The first African-American Secret Service Agent, Abraham W. Bolden was among the three citizens to be granted White House pardons as part of the celebration for the annual Second Chance Awareness Month. (AP Photo)

By Deborah Bailey,
D.C. News Editor

This week, the Biden Administration celebrated America’s second annual “Second Chance Awareness Month” by announcing White House pardons for three citizens who the president said “have demonstrated their commitment to rehabilitation and are striving every day to give back and contribute to their communities” and commutation for 75 additional persons who are currently serving long sentences for non-violent crimes.

Pardons were announced for Abraham W. Bolden, 86, of Chicago, Ill., the first African-American Secret Service Agent assigned to the President’s detail; Betty Jo Bogans, 51 of Houston Texas and Dexter Eugene Jackson, 52 of Athens, Georgia. Biden indicated the three have made exemplary contributions to their communities. Bolden has steadfastly maintained his innocence, indicating he was targeted for prosecution in retaliation for exposing unprofessional and racist behavior within.

Whiter House staffer Angela Perez also announced the 75 persons whose sentences have been commuted by the Biden administration involved persons who are in home confinement because of Covid-19, and many who would have received lower sentences if they were charged today.

The administration is also celebrating Second Chance Awareness Month by announcing an action plan to support formerly incarcerated persons. 

The Incarceration to Employment national strategy focuses on expanding hiring and advancement opportunities for formerly incarcerated persons. The Federal Government is taking the lead by investing $145 million in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023 to provide job training at selected Bureau of Prisons locations and intensive individualized reentry support, along with a host of other agency administrative actions to support employment for formerly incarcerated persons

The federal government is calling on state and local governments, employers, philanthropies and communities to share in this strategy and calls on state and local governments, employers, philanthropies, and communities to advance this strategy. 

An example of the Incarceration to Employment strategy can be found at The Bridge Center at Adams House, a support center for Returning Citizens in Prince George’s County sponsored a job fair in Glen Arden, Md. featuring 30 employers on-site who are ready to hire returning citizens with a felony record. 

“Imagine that you have been away from home for five years, ten years or more,” said Ron Garrett, Director of The Bridge Center. “You would need to obtain an ID, health services, transitional housing, workforce development and a range of services,” he said, adding that returning citizens need the support of the business community to get their lives back on track.  

A recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures cited one in three Americans as having been convicted of a felony crime. The Brennan Center for Justice reported that the United States houses the same number of people in prison with criminal records as it does in college obtaining four-year degrees. 

Following re-entry, returning citizens are challenged with almost impossible obstacles that make it challenging for them to find housing and work. In 2021 the US Senate officially designated April as Second Chance Awareness Month to bring awareness to communities about strategies to ensure that persons who had served their time could return to their communities and homes with the services and supports needed to get their lives back on track.

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