Everyone deserves a second chance. This April, the Justice Department is celebrating Second Chance Month, a time when we reaffirm our commitment to helping individuals successfully transition out of the justice system.
I am Chyrl Jones, the Acting Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention—known as OJJDP. Today, I want to highlight some of our reentry work our Office is doing to help young people and their families.
According to OJJDP's 2019 Census of Juveniles in Residential Placement, more than 36,000 youth were held in juvenile residential facilities in 2019. While that number is lower than it has been in more than 40 years, we still have a significant obligation to each of those young people. It is OJJDP's vision that every child's contact with the juvenile justice system is rare, fair, and beneficial to them. Yes, beneficial. With the right supports during placement—and the necessary help following release—we can make that happen.
OJJDP has two distinct Second Chance Act reentry programs. The first supports youth as they reenter their communities following residential placement. In 2021, we awarded nearly $10 million to 13 sites to support the successful transition of youth.
Through this program, young people benefit from educational, vocational, and job placement services. Youth also receive treatment for substance use, assistance finding housing, and help arranging healthcare. These sites make sure that young people are preparing to succeed before they leave confinement—and are ready to thrive after they return home.
Our other Second Chance Act program focuses on families. When parents are incarcerated, their minor children suffer. OJJDP awarded nearly $4.5 million to directly address the needs of incarcerated parents and their children. The program provides incarcerated parents with education, job training, and parenting classes, while their children receive services to promote positive development.
Our work would not be possible without our deeply committed partners in the field. From all of us at OJJDP—congratulations to the Second Chance Month participants who are leading positive change in their jurisdictions on both of these projects.
An impulsive action, a stupid mistake, or a reckless decision should be answered for, but it should not derail a young person’s entire life. Likewise, the mistakes of a parent should not permanently destroy a family. OJJDP is immensely proud to support programs that help youth find positive paths. For so many young people, a second chance is the first step toward a brighter future.