John Koufos, Safe Streets & Second Chances executive director, recently joined Steve Scully on C-SPAN to discuss what’s being done – and what still needs to be addressed – to reform criminal justice policies and give people a chance after paying their debt to society.
“All of us want the same thing: We want the streets safer, we want people working, we want people reunified with their family, paying child support, etcetera, getting their lives back together,” Koufos said. “If we know that what we’ve been doing for so many years has produced result ‘X’ and we do nothing else, well that doesn’t make any sense at all. That sounds like a very, very foolish endeavor.”
Koufos knows first-hand how important second chances are. He described to Scully his own journey from alcoholic, to prison, to attending the signing of the First Step Act at the White House last December.
“I want to tell you that [the First Step Act] is going to lead to jobs,” Koufos told Scully. “We will make folks job-ready. We will make sure that people who may not have been contributing to taxes are paying taxes and will redeem their lives and be reunified with their family.”
In the latter half of the segment, callers from across the country phoned in to tell their second-chance stories and ask questions to dive deeper into the need for criminal justice reform.
One caller described how after his son spent time in prison, he ended up back on the streets. Because of a lack of programming in prison, he did not re-enter society with skills to obtain a job and was not rehabilitated. The caller’s son was not prepared to take advantage of the second chance he was given.
“I think that the viewers should realize that there are a lot of great people out there who are trying to get a second chance – people that would do anything for a second chance but can’t get out of the system,” Koufos said after speaking to several callers. “I am really inspired by what I have heard from people; I am inspired by what I am seeing.”