Words & Banter

Have You Ever Wanted A Second Chance?

Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Ye Jinghan on Unsplash


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I had no idea that April was “Second Chance Month” until you sent me the official proclamation. I find it interesting that in the midst of juggling our usual million and one Red & Black things, your interest in criminal justice, which I know you consider a “passion project”, is as strong as ever, maybe even stronger.


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It is not intentional, sometimes “passion projects” find you. And, when you least expect it.


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Or where you least expect it! Only you would take a “field trip” to a men’s prison.


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I will not get on my soapbox about how our education system contributes to the criminal justice problem. I will never forget a friend of mine who was formerly incarcerated telling me, “Rehabilitating people makes the assumption they were habilitated in the first place.”


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When you stop and think about that statement, it’s pretty powerful! But I have to smile as once upon a time you, and I, used words like “offenders” and “prisoners” until we learned how our choice of words could be dehumanizing.


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Says the woman who once believed in the idea of “lock ’em up and throw away the key”.

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That was before! I know you told me that just because someone made a bad decision, it didn’t make them a bad person, but it sounded like a cliche. Now, my opinion is based on our experience and the impact we’ve seen. The feedback has been eye-opening. Unfortunately, life doesn’t come with “do-overs.”

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Exactly. None of us are perfect. We have all made bad decisions. Second chances are about opportunities to show we have learned from our mistakes.

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Well, I know I have. Obviously, not anything illegal. But it made me determined to teach my daughters what I had learned. Probably one of the most heartwarming parts of the feedback we’ve received is that so many people on the inside want better – not only for themselves, but for their children and grandchildren.

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Yes, which is why having a second chance is so critical. And, helping set people up for success, not failure, because it is about more than changing the lives of the formerly incarcerated -- it can change the lives of their families and, in turn, our communities and our country.

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A ripple effect that could mean more people may get it right the first time and not need a second chance.

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True. Maybe we should look at it as giving society a second chance …
Photo by OnTheRunPhoto for iStock


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I keep getting emails about where to go for mocktails. I know alcohol-free cocktails, like Virgin Margaritas, have been around for a while, but I’d never heard that term before. Do you think it has to do with New Year’s resolutions?


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It can if any of your resolutions are to lose weight, save money, sleep better. Or, drink less. Psychologically, January is the month when we “reset”, so a UK-based organization, Alcohol Change UK, started Dry January, where you abstain from drinking alcohol.


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Perfect timing since many people shop, eat, and drink more than usual over the holidays.


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I know you used to drink a glass of Cold Duck on New Year’s Eve, a tradition going back to our childhood, but that hardly counts as drinking. But, I have always wondered why you rarely drink, but never asked.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn! Quite simply, it’s one of my absolute favorite things. Starting when I was a child, whenever I went to the movies, I’d get (and finish!) the largest bucket of popcorn available. And I always thought movie popcorn was far superior to what you could make at home … until a recent trip to visit a close friend in Tennessee, and she introduced me to Great Northern Popcorn (I promise this isn’t a paid ad). Now I’m addicted to it as I can make it on my cooktop. I know Black would be more interested in the science of what makes popcorn pop, but I prefer to just be obsessive about my popcorn …

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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You’re going to roll your eyes, but lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about myself.


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That is totally out of character, unless you are thinking of New Year’s resolutions.


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Actually, no. For decades, my priorities, and therefore my life, have always been focused on the girls and Mom. But that’s all changing. And I’m not sure how to “change” with it.
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