DETROIT – An event co-sponsored by the Detroit Pistons, the NBA and a variety of government and support organizations aimed to give more than 170 formerly incarcerated citizens a second chance through legal assistance and job counseling.

The Second Chance Summit in Detroit included a clinic, in which volunteer lawyers helped eligible individuals apply for expungement of their criminal records under Michigan’s 2021 Clean Slate Act; and a job fair in which employers and counselors offered assistance connecting applicants with employers willing to hire the formerly incarcerated. Later in the afternoon, panel discussions featuring experts on the topic offered more insight into the issue.

Among the hosts of the event was Mark Barnhill, who represents Tom Gores’ ownership team with the Pistons, and is one of Gores’ partners at Platinum Equity, the global investment firm that Gores founded and leads.

The barriers to successful re-entry are high, with difficulty securing employment perhaps the highest, Barnhill told the media and other stakeholders during his opening remarks.

“Post-incarceration employment is the primary driver for whether or not someone returns to prison, and the stark reality is that nearly two-thirds of formerly incarcerated individuals are still jobless six months after their release,” he said at Little Caesars Arena in March. “Second-chance and fair-chance employment programs are important tools to help recently released individuals get over that barrier.”

The event was specifically designed to help.

The Pistons partnered with the National Basketball Association’s Social Justice Coalition, Safe and Just Michigan, the city of Detroit, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, Project Clean Slate, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Panel discussions in the afternoon focused on barriers to successful re-entry; second-chance hiring; fair-chance housing and other topics. Participants included representatives of the Detroit Housing Commission; Safe and Just Michigan; the GreenLight Fund; and the JPMorgan Chase Policy Center.

Barnhill, who is a Pistons Alternate Governor under team owner Tom Gores, explained the importance of his participation during opening remarks. Platinum Equity owns Aventiv Technologies, a telecommunications provider for the incarcerated community that is supportive of second-chance opportunities and fair-chance employment.

At Aventiv, 14 percent of 2023 new hires were fair chance hires. Under Platinum Equity’s stewardship, the company has invested heavily in technology, educational programming and training, career fairs and forged strategic partnerships to help prepare members of the incarcerated community for reentry.


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