Jim's Quotes

Jim Cotterill co-founded 2nd Chance Indiana (as UNITE INDY) in late 2016. After a decade as the founding president of National Christian Foundation Indiana following several years developing a chain of Business Journals across the country, he and his wife, Nancy, were led to serve those coming out of long term incarceration by helping them find and keep jobs that pay a living wage. Jim and Nancy believe that, through the dignity of work, reentrants' lives can be changed and their families can be lifted out of poverty.
28 OCT, 2021

It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men"—Frederick DouglassFredrick Douglass escaped slavery at the age of 16, maturing into a national leader of the abolitionist movement. Over the years, he became an international social reformer, orator, writer, and statesman, whose position on the value of intact families was wrought in the fires of forced separation.As a victim of a system that regularly took children from their parents, he knew the devastation of those with no father to guide and protect them. But in those days, the loss of a father was under the control of the slave owner. Who is in control now?In America today, 85% of incarcerated juveniles come from fatherless homes. If that one statistic doesn't start some bells ringing in our heads, what does? Fathers are not to be simply sperm donors. They are designed by God to be the backbone and foundation of the family; the holder of the the moral high ground; an exa...

30 SEP, 2021

If you carry the bricks from your past, you will end up building the same house."—AnonymousFor many of the people coming out of long term incarceration, there is no blueprint to follow with which to build a better life. A majority of reentrants carry with them scars of a difficult youth. They have witnessed violence many times as they grew up, and there was often no one in the family who worked and supported them at a level that would allow them to focus on school work or provide standards of behavior and a loving home. When none of that ever happens, the normalcy of life is all but impossible to embrace.The bricks of their lives are bricks of want and dissatisfaction, of anger and disappointment, of little faith in themselves and others. These bricks were fired in the heat of a prison sentence, and just because they have been released, doesn't mean they have a working plan with which to build a new life.Unless we provide the solid mate...

31 AUG, 2021

I love data, but data with the power to change lives is the best!"—Dr. Kathy Paulson-Gjerde, Professor of Economics,Butler University's Lacy School of BusinessHistorically, employers have not exactly jumped at the chance to hire those who have been incarcerated. It is true even now, in spite of the facts that we have 100,000 open jobs in Indiana, that we can save about $2 million in taxpayer dollars for every one percent reduction in recidivism, and that recidivism plummets from around 80 percent to 5 percent when these folks are employed.It became pretty clear we would have to provide evidence that justice-involved individuals can make good employees. The anecdotal evidence was already there, but statistical evidence was needed. So along with others, UNITE INDY approached Butler's Lacy School of Business to undertake a landmark study under the auspices of Dr. Kathy Paulson-Gjerde, and after months of effort the findings are in, and the...

30 JUL, 2021

We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear."—Nelson Mandela I met with Allison Luthe from Martin Luther King Community center a while ago. She told me that two of "her kids" had been killed in gun violence recently. In another shooting, Jordan Jackson a popular wide receiver on the Lawrence North High School football team was shot and killed. He was 17 and had 23 catches for 541 yards and four touchdowns last season. Since then 10 more people have been killed—if I counted right. It's hard to keep up.In every death there is a family that is in pain and a neighborhood that feels more violated and abandoned. Too often, these are young people who have promise and potential that will never be developed. Gone.There is a great picture of a little girl holding a sign that says: "don't shoot, I want to grow up." Thing is, anyone who is tuned into this situation knows, the shooters are not j...

30 JUN, 2021

Every form of refuge has its price"—The Eagles' Don Henley and Glenn FreyEvery so often there are lyrics that take on a meaning of their own. In 1975, The Eagles released "Lyin' Eyes" which contained a sentence that jumped out of the music and into the thought process of a generation.You didn't have to be alive in '75 to know it's true, there is a price to pay, no matter where we stake a claim. Sometimes the value of this refuge is so great we gladly pay it. Other times we realize we have leaned our proverbial "ladder against the wrong building" and found the price is too high.In the mid '60's President Lyndon Johnson reacted to overwhelming pressure to create a War on Crime. By the mid '70s mass incarceration was in full swing. For those who wanted law and order, this form of refuge provided an answer to their fears of danger in the streets. But the ensuing mass incarceration claimed a heavy price that cost us then and continues to cos...

1 JUN, 2021

Dying is easy, living is harder"—George Washington in HamiltonFULL DISCLOSURE: We have zero proof that the real President George Washington actually said those words, but his character in the Broadway show Hamilton definitely did. Either way, the statement is provocative.The world has changed since 1776. Maybe it's the quickness of a handgun vs. the awkward effort it took to get a muzzle loader ready to fire. Back in Washington's day, men settled their problems with a duel. Duels were about honor and a small bullet at approximately 100 feet. If anyone died, says one expert, it was usually by accident.Instead of a split-second decision, it took a day or two to organize a duel, so people had time to cool off. Back then, serious killing seemed to require a bigger idea, like fighting for independence, or at least bagging a turkey to feed the family.We live in dangerous times, where some young men routinely carry weapons along with an attitu...

30 APR, 2021

Poverty is not just a lack of money, poverty is not having the capability to realize one's full potential as a human being"—Amartya SenAmartya Sen was born in India in 1933 and lived through an economic downturn that cost the lives of three million of India's poor. This staggering loss of life led him to study what came to be called "welfare economics." After studying at the finest schools in the world, he eventually became a Harvard professor and earned a Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on behalf of those in poverty.Sen was a vigorous defender of political freedom and found through his studies that—more than anything else—good old economic growth was necessary to improve the lives of people in poverty. In his 1983 book citing his in-depth studies, Sen reported that declining wages, growing unemployment, inflation and the resulting price increases are the issues that expand poverty. No surprise there, but against popular thought, ...

31 MAR, 2021

A few months ago I was hopeless, sitting in my cell, thinking how I'd wasted the last 33 years.Now every time I turn around there are these men telling me Jesus loves me, and He's got a plan for my life…"—Name withheldThere's no guarantee that a prison or jail sentence will produce a person who is ready to turn his life around. But for many, the need to become a productive working member of society is like a mustard seed planted in fertile ground.In prison, their dissatisfaction is deep. They long to have another chance at a normal life, but fear they will fail. But the dream of normalcy, of family, of children who are proud of them grows. These are the people we are working with through Jobs for Life.With a recidivism rate of more than 40 percent, and a cost to taxpayers estimated at more than $20,000 to incarcerate one person in Indiana for one year, it makes business sense to rehabilitate people and keep them from returning to prison...

26 FEB, 2021

I'll do whatever you need."—Doug EvansTo all those working in the mission field, a statement like Doug's is a dream come true. An unqualified sentence like that is so rarely heard, when he said it, it stopped me in my tracks. For a split second I had to pause as I considered the gift he could be to our work at UNITE INDY.Doug is retired. For more than 40 years he worked as a teacher inside prisons as an employee of the Indiana Department of Correction. With our work to help reentrants find employment, reconnect positively with family, and reduce recidivism, his experience is more valuable than gold. He knows how to relate to incarcerated people. He knows the program. He knows the possibilities and recognizes limitations, and although he loved working with these men, he always felt something important was missing…something we could provide.In his years teaching as an employee of the State, he always felt the need to bring a faith perspec...

29 JAN, 2021

I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant."—Martin Luther King, Jr.Martin Luther King Jr. was not merely eloquent, but with words that emanated from his deep belief in the promises of God, he issued forth words as powerful as cannon blasts, filled with compelling messages of hope that urged others to action.This quote is from his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1964. But only one year earlier he had been arrested and placed in solitary confinement for taking part in the Birmingham Campaign against racial segregation. Alone in a narrow, dark cell, his attorney visited and brought him a newspaper that shocked him. Religious leaders in the area—black religious leaders—had condemned his nonviolent demonstration.Frustrated and weary, he found a pen and began scribbling a response in the margins of the newspaper arti...

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2nd Chance Indiana
241 West 38th Street, Indianapolis, IN 46208


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Our mission is to reduce recidivism and rebuild lives through the dignity of work.