Since 2010, Second Chance, a Kansas City-based re-entry program, has played an important role in transforming the lives of ex-offenders, and contributing to the overall safety of Kansas City.
When it comes to crime prevention, assistance for ex-offenders is an unexpected, but powerful and necessary tool to enhance public safety. At any given time, there are a number of people returning to the community from prison. Obtaining housing and employment can be especially challenging for those with certain offenses. But research indicates that access to those basic living needs is one of the most compelling ways to reduce incentives to commit new crimes.
Second Chance was created by and continues to operate under the umbrella of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission. The program began with a year-long research project in examining offender reentry. A Gaps Analysis, was conducted for Metropolitan Kansas City, with the help of University of Missouri Kansas City. Of the project’s many findings, it became clear that services offering housing and employment assistance were severely lacking in the Kansas City Metro area.
Today, the organization’s sole purpose is to provide those direct services, helping those returning from prison reintegrate into their community, and rebuild their lives.
Second Chance’s client base is made up of those deemed at “high risk,” of reoffending by Missouri Department of Corrections. This can be an especially challenging task, but the staff members at Second Chance are dedicated to meeting each individual client’s unique set of needs.
For example, when the housing specialist meets with the referred client, an extensive needs assessment is conducted, including information on their social history. Together they set goals that are both measurable and realistic to obtain stable housing, and reduce overall risk factors.
The results speak for themselves. Of the participants who complete the program, only 20 percent return to prison, a much better recidivism rate than the national average, which varies depending on the source, but the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates two-thirds of ex-criminals will be back in jail within three years. The majority of clients are also able to keep the housing that they are placed in with the help of Second Chance.
While the whole city benefits from a lower crime rate, Second Chance clients are changing their lives in positive and inspiring ways. But don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what a Second Chance client had to say about the program:
“In today’s workforce, integrating back into society has its obstacles and challenges, even more with a conviction, lack of education, and/or skills that are necessary. Second Chance has helped me by improving my way of presenting myself to an employer. Their staff [members] are friendly, honest professionals that understand your needs and concerns. In all out, just awesome.”
Further reading on recidivism in the United States
- The State of Recidivism: The Revolving Door of America’s Prisons
- Quick Facts: Women & Criminal Justice
- Charting the safe and successful return of prisoners to the community
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.
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