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Michael Petruzzelli

, National Council for Behavioral Health

Senate Committee Approves Second Chance Reauthorization Act

September 24, 2014 | Justice | Comments
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The Second Chance Reauthorization Act (S.1690) achieved a milestone last week when it was voted out of Senate Judiciary Committee by a bipartisan, 13 to 5 vote.  This legislation extends important federal initiatives for prisoner reintegration, substance use treatment, and diversion efforts for an additional five years. Activities funded through the Second Chance Act include: demonstration grants, mentoring, substance abuse and family-based programming.

First enacted in 2008, the Second Chance 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. Since its implementation, states have used Second Chance Act funding to expand and improve community-based treatment and diversion programs. With approximately 700,000 individuals released from federal and state prisons each year, including nearly half with at least one mental health or substance use illness, the National Council supports the reauthorization of this successful program.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and has 21 cosponsors. Senate leadership will now decide whether or not to bring the bill to the floor for a full Senate vote. With midterm elections imminent it is difficult to predict the legislative agenda. However, should the Second Chance Reauthorization Act not pass before the end of the term, it must be reintroduced in the next Congress.