How we Support Second Chances

No one is the sum of their worst mistakes. We focus on helping individuals who have experienced involvement with the criminal legal system to navigate the reentry process with dignity, stability, and hope. Reentry is rarely a straightforward and effortless process, leaving many directly impacted individuals alone on the journey back to their communities. We are committed to a holistic reentry process that ensures individuals are championed at every step of the way and which fights against the lack of outreach, resources, and structural support that presently exists. For many people, obtaining gainful employment or housing is contingent on their ability to clear their records. Through our Clean Slate initiatives and toolkits, we advocate for an accessible expungement process so that every person has a meaningful and dignified opportunity for a second chance. 

Two people engaged in a handshake

The Process of Reentry

Reentry is seldom a straightforward and effortless process, leaving many formerly incarcerated individuals alone in the journey back to their communities. A lack of outreach, resources, and structural support does not allow individuals to foresee barriers to successful reentry, or make it easy for them to identify solutions.

Southern Coalition for Social Justice is committed to a transparent and robust reentry process that ensures individuals are championed at every step of the way.

Second Chance Resources

Clean Slate Toolkit

2024 Clean Slate Toolkit Book on a colorful background

Clearing eligible records for people who have had contact with the criminal legal system is an important aspect of ensuring that people will not be defined by their records, and not face unfair or unnecessary obstacles in their efforts to secure education, housing, and work.

We produce and disseminate a Clean Slate toolkit, which provides a roadmap for individuals and advocates seeking to expunge a criminal record. With a typical criminal record expungement costing hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in court costs and attorney’s fees, our public education efforts are designed to help individuals navigate the process independently, making the process easier to obtain for people of color and economically underserved populations. We also work with partners to preserve North Carolina’s Second Chances Act, ensure the law is effectively implemented, and build support for further expanding eligibility.

You are the not the sum of your worst mistakes.

Umar Muhammad

Your First 48 Toolkit

Your First 48 Toolkit is a Durham County resource guide for successful reentry within 48 hours after release from incarceration and beyond. The Toolkit serves to connect you to resources and service providers helping to overcome the barriers to a successful reentry. Your First 48 Toolkit promotes social and economic independence through relationship building, strong community involvement, education, and public support. The Toolkit will help you foresee barriers to a successful reentry and identify likely solutions by informing you who to connect with and what questions to ask.

Fair Chance Business Certification

Fair Chance hiring is an incredibly impactful practice, especially considering that one-third of Americans have a criminal record. Here at SCSJ, we believe people are not the sum of their worst mistakes. Therefore, we recruit businesses and nonprofit organizations to create an inclusive hiring practice that selects candidates based on their qualifications, rather than rejecting them for their past mistakes. We call it our Fair Chance Business Certification.

In order to become Fair Chance Business Certified, businesses must:

  • Remove all questions about criminal records from the initial job application form
  • Delay asking questions about criminal records until the applicant is given a conditional offer
  • Give applicants a chance to see any background checks you run

The certification is free and open to any small business in the South. Certified businesses receive a free window sticker, access to special events, and resources for creating effective fair chance hiring policies.

Ban the Box

The “box” is that spot on many employment applications asking whether the applicant has been convicted of a crime or if they have been incarcerated. Some employment applications may even inquire about arrests. A Ban-the-Box ordinance would remove these questions from the application at the initial stage of the employment process so the hiring authority will first get an opportunity to learn about the candidate’s experience, skills, and personality as they relate to the position to be filled. The Ban-the-Box movement began with All of Us or None, a national grassroots civil rights organization that fights for the rights of formerly- and currently-incarcerated people and their families. SCSJ supports communities, municipalities, counties, and businesses as they move toward ban-the-box policies.

Support Second Chances News

Justice System Reform

Southern Coalition for Social Justice Launches New Toolkit to Help Navigate Expungement Process

For media inquiries:Michelle Rashmrash@rlfcommunications.com336-553-1733 (office)336-823-5501 (mobile) Durham, N.C. — The Southern Coalition for Social Justice has launched a new effort focused on helping individuals with criminal records better navigate the process to have their records expunged. At the center of this outreach is the Umar Muhammad Clean Slate Toolkit, a free resource providing a step-by-step…

Read More Southern Coalition for Social Justice Launches New Toolkit to Help Navigate Expungement Process