ABA President Hilarie Bass urged the House Judiciary Committee this month to approve H.R. 2899, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2017, a bipartisan bill that would continue federal support for prisoner reentry and recidivism-reduction programs.
“The ABA believes that reauthorization of this act is essential to continuing the evidence-based and cost-effective support for programs that have improved reentry from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities, reduced recidivism, and increased public safety,” Bass wrote in an Oct. 18 letter to committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Ranking Member John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).
Since the act was signed into law in 2008, over 700 grants awarded to government agencies and nonprofit associations in 49 states and the District of Columbia have provided employment training, education, housing and other support to more than 137,000 people transitioning back to community life after completing their sentences.
Bass emphasized that some state programs funded by Second Chance Act grants have reduced re-arrest rates and increased employment and educational opportunities for those participating the programs. She noted that improvements in access to housing are particularly important because housing allows returning citizens to obtain employment and comply with the conditions of their release.
Despite the success of the last nine years, however, Bass pointed out that there is more work to be done as more than 9 million incarcerated individuals are released each year.
“By providing the resources needed to coordinate reentry services and policies at the state and local levels, reauthorization of the Second Chance Act will ensure that the tax dollars spent on corrections do not simply fuel a revolving door in and out of prison,” she said.