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February 5, 2023

US Representatives create new "Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force"

I was intrigued and pleased to come across this press release from this past week discussing a new bipartisan group of Representative working on an important criminal justice issue.  Here are the details:

Representatives David Trone (D-MD), John Rutherford (R-FL), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), and Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE) announced the creation of the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force in an effort to promote policies that will improve reentry outcomes and reduce employment barriers for returning citizens.  At the time of its launch, the Task Force comprised of 26 Members of Congress (13 Democrats and 13 Republicans).

During its inaugural event, members and co-chairs were joined by Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) Director, Colette Peters, and Acting Head of National Institute of Corrections, Alix McLearen, for an introductory briefing on the challenges that the BOP faces in establishing and maintaining successful reentry programming.

Over 600,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons every year in the United States, and recent studies show that formerly incarcerated people are currently unemployed at an average rate of over 27 percent.  The new task force aims to address these barriers to successful reentry by developing and promoting reform policies in Congress and hosting monthly roundtable discussions.

“Returning citizens continue to face hurdles that prevent them from rebuilding their lives and becoming productive members of society. After paying their debts to society, they are effectively shut out of housing, employment, financial support – you name it.  This isn’t fair, and this isn’t right,” said Congressman Trone.  “As a businessman, I know firsthand that there is a lot of value in hiring returning citizens and giving folks a second chance.  I’m proud to co-found and co-chair the Bipartisan Second Chance Task Force so that we work together – Republicans and Democrats – to address the problems in our criminal justice system head-on, and provide returning citizens with the resources they desperately need.”

“As a lifetime member of law enforcement, I saw firsthand how difficult it can be for those leaving our jails and prisons to re-enter society.  From getting an ID to finding a job, stable housing, and healthcare, these individuals face many barriers to success after incarceration. When I was sheriff, I created a robust reentry program in Northeast Florida, and I look forward to continuing that work in Congress.  Helping the formerly incarcerated become productive members of society makes our communities safer and reduces the number of repeat offenders.  That’s not being soft on crime, that’s being smart on crime,” said Congressman John Rutherford.  “I look forward to working with Representatives Trone, Armstrong, and Blunt Rochester, and all of my colleagues on the Second Chance Task Force, to support those reentering society and reduce recidivism.”...

Other Members of Congress in the Task Force include Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Nancy Mace (R-SC), Danny Davis (D-IL), G.T. Thompson (R-PA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA), Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Dan Goldman (D-NY), Barry Moore (R-AL), Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Glenn Ivey (D-MD), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), David Rouzer (R-NC), Brittany Pettersen (D-CO), Randy Weber (R-TX), Wiley Nickel (D-NC), Dan Meuser (R-PA), Susan Wild (D-PA), John James (R-MI).

February 5, 2023 at 12:37 AM | Permalink


This is incredibly important work. I have seen people who can no longer get hired even after having a simple conviction for misdemeanor assault - domestic violence, even with no prior criminal history. One friend could not even get rehired by a company he had previously retired from after 20 years of service, because of a misdemeanor assault conviction. His wife had gone out behind his back and signed contract to buy a $300,000 home, and had put down $60,000 of their savings, without his prior knowledge. When she told he, he slapped her face once. There is no prior domestic violence in their 20 years of marriage. As a result, he has a conviction for misdemeanor assault and was terminated from his job as a licensed practical nurse in a hospital, and cannot find another nursing job. He had to self-report the conviction to the state nursing board, and now his nursing license is in jeopardy. It's a nightmare. This 50-year old man has 2 college degrees and no prior criminal history in his entire life. Here in Lexington, Kentucky, more than 80 percent of landlords will not rent to someone with a felony conviction, even if the crime was simply not paying child support. Thankfully, there is a program here to help such people, called "Jubilee Jobs of Lexington". They have a group of employers who trust their judgment to send them responsible felons to work for them. Jubilee provides coaching, rehearses interviewing strategies, and even provides appropriate clothing for interviews for free. How are people coming out of prison supposed to avoid committing new crimes if no one will hire them or rent an apartment to them? Sober living houses become the last resort, even for people who don't have addiction issues. Society needs to wake up, if it wants people emerging from jail and prison to succeed and become productive members of society.

Posted by: Jim Gormley | Feb 5, 2023 7:22:36 AM

The added difficulty in finding housing is that the Landlord is held responsible for someone else's actions. Landlord's can't afford to take the risk even if they wanted to. That is what happens when you become a society that put's the fault on someone else to pay the price.

Posted by: Mp | Feb 5, 2023 4:52:50 PM


Did you see this? Another Bruen case.


Posted by: TarlsQtr | Feb 5, 2023 5:31:39 PM

In my experience, the cohort most in need of consideration for "second chances" are those those convicted of sex offenses. I believe it would be a tragic mistake to exclude them as a group from receiving the benefits of being given a second chance.

While it is certain that there exists a small percentage of sex offenders who pose a continuiing and persistent risk, the majority of first-offense sex offenders (that is, offenders who have not recidivated) do not pose the level of risk that would justify exclusion. The re-offense rate for such offenders is actually below 5%, which is the lowest percentage of all category of offenders, with the exception of murderers.

To single out and exclude sex offenders due mainly to (a) the inherent emotional and moral repugnancy associated with their offenses, and (b) inherent political pressures and risks resulting from their inclusion, is both shortsighted and antithetical to the goals set forth by this bipartisan group.

This newly constituted committee has a golden opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of thousands of people, and their families, as well as a much-needed positive impact on the mindset of our nation as a whole. Their stated intentions are noble, and we should all support their reformative efforts, provided they do not exclude those most in need of help.

Posted by: SG | Feb 5, 2023 11:57:38 PM

Thanks, Tarls: I saw the ruling late Saturday, but did not have a chance to blog from the road until late Sunday. And I expect the Bruen brouhaha to continue for many, many years to come.

Posted by: Doug B | Feb 6, 2023 9:15:35 AM

We'll wait till the Task Force issues it's report. ugh

Posted by: beth curtis | Feb 8, 2023 1:17:58 PM

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