clients in their journey to a better life. We understand that incarceration and recidivism don’t just affect individuals; they also affect families and communities. We want to see the men and women on the path to reentry thrive and grow stronger instead of finding themselves back where they started. Through practical aid, counsel, and community partnership, we are reducing the recidivism rate in the State of Texas and paving the way to a brighter future.
Supporting individuals, families, and communities
For an individual attempting to reenter society, every step can feel like an uphill battle. Depending on how long a person has been incarcerated, the world may have changed. Every aspect of rebuilding a life can be a monumental task. A criminal record can prevent someone from finding a safe place to live and landing a job that pays a steady wage—many housing options are unavailable to those who have been imprisoned, and some employers are unwilling to hire the formerly incarcerated. It’s difficult to acquire a driver’s license, let alone reliable transportation. Such obstacles can make it difficult to navigate the path back, yet alone establish and maintain the steady routines of a normal life—something that, truth be told, all of us can find difficult at times.
The daunting path to reentry can be overwhelming, contributing to relapses and recidivism rates. Together, we can change this reality.
The Way Back
The Way Back provides comprehensive, wrap-around services that address immediate needs such as clothing, food, hygiene, housing assistance, and referrals to social services, as well as a continuum of case management and supportive services that transform lives and build paths to a more secure future. Through targeted support and intervention, The Way Back is reducing recidivism, generational incarceration, and poverty in our communities in the State of Texas.
We provide services through in-prison programs, a women’s re-entry initiative, and a re-entry program. We have conducted over 180 boot camps, served over 4,000 clients, and seen the percentage of recidivism among The Way Back clients drop to 6 percent.
We are making a difference that will change the lives of multiple generations and communities now and into the future—an impact that will only grow with additional support.
Join us in making an impact
During Second Chance Month 2023 (and for the rest of the year) we invite you to join The Way Back in raising awareness. You can help by volunteering and experiencing firsthand the privilege of being a part of positive change in someone’s life. You can also partner with us by donating to continue our mission to help our clients make the most of their second chance.