Washington, D.C. – As part of the House Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan criminal justice reform initiative, today the Committee approved by voice vote the Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 3406), a bill that helps prisoners who have completed their sentences successfully return to society, thereby enhancing public safety. This legislation, authored by Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Congressman Danny Davis (D-Ill.), builds on the success of the original Second Chance Act of 2008 and continues to authorize funding for both public and private entities to evaluate and improve reentry programming, including academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails and juvenile facilities. This legislation also includes important accountability measures and eliminates programs that have not been used.
Below are statements from Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner, Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.) praising today’s approval of this bipartisan legislation.
Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner: “Most of the people currently imprisoned will one day return to society, and it’s in all of our best interests to give these individuals a second chance and a hand up. This legislation reduces prison costs, improves public safety, and produces significant savings to the American taxpayers. It also successfully helps reintegrate inmates into their communities, making our nation safer and stronger.”
Crime Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackson Lee: “America has more of its people in prison than any other nation in the world – more than two million. The vast majority, 95% of the men and women in our prisons will eventually return to the community. That means that every year more than 650,000 individuals are released from state and federal prisons and rejoin society. These men and women deserve a second chance. Their families, spouses and children, deserve a second chance and their communities deserve a second chance. A second chance means an opportunity to turn a life around. A chance to break the grip of a drug habit. A chance to support a family, to pay taxes, to be self-sufficient. By supporting theSecond Chance Reauthorization Act, this Committee has against demonstrated, in a bipartisan manner, its desire to extend that second chance and further comprehensive criminal justice reform.”
Chairman Goodlatte: “The Second Chance Reauthorization Act is a critical component of prison and reentry reform. Statistics show that more than 90% of federal prisoners will eventually be released. We must enact polices that enhance public safety by helping prisoners successfully reintegrate into society and restore their lives. By streamlining and strengthening Second Chance grants, we will help the many men, women, and youth leaving prison successfully return home so that they can be contributing members of our communities rather than repeat offenders. I thank Crime Subcommittee Chairman Sensenbrenner for his work on this important legislation that will make our streets safer.”
Ranking Member Conyers: “The Second Chance Act has been critical to the development of programs that help reintegrate ex-offenders back into productive lives in their communities, will reduce recidivism, and is an example of a smart investment in people that pays off for all of us. I’m pleased that the Committee has approved the reauthorization of this important law and updated it to make its successful programs even more effective.”
Background: Congress passed the Second Chance Act with strong bipartisan support and President George W. Bush signed it into law in 2008. This legislation provides grant funding to public and private entities, including non-profit faith and community-based organizations, to develop support programs such as drug treatment, housing, job training, medical care, and education.
More than 100,000 men, women, and youth returning home from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities have benefited from Second Chance grants providing career training, mentoring, family-based substance abuse treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs. Additionally, a report from the National Reentry Resource Center highlights how numerous states have experienced drastic reductions in statewide recidivism rates as a result of robust reentry services made possible in part through Second Chance Act funding.
Learn more about the House Judiciary Committee’s bipartisan criminal justice reform initiative here.