Hardy’s book is a moving look at the people of the criminal justice system ... While much of Hardy’s book is focused on the systemic problems with the criminal justice system, the most insightful parts of The Second Chance Club are the most personal ones. He tells the story best when he tells the individual stories of his clients ... Hardy demonstrates tremendous empathy and insight when reporting on his clients ... Yes, the story of the criminal justice system is told through the stories of the individuals in it. Yet Hardy allows the reader to see some greater truths through these stories ... You can’t change a system until you understand the people who compose it. Hardy helps us do just that.
... an outstanding debut ... [Hardy] offers an immersive look at Louisiana’s criminal justice system ... 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 ... 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.
A struggle to be seen governs these pages—though, sadly, Hardy, for all of his good intentions, is often the one who fails to see ... More than half of The Second Chance Club passes before Hardy realizes that his 'judgments were based on glimpses' and that he 'missed way more than I saw.' The same could be said of this book—a story based on glimpses, that misses far more than it sees ... In Hardy’s book, the word 'offender' appears 488 times. 'Offender' becomes interchangeable with a person’s name, a flag announcing Hardy’s (and our own) unwillingness not to stigmatize people who have a criminal conviction. As a writer, he should understand how the repetition of 'offender' transforms a person into a stereotype; as a P.O., he should know that those under his supervision deserve the dignity such repetition denies. But he fails, miserably, and that failure isn’t just a reflection on him but on all of us, because it is not just Hardy who fails to see beyond the stigma ... where Hardy misses the point is that he presents the ridiculously incongruous as representative ... purports to be a story about men and women on probation or parole, but mostly it exposes a system so bereft that it takes inexperienced and ill-prepared employees, grants them the authority of guns and handcuffs and expects them to serve as mentors, therapists, employment coaches and substance abuse counselors, all without training or resources. Such a system can’t help ruining everyone it touches.