Making Second Chances a First Priority

Jay Jordan is not ashamed to say that he is an ex-convict.

“I was 19, a young kid, committed a robbery and they gave me seven and a half years with two strikes,” said Jordan.

But he soon realized that with his conviction came tough collateral consequences.

“I got out of prison in 2012 and I wanted to be a barber. Found out I couldn’t do that. I wanted to sell cars. Found out I couldn’t do that. I wanted to sell real estate. Found out I couldn’t do that,” said Jordan.

Currently, there are 8 million Californians who have a state conviction record and who may face over 4800 restrictions similar to the challenges Jordan faced.  These barriers represent limited access to jobs, housing opportunities, educational loans and other key assets to establishing emotional and economic stability.

To address these barriers to re-integration, the Office of Los Angeles County Board Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas and the Empowerment Congress Public Safety and Justice Committee, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership and Californians for Safety and Justice’s Second Chance Project led a Fireside Chat with community and Los Angeles County leadership.

“Criminal justice reform is needed because too many people are incarcerated for long periods of time for reasons that are not important to public safety,” said Peter Espinoza, Director of the LA County Office of Diversion and Reentry.

Espinoza recommends finding new alternatives to incarceration for those individuals suffering from substance abuse disorders and mental illness.

“The mission of this work is for people to understand how important health care reform and justice reform is to the work of reducing barriers for people that are returning citizens,” said Troy Vaughn, Executive Director of L.A. Regional Reentry Partnership.

With measures such as proposition 47, California voters have embraced justice reform prioritizing prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment rather than incarceration. The legislation has helped to shift the paradigm by giving people such as Jay Jordan a second chance at giving back to society.