Second Chance Lobby Day & Advocacy Priorities

The NC Second Chance Alliance is a statewide alliance of people with criminal records, their family members, service providers, congregations, community leaders, and concerned citizens that have come together to address the causes of criminal records and the barriers they create to successful reentry. Forward Justice is a founding member of the Second Chance Alliance because we believe that it takes bold, collective action to create change.

We are back and ready to organize for the 2023 statewide lobby and advocacy day.

Through our work with the Alliance, we have advocated for legislation like the ‘Second Chance Act’ (NC Senate bill 562) that expands eligibility for expungement and access to expungement through automation practices, thereby removing barriers to reentry.

A major component of the Second Chance Alliance is the bi-annual lobby day, which has occurred since 2011. Every two years, the Alliance holds a lobby day to provide an opportunity for Alliance members to mobilize allies to attend Second Chance Advocacy Day, coalesce around a set of criminal justice reform policy issues, and engage directly with their elected representatives on the issues that most intimately affect their lives. The most recent lobby day, on May 7th, 2019, we stood with 1,000+ directly impacted community members at the General Assembly to share stories with lawmakers and advocate for legislation that supports second chances for people impacted by the criminal legal system. The day after our demonstration, the Second Chance Act (Senate Bill 562) Passed the Senate unanimously. A victory for the Second Chance Alliance and a victory for North Carolinians. The bi-annual lobby day continues to be a day focused on the priorities and needs of those with records.

During the 2021 Virtual Day of Advocacy, we enjoyed music and performances from those directly impacted by the criminal legal system, heard from activists and community members from across the state about the work being done for reentry and demands we’re making of elected officials, discussed a policy agenda that centers the needs of people directly impacted by the criminal legal system, and shared stories about our experiences in our voices.

Elected officials accountability campaign

In 2022, FJAN and movement partners continued to “Expand the We” in “We in the People” by educating, agitating, and organizing low-propensity voters, particularly people with criminal records and their families, to participate in upcoming District Attorney and Sheriffs elections in targeted jurisdictions across the state. Building on our foundational work in 2018, Forward Justice, Durham For All, and Spirithouse spearheaded the c(3) and c(4) tables that resulted in the historic first-time election of Satana Deberry.

Since her election, Deberry has proven to be the most progressive prosecutor in the state. She has the largest number of post-conviction, emergency release motions related to the COVID pandemic and the largest amount of DA-initiated debt relief for people with outstanding fees and fines. Additionally, Durham has seen a reduction in the conviction-based prison population from the year Deberry took office in 2018 (954), 2019 (880), to 2021 (698).

In North Carolina, both the District Attorney and Sheriff are elected public officials who wield considerable power in the prosecution of all criminal matters. FJAN and our movement partners know the importance of these local elections towards fulfilling our long-term goals of organizing what FJAN Board Member Norris Henderson refers to as the “Sleeping Giant”, low propensity directly impacted voters committed to ending mass incarceration.

We implemented this strategy by engaging in voter education through report cards, mobilization, and issue-based advocacy in the District Attorney elections in Wake, Mecklenburg, Forsyth, and Durham counties.

We know that to hold and sustain what is possible in the state, we are already preparing for the needs of 2024. We know we will have to use every tool in our toolbox to advocate and organize a statewide political agenda that has the power to represent every North Carolinaian. 


We joined a coalition of partners in Raleigh, North Carolina to continue the push for a moral revival and the realization of a Third Reconstruction.