Mayor Knox White has proclaimed April as “Second Chance Month” in the city of Greenville. The proclamation aims to honor the tireless work carried out by the Greenville Re-entry Coalition, a network of local organizations that advocates for and supports individuals returning from prison, as well as recognize the many adversities faced by those returning to our community from prison.
Over the next five years, more than 5,000 individuals will return to Greenville County from the Department of Corrections. Commonly known as “returning citizens,” upon re-entry, these individuals are faced with social stigmas and legal restrictions that make obtaining housing, employment or education extremely difficult. These overwhelming barriers prevent returning citizens from rebuilding full, productive lives, which can contribute to homelessness, poverty and recidivism. The organizations that comprise the Greenville Re-entry Coalition form a critical safety net for returning citizens—helping them to navigate and successfully overcome these barriers.
Thanks to the coalition and coalition member the Greenville Chamber, access to meaningful employment for formerly incarcerated job seekers may soon improve. For the second consecutive year, the Chamber’s top state priority is workforce expansion, which includes advocating for legislation to expand expungement for non-violent offenders with felony charges that often limit or prevent workforce participation. “It is important that more people can get jobs and participate in the workforce so we may continue our economic expansion,” said Dr. Keith Miller, Greenville Technical College president and the Chamber’s 2018 board chair. “A single, minor mistake made years ago should not be a lifelong barrier to employability. The Chamber is committed to helping many of our neighbors get back on their feet and back to work, which supports our efforts to close the workforce gap.”
According to City Council member Lillian Flemming, declaring April as “Second Chance Month” is an opportunity for the Greenville community to come together to support returning citizens and advocate for strategic policy change. “Too often, returning citizens continue to pay for their crimes long after they have made amends through the judicial system,” said Flemming. “The organizations that make up the Greenville Re-entry Coalition are helping returning citizens find housing and jobs, but we must all work together to address the obstacles blocking our returning citizens from realizing their second chance.”
For more information about the Greenville Re-entry Coalition, contact coalition chair Jerry Blassingame at 864-272-0681 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Community Development Administrator