After a recent meeting of the city board and a forum with community members about a $5 million bond issue to improve infrastructure, Espy clarified some misconceptions and gave more details to a Mississippi Today journalist. Espy stated that the “Second Chance” program was established as a pilot project one year ago. It focuses on giving ex-felons and people with criminal records the opportunity to become better citizens by providing support services, intervention and/or moving assistance. He also created a GoFundMe account Wednesday to solicit donations of $3 million. “I promised my constituency that I would address the most pressing issues that will have the greatest impact upon the quality of life in our community. After the GoFundMe announcement, he tweeted that his administration had a zero tolerance policy for crime. This program is part of a five-point strategy to prevent crime. It includes: * No tolerance policy * Rehabilitation * Intervention * Preservation of life * Moving assistance. Based on social media responses, the moving assistance program was the highlight of the program. A Mississippi Today reporter shared video footage from last month’s news conference. Many viewers commented with mixed emotions, asking why the mayor would allow criminals money. Espy stated in a telephone call that Espy’s message was misinterpreted. There are benchmarks individuals must meet. He said that this initiative would be “the hallmark” of the administration. The mayor stated that to be eligible for moving funds, an individual must have a job in another country and show proof of a one year lease contract for an apartment in the state. He said that the moving fund will not pay more than the minimum down payment and “will not go towards the individuals.” Clarksdale may decide that they need to move. He said that if they are able to do better elsewhere, we will provide some assistance. Espy stated that currently, there are no personal contributions, donations or grants. As of right now, the program is managed by Espy’s office. The mayor stated that he hopes that a nonprofit organization would take over the program. Local government officials can then assist with the facilitation of the program. His administration is currently in talks with five non-profits located outside Clarksdale. Espy stated that instead of attempting to cut and paste the entire program, and hoping one entity will facilitate it – and we can include social service with the (Department of Human Services), Coahoma Community College and the rehabilitation center – we hope that… we will able to house the program in one non-profit. Participants can talk to the mayor about their struggles and challenges under the program. The administration will then connect them with the resources they have in their area, including job opportunities, counseling services, social skills and ethics, as well as employment opportunities. The Rev. The Rev. John Givins from Pleasant Valley Baptist Church will be the life coach. “I will be doing an assessment of their current situation. Givins spoke to Mississippi Today by phone. It’s a huge need (for this program), I believe. It doesn’t begin with us adults. It begins with our youth. Many people are able to preach but not practice real ministry. Espy stated that four people have been enrolled in the program since its initial announcement. They are receiving employment services and entrepreneurial services. Espy said that the pilot program for Second Chance was a success. Espy said that the program was completed by six men and six women after it began with 10 participants. They remain anonymous. You want to learn the secrets of this program’s success? He said that people don’t care about what you know but they do want to know that someone cares. “People don’t want to know what you know, but they do care that you care,” he said.