Tag Archives: second chance

Second Chance… Think Again.

“To say is not to do. To do is to say.”
Duck

For those who do not know Duck, he is simply a man.
A man who spent 13 years incarcerated for a crime he did not commit
but still walks a path defined by society
unwilling to offer second chances.

We’ve heard it many times and at many levels: “Everybody deserves a second chance.” But what does that really mean? Does society truly offer second chances? Do you, really?

Duck is not a bitter man.
He is simply a man wishing to live his life peacefully
and with equal opportunity.

From employment to housing to EVERYTHING in between, rare are the few offering second chances. Perhaps it is because we all have our own lives to live and who needs “fear” to be in the equation if possible… am I right ladies? Don’t think I need to explain the last line or justify what most think.

For the person, organization, potential employer, and the hypocrite pretending otherwise, stop saying and begin doing. Give others, all others no matter their race or stumbled background, a chance to be the person he or she is meant to be. It’s pretty simple, stopping the madness begins by stopping the talk and doing the do.

Duck is man refusing defeat.
He is simply a man who has been escorted off jobs
in front of crowds because a crime he didn’t commit.

Empowering and employing begins with YOU, not by what you say but by what you do.

I ask one thing from you: Be true to yourself and those around you. Stop the bull, keep what you say real, and if you don’t believe (and live the life) in second chances, stop pretending you do.

Duck, like the millions who have stumbled, will rise to the challenge of humbling himself every step along the journey…
with or without you.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for those who have stumbled within our justice system as they regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

Duck is a man offering importance.
His experience, struggles, and story is threaded throughout 2nd Chance University’s programs inspiring those
who have also stumbled.

We are seeking partnerships to bring our programs to communities across the nation. If you work with or know of organizations, work force centers, penal institutions, and/or judges and district attorneys committed to changing people’s path, bring it on. Together we can change the world, one person at a time.

Danny Huffman
407-878-0474
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org

 

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Journey to an NP, Part 2

If you have not checked out the previous submission, you may feel a bit out-paced. Either way, here goes the second part as the journey to a Non Profit continues…

Since 2012 I’ve expanded our non-profit to support three justice-involved categories:

  • Youth reintegration and empowerment
  • Adult alternatives to incarceration
  • Pre- and post- release from incarceration

Six years later, our 4-month, 18-book, series/interactive workshops, are launching mainly because this once 16-year old softball player saw people in La Tuna as peoplenot as monsters… just people who made a mistake and needs to regain balance and Hope.

Over the years, this journey has had a personal cost of over six figures… the amount returned to cover? Zero… not one cent.

Worth it? You tell me, would you sacrifice years and over six figures with only Hope to make a positive difference in lives, families, and the world?

In this regard, will share participant journeys and how their lives change as we grow.

We are a 501 (C) (3) on the brink of great things… let me know if you would like to share in this journey; your insight, contacts, support, and donations are appreciated.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for our youth as well as our adult population who have stumbled to regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

If you chose to share or support, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org and if you or a family member played softball years ago while at La Tuna, thank you for letting me into your world.

Danny Huffman
Founder
dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org
321-972-8919
2ndChanceUniversity.org

America: Land of the (In)visible

Writing provided by Duck who spent 13 years incarcerated; now finding a home as contributor and facilitator/trainer with 2nd Chance University, a non-profit dedicated to those who have stumbled.

For those who have been (or are currently) justice-involved, being invisible occupies a rather peculiar stance with even more atypical consequence.

For those not justice-involved, imagine a world where eye contact is not allowed, no soul searching or glimpsing into the spirit of the silenced number striding side by side.

Living behind bars means no identity other than 6 or 7 digits surrounding his or her every move. Think ab out how your sense of identity would be without a name and with an objectified history defining your Looking Glass Self theory.

For those without a justice-involved scratch or dent, take a look in the mirror, strip the reflective image of who/what you think you see, and then wipe away all of you with a single stretch. From this day forward, in place of what you thought you saw moments ago, resides a blemished blur.

In accordance to being invisible, for the next 24 hours, there can be no eye contact, there can be no talk without directly being told you have permission to speak, there can be no mobility beyond set geographic boundaries, there can be no choice, no smiles (this will be seen as a sign of weakness), there can be no friends, no companionship, no nothing (sorry for the poor grammar).

Imagine, for these 24 hours, when people looked at you, they saw something less than human, something not worthy of respect, something not deserving of consideration, empathy, or a second chance. Imagine how these emotions and actions will toy with your mind and sense of self-worth not just for the moment, but for your lifetime (and your families).

Imagine that even after this 24-hour experience, time kept on and you were forever defined as less than human.

Truth is, for those who are justice-involved, rightly or wrongly, he or she will never wash their skin of past sins, society won’t let them, lenders won’t let them, employers won’t let them, and, in most cases, YOU won’t let them.

What does it mean to be invisible? There’s no such concept as no matter who you are, others see and define based upon pre-conceived misconceptions supporting personal agendas and deficiencies.

Is America the land of hope, of understanding, of second chances? Do I really need to answer that? Perhaps now is the time for America to be.

2nd Chance University is a non-profit designed for our youth as well as our adult population who have stumbled to regain their Commitment, Hope, and Empowerment.

I welcome your stories to be added into our series. If you chose to share or support, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman
Founder, Journeyman
321-972-8919

Trauma Informed Care, Yesterday to Today

Being a non-profit working with young and old adults involved within the criminal justice system, we hear the term Trauma Informed Care more often than not. As a matter of fact, the term, especially when dealing with alternatives to incarceration, our criminal justice system, and effective reintegration, is in the limelight right now. According to those in the know:

Trauma Informed Care is an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma.

I remember growing up and how the word trauma was tagged (exclusively) to a military setting. No doubt, heading off to war can (and often will) directly affect the individual; of that there is little dispute. Way back when, it was rare that anyone not directly involved with the military was recognized as shouldering post-traumatic stress.

Unfortunately, family members left behind were often forgotten about or brushed to the side when it came to trauma… out of sight… their voice was rarely heard.

Jumping from childhood to well into adulthood, the consequence of trauma has been expanded to those outside of the military to include individuals indirectly involved in the incident or event. With such an expansion recognized, recovery is being addressed in a more effective manner… no more out of sight… their voice will be heard.

By today’s standards, traumatic experiences requiring care ranges from the obvious to the not-so-obvious. When it comes to our vulnerable youth and the effects of trauma, the world, neighborhood, and home can create an ever-lasting impression on the heart, mind, and soul; without proper care, these youth are at risk.

Beneath the trauma inducing umbrella are events such as:

Natural disaster
Death of a loved one
Being in a car accident
Child witnessing home abuse
Family member going to prison
Loud noises, gun shots being heard
Shootings and/or neighborhood fighting
Child being the victim of abuse, physical and/or emotional

The above is not all-inclusive but should give you an idea as to what we are dealing with.

On a personal level, the following happened years ago, which, if handled incorrectly, could have changed the path of two very young boys:

When my two boys were just three and four years of age, I purchased two living ducklings as an Easter present (before you panic, we lived on a farm so this was normal activity). My boys were in total awe at the new addition and insisted the ducks stayed in the house. I allowed.

On the second night, the new addition remained inside and in a cardboard box like the night before. After much quacking and smelling of duck poop, around 4:00 am, I placed the cardboard box outside, just within reach of the door. Unfortunately the night was a bit too cold and the ducks did not make it.

My boys woke to the sound of silence as they stepped out to an unexpected event. They both were very upset, shed tears, and did not understand what had happened. That morning, I sat the boys down and explained in a calm and empathetic way what had happened. Over the next few days we had gentle and sensitive talks about it and before long, all was fine.

Though insignificant in comparison, if handled without care and empathy, the event could have made a rippling psychological scar of one or both of my boys.

If a traumatic event happens to someone in your life, do know there are general things one can do to minimize lifelong effects. In my situation outlined above, I remained patient and understanding, allowing deep and meaningful discussions (even though the boys were very young, they deserved respect, a voice, warmth, and empathy).

Simply being there is the first step, as for second and third steps, we’ll review what the experts in the field suggest in articles to come.

To help all of us progress, I welcome your stories to be added into our series.

If you chose to share, email me directly at dhuffman@2ndChanceUniversity.org.

Danny Huffman,
Founder and Journeyman
2nd Chance University

BAN the BOX: EEOC in Action

During a recent showcase/job fair, I had the pleasure of meeting K-Duck who was released from prison nine years ago. He was convicted for possession of three ounces of marijuana. Needless to say, his one mistake as a teenager has been a haunting presence on every step.

K-Duck asked about the best way to deal with the employment application question: Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime.

No doubt, honesty is the best bet, even if it lessens the odds of getting hired. With this, I quickly remembered what former President George W. Bush said: “America is the land of the second chance – and when the gates of the prison open, the path ahead should lead to a better life.”

Could America be the land of second chances and forgiveness?

When it comes to individuals who have been arrested and/or convicted, the rubber does not meet the road as former President Bush passively blew hot air toward the general masses. Ando how we all breathed it in.

Given the unequal ratio between the races, all talk and no walk leads to frustration and eventual revolution. Then again, it appears most of America leans heavily on social inebriation and an “I don’t give a flying ____” attitude when it comes to giving chances to those who have slipped and now need help. Consider the alternative: 50% of those released remain unemployed and a result that half return to prison within three years. Think this has something to do with the lack of support on all ends?

Is this the America, the land of second chance, President Bush was referring to?

Employers legally discriminate by using “The Box” employment application question. According to a 2010 survey by the Society for Human Resources Management, 92 percent of employers conduct criminal background checks on some or all job applicants, up from 51 percent in 1996 and more than two-thirds of states allow hiring and professional-licensing decisions to be made on the basis of an arrest alone.

This is worth a repeat, arrests can be used to deny professional licensing.

K-Duck, and the millions like him, will continue to struggle unless legal and societal change happens. Fortunately, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently (last week) issued an updated guidance on employers’ use of arrest and conviction records when making employment decisions. For those not knowing what “The Box” represents, here’s the scoop: it is a hiring policy used to exclude anyone (and everyone) without contest. In this case, the blanket hiring ban targets those with an arrest/conviction.

Why would the EEOC get involved and tell employers who they can or cannot hire? Boiling it down to a single factor, “The Box” violates Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act by actively banning minorities. Then again, don’t take my word for it, let’s get a few facts on the table:

  • An estimated 65 million United States Adults have criminal records
  • One in 29 adults in the United States was either incarcerated or on probation or parole
  • While one in 30 men between the ages of 20 and 34 is behind bars, for black males in that age group, the figure is one in nine

    According the latest EEOC statistics, 1 in 17 white men are expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime, compared with 1 in si6x Hispanic men, and 1 in 3 African-American men. Going one step further, banning based upon an arrest effects minorities disproportionately… fair or not, the truth is the truth.

    Bottom line: the EEOC recommends that employers should not disqualify a candidate because of an arrest or conviction. Employers still are within their right to perform background checks but they should consider the “nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job” when making a hiring decision. Kudos to putting pressure… now it’s our turn to level the employment field.

    Think one voice can’t change the world? Think again, the EEOC recently settled with Pepsi over their use of a blanket exclusion policy and is currently investigating more than 100 claims of job discrimination based on criminal background checks.

    Fair or not, those individuals who have slipped and are planning to secure a job, know that getting beyond a blanket ban will be difficult. But it can be done. Think about the company and the many values you bring. Recognize that employers are looking for candidates who can get the job done and those who can be trusted. Being loyal, committed to company goals, and going above job responsibilities will push you toward career advancement.

    First step is to develop material that portrays your skills, knowledge, and abilities as an asset. There are effective ways to present you well, even under challenging circumstances. We will review some of these methods but would like your know about your challenges and how best to overcome the blocks standing in the way.

    Going back to K-Duck’s question about what to do: don’t mislead any potential employer. If you feel you have been a victim of discrimination, document and take your concerns to the proper authorities. Your voice can be heard and can make a huge difference not only for you but for millions in the shadow.

    If you have questions and would like career-related insight or books including, “Overcoming Career Barriers: Mission Possible, visit our website (www.edu-cs.com) or go to Amazon (simply search Danny at ECS).

    For additional assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out and send your request through the comment section or email me directly at dhuffman@edu-cs.com.

    Danny Hufman, MA, CEIP, CPRW, CPCC
    www.educationcareerservices.com
    Got Twitter? Shadow me @dannyatecs