A fresh start. New beginnings. These are the dreams that are harbored by many exoffenders upon their release from prison. For some, this becomes a reality as they readjust to living and thriving in a free society. For others though, this can prove to be difficult. As found by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, within 5 years of being released from prison, 77% of individuals had been arrested for a new crime.
This shines the limelight on a large problem. There is a fundamental flaw in a system of incarceration and release if the whole process fails to reduce the incidence of crime in the future. A small bakery in Beaverton, Oregon is attempting and succeeding in addressing this issue.
The Beaverton Bakery has been around since 1925, and 10 years ago they began an initiative called the Second Chance Program. The goal: to help ease and catalyze the adjustment of exoffenders back into a daytoday society. By hiring exoffenders, the bakery immediately helps them overcome the job search that can prove so daunting for many newly released individuals, as they are stigmatized and often not given a fair shot at employment. With a structured routine and steady income, suddenly new doors swing open.
Bakery owner Carrie Ann Schubert explains how she wants to help accommodate their unique schedules as much as possible. Newly released exoffenders often times have regular group meetings and appointments they must attend as mandated by their release agreement. This can be difficult to integrate with regular job schedules, and so Schubert exemplifies her philosophy in explaining, “You need to be flexible with them... so they can be able to work their own program as well as their job.” But she has no tolerance for laziness or illegal activity. She expects sustained work ethic and total refrainment from substance abuse. Failure to do so results in termination from the program.
Additionally, Schubert explained how the program helps employees find housing after they leave halfway houses, and implements various training exercises such as working on business skills. Since its launch in 2006, the Second Chance Program has helped over 200 exoffenders become reacquainted with life after prison. It was nationally recognized in Washington DC last April as a “Champion of Change”, a very prestigious award bestowed to activists and organizations for positive change in contemporary society.
There are bright futures ahead for the Second Chance Program and its participants. With such a solid foundation, the Beaverton Bakery will likely be positively impacting the lives of newlyreleased exoffenders for many years to come.