Chicago to expand 'Second Chance' program for ex-inmates

You can probably think of a lot of things you've done where you'd like a second chance.

But for those who've committed crimes and spent time in prison, second chances are hard to come by, which is why the city of Chicago is about to expand a program that has helped hundreds of ex-cons find a new footing and turn their lives around.

Ten years ago, Alphonso Johnson was behind bars serving a three-year sentence for drug possession.

Now, Johnson has a college degree and makes more than $80-thousand-dollars a year supervising cleaning crews for the CTA -- thanks to a lucky break.

"I saw this flyer for CTA. It was part of being in the right place at the right time and the right opportunity came,” Johnson said.

"Today we're proving that the Second City is going to give people a second chance,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Mayor Emanuel announced a major expansion of the city's "Second Chance" program, in which ex-offenders are hired into entry level positions at the CTA and Streets and Sanitation.

Since the program started ten years ago, more than 900 former prisoners have been given a second chance at the CTA and nearly 300 are now fulltime employees.

"The Second Chance program employs participants as bus and rail car servicers and janitors, providing valuable experience and on the job training,” said CTA President Dorval Carter.

Johnson says that because of growing up in public housing, it was easy to fall into a life of crime.

"And it's only when you get out of that situation you see the dysfunction. And I had thge opportunity to see the dysfunction and I'm blessed to be here right now,” he said.

"The most important thing is Alphonso's sons are going to college. He has become the very role model he wanted to be but fell short of,” Mayor Emanuel said.

On Wednesday, Mayor Emanuel will make public his proposed city budget for next year, which sets aside more than $2-million-dollars for the Second Chance program, about twice what has been spent in the past.