Virginia governor proclaims May 'Second Chance Month'

Published: May. 9, 2019 at 4:04 PM EDT
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has proclaimed May "Second Chance Month" in a bid to focus attention on criminal justice reform and inmate reentry programs.

Northam said in a statement Wednesday that redemption is a "fundamental American value" and that his administration is committed to making sure that former inmates have the support they need to succeed.

The governor's proclamation comes a few months after he asked Virginians for a second chance following a blackface scandal that almost forced him from office.

Northam has since prioritized efforts to address longstanding racial inequities, particularly those related to the criminal justice system.

He recently vetoed bills on mandatory minimum sentences and

as long as he is in office.

The Democratic governor was recently able to overcome strong opposition from key GOP lawmakers and eliminate the suspension of driver's licenses for motorists with unpaid court fines and costs.

All of those drivers will be

of this year.

You can find Northam's full proclamation below (or to the right on a desktop computer).

 By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution of Virginia in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:




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.