Since 2017, NACDL, Prison Fellowship, and other national partners have recognized April as Second Chance Month, a time to raise awareness about the obstacles faced by over 70 million Americans with a criminal record and unlock opportunities for them to succeed. This Second Chance Month, NACDL is highlighting collateral consequences, including those related to the right to vote and the right to serve on a jury. NACDL is also bringing attention to the need for second chance opportunities for those who are currently incarcerated. Individuals experiencing excessive, lengthy sentences deserve opportunities to gain a second chance at freedom.
On this page, you'll find a social media toolkit, upcoming Second Chance Month webinars, attorney volunteer opportunities, action alerts for relevant federal legislation, and recordings of past Second Chance Month events. This page will be updated as more event information becomes available!
Below are links to social media graphics and accompanying language related to restoration of rights for individuals with criminal records and second chances for those who are currently incarcerated. Make sure to tag NACDL on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram when you share!
Watch attorneys and clients paired through NACDL's Return to Freedom Project recount finding out that they had secured a second chance at freedom.
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The Kenneth Thompson Begin Again Act (H.R. 1924): Expungement is one of the most effective tools in the criminal legal system for restoring rights and status, yet existing federal law provides extremely limited expungement opportunities, even for low-level offenses. H.R. 1924 would expand expungement eligibility for individuals charged with simple drug possession by removing the requirement that such individuals were under 21 years old at the time of the offense in question.
The EQUAL Act (S.79): For the past three and a half decades, the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity has exacerbated and further entrenched racial disparities in the criminal legal system. S. 79 would end it once and for all.
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A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence: A Trial Practice Handbook for Criminal Defense Attorneys
This Guide to Federal Evidence is the only federal evidence handbook written exclusively for criminal defense lawyers. The Guide analyzes each Federal Rule of Evidence and outlines the main evidentiary issues that confront criminal defense lawyers. It also summarizes countless defense favorable cases and provides tips on how to avoid common evidentiary pitfalls. The Guide contains multiple user-friendly flowcharts aimed at helping the criminal defense lawyer tackle evidence problems. A Defender’s Guide to Federal Evidence is an indispensable tool in preparing a case for trial.
Modern Digital Evidence & Technologies in Criminal Cases
Modern cases need modern defenses, and modern lawyers can't practice with an outdated playbook. This program is a contemporary training that identifies emerging technologies and digital evidence encountered in today's criminal cases and arms you with the tools necessary to combat expert witnesses, prosecutorial overreach, and an uneducated judge and jury. This comprehensive CLE program covers both general aspects of new technologies as well as practical courtroom application and legal challenges to the use of these new technologies.
Top Shelf DUI Defenses: The Law, The Science, The Techniques (2021)
If you are serious about being an effective DUI defense advocate, or if you’re considering adding DUI defenses to your portfolio, you need to know the latest scientific and legal strategies to optimize your success at trial. Learn from the best-of-the-best in the field in this unique CLE Program, updated for 2021.
Defending Modern Drug Cases (2021)
From challenging the arrest and seizure to picking a jury and cross-examining police officers, defense attorneys handling drug cases must be able to construct a defense that will increase the chances of the client getting a positive result for your client.
Effective motion practice, juror selection, and storytelling have never been more important. This seminar will introduce defense counsel to techniques that have been used at recent drug trials to rebut specific claims and overcome the emotion created in today’s criminal legal system.
Federal Sentencing Bills (S.312, S.1014, S.601): Congress is considering several bills that will increase fairness in the federal criminal legal system and remedy a number of sentencing flaws: the COVID-19 Safer Detention Act, the First Step Implementation Act, and the Prohibiting Punishment of Acquitted Conduct Act.
Unlocking the Jury Box: How Felony Disenfranchisement Contributes to America's Jury Diversity Problem. On Thursday, April 21st, 2022, NACDL hosted Unlocking the Jury Box: How Felony Disenfranchisement Contributes to America’s Jury Diversity Problem. This webinar tackled the impact of felony disenfranchisement laws on jury service, jury diversity, and the importance of representative juries. The discussion was moderated by NACDL’s Public Defense Counsel Monica Milton, and featured Naila Awan, Director of Advocacy at Prison Policy Initiative; Nina Chernoff, Professor at CUNY School of Law; and Sodiqa Williams, General Counsel and Senior Vice President, Supportive Reentry Division at Safer Foundation.
Legislating Freedom: The Importance of a Second Look: On Thursday, April 14th, 2022, NACDL and The Sentencing Project hosted Legislating Freedom: The Importance of a Second Look. This panel discussion delved into the country’s continued overreliance on incarceration and extreme sentences and legislative efforts to enacted 'Second Look' laws which provide individuals with an opportunity for resentencing or a sentence reduction after they have served a certain amount of time in prison.
Second Chance Stories: Returning to Freedom: On Thursday, March 31st at 2:30pm ET, NACDL ushered in Second Chance Month with Second Chance Stories: Returning to Freedom, a webinar during which recent clemency recipients and their attorneys, paired through NACDL’s Return to Freedom Projects, discussed the critical importance of second chances for incarcerated individuals. The discussion was be moderated by Return to Freedom Project Legal director John Albanes and will feature Sincere B. Allah, Clemency Recipient; Brendan O’Toole, Attorney at Williams Mullen; Chalana McFarland, Advocate; and Cynthia Roseberry, Deputy Director of Policy at the ACLU, Justice Division.
Race and the Criminal Legal System: Collateral Consequences: In April 2021, NACDL held a two-part discussion on race and collateral consequences as part of the ongoing Race and the Criminal Legal System Discussion Series. In Part I, panelists discussed how the collateral consequences of a conviction have become more numerous and severe, and how they disproportionately impact communities of color. In Part II of the discussion, panelists took a deep dive into how a past criminal conviction can impact an individual’s ability to participate in industries like the legal profession, the cannabis industry, and other business and entrepreneurship opportunities. Resources and speaker biographies for both webinars can be found on NACDL’s Race and the Criminal Legal System Discussion Series page, in addition to recordings of past webinars in the series exploring public defense and policing in relation to issues of race.
- "California poised to enact significant expansion of record clearing to cover most felonies,"
- "‘My emancipation proclamation’: the man fighting to free millions from their criminal records,"
- "Court: Mississippi can continue blocking felons from voting,"
- "California advances broadest US law sealing criminal records,"
- "Criminal Background Checks May Be Banned in N.Y.C. Housing Applications,"