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April 5, 2023


What is Second Chance Month? 

Did you know that in the United States, nearly 1 in 3 adults has a criminal record?1  

Each April, to support justice-involved individuals, the Department of Justice celebrates Second Chance Month. Second Chance Month recognizes the importance of helping individuals, communities and agencies across the country appreciate their role in supporting the safe and successful reentry of millions of people returning from incarceration each year.2 

Celebrating Second Chance Month 

The San Diego Workforce Partnership is honored to have supported many individuals, both young adults and adults, who are justice-involved on their career journeys through Reentry Works. Here are just a few of the stories we’re celebrating this month: 

“When I went into the Prison to Employment program, I had no self-esteem and no confidence. I felt like my past was going to ruin my future; I was raised thinking that as a felon there’s no hope. Teachers and everyone in school gave that impression so I felt like once I was a felon, I would never get a job and I was limited with career options. With my record, or the title of a felon, I thought that was it. Prison to Employment didn’t just tell me that view was wrong, but they proved it to me. They proved that my past doesn’t define me and it doesn’t have to define what the future holds for me.” –Windy 

“I met Alex and Estela at the job center at the East Mesa Reentry Facility. They were approachable and had so much passion about the programs and the opportunity to change. I listened and I felt like I finally mattered—that I was worth something; I have value.” –Juan 

“Every other time I went to jail, when I was released I really didn’t have any direction on how I was going to get my life back in order. I had the same attitude that no one was going to hire me because of my criminal background, but this time around there was a new program inside of the East Mesa Reentry Facility. They’ve been with me since the beginning. They helped give me a new direction in life.” –Jon-David 

“I never had a resume before I came here and I never had a real job. I am thankful for the skills they taught me.” –Jose 

Working to support justice involved individuals year-round

Deona ”Dee” Dorsey is a program lead at the Workforce Partnership, working with our Reentry Works participants and employers. 

“We’re supporting those with lived experiences, giving them the tools they need to be successful. We lead with an individual’s skills and talents, not their barriers; a person’s past doesn’t define them. Instead, we’re passionate and compassionate with this population.  

It’s so important to build trusting relationships to help them build their confidence. They’re doing the transformational work and we are there to support them. We’re educating employers and destigmatizing our justice-involved community to spotlight the skills this hidden talent pool can bring to businesses and the economy,” says Dee.  

“It’s also important to acknowledge that there are often intersecting barriers for this population. We connect with grass roots organizations to make sure participants are getting the supportive services they need like housing, food, transportation, mental health services and more.”  

A few goals of the reentry advocacy community include:  

  • Connect people to safe, stable, affordable housing 
  • Ensure access to quality behavioral health services 
  • Help take care of medical needs including prescription refill, dental, vision, physical examination, HIV/STD/hepatitis testing and treatment 
  • Provide economic opportunities and mobility 
  • Help retrieve important documents such as birth certificate, social security card, California ID card (or driver’s license), etc. 
  • Promote connections to family and social networks that promote social acceptance and friendship 
  • Increase availability of accessible and effective services, supports and care once they return to their communities  

Our services for those who are justice-involved 

The Workforce Partnership is committed to supporting justice-involved individuals with pre- and post-release services that connect them with resources, training, jobs and more.  

Reentry Works invests and innovates in evidence-based solutions to best serve the justice-involved population by providing pre-release employment and training services, links to jobs and post-release employment services, earn and learn opportunities, supportive services (such as transportation, housing and access to technology), and community-based connections. 

We collaborate with the San Diego County Probation and Sheriff’s departments to run career centers within the East Mesa Reentry Facility and Las Colinas Detention and Reentry Facility. 

We’re also participating in the state’s Prison to Employment (P2E) program. The State is investing $37 million over 3 years, and San Diego successfully secured $1,546,060.37 for local programming. The goal is to serve justice-involved individuals by creating a systemic and ongoing partnership between rehabilitative programs within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) and the state workforce system and to serve individuals through post-release employment services.  

The Workforce Partnership is also a member of the San Diego Re-entry Roundtable. The Roundtable is comprised of representatives from correctional institutions, law enforcement, faith-based and community-based organizations, governmental agencies, local planning members, universities, community members, formerly incarcerated individuals and concerned citizens. Anyone interested in improving reentry can participate. 

For more information about our services and to access resources, check out our Reentry Works page.  

To learn more about our partnership with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, watch this video made in collaboration with local community partners.  

Partner services for those who are justice-involved  

Cal Voices is dedicated to improving the lives of residents in the diverse communities of California through advocacy, education, research and culturally relevant services. In all of its programs, Cal Voices works with individuals and families with mental health challenges to promote wellness and recovery, prevention, and improved access to services and support. 

Center for Employment Opportunities provides immediate, effective and comprehensive employment services exclusively to individuals who have recently returned home from incarceration. Participants can get paid employment experience, skills training and ongoing career support. 

Metro Community Ministries provides participants with career and training services to return to employment and self-sufficiency by creating and executing grassroots outreach campaigns that include peer coaches and community ambassadors to reach marginalized populations and more. 

Neighborhood House Association enriches lives through a continuum of education and wellness services. They provide employment to over 800 team members and touch the lives of thousands of San Diego families each year through a network of 28 programs at 125 locations. 

Restoring Citizens is a nonprofit helping formerly incarcerated individuals overcome barriers to employment, mental health issues and other challenges they face post-release. 

Rise Up Industries assists previously incarcerated, formerly gang involved individuals to successfully reenter society, thereby reducing the gang population and the recidivism rate. 

SBCS is a community-based nonprofit organization providing a comprehensive range of services for children, youth, and families. Services include emergency shelters, transitional housing and more.  

Youth Empowerment’s mission is to transform communities and increase public safety through community mentorship, building resilience, advocacy and system transformation for high-needs individuals and families. 

Find the full list of partners on our Reentry Works page

What employers can do to make a difference for justice involved individuals 

Hiring justice-involved individuals is good for a business’ bottom line. Employees with criminal histories make significant contributions to their organizations—comparable and sometimes even greater contributions than those made by individuals without a criminal record. There is a tremendous amount of quantitative and qualitative data supporting the fact that justice-involved individuals can make great employees. Find more data in our Employer Attitudes Toward Hiring Justice-involved Workers report.  

If you’re an employer, consider updating your employment policies to be more inclusive of justice involved individuals of all races and ethnicities. A 2019 study sent out fictitious resumes to employers comparing Black and white applicants with identical resumes and randomly assigning a criminal record. The results showed that white people were more than twice as likely to get a call back, even with a felony record.3

There are also financial resources available for businesses who hire justice involved employees: 

  • Employers hiring justice-involved workers are eligible for $2,400 in Work Opportunity Tax Credits 
  • California provides “new employment” state tax credits for wages paid to employees with a felony conviction 
  • Federal Bonding Program: $5,000 of fidelity bonding for first six months 

If you want to learn more about Reentry Works, contact Dee at or (619) 539-3570

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