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On the Hill For Second Chances

February 7, 2011
Ron Smith

Reverend Ronald Smith Sr. energizes the crowd at Second Chance Day on the Hill

Guest Post from Steve Nelson, Amicus Communications Director

Amicus is an active partner in the Minnesota Second Chance Coalition and it’s been a learning experience. It’s always eye-opening to realize there are over 50 organizations, largely in the Twin Cities metro area who feel so strongly about offering second chances to ex-offenders. We all come at it from a different path. One agency provides transitional housing to those leaving a correctional facility, another focuses much of its time on research and advocacy, while another focuses on the high number of people incarcerated who suffer from serious mental illnesses. For some, ex-offenders are only a small part of the client base. For others like Amicus, it’s what they were built on. Still, we all see similar challenges facing those we work with and we all believe that things can be done to make our state safer for everyone and more fair for those who have made mistakes and paid their price.
In that spirit, we came together last week for Second Chance Day on the Hill. 500 people, including ex-offenders, county sheriffs, clergy, nonprofit staff and volunteers, all joined for a rally and visits with legislators. We spoke about issues such as banning the felony checkbox on initial job applications. We also spoke about ways we could help young men and women move on from mistakes they made as a juvenile in an age when arrest records can be found with a couple of mouse clicks.
We heard inspiring words from Amicus’ own James Cannon who spoke about his difficulties of finding a job after a single night of poor choices and we all stood up and sang the “Second Chance Song” with Amicus Board Member Reverend Ronald Smith Sr.
Into the partisan halls of the State Capitol we brought what we believe is a truly nonpartisan issue. For those who have made mistakes, we support an opportunity to try again, to pay taxes, to build the workforce, to support their families and to find hope.

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