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President Bush to Sign Unprecedented Prisoner Reentry Legislation April 9, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

The Council of State Governments Justice Center lauds President Bush for his signing of the Second Chance Act of 2007, scheduled for this morning. This first-of-its-kind legislation will authorize various grants to government agencies and nonprofit groups to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce re-offending and violations of probation and parole.”The signing of the Second Chance Act is a celebrated moment for policymakers who know that, if properly funded, this legislation will increase public safety, improve lives, and make more effective use of taxpayer dollars,” said Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, Justice Center board member and Chair of the New York State Assembly Correction Committee.

A recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Public Safety Performance Project indicates that nearly 1 in 100 adults are incarcerated in the United States. Earlier Justice Department research suggests that the vast majority of these individuals who are in state prisons will eventually be released to our communities, and more than half of them will return to prison within three years. The Second Chance Act will help communities be better prepared for their return and address issues that are related to reducing their recidivism.

Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Sam Brownback (R-KS), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced the bill, which was passed by unanimous consent in the Senate. Representatives Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Chris Cannon (R-UT), Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-OH), Howard Coble (R-NC) and John Conyers (D-MI) introduced the bill in the House. Though it took more than four years from its first introduction to final passage, the bill had steadfast bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

“The President’s signing the Second Chance Act into law is a tremendous victory,” said Sen. Biden. “With more than two million people serving time in our federal and state prisons, sooner or later, the vast majority – 95 percent – will be released. Many of these offenders will reenter our communities with insufficient monitoring, little or no job training, insufficient housing, and deficient basic life skills. The Second Chance Act will go a long way to help these ex-offenders reintegrate into the community and become productive, contributing members of our community.”

Based on the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics estimates, it is expected that more than 650,000 individuals will return from prison each year to our communities. With the recidivism rate approximated at about 66 percent within three years of release nationally, the impact on public safety and taxpayer spending is tremendous.

“I will be working with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to make certain that the Second Chance Act has the funding to enable community and faith-based organizations to deliver needed services,” said Sen. Brownback. “Properly supported, this law will also help connect people released from prison and jail to mentoring, vital mental health and substance abuse treatment, expand job training and placement services, and facilitate transitional housing and case management services.”



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