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Reentry Matters – Celebrating Second Chance Month

April 5, 2023

By Emily Boone Communications Office

Video by: Danielle Jimenez, Brendan Baptiste, and Lukas D'Ambrosio from the Communications Office.

Each April, the Washington State Department of Corrections (DOC) celebrates Second Chance Month by reaffirming the importance of helping incarcerated individuals reenter society. At DOC, we have a significant role in assisting individuals currently in and leaving the system with safe and successful transitions into their communities.

Navigating life can be difficult, especially for those who are preparing for life after incarceration. Our assignment is to help individuals in our custody be equipped to return home and be contributing members of their community. This is an important component of successful reentry – and we start at reception.

From reception to release, it is vital that we do all we can to facilitate an individual’s successful integration. We do this through a holistic approach that strives to provide effective and useful job training, educational and vocational opportunities, addressing the root causes of crime, and preparing individuals for entering the workforce and finding stable housing. DOC plays a huge role in reentry as do our state and local partners to provide healthcare, housing opportunities and jobs. It takes a village.

“Depending on how long you’ve been in prison, so much can change when you leave,” said DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange. “We have programs A to Z, and we believe a livable wage, a safe place to work and live, access to healthcare – those are critical components to successful reentry.”

Second Chance Month is a time for us to encourage and embrace the possibility of growth and change and reflect on the need to empower people with meaningful opportunities for success – both during incarceration and after reentry into our communities.

“I am kind of terrified to go home after doing 22 years,” said incarcerated individual Laura Shatswell. “Without Navigation Services, I would have no idea where I’m going. I didn’t know what resources were available in the community. Working with reentry has helped me in a way that I can be a better neighbor. But not only just a better neighbor, a better person.”

All our staff at DOC have a part to play in providing meaningful opportunities for rehabilitation and redemption for those in our custody and care. Together, we can improve public safety and positively change lives by committing to empowering individuals and providing them with opportunities to participate, contribute and succeed after incarceration.