President George W. Bush today signed into law the Second Chance Act of 2007 legislation inspired by his 2004 State of the Union address which authorizes $362 million to expand assistance for people currently incarcerated, those returning to their communities after incarceration, and children with parents in prison. It quickly gained broad bipartisan support and earned the backing of law enforcement, state and local government, religious and justice reform organizations. The Second Chance Act was first introduced in 2004, by then-Representative Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), to help the nearly 700,000 people leaving prison each year. The Senate passed the Second Chance Act of 2007 late Tuesday, which will ease the re-entry process for individuals leaving prison by providing funding for prisoner mentoring programs, job training and rehabilitative treatment.
The legislation, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), now awaits approval by President Bush - who in his 2004 State of the Union address advocated for a $300 million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative.
Key Provisions -
Demonstration Grants - Provides grants to states and local governments that may be used to promote the safe and successful reintegration into the community of individuals who have been incarcerated. Allowable uses of funds include employment services, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims services, and methods to improve release and revocation decisions using risk-assessment tools.
Mentoring Grants - Provides grants to nonprofit organizations that may be used for mentoring adult offenders or offering transitional services for reintegration into the community.
Offender Reentry Substance Abuse Treatment - Creates grants to improve the availability of drug treatment to offenders.
Family Drug Treatment Programs - Authorizes grants to states, local governments, and Indian tribes to develop and implement family-based treatment programs for incarcerated parents who have minor children.
Federal Reentry Initiative - Provides guidance to the Bureau of Prisons for enhanced reentry planning procedures. Also allows each inmate being released to receive specific information on health, employment, personal finance, release requirements and community resources.
Reentry Research - Authorizes the U.S. Justice Department's National Institute of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics to conduct reentry-related research.
National Adult and Juvenile Offender Reentry Resource Center -Establishes a national resource center to collect and disseminate best practices and to provide training on and support for reentry efforts.
Some benefits of the program include:
- Reduce taxpayer burdens and government expenditures
- Reduce the number of individuals seeking social services (welfare)
- Reduce the costs associated with housing inmates
- Reduce crime as they would be able to find legal means of earning an income
- Reduce unemployment by offering W.O.T.C to employers
- Significantly reduce recidivism
- Help break the cycle of crime and welfare as a way of life in certain communities