The Second Chance Club: Hardship and Hope After Prison

S. & S. Feb. 2020. 288p. ISBN 9781982128593. $27. CRIME
In an outstanding debut, Hardy, now an FBI agent, relays his experiences as a probation officer in New Orleans. He offers an immersive look at Louisiana’s criminal justice system through the perspectives of seven parolees who were impacted by the retail drug trade. In each of the book’s three parts—need, risk, and harm reduction—Hardy describes the daily life of a probation officer. What stands out are the compelling stories throughout, along with Hardy’s sympathy for parolees and genuine insights into the root causes of street crime. Readers meet Damien, a cynical drug dealer, and Charles, Hardy’s mentor and a fellow probation officer. The narrative follows the author’s days in court and efforts visiting state offices in hopes of enacting reform. Along the way, Hardy profiles players in the system and offers solutions to the high recidivism rate (compared to outcomes in federal courts).
VERDICT An insightful, impactful book for all social and criminal justice readers, and fans of Matthew Desmond’s Evicted and Sudhir Venkatesh’s Gang Leader for a Day.

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