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April 9, 2008

Second Chance Act finally poised to become law

As detailed in this New York Times article, "President Bush is to sign the Second Chance Act in a public ceremony on Wednesday, making rehabilitation a central goal of the federal justice system."  Here are some excerpts from the NYT piece:

With the new law, the federal government is to provide more money and leadership in a field where progress is likely to be difficult at best, experts agree.  “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.”

The new push to help prisoners reintegrate into society has been driven in part by financial concerns: states cannot afford to keep building more prisons. It also reflects concern for the victims of repeat offenders and for the wasted lives of the offenders themselves, who are disproportionately black and from neighborhoods of concentrated poverty.

The act authorizes $165 million in spending per year, including matching grants to state and local governments and nongovernmental groups to experiment with efforts like more schooling and drug treatment inside prison and aid with housing, employment and the building of family and community ties after release. It also directs the Justice Department to step up research on re-entry issues and establishes a national Reentry Resource Center to promote successful approaches and provide training....

Over the last decade, the re-entry cause has been embraced by an unusually wide range of groups and individuals, including evangelical Christians and liberal activists.  Mr. Bush called for such a law in 2004 and in Congress, key sponsors included Senator Sam Brownback, a conservative Republican from Kansas, and Representative Danny K. Davis, a liberal Democrat from Illinois. “It’s been a bipartisan coalition,” Mr. Travis said, “the sort of thing that doesn’t happen in Washington these days.”

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UPDATE:  This local article from the Brattleboro Reformer, "New bill will help released offenders," provides a local persepctive on the Second Chance Act:

State lawmakers and corrections officials are hoping that a bill President Bush is expected to sign today will help Vermont's struggling prison system.  The president is expected to sign the Second Chance Act in Washington, D.C., today, which will give states money to invest in treatment and rehabilitation programs.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., co-sponsor of the bill, worked with the Vermont Department of Corrections and the Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services to identify programs in the state that support offenders when they re-enter society.

Vermont's director of planning in the corrections department, John Perry, said the federal law will hopefully bring much needed dollars to the state corrections system which is struggling to pay for many of the creative and successful reentry programs.  "We are desperate for this money," Perry said. "The bill as it is written is very supportive of the sort of restorative justice and community justice programs we have here in Vermont."

April 9, 2008 at 04:04 AM | Permalink

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» Ex-Convict Rehabilitation Law To Be Signed Today from ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society
President Bush will sign the Second Chance Act today, described by the Congressional Research Service (in this report) as expand[ing] the current offender reentry grant program at the Department of Justice and create a wide array of targeted gran... [Read More]

Tracked on Apr 9, 2008 10:46:38 AM

Comments

Just like I suspected, sex offenders are not eligible...

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/billtext.xpd?bill=h110-1593

Posted by: ZMan | Apr 9, 2008 5:56:51 AM

Wife of prisoner. Where can I get a copy of this law online? Thanks

Posted by: Carol | May 1, 2008 2:52:09 PM

July 9, shouldn't we have new info on this law posted by now? It has been 90days, Please answer.

Posted by: Donna | Jul 9, 2008 10:36:39 AM

Was this Act created to help people re-entering society? I need to know what I can do help my family member who just recently got out of and was convicted again of a crime that had nothing to do with him...how can I help him with sentencing...he have a drug problem and I believe this Act can help him get help.

Posted by: defendant family | May 20, 2010 11:21:32 AM

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