Excerpt from The Kansas City Star, published April 5, 2023

Written by Kelly Howery, special to The Star

A neglected, often forgotten Missouri community is striving to better itself. These people are desperate to learn, grow, and create better opportunities for themselves. Incarcerated women are asking for a second chance. And we know how to give it to them.

In one word, the solution is education. Education provides incarcerated women with a way to make meaningful contributions to their communities. In fact, April is National Second Chance Month, and I want to humbly ask that we take a moment to focus on what and how we can provide incarcerated women a fighting chance to succeed when they leave a correctional facility and reenter our society.

Here in Missouri, 86% of incarcerated women will be released and eventually return home. If we want them to come back to our communities as a different — and thriving — version of themselves, we need to provide them with opportunities to grow. That means education. Many of these women did not have supportive households or nurturing environments growing up. Education was often not encouraged or supported, and drugs or violence was the norm. These conditions can devastate young people’s self-worth and self-esteem, leading them down a destructive path. That’s how many of them ended up incarcerated to begin with.