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Recap of the Second Chance Act of 2007 January 26, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Attempts to pass the Second Chance Act (H.R. 1593/S. 1060) in the Senate before the end of 2007 were unsuccessful, despite the strong support of Senators Joseph Biden (D-DE), Arlen Specter (R-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sam Brownback (R-KS) and 31 other cosponsors. The legislation, which was passed by the House of Representatives last November by an overwhelming 347-62 vote, provides critical resources designed to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) stalled the vote, requesting more time to review the provisions in the bill. Senate sponsors of the Second Chance Act are intent to see the bill passed this year and hope to bring it to the floor shortly after Congress reconvenes next week. Once passed in the Senate, the bill will be sent to the President to be signed into law.

The Second Chance Act includes key elements of President Bush’s Prisoner Reentry Initiative, announced in his 2004 State of the Union address. The Initiative provides for community and faith-based organizations to deliver mentoring and transitional services to individuals returning to their communities from jails and prisons. The bill will also help connect individuals released from jails and prisons to mental health and substance abuse treatment, expand job training and placement services, and facilitate transitional housing and case management services.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, an estimated 95 percent of all state prisoners will be released—and half of these individuals are expected to return to prison within three years for committing a new crime or violating the conditions of their release. This cycle of recidivism not only compromises public safety, but also increases taxpayer spending. A recent report from The Pew Charitable Trusts showed that taxpayers are expected to pay as much as $27.5 billion on new prison construction alone over the next five years if current federal, state, and local policies do not change.

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