RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper is calling for new efforts to help inmates reenter society.

On Monday, Cooper outlined a program that would establish a wider government approach and make the road to education, training and employment, smoother.

For two decades, a Raleigh man has been devoted to helping people recently released from prison. 

What You Need To Know

  • Gov. Roy Cooper signed Executive Order 303 Monday

  • The order outlines a wider government approach focused on improving reentry services

  • Housing and increased employers for people seeking a second chance are priorities in the new order

  • Dennis Gaddy, founder of Community Success Initiative, says he's impressed with the new order

“This is the order issued yesterday, Executive Order 303, that was issued by Governor Cooper," said Dennis Gaddy.

Gaddy is spending some of his day analyzing parts of that new order.

Cooper put pen to paper Monday, signing Executive Order 303, which directs state agencies to improve reentry services for formerly incarcerated people.

“Here it says, 'whereas formerly incarcerated people and fellow North Carolinians and neighbors and improving education, rehabilitation, and reentry services makes all North Carolina residents safer,'" said Gaddy. "He believes all people, regardless of making mistakes, should have an opportunity for a second chance.”

Gaddy is proof of what a second chance can do.

“After spending five and a half years in prison myself, I had the good fortune of coming home to a good support network, my family, so I felt obligated to help people coming home, [who were] not so fortunate," Gaddy said.

The founder of Community Success Initiative, or CSI, has spent the last 20 years talking to people recently released from prison helping them connect to resources focuses on jobs, housing, educating and human services.

“Society has a forgiveness issues, they make it hard to do what's right," said Gaddy.

CSI was instrumental in pushing for the state’s Ban the Box law, passed in 2020.

“We worked very hard in getting that passed in North Carolina and a lot of counties, most counties, don't ask that question anymore," Gaddy said.

Gaddy is hopeful the governor’s newest executive order will offer similar protection to newly released citizens.

“To create a second chance hiring kind of committee or partnership, I heard that loud and clear. And housing, housing is very hard for people who have records, so I was glad they were talking about housing," Gaddy said.

Part of the order’s goal is to expand housing opportunities for formerly incarcerated people.

The order also instructs the State Department of Commerce to increase the number of second chance employers hiring people prior to and following release.