Celebrating Second Chance Month 2024

During the month of April, the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative (PJI) joins local organizations and community members in celebrating Second Chance Month. 

In 2017, the creation of Second Chance Month was spearheaded by Prison Fellowship, an organization that advocates for restorative justice policies and supports prison education programs. Second Chance Month highlights the challenges that formerly incarcerated and justice-impacted individuals face as they attempt to return to their communities. 

Barriers to obtaining employment, housing, and healthcare often inhibit returning citizens from smoothly reintegrating back into society, contributing to recidivism, and other issues that affect justice-impacted individuals. Second Chance Month aims to encourage businesses and legislators to make changes that support returning citizens during their adjustment back into their communities, rather than upholding policies that make an already challenging process even harder. 

Program graduates, Juan McLendon and Alfred Miller, at the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program graduation in 2023.

Program graduates, Juan McLendon and Alfred Miller, at the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program graduation in 2023.

PJI provides wrap-around support to returning citizens in the D.C. community across all of our programs, and particularly through the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program and the Georgetown Pivot Program. PJI works closely with the Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs (MORCA) and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) to offer these programs to returning citizens in the District. 

The MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program provides fellows with the opportunity to complete a six-month, full-time paralegal training program in partnership with the Georgetown University Law Center. Students study a variety of topics including legal technology, ethics, and corporate law, while also participating in job readiness training to prepare them for employment after they graduate from the program. 

This past week, the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program welcomed its newest cohort of 16 fellows. They are currently in the “bootcamp” phase of the program, in which they complete digital literacy training, brush up on study skills, and otherwise prepare to begin classes. 

“Many incarcerated people have opportunities to intellectually and personally grow while they are inside, yet so few of them get the second chance they need when they return to their communities,” Maya Hambrick, the manager of the MORCA-Georgetown Paralegal Program, said. “The Paralegal Program provides a turning point for returning citizens to live the life they deserve.”

The Georgetown Pivot Program empowers fellows to develop professional and entrepreneurial skills that prepare them to enter the business world and succeed as leaders in their communities. PJI works with local businesses to place Pivot fellows in internships during their participation in the program. Fellows can also choose the venture incubation track, in which they receive funding and mentorship to create and launch their own businesses. The Georgetown Pivot Program is also a proud member of the Second Chance Business Coalition, which promotes the employment of justice-impacted individuals and provides resources to employers of justice-impacted individuals.

Damon Donelson-Bey, a current Pivot fellow, acknowledges the importance of Second Chance Month. 

“Returning citizens are a large demographic in D.C. and an important part of our community,” Donelson-Bey said. He explains that when returning citizens are given mentorship and networking opportunities, they can become community leaders and entrepreneurs. Through their endeavors they can create jobs, open businesses, and lead successful lives. 

“We contribute to society and create opportunities,” he said.

While celebrating Second Chance Month, it is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made in supporting returning citizens, while continuing to work towards a future in which returning citizens have the resources they need to succeed.

Paralegal Program
Pivot Program