DC Public Library and REFORM Alliance to Host National Second Chance Town Hall
The DC Public Library and REFORM Alliance, a nonprofit organization that advocates for criminal justice reform, are hosting the National Second Chance Town Hall at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library on April 24. The event is aimed at raising awareness about the challenges formerly returning citizens face as they reintegrate into society and highlighting solutions for policymakers, advocates and communities.
Prominent figures in the criminal justice reform movement are expected to speak at the event, including Tony Lewis Jr., a DC-based workforce development specialist and reentry expert; Jessica Jackson, a leader in the national criminal justice reform movement; Topeka K. Sam, the founder of Ladies of Hope Ministries; and David Safavian, General Counsel for the American Conservative & Director of ACU Foundation's Nolan Center for Justice. Representative David Trone (D-MD) co-chair and co-founder of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force will provide opening remarks. Trevor Scotland from the REFORM Alliance will serve as the MC for the evening. REFORM CEO Robert Rooks and DC Public Library Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilan will also provide remarks.
"We are thrilled to collaborate with the DC Public Library for the National Second Chance Town Hall,” said Robert Rooks, CEO of REFORM Alliance. “By creating space for those impacted by the criminal justice system to share their experiences and stories we will build understanding, inspire action, and propel policies and collaborations that support successful reentry for returning citizens.”
"Removing barriers to participation is an important part of how the DC Public Library serves District residents," said Richard Reyes-Gavilan, executive director of the DC Public Library. "Returning citizens are Library customers, and we are proud to partner with the REFORM Alliance to provide a space for them to connect with their community, share their stories, and contribute to the conversation about criminal justice reform. Supporting our neighbors as they reintegrate into society is essential for building a safer and more just city."
"Supporting people as they return home after incarceration is intrinsically linked to the safety and well-being of our communities," said Representative David Trone (D-MD) co-chair and co-founder of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force. "As neighbors, employers, and community members, we all have a vested interest in ensuring that individuals who have paid their debt to society have a real second chance to succeed. The National Second Chance Town Hall will bring together folks who have lived through the system alongside experts and advocates to help develop solutions and move the ball forward on this issue, and I'm excited to join REFORM Alliance and the DC Public Library for this critical conversation."
The National Second Chance Town Hall is being held as part of the celebration of Second Chance Month, a nationwide initiative highlighting the need for policies supporting successful reentry after incarceration. The event will feature success stories from individuals who have significantly contributed to criminal justice advocacy, public safety, entrepreneurship, arts and entertainment, and more.
The event also falls on the 5-year anniversary of REFORM co-founder Meek Mill’s release from prison in Philadelphia, where he was incarcerated for a technical violation of his probation. Meek’s case garnered international attention and galvanized a nationwide movement to not only inspire the founding of REFORM Alliance but to spur momentum for supervision reform in red and blue states alike. To date, REFORM has helped pass 16 pieces of legislation across 10 states, creating pathways for more than 650,000 people to exit the system.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library is located at 901 G St NW in Washington, DC. The event will also be live streamed. For more information about the National Second Chance Town Hall, click here.