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Press Release

Looking Back on Second Chance Month 2024 and a Year of Reentry Initiatives

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Every April, National Reentry Week and Second Chance Month highlight the importance of safe and successful reintegration into society for the approximately 650,000 people released from prisons in the United States each year. 

As these annual observances draw to a close, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania is looking back on the Office’s reentry initiatives during the month of April and throughout the past year.

Notably, reentry has been an integral part of the U.S. Attorney's Office’s mission and a key piece of its community engagement in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for almost two decades. Supporting people throughout their reentry process and raising awareness in the community about that process are part of our comprehensive strategy to help prevent recidivism, combat crime, and address the larger societal issues that contribute to crime.

Key components of our reentry program include:

The Reentry Simulation Initiative

In April 2023, the USAO-EDPA launched its Reentry Simulation Initiative. Inspired by the stories of returning citizens, the office started hosting Reentry Simulations to teach the public about the barriers that so many of our community members face as they return home from incarceration.

A Reentry Simulation is a two-hour activity that lets participants walk in the shoes of someone just released from prison, providing them with tasks to complete within a certain amount of time. The exercise is divided into four 15-minute segments, representing the first four weeks for someone returning home.

Over the past year, since the launch of our office’s Reentry Simulation Initiative, we have hosted 18 simulations. Participants in these simulations have included law enforcement, college students, high school students, service providers, and incarcerated individuals.

During Second Chance Month 2024 alone, we co-hosted five simulations across the state, reaching over 360 people, in partnership with Elizabethtown College; Springside Chestnut Hill Academy; PAR-Recycle Works and Eastern State Penitentiary; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Dickinson College, and the Cumberland County Reentry Coalition; the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Reentry Courts Summit; and the Philadelphia Bar Association.

Ultimately, EDPA’s goal with the Reentry Simulations is to encourage people to think deeply about the American criminal justice system, to change perceptions about returning citizens and the criminal justice system, and to deepen empathy. 

Reentry Coalitions

We are also part of seven reentry coalitions across the state of Pennsylvania. Reentry coalitions, dedicated to ensuring the long-term success of those exiting prison, have the power to facilitate important systems change, positively affect the lives of returning citizens, and keep our communities safe.

Just last week, we participated in the Lehigh County Reentry Coalition’s first-ever Celebration of Second Chances, at which the coalition launched its strategic plan, and honored individuals who have returned home from prison and made exceptional contributions to their communities.

Additionally, this month, for the first time ever, our office hosted a webinar in partnership with DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs called "Bridging Federal Resources to the Community." This webinar was designed to help community-based organizations and state and local agencies navigate the federal funding landscape, empowering their organizations to access and secure the resources needed to support community initiatives. Numerous reentry coalitions and reentry organizations were invited and participated.

Federal Problem-Solving Courts

Most importantly, our office continues to play a key role in serving returning citizens in the Eastern District’s federal problem-solving courts, developing resources and assisting participants, so that they have the tools and support they need as they’re returning home.

After 17 years, our district’s federal reentry court, Supervision to Aid Reentry, continues to thrive. Since the program’s inception, only 14% of our 471 participants have been rearrested or had their supervision revoked. By reducing revocations and imprisonment, the reentry program saves taxpayers significantly, based on an estimated annual cost of imprisonment of $42,672 per person.

More important than the financial benefits, though, is the positive impact on communities. The problem-solving courts help set formerly incarcerated people on a more positive path, creating a ripple effect that can change not just their lives, but the lives of their families, friends, and entire communities.

Our program has been made even more effective through the relationships we’ve cultivated with individuals and organizations in our community, which help us provide more resources and services to program participants than we could do alone. In addition to community members, these partnerships extend to other government agencies, including a long-standing relationship with the Philadelphia Housing Authority to provide housing vouchers to program participants, as well as the Bureau of Prisons and halfway houses, with whom we work to facilitate as smooth a transition as possible after incarceration.


“Today, over 70 million Americans have criminal records. 95% of incarcerated people will eventually be released from prison, and close to 70% will reoffend and end up back in prison,” said U.S. Attorney Jacqueline C. Romero. “People returning home from prison are our neighbors, they’re members of our families and communities, so reentry must be everyone’s concern. The successful reentry of returning citizens is crucial not only for their individual success and well-being, but also for the safety and stability of our communities.”

We observe National Reentry Week and Second Chance Month as a reminder of the importance of this work in creating safer communities across the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Reentry efforts don’t begin or end in April, though – they continue year-round. We thank those who do this difficult work and encourage them to continue engaging with reentry and improving the process for currently and formerly incarcerated people.

Updated April 30, 2024