On June 20 2011, Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced S.1231, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act. First passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008, the law promotes evidence-based programs to aid the reentry of former prisoners into society, and thereby improve public safety. Since the law’s passage, 250 grants have been awarded in nearly every state to provide substance abuse treatment, employment and mentoring services, as well as many others, to improve transition from prison and jail to communities and reduce recidivism.
The Second Chance Reauthorization Act provides crucial resources at a time when they are desperately needed. In 2009, federal and state prisons held over 1.6 million inmates – 1 in every 199 American residents – and released 729,295 individuals back to their communities. On top of this, more than 9 million individuals are released from jail each year. Unfortunately, most individuals face numerous challenges when returning to the community from prison or jail, and research indicates that over half are re-incarcerated within three years of their release.
The Second Chance Reauthorization Act improves and consolidates the programs authorized by the Second Chance Act, and reauthorizes them. By providing the resources needed to coordinate reentry services and policies, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act seeks to ensure that the tax dollars spent on corrections no longer support a revolving door in and out of prison and jail.
Jewish tradition teaches the imperative to care for our community’s marginalized and underserved populations. The book of Deuteronomy commands us: Justice, justice you shall pursue. Rabbinic commentators explain this repetition of the word “justice,” noting that we must always ensure that we use just means in our pursuit of justice. To that end, we can maintain the safety of our communities while ensuring our criminal justice system is, indeed, just. By reauthorizing the Second Chance Act, we are doing just that.
Ask your Members of Congress to cosponsor and support S.1231 to reauthorize the Second Chance Act. You can send an e-mail by entering your Zip Code below. To call your Members of Congress, the Capital Switchboard can be reached at 202.224.3121.
For more information, please contact Eisendrath Legislative Assistant Madison Arent at 202.387.2800