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☷ Shelby County Tennessee - Mayor Lee Harris Update A Second Chance is Good for Ex Offenders  and Shelby County

☷ Shelby County Tennessee - Mayor Lee Harris Update A Second Chance is Good for Ex Offenders and Shelby County

Shelby County , state Tennessee
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   April is Second Chance Month . Enacted by President Joe Biden in 2021 , the President ' s idea is to focus on policies and programs that aid in crime prevention , reduce recidivism , and expand opportunities so that individuals with a criminal history can rejoin the community as productive citizens . That ' s exactly what we plan to do in Shelby County Government . If we can help more individuals with a criminal history succeed , it reduces taxpayer dollars spent on the criminal justice system , and it helps us to get to the root causes of crime . This is also how we live up to the requirements of so many of our faith traditions . We believe in redemption . We believe in giving a second chance .
   That’s why early in my administration we pushed so hard for the Shelby County Commission to pass our “Ban the Box” ordinance . Our Ban the Box ordinance removed from Shelby County job applications the dreaded box that asks if a potential new hire has a criminal history . For too many job applicants , checking that box instantly takes them out of the running for almost any job . Too often , it doesn ' t matter how long ago their offense occurred or the job applicant’s qualifications . Well over 150 cities and counties , along with 37 states have enacted Ban the Box regulations . We’re proud to be among that number . We are hopeful we will set an example that more public and private employers will follow .
   Inmates in Division of Corrections custody are taking advantage of training and work opportunities as they prepare to reenter society after incarceration .
   We’re also laser - focused on creating more employment opportunities for those with criminal histories . Studies show that one of the best ways to help people turn away from criminal activity is through employment . The Shelby County Office of Re - entry , under our administration , has instituted a vocational training program at our campus in South Memphis , in addition to vocational programming that we have built from scratch for inmates at the penal farm . All this effort means that we are able to provide training and skills in small engine repair , janitorial services , barbering , and the care of natural Black hair .
   Along with our vocational and skills training initiatives , we’ve also doubled the capacity of our Mental Health Court . We have increased the number of people we can help with counseling and other resources from 50 to at least 100 . Mental Health Court balances the obligations of the criminal justice system with our obligation to help those living with a severe mental illness . We know that participants in mental health courts have lower recidivism rates than individuals who go through the traditional criminal court process . Getting help for offenders with mental illnesses can move them out of the criminal justice system and into productive lives .
   Our duty to offer second chances is even greater for young people who have lost their way and become involved in the criminal justice system . We have installed more youth counselors at Memphis police precincts , set up an after - school reporting center for teenagers , and established the Youth & Family Resource Center in Raleigh to expand the number of counseling supports for young people and their families .
   In his proclamation last year on Second Chance Month , President Biden called on us to lift up those who have made mistakes but are committed to rejoining society . That’s exactly what Shelby County Government plans to do .
    _______________________________
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