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The Second Chance Act Becomes Law April 22, 2008

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

Thanks in part to work of PSJ members who responded to our Action Alert request with letters and emails to their congressional representatives, the Second Chance Act of 2007 has become law with its signing by the President on April 9, 2008. The Act authorizes $362 million to expand assistance for people currently incarcerated, those returning to their communities after incarceration, and children with parents in prison.

In a sharp change in attitudes about incarceration, many states and private groups have recently experimented with re-entry programs to help released prisoners fit back into their communities and avoid new crime.

“This act represents a major change in crime policy,” said Jeremy Travis, president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, who as a Justice Department official in the Clinton administration helped promote the shift.

The Second Chance Act seeks to promote public safety by reducing recidivism rates among people reentering communities after prison. Presently, two-thirds of formerly incarcerated people are rearrested within three years after release. The services to be funded under the Second Chance Act include:

“From our perspective, this is a huge development,” said Michael Thompson, director of the Justice Center of the Council of State Governments. “Governors, legislatures, corrections and law enforcement agencies around the country were all very supportive of the act.”

More information can be found in an April 8, 2008 NY Times opinion “U.S. Shifting Prison Focus to Re-entry Into Society” and the Sentencing Project’s web story “President Bush Signs Second Chance Bill.” FAMM’s website contains an excellent fact sheet of Frequently Asked Questions.



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