Parts 2 & 3 of The Human Toll: How the War on Cannabis Targeted Black America are live on Vanity Fair, where we hear personal stories of how punitive systems often have lifelong consequences. Evelyn LaChapelle is one of those voices, and her story offers a powerful testimony of the impact of collateral consequences and the harsh realities of re-entry into society.
An Oakland native, Evelyn was convicted in 2013 on three charges related to a minor role in a marijuana distribution operation, alongside co-defendant Corvain Cooper. She was sentenced to 87 months in prison with no prior record and no indicators that she was a repeat offender. On February 1, 2019, Evelyn was released from federal custody and began a 4 year probation. She immediately found employment as a sales and catering coordinator; however, after a co-worker searched her name and found her convictions, she was fired. Since then, she’s been passionate about providing support to those who have recently been incarcerated—understanding what it’s like to serve your time and still come home to an environment that would deny you employment because of your past. The Second Chance Act, a program designed to support reentry and reduce recidivism, ultimately failed her. So she has made it her goal to create a real second chance for men and women being released from prison.