by Jeff Pederson
for The Beacon
The transition out of the criminal justice system into the flow of traditional society can present considerable challenges for those seeking to get their lives back on the right track.
Seeing a need to ease some of those challenge, Sheboygan Falls District 3 Alderman and Sheboygan County Board District 18 member Jacob Immel recently launched the Second Chance Packs program.
Through a partnership with local churches, including Cornerstone Community Church in Sheboygan, the Sheboygan County jail ministry and the Sheboygan County Detention Center, the new initiative has already received strong support.
“Second Chance Packs are care packages for individuals leaving the criminal justice system,” Immel said. “We are partnered with local churches, jail ministry and the Sheboygan County Detention Center.
“I realized that this is a need for more resources this community for individuals leaving the criminal justice system,” he said. “This project is needed to support an underserved population in our community, bring awareness to various causes and help to reduce rates of recidivism.”
Immel says he got the idea to start the Second Chance Packs program after following other similar criminal justice reform initiatives through the county, state and nation.
“I was inspired by some of the ‘Alternatives to Incarceration’ programs that the county has been working on,” Immel said. “I have been intrigued by various criminal justice reforms bills and programs both state and nationally.”
The Second Chance Packs are designed to give individuals a bit of a head start in forging a solid path during a major life transition.
“Various items in the packages include socks, deodorant, toothpaste, food such as crackers and ramen noodles, a razor, comb, a Bible, a notebook, a letter explaining our program and then a sheet with various community resources,” Immel said.
Individuals are selected to receive the Second Chance Packers after going through a screening and evaluation process.
“Those that receive the Second Chance Packs are screened and selected as those with the need,” Immel said. “They are picked by various staff members at the county detention center and jail.”
Last week, Immel and a group of supporters put together and delivered the first shipment of Second Chance Packs.
“The first distribution of 30 Second Chance Packs was last week after a couple of nights assembling the packs with various community members and groups,” Immel said. “Each month I will deliver a certain number of Second Chance Packs, depending on how many are given out per month based on the need.”
According to Immel, the response to the Second Chance Packs initiative has been highly encouraging.
“I have had dozens of community members, friends, family donate various items as well as Crossroads Church,” Immel said. “With the donations we have received so far, we will be able to make nearly 100 Second Chance Packs.
“Many people have expressed how we have a need for these programs in the community,” he said.
Based on the support and the volume of donations received, Immel is hoping to continue the Second Chance Packs program for the foreseeable future with the possibility of expansion into other communities also a possibility.
“At this time. the Second Chance Packs program will run indefinitely,” Immel said.