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Family Matters How to help ex-offenders stay exoffenders

God’s Spiritual Growth Plan



of the Prison Reform Movement

Juvenile Justice

A system losing ground

L.A County

and Mental Health A Positive Step

Jay Z and Meek Mill

The New Faces of Prison Reform?



ver the years life has brought me a ton of challenges. Along the way I’ve had the opportunity to encourage a bunch of great men and women. A few years ago while sitting in a probation and parole office I noticed an unusual quiet in the room. Many of the probationers sat in silence and in fear as they awaited their turn to see their officer. I sat and observed and an image came to mind that looked as if they were like “sheep headed to the slaughter”. Men and Women who looked as if they had no hope, help, or voice. I started Second Chance Magazine™ with one goal in mind, to give someone a Second Chance at life. Second Chance Magazine™, is a publication focused on providing its readers, who range from felons to their loved ones, valuable resources for reentry and recovery. It has an eye opening mission to bring the topic of Criminal Justice Reform, its challenges and successes, into to the nation’s spotlight. Along with this, Second Chance Magazine™ is a source of help for those who have had their lives

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and their family’s lives turned upside down by felonies and bad choices. In it, readers will find up to date reentry services, programs, and the tools needed for personal and career development. It also features inspirational articles that serve as daily sources of inspiration for everyday living and growth. With these attributes, Second Chance Magazine™ hopes to expand its reach by partnering with some of the nation’s top second chance programs and influencers of criminal justice reform and reentry. In conjunction with these programs and influencers, the magazine will be able to host job readiness, business, and career development workshops for formerly incarcerated individuals and their loved ones. Second Chance Magazine™, The Voice of New Beginnings.

Larry M. Anderson Founder and Publisher

Table of Contents Key Influencers of the Prison Reform Movement 04 Justice For All »» HB 2270: Is Rehabilitation the Change We Need? 08 »» Cyntoia Brown and the Juvenile Criminal Justice Reform 08 »» Juvenile Justice” A system losing ground 09 »» Kamala Harris: Is She For or Against Criminal Justice Reform? 10 »» L.A County and Criminal Justice Reform: Will they embrac e Change? 11 »» L.A County and Mental Health : A Positive Step 12 »» Van Jones and the First Step Act: the Controversy 13 »» Jay Z and Meek Mill The New Faces of Prison Reform? 14

Faith »» Holding onto Hope 18 »» Potency of Faith 20 »» Seed Sowers 22 »» God’s Spiritual Growth Plan 23

Family »» Family Matters: How to help ex-offenders stay ex-offenders 26 »» The Importance of Fathers 27

Reentry Recovery »» College options for ex-offenders 28 »» Dealing with Loneliness in Prison 29 »» Dealing with Stress 29 »» Finding housing 30 »» How to combat societal expectations of released inmates 31 »» How to dress for success on a budget 32 »» How to prep for job interviews 33 »» Learning to efficiently find work 34 »» Maintaining physical and mental wellness after release 35 »» Reentry For Prisoners 36 »» Reentry - Just the facts 38 »» Reform & Reentry: What is prison reform and how is it supposed to help? 39 »» Statistical Challenges of Reentry 40 »» Top 3 resources for Starting your own Business 42 »» No Justice for Children 44 »» No More Condemnation 45 »» When It Comes to Kids in Lockup, It’s All About “Lack” 46

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Key Influencers

Key Influencers of the Prison Reform Movement Susan Burton Susan Burton is a formerly incarcerated activist who helps women rehabilitate after being released from prison through her organization A New Way of Life. The nonprofit provides housing, case management, pro bono legal services, advocacy, and leadership development for women rebuilding their lives after prison.

Yusef Bunchy Shakur

Tamika Mallory Tamika Mallory was born into activism as the daughter of founding members of the National Action Network (NAN), a civil rights organization led by Rev. Al Sharpton. She served as NAN’s executive director before stepping down in 2013.
As a lifelong activist, she has fought for civil rights, women’s rights, gun control, and healthcare. She had also worked closely with the Obama administration on a variety of social issues along with Fortune 500 companies on projects related to mass incarceration and police misconduct.
Mallory is a board director at Gathering for Justice, an organization aimed at curbing mass incarceration, and an active member of the Justice League NYC, a task force committed to advancing the juvenile and criminal justice reform agenda. She is perhaps best known as a co-president and co-founder of the historic Women’s March on Washington.

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Yusef Bunchy Shakur, born Joseph Lee Ruffin on February 15, 1973 in Detroit, is a father, author, educator, community activist/ organizer, and entrepreneur, but his journey has been one of overcoming the odds. Jojo, as his friends knew him, grew up in a home without a father, with an abusive mother and alcoholic who also found herself engaging in the street underworld to provide food, clothes and shelter for her three children she was raising by herself. Young Joseph was surrounded by violence and crime and eventually co-founded the notorious street gang “Zone 8”, which led to his incarceration at the age of nineteen for a crime he says he did not commit. Joseph met his father for the first time in prison where they were both serving time. During his sentence Yusef (changed his name to Yusef Bunchy Shakur in prison) says he began a journey of transformation, in large part thanks to his father, from a gang member into an educated young man who would eventually leave prison and continue on a path of redemption. Today Yusef travels the country to speak to youth about his experiences and to help steer young people away from a life of violence and crime. He continues to fight to overcome the challenges of crime, drugs, and violence plaguing the neighbourhood of “Zone 8” where members of his family and many friends still live.

Key Influencers Shaka Senghor Shaka Senghor is director’s fellow of the MIT Media Lab., college lecturer, author, and was convicted of murder in American courts. As of October 2015, he also teaches a class as part of the Atonement Project, a partnership between him, the University of Michigan, and the MIT Media Lab. His memoir, Writing my Wrongs, was published in March 2016. Senghor was named to Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 list of visionaries and influential leaders in 2016.

Chris Wilson

Michelle Alexander

Chris Wilson was sentenced to life in prison for murder at age 17. These days, he’s a free man who heads up two Baltimore companies and has been honored at the White House twice in the past month. He’s currently in talks with publishers to write a book about his life. Today, Wilson heads up House of DaVinci, a furniture restoration and upholstery company, and Barclay Investment Corporation, a residential and commercial contracting firm. He’s earning his bachelor’s degree in business at the University of Baltimore.

Civil rights attorney, social justice activist, and best-selling author, Michelle Alexander’s eye-opening and notable work, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, has been called the “secular Bible of the social movement.” An interview subject in Ava DuVernay’s 13th, Alexander’s commentary in the documentary analyzes the corruption of America’s criminal justice system. During her Tedx Talk conversation in 2013, the Union Theological seminary professor addressed the blunt reality of mass incarceration as a system of “millions of people, often poor people and people of color, locked in literal cages, often treated worse than animals, and then upon their release, they’re stripped of the basic civil and human rights supposedly won in the civil rights movement.”

CeCe McDonald In June 2011, CeCe McDonald was on her way to the store — minding her own business — when a man shouting racist and transphobic comments attacked her with a glass bottle in Minneapolis. The artist and LGBTQ rights activist retaliated by stabbing the man with scissors, and this resulted in his death. McDonald pleaded guilty on her charge of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 41 months in a men’s prison. While in prison, McDonald’s name graced social media via the hashtag #FreeCeCe, sparking a dialogue around the need for more conversations surrounding transgender rights. She was released after 19 months, due to good behavior.

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Key Influencers Patrisse Cullors

Marian Wright Edelman

Patrisse Cullors rose to prominence as the co-founder of the movement that has forever changed the conversation around race in America: Black Lives Matter. In April, Cullors wrote a poignant piece for the Los Angeles Times about how her older brother’s jail sentence — which occurred almost 20 years ago — has continued to impact her family even today. She credits the aftermath of the prison abuse her brother endured as one of the reasons behind her launching the now-infamous movement.

Marian Wright Edelman founded the Children's Defense Fund (CDF) in 1973, an organization that improves policies by advocating on behalf of children. Nearly 35 years after starting this organization, Edelman and the CDF launched a national summit to confront “America’s cradle to prison pipeline crisis.” The summit, which took place at Howard University, addressed the "national catastrophe" of mass incarceration among communities of color. It ultimately served as a “call to action to dismantle” the racially biased system that has continuously put black and brown children at a greater disadvantage than their white counterparts. Edelman’s accolades include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship and a Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, among others. In 2011, while receiving the John Jay Justice Award, Eldelman’s speech poignantly highlighted the urgent need for juvenile justice reform.

Angela Davis Angela Davis has been advocating for criminal justice reform for decades.In 1970, the avid feminist and civil rights activist chose to support three Black inmates — George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgoole and John Clutchette — who became known as the “Soledad brothers,” after they were accused of murdering a white correctional officer. She went on to become a part of the Soledad Brothers Defense Committee, in order to help fight against the “wrongful conviction for the murder of a prison guard,” according to Lifetime. In August 1970, during one of the brother’s trials, there was an armed escape attempt that resulted in the deaths of several people. Because the guns used in the incident were registered in Davis’ name, she faced multiple, charges including attempted murder. Then on October 13, 1970, Davis was arrested in Manhattan, and she remained in prison for 18 months before being acquitted.

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Key Influencers Topeka K. Sam Topeka K. Sam is the Founder and Executive Director of The Ladies of Hope Ministries – The LOHM – whose mission is to help disenfranchised and marginalized women and girls transition back into society through spiritual empowerment, education, entrepreneurship and advocacy. She is also the founder of HOPE HOUSE NYC – a safe housing space for women and girls. Topeka serves on the board of directors for Grassroots Leadership and Operation Restoration. Topeka is a Beyond the Bars 2015 Fellow and a 2016 Justice-In-Education Scholar both from Columbia University, a 2017 Soros Justice Advocacy Fellow working on Probation and Parole Accountability, a 2018 Unlocked Futures Inaugural Cohort Member , the host of ‘Last Mile, Second Chances’ on SiriusXM UrbanView Channel 126 which airs at 9am est on Sundays and former national organizer for the National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls.

Jessica Jackson Sloan

Kimberly Haven Kimberly Haven is a thought leader and a strong voice in the new social justice movement. She is a focus issue expert and has been called upon to speak on issues such as Voting Rights and Democracy, Collateral Consequences, Women in Prison, Mass Incarceration and Re-Entry. She has also served as an expert for legislative testifying and media commentary on a broad range of criminal justice reform and advocacy issues. Ms. Haven has played a leading role in numerous statewide efforts and has executed a variety of message campaigns to engage and impact public debates and ultimately to move policy. She has ideated and created innovative community engagement strategies and campaigns during the past 20+ years; these strategies have gone on to be replicated in other states. Ms. Haven has spent her career working hard to amplify the voices of those left out of the conversation as she believes their voices can be the most relevant and powerful.

Jessica Jackson Sloan is a human rights attorney who began her career representing California death row inmates in their appeals. She now oversees DreamCorps #cut50 initiative to end mass incarceration. Jessica currently sits on The Committee for a Fair Judiciary, serves as an Advisory Board member of the American Constitution Society Bay Area Chapter, and represents Congressman Jared Huffman on the Democratic Central Committee of Marin. In November 2013, Jessica became the youngest ever elected official in Marin County when she was elected to the Mill Valley City Council. Jessica became the Mayor of Mill Valley in November 2016. Jessica earned her B.A in Political Science from the University of South Florida Honors College and her Juris Doctorate from Santa Clara University School of Law where she received the Dean’s Outstanding Student Leadership Award.

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Justice For All

HB 2270:

Is Rehabilitation the Change We Need? By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice


n Arizona, HB 2270 offers offenders a second chance at life. HB 2270 is a bill that offers offenders a chance to participate in rehabilitative programming and good behavior, which in turn would lessen their sentence. With this legislation, this offers other prisons a chance to offer rehabilitative programming in order for offenders to be released out of prison a better version of themselves. If offenders are rehabilitated from their past mistakes, then there would be a greater chance that they do not commit their previous crime, which is proven in other countries such as Japan. Citation: Formerly Incarcerated People Say Sentence Reduction Legislation Will Inspire Hope In Arizona Prisons. (2019, January 23). Retrieved from

Cyntoia Brown and the Juvenile Criminal Justice Reform By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice


ith the recent clemency of Cyntoia Brown, supporters of Brown are pushing further to include legislation that gives juveniles like Brown a second chance from the crimes they have committed as children. Brown’s clemency gives those hope for those that are serving time for infractions that was committed as children. It also gives insight on the reasons as to why children commit these crimes, which includes sex trafficking as described in Brown’s case. Prosecutors need to pay attention to the reasons as to why people commit crimes as children because many of them may have committed these crimes in a life or death situation.


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Justice For All

Juvenile Justice A system losing ground Anne Wade senseless to punish a juvenile who may not have the capacity to truly understand the harm they have caused.


here are several questions concerning juvenile offenders. Each of the questions come back to a very real issue, what do we, as a society, do with youth who refuse to obey laws? In medieval times, the incorrigible children could be executed. That penalty of executing Juveniles was finally outlawed in Roper v. Simmons (2005). A short version of the history of the treatment of juveniles shows vacillation between punishment and rehabilitation (Bernard, 1992). The current debate centers around the age of the juvenile (what defines a juvenile, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18), and how do we punish/rehabilitate/deter/ reintegrate the juvenile in our civilized society? Society certainly demands their “pound of flesh” when a juvenile offender has committed a serious offense harming a victim or victims. However, due to the age of the offender, society also has little desire to warehouse juvenile offenders for the rest of their lives.

Goshe (2013) noted the malleability of society’s concern for juveniles in society. No matter how liberal programs are to assist children “at risk” those are the programs that are cut first in a budgetary crisis. Goshe noted that even when funding is at its peak, social services still has to beg for more money to assist an ever increasing case of juveniles. This begs the question of how committed we are as a society to actually identifying and preventing juvenile’s from committing offenses in the first place. An argument can be made that juvenile offenders do not fully understand the nature of their crimes. They do not have fully developed moral systems and their brain is not as mature as their age would seem to suggest (Scott, 2006). While they understand at one level, they are breaking the law and some societal norms, they may not see consequences beyond the act itself (for themselves and others they have harmed). If that is the case, then it seems

Because of juveniles reduced ability to control themselves, lack of fully understanding the nature of their crime, and potentially delayed brain development, many advocate reduced sentencing for juvenile offenders (Brink, 2004). This argument of reduced sentencing, coupled with aggressive treatment for incarcerated juveniles seems to be the plan in many states. Depending on the degree of harm the juvenile has caused, it could be a risky plan that depends on juvenile services doing a stellar job providing needed services within a small window of time – the reduced time the juvenile is incarcerated versus and adult incarceration. Ultimately, there are no winners in the current juvenile system. Juveniles are treated differently in different states, some are punished others are given programs, and victims continue to suffer at the hands of their offender. All around, there are losers in the system. The juveniles who are incarcerated started life off “at risk” and their victims may or may not recover from the act against them.

No matter how liberal programs are to assist children “at risk” those are the programs that are cut first in a budgetary crisis.

Bernard, Thomas J. 1992. The Cycle of Juvenile Justice. New York: Oxford University Press. Brink, D. O. (2004). Immaturity, n ormative competence, and juvenile transfer: How (not) to punish minors for major crimes. Texas Law Review, 82 , 1555 Goshe, S. (2013). Malleable Mandates: Liberal Ideology and the Politics of Protection and Punishment in the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. Western Criminology Review, 14(1), 39-50. Roper v. Simmons 543 U.S. 551 (2005) Scott, E. (2006). Adolescence and the regulation of youth crime. Temple Law Review,8, 337.

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Justice For All

Kamala Harris

Is She For or Against Criminal Justice Reform? By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice


n January 21, California senator Kamala Harris announced her run for presidency, in which her campaign focuses on bringing unity back to the forefront. An attorney general for 6 years, Harris is no stranger to using her power to bring reform to the justice system from the inside. A bulk of her career was spent as a prosecutor, in which she was openly opposed to the death penalty. However, while this was initially a progressive move towards California’s reform, she sidetracked by upholding California laws around capital punishment, which causes people to question her authenticity and whether or not she is able

We are already witnessing how a president can make broken promises for the sake of winning, so we have to be more conscious when we analyze Kamala Harris as our potential president.

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to uphold her her word. Her track record includes a program, Back on Track, in which it gave young drug offenders a second chance in life, including job training and community college classes, as long as they gave a guilty plea and serve 220 community service hours, amongst other programs that she created towards criminal justice reform. While she used her power to implement these programs in California, one of the main things that the American people should pay attention to is whether or not she would keep her word for the benefit of our communities. She has made decisions that can be seen as a benefit towards reform, however, she has also made statements that raises the question of whether or not she is using the criminal justice reform platform for votes. We are already witnessing how a president can make broken promises for the sake of winning, so we have to be more conscious when we analyze Kamala Harris as our potential president.

Justice For All

L.A County and Criminal Justice Reform:

Will they embrace Change? By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice

tion that focuses on crime prevention, ceasing the overcrowding of prisons, and the reduction of sentencing for minor transgressions. While the majority of the population favors these laws, District Attorney Jackie Lacey haven’t embraced criminal reform. While Lacey haven’t embraced criminal reform, she has supported initiatives such as cash bail, which gives the opportunity for those that have the money to be able to post bail. This put those that are vulnerable at a disadvantage, considering if they can afford to post bail. Lacey hasn’t addressed the issue of police brutality as well. Her track record includes not charging officers with the shooting deaths of unarmed victims.


riminal justice reform is becoming more prevalent across the nation. Within the various initiatives taking place, lawmakers and other promotional figures made making the moves necessary to make criminal justice reform a reality. Los Angeles county is the exception. The majority of L.A county’s population favors legisla-

While criminal justice reform is becoming a conversation between lawmakers and civilians, there should be some lawmakers that should look into the criminal justice reform more seriously. The criminal justice reform is to protect, and it seems that some lawmakers are there for their own gain. This puts well deserved cases on the back burner and puts innocent people at risk. Citation:

Citation: “Criminal Justice Reform Is Sweeping the Country. But Not L.A. County.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2019,

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Justice For All

L.A County and Mental Health: A Positive Step By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice


n February 13, Los Angeles county members voted to demolish L.A county’s central jail and replace it with a mental health facility for inmates. This plan is modified from the initial plan of creating a “consolidated correctional treatment facility”, which would house 3,885 inmate patients. The Department of Health Services would oversee the facility, and it would be staffed by the Department of Mental Health. This plan marks a shift in the way the state treat inmates with mental health issues. In L.A county, 70% of the county jail population has either a medical or mental health issue. This is a positive step for those the needs the help that they weren’t able to receive prior to their convictions. This gives those a chance to gain rehabilitation, and to give those an understanding of why they committed the crimes that they did. The United States are one of the few nations that does not offer rehabilitation for their inmates, which I think is detrimental. If an inmate was to be released without an effort towards rehabilitation, then it would be more than likely that they would end up back in prison.

In L.A county, 70% of the county jail population has either a medical or mental health issue.

Citation: “Criminal Justice Reform Is Sweeping the Country. But Not L.A. County.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 27 Feb. 2019, ory.html.

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Justice For All

Van Jones and the First Step Act: the Controversy By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice


NN’s commentator and host Van Jones is no stranger to civil rights initiatives within recent years. However, Jones caught supporters by surprise when he expressed his support for the First Step Act, a bill that was co-sponsored by Democrat Hakeem Jeffries and Republican Doug Collins. The First Step Act targets issues such as

the improvement of facilities, the release of elderly inmates, the increase of days inmates are able to spend in halfway homes, and placing them in facilities closer to their families. While this initiative gives inmates a more humane treatment while they serve their sentence, opposers argue that this act is seen as a shallow effort to address the underlying issue. The First Step Act does not address the decrease of drug charges, the end of long sentencing for these transgressions and giving judges more discretion. Opposers of this act worries that this initiative would shut down a more aggressive approach towards prison reform in the future. So, how does Van Jones fit into this narrative? Jones argues that we need a stable bipartisan consensus in order to solve the issue of mass incarceration. However, it would be proven difficult to support a bipartisan bill with the tension occurring between republicans and democrats. Hopefully both parties are able to move past their vast differences to support a bill that would help those that deserves it.

Citation: George, Justin. “Van Jones Answers His Critics.” The Marshall Project, The Marshall Project, 19 June 2018,

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Justice For All

Jay Z and Meek Mill

The New Faces of Prison Reform? By: Akyra Allen • Writers for Justice


t is only January, and two of the greatest hip hop artists are already taking the initiative to addressing the injustice of our nation’s “justice system”. On January 23, Jay-Z and Meek Mill, among other prominent figures , launched the REFORM alliance, “an organization that aims to reduce the number of people serving unjust parole and probation sentences.” Along with the 76er’s co-owner Michael Ruben, Nets co-owner Clara Wu Tsai, and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, they pledged $50 million dollars towards the initiative, with political commentator and activist Van Jones as their CEO.

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Justice For All

With the uprising of people being incarcerated for various offenses, it is a stride in the right direction to address the underlying issues within the justice system. It is already unfortunate that people within our community receives an absurd sentencing for a very minor crime, while others get a more lenient sentencing for the same infraction. For those that may not know, Meek Mill served 5 months for a technical probation violation which was “popping a wheelie.” While he was serving his sentence, many celebrities, including Jay-Z rallied for his release over this very minor infraction. Meek Mill stated, “Every time I started fulfilling my life within the music industry, every year or two, there was always something that brought me back to ground zero because of probation.” If it is difficult for musicians to get back to who they were before their sentencing, imagine a person that doesn’t have his influence and his connections to reduce his sentencing. There are people that are serving a serious amount of time in jail over “technicalities.” We already know that this is an issue, and seeking two prom-

inent figures in our community create an initiative that our elected officials didn’t also shows what is deemed important to our elected officials. Many feel that our elected officials are not doing what they’re elected for, and it is unfortunate that these elected officials don’t use their platform to make the necessary changes needed to better our community, especially within the prison system. We already know that many correctional facilities are for profit, and many people are ran by how much revenue these facilities generate. Many of these officials see profit over public service, and that also needs to change. There is a change in the foreseeable future. Jay Z and Meek Mill are the faces of this change, using their wealth to fund this change and actually having a voice that people would be responsive to. I remain optimistic that the REFORM alliance will change the way that we view prison reform, the steps needed to change our justice system and what we can do to maintain the longevity of these changes.

I remain optimistic that the REFORM alliance will change the way that we view prison reform, the steps needed to change our justice system and what we can do to maintain the longevity of these changes.

Citation: 1.Jay-Z and Meek Mill launch prison reform organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www-m.cnn. com/2019/01/24/entertainment/jay-z-meek-mill-prison/index.html?r= 2. Lockett, D. (2019, January 23). Jay-Z and Meek Mill Launch Prison Reform Alliance, Pledge $50 Million. Retrieved from

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Second Chance Magazine - April 2019 | 17


Hope Holding onto

By Larry M. Anderson


ope is a funny thing. When life is going well, we tend to be filled with it. We look forward to what’s next and expect great things to continue coming our way. But when life brings hardship, hope can quickly fade away. And yet, we need hope more during the dark times of life than during those times when everything is

smooth sailing. So, how do we hold on to hope while we are in the midst of life’s storm? How do we press on when life gets us down? One definition of hope is, “An expectation or belief in the fulfillment of something desired.” Because of this, hope requires an object to hope for. If we are going to make

it another day, then we need to believe that tomorrow will be worth it. Hope quickly fades when we can’t see past the current moment. This was something that the psychiatrist Victor Frankl discovered during World War II. He was captured by the Nazis and held as a prisoner in a concentration camp. While there, he studied his fellow prisoners and made some striking discoveries. One of the most amazing lessons Frankl discovered is summed up in his words: “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” In one of the darkest moments in human history - the Holocaust – Frankl discovered hope. He met people who are suffering unimaginably. These were people who had done nothing other than be born as the “wrong” race, according to Adolf Hitler. Their lives seemed to be totally out of their control. And yet many of them held on to hope. Why? Because they had a will and a ‘why’ to live. Something in

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Faith the future was calling them, not allowing them to give up. This is the essence of hope especially during the darkest of times. So how do we apply this lesson to our lives? How do we keep from succumbing to the darkness? We follow Frankl’s advice by finding our ‘why’ and holding as tightly as possible to it. We allow that ‘why’ to be the thing that pulls us forward. With that said, some ‘whys’ are better than others. Goals can become ‘whys’. For example, we make plans to have a certain career and we work towards that by going to school or finding places to get experience. But what happens if circumstances prevent us from ever reaching that goal? Then we lose the ‘why’ that goes with it. Goals are too fickle and changing to make a good ‘why.’ The same could be said of people. People enter and leave our lives, sometimes without explanation. But if all of our hope is bound up in a certain person or group of people, then what happens when those people walk away or when we lose them? Our hope leaves just the same. If hope is going to last and be stable, then it needs an object that is just as solid and unchanging. And in this volatile world that we live in, there is only one thing - one person - who is unchanging: God. This is why God is our greatest source of hope. He cannot disappear like our goals. He will not walk out on us like people. He is steadfast and unmovable. And he is our

only source of sure and lasting hope. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah understood this fact and expressed it by writing, “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31). God is a constant source of hope. And when we make him are greatest object of hope, we will be renewed day by day. When difficult times come, we will be able to look to him as the unchanging one who holds our lives in his hand. And though everything around us may be shifting, creating chaos, and trying to destroy us, we can know that God has our best interests in mind.


is a constant source of hope. And when we make him are greatest object of hope, we will be renewed day by day.

This is the reason that many during the Holocaust were able to persevere. And it’s the reason that millions of slaves in the United States were able to survive some of the harshest treatment imaginable, because they had confidence in the God who was greater than them and their enemies. And so they sang, “I’m sometimes up, I’m sometimes down, Coming for to carry me home; But still my soul feels heavenly bound, coming for to carry me home.” They knew that they had a heavenly home where God was dwelling, and all of their hope was in him. That kind of hope can carry a man through anything. Let it carry you.

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Faith Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1 – NKJV)

Potency of

Faith By Cleveland O. McLeish


he Book of Hebrews is replete with examples of stalwarts of faith. It demonstrates how ordinary men and women were able to access different spiritual dimensions in God, by faith. There is a connection established between the seen and unseen realm that we may have missed while reading the Old Testament discourse that is both profound and shrouded in mystery. It is “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Hebrews 11:3-NKJV). There is a suggestion here that the unseen reality is superior to the realm of physicality. Faith is then revealed through the lives of Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, etc. It is by faith that these great, yet ordinary men and women were able to access a reality that may seem like imagination or a fantasy for most believers today. But “walking with God” as Enoch did is not as inaccessible as

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Faith we may think. It requires faith. What prevents most of us from accessing the greater spiritual realities is the presence of unbelief lodged within our being.

By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.

Faith then becomes a trading principle in pulling what is from the unseen realm, into the reality that we can see. This is how miracles happen. But it is not a lack of faith that stops divine manifestation in our lives, because when one becomes born again, they are given a “measure of faith” by God (Romans 12:3). As a matter of fact, faith must be present in order for one to get saved. Theologians all agree that salvation is the greatest miracle of all, yet we sometimes think a different kind of faith is needed to live a life of supernatural miracles, but that is faulty thinking. We access heaven for salvation by faith; similarly, we access heaven for a supernatural lifestyle by faith. If we desire to experience the impossible being made possible in our lives, all we need is faith and the absence of doubt.

substance of our hope, and the tangible evidence of our desires and expectations. Therefore, we do not need more faith to access God. We have enough faith, and it was given to each of us as a gift from God. What we do need is a cure for unbelief. If we know with full assurance and ask with confidence for our desires to be met, and do not doubt, heaven is obligated to respond by virtue of the Word of God already spoken into time. By faith you can move any mountain in your life by simply speaking to it. Jesus said, “…it will move” or “…it will obey you.” (See Matthew 17:20 & Luke 17:6). This is not an assume declaration, but a divine guarantee that by faith in God, all things become possible.

Notice that in Hebrews 11, each example used begins with “By faith…” Faith is potent; it is the

About The Author Cleveland O. McLeish is a published Inspirational Author, Ghostwriter, Screenwriter, and Playwright. He is the founder and CEO of the Heart of a Christian Playwright and HCP Book Publishing. He is from a Pentecostal background, born and raised in the Church of God of Prophecy. He is a gifted young man, called to pursue a more Mystical version of Christianity, and seeks to educate anyone who will listen on their true identity in Christ Jesus. Connect with me: Amazon Author Page: Devotional Blog: Goodreads: Facebook: Instagram: Linkedin: Twitter:

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Faith Lord (Mark 16:15). Therefore, we have to find a way to face our fear – I am not saying it will be easy, but it must be done. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather learning how to face fear every time it raises its ugly head. Here are two things that can help us overcome fear in evangelism.

Seed Sowers By Justin Steward

Isaiah 32:20 “Happy are you who sows beside all waters...”


vangelism is sharing the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of our sins, and pointing people to repentance from sin and a commitment to living for Jesus. When we talk about the subject of evangelism most Christians freeze up in fear. Often our minds imagine radicals standing on a street corner yelling about hell, or going house to house getting doors slammed in our face. If we are not careful our fear can get irrationally out of control. It then paralyzes us and we would rather do anything else besides evangelize. I remember having such strong fears that I would pray that I would somehow become incapacitated on my way to an evangelistic outreach. Evangelism is an important aspect of being a Christian. In fact it is a command of our

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1. We have to remind ourselves that fear is not from God. “He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” I am also encouraged to read that I am of a sound mind. The enemy will try to make you think you are crazy for trying to share your faith. The enemy tries to use this fear to paralyze is and stop us from sharing the Good news with others. It is one of his ploys, but we are not ignorant of his devices. 2. Fear of evangelism is irrational. The worst fears we have very rarely happen. I have never been beat up, thrown in prison or killed. I have had some people unhappy with me, but I have found that most people are cordial and polite about it, even in rejecting. I have never destroyed or damaged a meaningful relationship by stepping out and sharing my faith with someone close to me. Be courageous - the Lord wants us to be seed sowers. When a farmer is planting his field he takes handfuls of seed scattering it all over the ground.  This is the way we should be.  To be seed planters with the Gospel in the hearts of people in our sphere of influence. This does not mean that you have to stand up on the street corner. Sometimes a simple “I will pray for you” or “God bless you” is a planted seed. There is no greater joy than when leading someone to Christ, but one cannot reap a harvest if no seeds have been sown. Let us be sowers! Ask the Lord today to show you how you can plant a seed in a life.


God’s O Spiritual Growth Plan

nce I saw a sign that said, “‘Do you have any idea where you are going?’ -God” My first reaction was to ask myself whether fear-mongering was an effective form of evangelism? After my initial frustration with this form of Christian marketing subsided, I had another thought. Do I actually have a plan for my spiritual growth? I’m aware this wasn’t the question the sign was asking, but it still made me think. What if God were to ask me, “Where are you headed?” Is my life actually ordered in such a way that I will grow? Do I have a plan for spiritual growth?

By Kyle Vick

A spiritual growth plan might seem counterintuitive. I think this is because spiritual growth doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you can manufacture. However, I think this is only partially true. Certainly, you can’t force yourself or anyone else to grow spiritually, but does that mean you should just aimlessly read Scripture and attend church, hoping that overtime you will mature into Christlikeness. I don’t think anybody would consciously affirm an aimless pursuit of growth,

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Faith but unfortunately that seems to be our default response. To counteract our natural tendency to wander spiritually, we need to intentionally pursue circumstances and experiences that will foster spiritual growth. Developing a plan to grow spiritually is one of the best ways to do this. As artificial as it might feel, creating a plan will keep you disciplined and accountable. It may rub against our culture’s emphasis on spontaneity and the organic, but creating a regular routine need not be legalistic, instead it can be a tremendous scaffold to help you stay on top of what is most important.

1. Schedule Time with God: In the world today, time is money. And one of the most effective ways of making God a priority in our life is by giving him our time. To you, this might sound impossible. The days already feel too short, but while I don’t know your schedule, I do know that time is one of our most valuable resources. And giving our time to God is one of the most tangible ways we can make him a priority. Setting apart space specifically to be with him, is key to our spiritual growth. The first practical step of developing a growth plan is to decide on an amount of time and schedule it into your day. Be sure to give yourself grace if you find yourself unable to fulfill your plan. If you find yourself struggling to accomplish your goals, then step back and reevaluate. Make any needed changes and start over. Setting an overly ambitious plan only to get bogged down, unable to complete it, isn’t helping anyone.

2. Pick your content: Flipping through the Bible, hoping to be struck by spiritual enlightenment, is not the most effective way to be with God. The writer of Psalm 119 speaks

of studying and meditating day and night. He seems to have an ordered approach in mind. Order need not be legalism. We must always be careful to not let our time with God become a duty or a chore (i.e. legalism, spending time to earn favor or forgiveness from God). However, that does not mean we shouldn’t have order. Instead, it’s best to find what works for you. Reading Scripture and prayer are the foundation of our communion with God, but there are many ways to connect with Him. The second practical step is choosing content. Pick both actual reading content (i.e. Scripture, books, devotionals) and practices (i.e. reading, prayer, worship, meditation). I find it helpful to have a mix of practices. Once you decided on what to include, write down a schedule for the time and stick with it. Reevaluate every couple of months, so you don’t get stuck in a rut.

3. Find a Mentor: This is rarely mentioned in churches today, but finding someone who is more mature in their faith if pivotal to growth. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul calls the church to imitate him as he imitates Christ. Built into this sentiment is the idea that we must be watching those more mature than us, so we can learn how to grow. Having a mentor is a powerful source of encouragement and accountability. This person should be someone outside of your immediate peer group, who more mature in their faith, and respected by their church community. The third practical step is to find someone who can be your mentor. At first,

this might not be easy because you are afraid to seek someone out. I recommend you begin by praying for God to give you discernment, so you can tell who would be a good mentor, and for God to bring someone into your life. Talk with church leaders to find out if they can recommend anyone. This is a very easy step to skip, but having a mentor can seriously you help you grow.

4. Stay relationally focused: The main point of this post is to encourage you to orchestrate greater structure into your time with God. But, one of the greatest dangers of this post is legalism. Legalism is the idea that we are spending time with God to check it off the list or to get something from it (i.e. a good feeling, forgiveness). Our posture coming to God should be to be with him, not to get something from Him. One of the hardest parts of spending time with God is releasing our expectation. I always want to learn something, experience something, or get a prayer answered, but that’s not the point. The point is to be with him and that should be our goal. Structure is only a way to facilitate our time with him, sort of like a daily planner helps be where we need to be and do what we need to do.

This isn’t a practical step per say, but rather a posture of the heart to keep in mind each time you enter into time with God.

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Family Matters How to help ex-offenders stay ex-offenders By Larry M. Anderson


hat type of impact can a relative make on the life of a former offender? One might say that choosing to be better is a personal decision, and while that is correct, none of us got to where we are simply by choosing to work hard and follow the law. We all needed help accomplishing our goals. Even if it is providing housing, recommending an available job, or providing clothes. For someone who has very little, an active support system goes a long way. One of the most effective ways to help a family member with criminal history is to ask how you can help them succeed. Put the ball in his or her court and communicate your desire to help him or her succeed. This type of encouraging behavior reassures former offenders that the path to making an honest living is possible. Additionally, if someone is holding you accountable for your actions, you are less likely to fail.

Your unwavering support will help in more ways than you know. 26 | Second Chance Magazine - April 2019

Some family members choose not to help former offenders because they see it as enabling poor behavior. This is not the case. While allowing a recently released family member to fall back into bad habits is indeed enabling, the idea is to provide a safe place for your loved one to rebuild his or her life. How does that happen? Ask about their goals—long and short term. Then make steps to help your loved one accomplish those goals. With the resources and support of family and friends, long term reformation is attainable. It just takes patience and consistent support. There is difficulty in trusting a loved one who may have previously deceived or taken advantage of your kindness before. But the fact of the matter is we all need help. If your loved one wants to improve his or her life, I urge you to help in any way that you can. Let them know you are there to help them succeed and encourage him or her to keep making the right choices, even if it means not associating with close friends. Your unwavering support will help in more ways than you know. Don’t give up on them.


The Importance of Fathers By Larry M. Anderson


tudies have shown the children with the father in prison are more likely to struggle with school and other areas of life. If you have children, you may feel powerless to make a difference in their lives while incarcerated. It may feel as though it’s a hopeless cause. But it doesn’t have to be. Even while behind bars, you can make a genuine difference in the lives of your children. And if they are going to succeed in life, it’s imperative that you do. And it’s worth noting that this doesn’t just apply to your children. You can make an impact on the lives of your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews, another young people that you know. Incarceration doesn’t have to hinder you from making a difference in this world. But this truth is magnified when you’re a father.

Don’t allow your past to set the course for your future. You can begin to live as an example today, no matter what you’ve done in the past.

But, you may be wondering, “How can I make a difference well I’m in here and they are out there?” Here are some easy ways to begin having a positive impact on the lives of young people that you care about. Don’t allow your past to set the course for your future. You can begin to live as an example today, no matter what you’ve done in the past. So set a positive example for your children by doing the things

that you hope they will do. Your actions will have a tremendous impact on your children’s views and lives. They will imitate what they see in you. If you want them to value education, then you should value education. Enroll in the class that’s available at your facility. Take a correspondence course. Get your GED. If you want your children to value the spiritual life, live it out and talk to them about it. Attend services when possible. Read the Bible. Pray. And discuss what God is teaching you with them. Finally, one of the best things that you can do as a parent, is to be there for your child. Yes, it may be more difficult why don’t leave prison. But it doesn’t have to be impossible. Call them when you’re able. Make visitations a joy. Speak positively when they’re around and maintain a good attitude. Begin living the wife that you want them to live. It won’t be easy, but few worthwhile things in life are. And your children are worth it. Make sure they know that.

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Reentry and Recovery

College options for ex-offenders enroll students every semester or quarter, and you can take as few or as many classes as your schedule can handle. In addition, colleges and universities offer classes at various times of the day both in person and online. Meeting with an academic advisor prior to and while you are taking classes will help you remain on track. Colleges have seemingly unlimited resources. Take advantage of them all.


oing to college may not seem like a possibility for individuals with a criminal history but nothing can prevent exoffenders from receiving secondary education. While there may be some initial reservations from acceptance committees, one’s personal statement, letters of recommendation and volunteer work will show the committee your ability to be a law-abiding citizen. If you are interested in attending college, career service programs at major thrift stores will help you construct a personal essay, and their computers will provide a place for you to submit your college application. Colleges and universities

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Now there’s just the matter of paying for school. Contrary to what you may have heard, there are plenty of financial options available for felons. Grants and scholarships, yes. But exoffenders wanting to get a certificate, degree or formal trade training are also eligible for federal Pell grants (and loans). Federal education loans and grants can be found with a quick internet search and are available to all who apply. However, if you have a history of criminal drug charges, you will be required to pass two random drug tests and show your completion of a drug rehab program ( But that is it! Education is possible, and it is not as difficult as it may seem. If you make an effort and know how to access the right information, you will accomplish your goals.

Reentry and Recovery Dealing with Loneliness in Prison By Larry M. Anderson


he Hebrew prophet Elijah was having a hard time. And though he had seen a lot of success in his life, there came a moment when everything seems to be going wrong. The King and Queen of Israel had put a price on his head and it looked as though all hope had been lost. So he went into the wilderness, sat under a tree, and asked to die. He felt as though his life was over anyway.

There are times in our lives when we can feel like Elijah. We’ve tried to do our best. We’ve done what we believed was right. But things seem to keep going wrong. And, I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my life when, like Elijah, I have sat down and wished to die. But God did not leave Elijah under that tree. First, an angel came to Elijah and gave him something to eat. He met his physical needs. Depression can cause us to forget to take care of ourselves. And if our physical bodies aren’t taking care of, our spiritual lives will suffer as well. When dealing with anxiety and depression, we should make sure that our physical needs - needs like food, water, sleep – are met well. After Elijah ate, God brought him to a mountain and revealed himself to him in a still, small voice. Ultimately, this is our greatest need: the presence of God. If you were feeling alone or anxious today, I would encourage you to work on the two biggest areas of your life: the physical and the spiritual period. Cultivate physical health by eating as well as possible, exercising, getting plenty of sunshine, and developing healthy relationships with others. And cultivate spiritual health by praying, meditating on good things, in reading God’s word. If you’ll do these things, you’ll go a long way towards alleviating loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Dealing with Stress


tress can come from anywhere. It can creep up on us without us realizing it. And it can have a huge impact on our relationships, our physical health, and our spiritual life. If we don’t deal with stress in a healthy way, it can destroy us and the people we care the most about. This is true of everyone. But it’s even truer of those who are incarcerated since their stress is compounded by the fact that they are not in control of their own lives. But no matter what situation you may be facing, you can deal with stress in a healthy way. Here are a few examples of how to deal with stress in a way that won’t destroy you. One of the first things that you can do is to acknowledge your stress and the sources of it. Recognize that it is not all in your head or imaginary. Be honest with yourself. Stress is real. it’s frustrating. At times it even hurts. Don’t bottle it up or expect it to go away by ignoring it. Rather than doing these things, find a way to express it in a healthy way. Exercise. Do something creative like write or draw. Find a way to channel all of that negative energy into something positive. One of the other things that you can do Is prayerfully seek the real source of the stress. Stress is something that accumulates over time and we may hit our limit and explode over something that normally would not have caused such a reaction. But because all of the past stress has been building, the full force of it all comes out in one moment. Rather than dealing with stress in this way, spend time each day meditating on what is creating stress in your life. Identify the stressors and brainstorm ways that you can avoid those things if possible. And if there is no way for you to avoid those things, then look for ways to push through them without letting them destroy you. Prayer and meditation can be a major help in dealing with difficult things and people without losing your mind. Finally, I would encourage you to build good friendships. There is great value in having a friend that you can genuinely trust with the frustrations of life - someone that you can vent to - someone who will keep you accountable. Cultivate these kinds of friendship and you will go a long way toward dealing with stress in a healthy way.

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Reentry and Recovery

there is a wait list make sure you are on it. You never know how soon an availability will come up.

Finding housing A By Cierra Smith

major problem recently released inmates face is locating housing. While temporary programs are available, one of the best ways to prove that you are turning your life around is to secure your own living arrangements. This is an obvious struggle as people have preconceived notions of you being dangerous or high risk because you have been incarcerated. Oftentimes, apartments deny applicants who have a criminal history and banks are reluctant to approve credit to purchase a house. That leaves former offenders with the challenge of creative thinking. While you may have already exhausted these resources, a few helpful options are below: Christian organizations and nonprofit groups offer various forms of housing assistance but sometimes there aren’t many vacancies, resulting in waiting lists for available apartments. Don’t let this deter you, if

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Searching on Craigslist and like sites is another option to find housing. The site has hundreds of listings for available houses and apartments. Many times, land lords may not require background checks, making them felon-friendly options ( HUD is also a way to attain low-income and sometimes free housing to those in need. This is income-based local housing that is a great long-term option for felons. There may be a lengthy waiting period but get on the list as soon as possible to increase your chances of adequate housing ( Renting a room in a house is another option. This is a Craigslist-type of search for shared housing. Typically, people look for roommates who are clean, respectful, pay rent on time etc. Renting a room in a house is sometimes all inclusive. For a flat fee, you get a room (that may or may not be furnished) with electricity and access to a bathroom, kitchen and maybe even Wi-Fi. The only downside, not much privacy. Lastly, ask your parole officer, family or coworkers if they know of anyone looking for a roommate. It may seem like a shot in the dark, but you never know. If you are making an honest living, you might come across someone who wants to help.

Reentry and Recovery

How to combat societal expectations of released inmates By Larry M. Anderson


ociety believes that once someone has a criminal record, that person will continuously be in and out of jail for the remainder of their lives. And while statistics may lead people to believe this is true, long term reformation is achievable when one has enough information, support and desire to change. Get used to proving yourself. As previously mentioned, the expectation is that you will fail. Potential employers, your parole officer, probably even family members think you will somehow violate a law, resulting in your return to jail. You must have the mindset that no one will stop you from accomplishing your goal of success and a life as a law-abiding citizen.

Remember to say thank you. Every small assist, even if it seems like common courtesy, is a chance for you to show appreciation for someone helping you when it was not required. You’d be surprised how much ‘thank you’ encourages someone to keep helping. Keep your nose clean. Society expects you to lie, cheat and steal to get ahead. The only way to earn respect is by succeeding set expectations. It’s not just a matter of securing honest employment. You need to continue to find ways to improve your education, living situation, and physical well-being. In your free time, instead of ‘hanging out’, enroll in a free program that helps individuals with a criminal past or

go to the library and use public resources to job search, read or network. Stay busy bettering yourself. Be aware of your surroundings. If you find yourself in a ‘wrong place wrong time’ situation, understand that no one will give you the benefit of the doubt. As an effect, you need to always be on guard for situations that could potentially compromise your freedom. And if you feel uncomfortable, leave the area. This takes intuitive action; and while at the time people may not like that you don’t attend the late-night party or use recreational drugs, your goals of long term success require extreme sacrifice. Remain steadfast in your choice to do good.

If you find yourself in a ‘wrong place wrong time’ situation, understand that no one will give you the benefit of the doubt.

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Reentry and Recovery

How to dress for success on a budget By Larry M. Anderson closets with a variety of clothes, shoes and accessories. There are also plenty of second hand stores one can get slacks or blouses, but the secret of second hand shopping is to find their outlet warehouses. An outlet thrift store is a goldmine for deals on clothes, shoes and personal items. If you have trouble finding clothing closets or outlet thrift stores, you can always count on local garage sales to have gently used clothes. The seller will mostly likely bundle multiple items for a discounted price—oh the joys of garage sale shopping. The only difficulty would be finding your correct sizes. Nevertheless, it’s a cost-effective way to get a variety of apparel for pennies on the dollar. Another perk of garage sale shopping? They’re everywhere.


t’s no secret that our society judges individuals upon first seeing him or her. There’s a reason why first impressions leave a lasting impact. We’re taught to present ourselves in the best way so whoever we meet thinks we’re capable, trustworthy and intelligent solely based on our physical appearance. This can be difficult for individuals recently released from incarceration. While there may

be plenty of department stores to purchase clothes, using what few dollars one may have on clothes seems somewhat silly when considering ones need for housing, identification, and food. So what is the solution? Where can an adult man or woman get gently used business attire for work? Many churches and non-religious organizations alike have fully stocked clothing

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Remember, when looking for work clothes solid blues, blacks or browns for bottoms, jackets and shoes. Tops can have multiple colors or patterns but should not be distracting. Dressing for success is not to be confused with dressing to impress. When attending interviews and job fairs one should not to appear flashy, but business-like.

Dressing for success is not to be confused with dressing to impress. When attending interviews and job fairs one should not to appear flashy, but businesslike.

Reentry and Recovery

How to prep for job interviews By Cierra Smith


was once told the only way to feel comfortable at job interviews is to constantly go on job interviews. And I must say, it’s absolutely true. The interviewing process is all about learning how to sell your characteristics and skills, while showing that you’re a reliable and friendly individual. Want success at an interview? Keep these five tips in mind.






Ask questions.

Don’t lie.

Presentation. Practice your Iron your clothes the night before and make answers.

As you talk about your strengths, weaknesses and professional goals, remember that you are convincing them to hire you. Make eye contact, show your personality and smile to show friendliness.

There will come a time when you are given the opportunity to ask questions. Ask something, anything. It never hurts to inquire about the work environment and your show interest as a future employee.

You may get away with it at the time of the interview, but eventually the truth will come out and when it does your integrity will be ruined. More importantly, lying could result in job loss.

sure you have reliable transportation, arriving at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Also have multiple copies of your resume and a list of references.

5 A quick internet search of what to expect at an interview will reveal possible questions you will be asked. Answer them out loud. It may seem weird but preparation prevents stress and improve the chances of your success.

I know some of these success tips may seem trivial. But remember, interviews help show complete strangers that you are an asset to their team. These tips have proven to be successful for me. I hope they work for you too.

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Reentry and Recovery

Learning to efficiently find work By Cierra Smith


e’ve all heard the term ‘work smarter, not harder’ right? There are so many free resources available for those looking for assistance getting their lives on track. But oftentimes we remain unmotivated, feeling sorry for ourselves and our unfortunate situations. However, finding places to create a resume and apply for jobs is easier that you may think. Public places—universities, community colleges and libraries— have computers, books and community boards with job ads, upcoming career fairs and free resume building services. Goodwill also has employment services open daily to the public,

with job fairs on a regular basis. Their career advisors are knowledgeable and certified to help with resume development, customer service training, and one-on-one coaching. Goodwill will also create personalized plans for job seekers. St. Vincent De Paul is another option that has community outreach, employment services and a Society for Dignity after Jail program that offers food, health care and housing. In addition, local state and city websites have information on career centers and employment services open for public use. Do some digging and find the program or resource that benefits you the most. Computers, printers,

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advisors and job fairs are available. Use your free time to learn about these opportunities, then tell someone who may not know about your findings. There is comforting familiarity in returning to one’s neighborhood after release from prison, but there is also danger in not having resources in those same areas. Pairing that with the difficulty in finding an employer willing to hire ex-offenders, and the task to change seems nearly impossible. It is an uphill climb for sure, but it is possible when you have the right information to succeed. Use these places to get your life back on track. You have no excuse not to, everything is free.

Reentry and Recovery

Maintaining physical and mental wellness after release

1. Faith. Church may be a place you feel comfortable attending for spiritual and natural guidance. There are specific outreach ministries that specialize in caring for and helping the homeless, ex-offenders and unemployed find stabile living conditions and jobs. Choosing to associate yourself with positive people who want you to succeed help you make good choices.

By Larry M. Anderson


he inhumanity of mass incarceration can negatively impact one’s emotions and outlook on life. With the isolation and tough living conditions, it’s not hard to sink into a state of depression and mental instability. The way to combat this type of unhealthy mindset is to spend free time restructuring your life. Time away from society provides an environment for reflection and self-improvement both physically and mentally. The

2. Family. Rebuilding potentially severed bridges with family members may be the key to mental and physical success. Family members can provide emotional support and possible housing. You may feel safe at home and make life changes to help your family. difficult task lies in one’s ability to continue sober, spiritual and overall positive habits once freed from prison. It basically comes down to information, discipline and situational expectations. So how do you do it? If an individual with criminal history finds themselves living at a halfway house or at various shelters, how does that person succeed? The answers are different for everyone.

3. Moving on. Sometimes you need a fresh start away from people who know about your past self. Moving away is not uncommon. In fact, more people in search of better opportunities leave their low-income areas to find job opportunities and areas with less crime rates. 4. Programs. Another way to continue overall wellness is to attend alcohol and substance abuse programs. These types of meetings are a great way to find like-minded people who also want to improve their lives. While they are mainly anonymous programs, networking is another reason to regularly attend programs.

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Reentry and Recovery

Reentry For Prisoners By Justin Steward


ncarceration is a life-altering event that impacts many people for many years. The process of leaving the prison and reentering society can often be very stressful and life-changing as well. The opportunity to be released presents the individual with a new life filled with many new opportunities, but it also presents him/her with many struggles and many decisions. Many of the decisions have to be made before one even leaves the cell: where will you live? Where will you work? Will you have food and clothing? What kind of support system will you have? This is just a few of the decisions that have to be made. The list could feel overwhelming. Throw all that stress in with a demanding parole officer and one depressing statistic: twothirds of formerly incarcerated inmates will be re-arrested and re-incarcerated in a period of three years. “Sadly prisoners often go back to prison not because they committed a

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Reentry and Recovery

Support systems are like framed in walls, or foundations of a house. These provide structure and support to one’s life.

crime, but because they simply violated parole” (Prison Fellowship). Many of our brothers and sisters of the human race find life on the outside to be like another kind of prison, and often too much to handle and end up returning to the familiar. This means as a society we have to reform the system the best we can and do all we can to provide tools to help them reintegrate into society. It might be an uphill climb, and it may seem like the cards are stacked against them, but it is possible. One of the most important things to do is to establish a positive support system in your life. Often times the larger the community the more safety nets are in place to catch you when (and before) you fall. Whatever that community looks like it will be very important to establish it. Often time’s incarceration strains family relationships, and in many cases tears families apart. It is imperative for the newly released to do what he can to make things right with those in his family, because he will need the support that they have to offer him. When this is not possible there are other supporters that can help meet this need. One thing to avoid is the negative support system, the old “crew” that helped get you in trouble. One must be very picky about which community he will choose to associate with. Even if you have been reformed remember “bad company corrupts good manners.” Some of these old friends, and social communities should be avoided completely. This has been the downfall of many

well-intentioned. Often times parole officers will prevent the going to bars but they cannot always follow you into every private home. This will be one’s own choice. It will be important to find new communities and groups to build support and motivation to get on your feet. Some of these groups will be formal and required as part of your parole/probation. Such as the various group therapies: anger management, narcotics anonymous etc. A faith community can meet this need and a variety of others as well. Many group programs encourage its pupils to find meaning in a “higher power.” One way to do this is to join a church, Bible study, or other faith-based community. This activity will connect you with people that want to help you, who can speak into your life, and help you stay accountable to your goals on the outside. Furthermore, it connects you with a group of people where you can begin to build new healthy relationships. It will also provide moral transformational teaching to help keep one on the “straight and narrow.” Support systems are like framed in walls, or foundations of a house. These provide structure and support to one’s life. This is an important step and can begin being built even before one leaves behind the bars of their prison cell. Speak to the social worker, or the chaplain. See who is coming in to see you regularly (besides family); these are your cheerleaders, this is your support that you should build on.

Justin Steward – Bio. Justin is an ordained minister, teacher, and freelance writer. He lives with his wife and three small children near Buffalo, NY. He has written and published two books, and maintains a blog at

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Reentry and Recovery


By Samuel Fair


It is in our interests to invest in our fellow citizens for the overall benefit of our communities.

eentry takes place from intake, through and after release for individuals that have been incarcerated and/or under the mandate of some other form of correctional supervision. This process of reentry includes the programming and activities an individual participates in during their correctional system involvement - to include the much-needed continuity of services after that association has ended. For example, the participation in substance abuse treatment while incarcerated, should not cease because the returning citizen is released. The continuing of such treatment after release greatly increases the chances of successful reintegration back into the greater society. This evidence-based practice of providing avenues for the continuity of services has garnered much support in the wake of the criminal justice reform movement that has taken place across the country over recent years. Although the reentry process is commonly referred to as rehabilitation, the most appropriate moniker is habilitation, since the vast majority of those that are incarcerated were never ‘habilitated’ (i.e., taught life-skills) to begin with. The absence of life-skills decreases an individual’s capacity to navigate through basic life-problems

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to improve and sustain their lives. Based on who is being released from the correctional system, if the criminal records of the returning citizen population in the U.S. were erased, it would still be difficult to integrate them into society because of their lack of basic life-skills tenets such as: • • • • • • •

Communication Problem-Solving Stress-Management Time Management Critical Thinking Self-Control Financial Literacy

When these life-skills are coupled with educational pursuits (i.e., credentials) and workforce development efforts, a returning citizen’s prospects for successful integration increases significantly. In some cases, it is a matter of enlightening the returning citizen to the fact that the skills they used out in the streets to engage in nefarious endeavors are transferable and can be used in legitimate entrepreneurial ventures and/or in a job in an applicable industry sector. Although they have acquired the stigma of incarceration, it is in our interests to invest in our fellow citizens for the overall benefit of our communities.

Reentry and Recovery

Reform & W Reentry What is prison reform and how is it supposed to help?

By Larry M. Anderson

hen someone is sent to prison for violating a law, the sole purpose of their incarceration is to pay back debt to society. While serving time, some inmates have access to resources and programs that encourage life changes when released. Regardless of the severity of the violation and term of sentence, correctional facilities offer these programs for long term rehabilitation and to prevent recurrences of law breaking. At face value, this type of idea seems superb. After all, everyone makes mistakes and deserves opportunities to change their lives around, right? Â The problem with prison reform occurs with the inconsistency in sentencing and poor management of correctional facilities. It is difficult to help men and women set their lives up for success after they are released if certain

correctional facilities provide resources and others don’t. Successful reentry into society is unrealistic when freed individuals may not have access to resources to help them succeed because they live in low income communities. Likewise, a lack of employment opportunities for felons make true reformation difficult to achieve. How long after serving time is one’s debt to society fully paid? While technically ex-offenders are indeed former offenders, it seems that the stigma of having criminal history is never completely shed. This unfortunate reality does not have to be a societal norm. Prison reform and reentry programs will be successful if we, as a society, put pressure on companies to hire more individuals with criminal backgrounds and encourage former offenders to get education, grants and connections to start businesses if their own.

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Reentry and Recovery

Statistical Challenges of Reentry By Haley Daffron


he incarceration rate in the United States has been increasing since the 1980’s (BJS, 2016). Meaning that there are more individuals reentering society from prison now more than ever. According to the National Reentry Resource Center, in December 2015, 641,000 inmates were released from state and federal prisons back into their communities (NRRC, 2015). Reentering society is one of the biggest changes a former offender can face. There are various different challenges that these individuals face when reentering society. These issues include housing problems, employment issues, recidivism, and reconnecting with family. Housing is one of the most predominant problems individuals reentering their communities face. Many returning prisoners must rely on family members for housing and often it is only temporary (Urban Institute, 2005). Those who do not have family to rely on, face even more challenging barriers such as legal issues, affordable and available housing, and the stigma that follows them of having a criminal record (Urban Institute, 2005). Many research studies have concluded that those individuals that don’t have housing are more likely to reoffend, making housing one of the most important fac-

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Reentry and Recovery tors of having a successful reentry into society (Metraux & Culhane, 2004). Even prisoners believe that having a place to live greatly effects their outcomes of reoffending (Visher et. al., 2003). Finding employment is another major issue facing former prisoners. Lower rates of reoffending are related to prior offenders having employment (Urban Institute, 2005). However, there are a plethora of issues that former prisoners face when trying to gain employment. These issues include things such as having limited education, low levels of work history, and a prior criminal record (Urban Institute, 2005). In addition, few people incarcerated actually receive employee training in prison (Urban Institute, 2005).

These issues combined make it challenging for individuals to find and gain employment, making their successful transition into society rockier. Reoffending is often difficult to avoid when being released from incarceration. In 1994, 68 percent of state and federal prisoners released, were rearrested after being released (Urban Institute, 2008). For instance, substance use is one of the major challenges effecting the reentry process (Urban Institute, 2005). Many research studies have identified that an estimate of 83% of prisoners have a history of drug abuse, but only a small number actually receive some type of treatment while incarcerated (Urban Institute, 2005). Therefore, returning to society without any treatment on addiction, makes it difficult to stray away from drug use when reentering to society. Relationships with family is another strenuous factor when being released from prison. For example, over half of the prisoners in the United States are parents to minor children (Paige & Beck, 2002) Therefore, family structure is disrupted and rebuilding that family structure can be challenging. However, prisoners typically benefit from returning to their families (Urban Institute, 2005). In one study, many former prisoners reported that support from their families was one of the most important factors in staying out of prison (Urban Institute, 2008). Thus, making the family connection an important one to focus on rebuilding.

Sources Bureau of Justice Statistics Home page. (n.d.). Retrieved from NRRC Facts & Trends. (n.d.). Retrieved from Paige M. Harrison and Allen J. Beck, Prisoners in 2001, Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin NCJ 195189 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2002). Stephen Metraux and Dennis P. Culhane, “Homeless Shelter Use and Reincarceration Following Prison Release: Assessing the Risk,” Criminology and Public Policy 3 (2004): 201–22. The Challenges of Prisoner Reentry: Facts and Figures. (2008). Retrieved from files/publication/31786/411683-The-Challenges-of-Prisoner-Reentry-Facts-and-Figures.PDF Urban Institute Releases First Comprehensive Report on Prisoner Reentry Data, Policies, and Challenges. (2005). PsycEXTRA Dataset. doi:10.1037/e718012011-001

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Reentry and Recovery Top 3 resources for Starting your own Business


or many people (felons or otherwise), starting over means starting a business. When you become your own boss, you are taking control of your life and forgoing the stress of constant interviewing and potential rejection by corporations unwilling to ‘take a chance’ on you. To run a successful business, one needs information on business management, certifications, and funding. The good news is—money is out there and being a felon does not disqualify you. But like anything else, grants are available to those who search and apply for them. For any aspiring entrepreneur, I recommend the following resources. 1. is a popular website for federal government funds. Searching for grants based on need, nationality or business ideas are

your best bets of finding grants you qualify for. Also, philanthropic and private scholarships of all amounts are awarded throughout the year to just about anyone. Applying is easy. It just requires time to write a personal statement, a business plan, and perhaps a letter of recommendation. Help with professional writing is available at Goodwill Career Centers. 2. Inmates to Entrepreneurs is another site that provides knowledge and resources for ex-offenders to start and run their own businesses. Their free 8 week program comes with experienced mentors who truly want to help former inmates succeed. Though based in North Carolina, Inmates to Entrepreneurs offers programs and events in cities all over the country. They also offer their program online using video streaming.

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3. Small Business Administration helps all potential entrepreneurs find information, loans and grants, and training to make your goals a reality. It is an often-unused resource that provides vital information for individuals who are serious about becoming entrepreneurs. Business owning provides confidence and independence. Moreover, business owners with criminal history are more likely to hire someone with criminal history. This type of pattern is necessary to help more ex-offenders improve statistics as well as their own situations. Starting a business is hard work. And it doesn’t happen overnight. However, if you are interested in learning how to start a business or obtaining funding to launch a business, there are programs that will help you.

Want to Be Featured in Second Chance? Second Chance Magazine (SCM) always welcomes the opportunity to feature the stories of artists, entrepreneurs, and other engaging voices in our publication. We showcase a wide-range of individuals in feature stories each issue. We’d love for you to feature your talent, story, product, or service in one of our feature stories. Why​​A Feature Story? Feature stories are in-depth looks into a story that resonates with our audience. It is an engaging narrative about a specific subject (or multiple subjects), highlighting their stories and using them to deliver a message to the SCM readership. As with any story, a strong feature story contains an obvious beginning, middle and ending. The beginning of the feature should be a brief overview of who the subject is and how they got to where they are today. The middle of the story is the chance to go into detail about a change or transformation that they might have gone through. The ending should tie everything together and explain how the transformation has impacted their lives and also point to where it might be taking them in the future. A feature story is the best way to engage directly with the SCM reader who can be greatly impacted by the story you have to tell. It gives the subject a wider audience and opens them up to new potential possibilities.

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Send all feature story requests to ( If your feature story request is approved, it will include a cover appearance, full featuring on all SCM social media platforms, email campaigns, and prominent display on the Magazine.

Reentry and Recovery

No Justice for Children By Mercy Pilkington


n stark contrast to some other Western countries, the United States incarcerates children in youth facilities at a rate of 60,000 on any given day. At the same time, as many as 10,000 at a time are serving sentences in adult prisons and jails; sources cite that 200,000 youth enter the adult justice system every year.

Where do they go? That depends on a number of factors, including age, state of residence and of arrest, even the temperament of the judge on their cases. The old saying, “You never want to see the judge right before lunch,” has perhaps never harmed anyone so much as juvenile offenders. While that is for the courts and legal advocates to work out, there’s another layer to the juvenile justice system that leaves a lasting impact on young people: the detention facility. Much like non-convicted detainees in the adult system who do not or cannot post bail, detention facilities can serve as the nearly limitless holding facility that houses pre-trial young people. It can also serve as the location for waiting for the

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sentence to be carried out, such as returning from court to a detention facility to await transfer as soon as bed space opens up in a rehab center or “boot camp.” During the years that I taught in a juvenile detention center, I learned one important truth: every kid has a story. For some it was extreme poverty, others horrific abuse. In many cases, their crimes were the result of “wrong place, wrong time” or the influence of their peers. Still others—far fewer than the other circumstances, but still worth mentioning—had been the result of sheer stupidity and bad attitudes. But nonetheless, there was always a story behind what led them to their poor decisions. It’s too easy to dismiss juvenile offenders for being “kids these days” or “troubled.” The reality behind their criminal behavior involves economic suffering, physical and sexual abuse, homelessness, helplessness, the foster care system, and yes, even the outright abuse lobbed their way by the educational system. Until we address the root causes of their behavior—and do away with things like the school-to-prison pipeline, mandatory sentencing, and mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders—nothing will change.

Reentry and Recovery

No More Condemnation


erhaps one of the greatest challenges for inmates transitioning back into society is overcoming condemnation. Condemnation occurs when someone strongly disapproves of another person’s actions. A judgment is made that the person is wrong and therefore is condemned. This condemnation not only hits heavily at sentencing, but it tends to follow the inmate back into society even after the sentence has been served. While serving the sentence, inmates live in an environment where many of the freedoms they once experienced have been stripped from them. Every day the mistakes weigh heavily on their shoulders as they are isolated from friends and loved ones. It is important as the inmate transitions back into society that they leave behind that condemnation and walk brightly into their fu-

ture. Unfortunately, for most this is not an easy process. It becomes even more difficult if the inmate faces rejection from job interviews due to their criminal record. Those rejections reinforce the condemnation which then creates a vicious cycle that leads to even more failures. The great news is that the Word of God teaches that anyone who belongs to Christ no longer faces condemnation. Romans 8:1 (NKJV) says: “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” Notice the word now in that verse. Prior to a relationship with Christ, there was no hope. However, now for those that are in Christ Jesus there is no condemnation. The awesome gift of salvation takes it all away. It no longer matters what the world thinks. What matters is

that Jesus Christ loved everyone so much that He gave His life to cover the sin of the whole world. Because of that amazing gift of love, there is now no condemnation for those that believe in Him and are surrendered to a Holy Spirit guided life. Therefore, be encouraged! If you are an inmate reentering society, know that you can hold your head up high because Jesus Christ loves you. If you belong to Him, trust that as the world attempts to close doors on you, God will open the perfect opportunity tailor made just for you. So do not get discouraged. If you are a loved one of someone being released from incarceration, encourage them with these truths. It is essential they leave the condemnation in the past. God sent His son over 2,000 years ago to wipe away all condemnation for those that believe in His Son and who recognize the power of the cross.

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Reentry and Recovery When It Comes to Kids in Lockup, It’s All About “Lack” By Mercy Pilkington


uring my years working with kids and teens in juvenile detention, the second most common question I got was, “What makes a kid end up there?” (The top spot was always, “How can you work with those kids?” and my answer was always the same: “Because you just called them those kids.”)

Ironically, the people who were asking what went wrong for these kids were equal parts concerned about society and concerned about their own kids. After all, these were children—legally, at least—and not the stereotypical “thugs” or “low-lifes” the prison system seems to warehouse. If anyone else’s kids could end up arrested, then their own kids could be as well. And it was something they were really afraid of. There was one common thread to my answers: lack. Lack of parental support, lack of mental healthcare, lack of education, lack of basic necessities, lack of consequence, lack of impulse control, lack of empathy for others, lack of thought… in any situation that

landed a child in our facility, the incident could all be tied back to “lack.” Were the students inherently bad? In all the years I worked with them, only a tiny handful stood out to me as possibly being evil incarnate. Even students who’d raped, molested, or murdered never failed to show me a human side that really did feel something like remorse. Those evil students? Fortunately, they were rare, but they were haunting just the same. But how do we address “lack” as a society? Do we hold these students up against the yardstick of all the other human beings who suffer just as much lack but who manage to avoid breaking the law? That’s a question for philosophers, not the correctional system. I can tell you this much, though: when we start to address all of the ways that society, families, schools, and other institutions are failing our kids, we will start to fill the void that’s been left by “lack.” Until we take steps to do that, we will continue to fill our institutions with a school-to-prison pipeline that orders orange jumpsuits in size extra-small. It needs to stop, and it will take all of society to do it.

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Want To Be A SCM Contributor? Second Chance Magazine welcomes the opportunity for new voices and ideas to be heard. Do you have a personal story about how the criminal justice system has impacted you? Do you have valuable insight and knowledge to share with those who are beginning the reentry process? Do you have something to say about reforming the system or the people who are fighting to make change happen? We’d love to hear from you!

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