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Rebecca Farley

Director, Policy & Advocacy, National Council for Behavioral Health

Second Chance Reauthorization Act Introduced

November 21, 2013 | Justice | Comments
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Legislation has been introduced in Congress to reauthorize and expand the Second Chance Act, a federal grant program for activities that support people returning to their communities after incarceration. First signed into law on April 9, 2008, the Second Chance Act was designed to help prisoners effectively reintegrate into the community. The Act established grants for government agencies and nonprofits to provide services that reduce recidivism by improving outcomes for people returning from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 1690/H.R. 3465) extends these prisoner reentry programs for an additional five years, including demonstration grants, mentoring, substance abuse and family-based programming. It also expands the number of grant programs available and promotes increased accountability and outcomes from grantees. To ensure grant programs are better prepared to measure and track recidivism consistently over time, applicants who partner with local evaluators to develop data-collection systems and outcome evaluations will be prioritized for funding. The bill also authorizes separate planning grants for programs that utilize evidence-based practices that are most likely to result in reduced recidivism and other improved outcomes.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced in the Senate by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and in the House by Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Howard Coble (R-NC), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), Spencer Bachus (R-AL) and Steve Chabot (R-OH).

At a recent Capitol Hill event to mark the introduction of the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, the Council of State Governments Justice Center released Reentry Matters: Strategies and Successes of Second Chance Act Grantees Across the United States. The report features snapshots of successful grant programs around the country focusing on employment, education, mentoring, and substance abuse and mental health treatment.