|I. APPROPRIATE FULL FUNDING FOR SECOND CHANCE ACT AND REPURPOSE EXISTING FY09 DOJ OFFENDER REENTRY FUNDING TO SUPPORT THIS PROGRAMMING|
Summary of the Problem: In April 2008, President George W. Bush signed the Second Chance Act which authorizes $330 million over two years to expand assistance for people currently incarcerated, those returning to their communities after incarceration, and children with parents in prison. The Second Chance Act seeks to promote public safety by reducing recidivism. Presently, two-thirds of formerly incarcerated people are rearrested within three years after release. The services to be funded under the Second Chance Act include:
State and local governments burdened by the unprecedented growth in jail and prison populations need these important programs to ensure public safety. The sustained high rates of recidivism are a key reason prison populations continue to increase nationally. As of October 1, 2008, no money has been appropriated to carry out this Act.
Executive: Direct the Department of Justice to repurpose existing FY09 offender reentry funding ($10 million) for Second Chance Act programming (P.L. 110-199).
Legislative Appropriations (Solutions w/ Funding Requests): As Congress continues to work on the FY 2009 appropriations bills it should protect funding for the Second Chance Act (P.L. 110-199) and appropriate the total amount ($165 million) authorized under the law.
Executive Branch: Department of Justice
Legislative Branch: House and Senate Appropriations Committees, including subcommittees on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies
Executive Branch: The Second Chance Act (P.L. 110-199) was signed into law in April 2008. However, as newly authorized programming, it is at risk of spending one of its two critical years of authorization unfunded since Congress has not appropriated new funding for FY 2009. The 2008 Omnibus included $10 million for an offender re-entry program, which was used for the third and final year of funding for the Prisoner Reentry Initiative (PRI) administered by the Department of Justice. Since PRI has expired, it would be possible to repurpose this allocation for Second Chance Act programming.
Legislative Branch: In June, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) 2009 appropriations bill, which allocated $20 million for programs under the Second Chance Act. In the House of Representatives, the Appropriations Committee reserved $45 million for Second Chance Act funding. The totals not only fell short of the money authorized for the year, but were not appropriated by the start of Fiscal Year 2009.
Potential Allies, Potential Opposition, and Public Opinion:
Potential Opposition: Senator Coburn's (R-OK) opposition to enhanced federal expenditures made him a formidable opponent of the Second Chance Act. Ultimately the broad support for the bill created enough pressure on the Senator to lift his hold on the legislation. During the appropriations process he and other like-minded Members may pose a problem again. However, opponents who object to the cost of funding reentry programs for prisoners do not take into consideration the net saving achieved by supporting programs that ultimately reduce recidivism and crime.
Public Opinion: In 2006, Zogby International conducted a poll for the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, entitled Public Attitudes toward Rehabilitation and Reentry. The poll found 80% of the American voting public believe job training and drug treatment is "very important" to a person's successful reintegration into society after incarceration. Strong majorities also believe mental health services, mentoring and housing are "very important." The Second Chance Act was supported by 78% of the voting public, according to the Zogby poll.
For Further Information:
More resources on the Second Chance Act are available here: http://www.reentrypolicy.org/government_affairs/second_chance_act.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 19 November 2008 17:02|