U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.


By Liz Ryan, OJJDP Administrator

Second Chances, First Opportunities

Liz Ryan Blog Photograph

Firsts are milestones to be celebrated. First steps, first graduation, and the first job or car. But seconds can also be noteworthy ... namely, second chances. For many young people involved in the juvenile justice system, the second chance they are given following release may well be their first real opportunity to succeed.

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) joined with our partners to celebrate Second Chance Month this April. OJJDP is proud to help young people achieve their full potential after justice-system involvement by providing funding, training, and education for the field.

OJJDP Administrator Liz Ryan at the Chatham Youth Development Center
Administrator Liz Ryan joined U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina Sandra Hairston and North Carolina's Juvenile Justice Director Billy Lassister at the Chatham Youth Development Center. They served as "judges" during competitive debate among teams made up of justice involve youth who argued for and against "Raise the Age."

We recently released the solicitation for our Second Chance Act: Youth Reentry Program. This program will provide comprehensive reentry services for moderate- to high-risk youth before, during, and after release from juvenile residential or correctional facilities. In 2022, OJJDP awarded more than $12 million to 16 sites under this program 

In addition to our youth reentry work, OJJDP strives to address the needs of incarcerated parents and their minor children. OJJDP's Second Chance Act: Addressing the Needs of Incarcerated Parents and Their Minor Children Program solicitation, also released in April, will help to reduce recidivism among parents, support responsible parenting, and foster positive development of youth. In 2022, our office provided nearly $6 million to support these efforts.

Involvement in the juvenile justice system touches every aspect of a young person’s life. It can lead to significant collateral consequences—including difficulty obtaining housing, education, and employment. OJJDP’s publication: Expunging Juvenile Records: Misconceptions, Collateral Consequences, and Emerging Practices, discusses common misconceptions about the expungement of juvenile records and provides information on the collateral consequences of having a juvenile record. OJJDP also released a toolkit with practical advice to help young prepare for reentry.

Throughout Second Chance Month, OJJDP partnered with other federal agencies and youth justice leaders to highlight the significant needs of youth reentering their communities and provide resources to help them succeed. We hosted webinars, youth-led podcasts, and panel discussions in collaboration with our sister agencies, the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the National Institute of Justice. Through these events, we shared promising practices for engaging youth and creating opportunities.

With a second chance, young people leaving the justice system can focus on pursuing their own firsts—whether that’s their first graduation or first job. We hope you’ll join us this month and beyond as we celebrate Second Chances.

Visit OJJDP’s website to learn more about Second Chance Month activities.

Date Published: April 25, 2023