April 12, 2008
Effective NYT editorial on Second Chance Act
Today's New York Times has this effective editorial discussing this week's big news of the Second Chance Act finally becoming law. Here is a snippet:
The compassion and bipartisanship that President Bush promised in the 2000 election campaign made a long-awaited appearance this week as he signed a law to help prisoners re-enter society. The Second Chance Act, five years in the making, is a welcome relief from the simplistic lock-’em-up posture of recent decades that has the United States leading the world in incarceration. It is an important start, but more still needs to be done....
The $326 million that the law promises has yet to be appropriated. Congress should quickly allocate the money as a down payment on a goal that Mr. Bush described as redemption, as he alluded to his own past struggle against alcoholism.
The Second Chance Act should be the start of a new, more enlightened approach to criminal justice. The obvious next step is for the administration to retreat from its support for unduly harsh prison sentences, which are enormously expensive — and leave the criminal justice system with too few resources to do the sort of rehabilitative work the new law wisely calls for.
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At the end of the day they'll make a big list of crimes ineligible for 2d Chance Act funding. No sex offenders, no drug crimes, no military/UCMJ crimes, no crimes that involved the use/brandishing of a firearm, not murder, assault, rape, counterfeiting (must protect the money), not tax crimes (must get our tax revenue), and "similar" crimes. Now the courts can waste time figuring out if a crime is "similar" to another.
Maybe I'm being too positive... a list like this might have already been inserted into the 2d Chance Act statute itself.
Nobody will get the funding. Giving money to "convicted felons and sex offenders" is not going to happen. It' a ruse. They'll make everyone ineligible for the money and attach a rider to it saying any money left over goes to Jesus-based religious groups across the nation (who are already getting a large chunk of it anyway).
The Second Chance Act should be the start of a new, more enlightened approach to criminal justice.
It should be, but won't.
Posted by: bruce | Apr 12, 2008 2:12:28 PM
I have read the act and a seperate summary online and forgive me if I am missing something, but a vast majority of the things the act promises to do are fudning for DOJ or BOP studies. Certainly it provides BOP greater leeway in allowing early release, but BOP has refused to exercise that discretion in the past, I see no reason they would want to reduce their budgetary and staffing needs by doing so in the future. Releasing inmates early would counterproductive to their bureaucratic livelihood. I really see little of any substance that will help anyone in this act. Am I wrong?
Posted by: rob | Apr 12, 2008 4:11:32 PM
The second chance act is a bunch of BS. What a waste of tax payers money. Very disappointing.
Posted by: disenfranchised | Apr 12, 2008 8:46:04 PM
rob, could you prove links to what you've read?
Posted by: | Apr 12, 2008 10:20:06 PM
This is a link to a pdf copy of HR 1593
Posted by: John Neff | Apr 12, 2008 11:32:33 PM
There's a pretty heated debate about early prisoner release over at RiledUp
Posted by: wil | Apr 22, 2008 8:21:39 AM