Second Chances

Who among us has not needed a second chance in life? Have you been extended that grace? In my life I have been given chance after chance and have needed that opportunity to fail and to learn from those failures. When prisoners are released they are told that they cannot carry a fire arm and will not be eligible to vote but most times are not warned of the invisible barriers that exist in finding a job, housing or transportation. For example, you are good enough to buy a car but you cannot sell cars for a career. You must obtain housing but most will not rent to you due to your criminal record. 

On June 29th Lorrie, Mary Ila and I attended the first Reentry Leader Conference in Birmingham at the Hyatt Regency Wynfrey. As a subject that is near and dear to my heart, I was excited to hear about ways to help employers afford people a second chance. We have so much untapped talent and potential in Alabama and in the world. Studies show that 77% of our population is justice involved, that’s 32% more than the percentage of people who have college degrees. Depending on state, there are between 2-4 open jobs for every one person available to take that job in the industrial sector. Connecting those jobs to reentrants is critical. Of the 9.7 million reentry each year, only 8% can find employment.

This is where comes in. They equip participants with must haves such as affordable housing, food, transportation to appointments and counseling and most importantly good jobs. They even offer a free mobile bank for reentrants. Local Auto plants like Mercedes near the Reentry centers employ these workers. 

During the 2nd chance employer Leader Session, Donny Jones from West Alabama Works shared about Building Hope West Alabama. Their passion is to “provide hope, help, and opportunity to people that are justice involved.” This program “connects justice-inolved individuals with meaningful jobs, as well as the job skills and educational credentials they need for long-term success.” Schnellke is one of the employers hiring people who are justice involved. They believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb was the keynote speaker. She became judge at 25 and now runs It is an effort to help worthy incarcerated adults to become productive citizens. Alabama has one of the highest percentages of the aging population incarcerated. Out of the 4002 total parole hearings in 2022 only 409 were granted parole.Their mission is “to identify, assist, and represent worthy individuals who have spent decades behind bars, demonstrated they are transformed, and earned parole or work release.”

At Horizon Point we have a people first mindset. We believe that people are a company and community’s greatest asset. As one of the ladies speaking put it, which one of us has not made a mistake that needed forgiveness? How can your organization help to give “people” an opportunity after they have been held accountable for their actions? Afterall, don’t we all need a second chance?

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Emily Collins