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Of the $2.3 billion currently allocated in the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, $0 is included in the Senate’s version for Second Chance Act funding. Although full funding would require $165 million, there is an opportunity to restore, at least a portion of this crucial funding for fiscal year 2012. President Obama has requested $100 million and the House of Representatives request includes $70 million; however, agreement from both the House and the Senate appropriations committees is needed before heading to the Congress floor for a vote. See table below by CSG Justice Center’s Reentry Policy Council. 

The Second Chance Act awards grants to local government and community organizations who serve those re-entering society from prison or jail. This community-based focus has proven to be effective because of their deep understanding the populations they serve and use of evidence-based strategies. Below is a sampling of the bill’s grant projects: state and local adult and juvenile offender reentry projects; 

~ effective alternatives to incarceration; ~ family-based substance abuse treatment;~ evaluation and improvement of educational methods at prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities; ~ technology careers training; ~ offender reentry substance abuse and criminal justice collaboration; and ~ nonprofit organization mentoring programs. 

In addition, the bill focuses on targeting high risk offenders, including those with histories of substance abuse, homelessness, mental illness, particularly in communities with a higher representation of this population. 

The revolving door of prison is the reality, with 70% recidivism rates in some states. Over 700,000 individuals are released from prison each year, in addition to more than 9 million released from jail each year. National commitment towards funding reentry programs is crucial because upon release from an institution where rehabilitation was not prioritized, most of this population will return without new opportunities or community support. 

It is important for you to act now and sign CJCJ’s advocacy letter to pressure Senators to include funding for the Second Chance Act in this FY12 appropriations bill. California Senator Patrick Leahy has been a long time advocate of the Second Chance Act but we need him to pressure his fellow colleagues on the necessity of this bill. 

To learn more, see list of talking points here.