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Reception to Celebrate the President’s Signature of the Second Chance Act of 2007

Join Congressional Members, staff, and more than 200 organizations composed of a broad spectrum of leaders representing state and local government, law enforcement, corrections, and courts to celebrate this momentous occasion. Featuring Special Guests: - Representative Danny K. Davis - Representative Chris Cannon - Senator Joe Biden - Senator Sam Brownback Sponsored by: Alpha USA; Catholic Charities USA; Correctional Education Association; Council of State Governments Justice Center; Criminon International; Family Justice; Federal Prison Policy Project; Fight Crime: Invest in Kids; Goodwill Industries International, Inc.; International Community Corrections Association; International CURE; Legal Action Center; National Alliance to End Homelessness; National Association of Counties; National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors; National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare; National Criminal Justice Association; National HIRE Network; National Sheriffs Association; Open Society Policy Center; Prison Fellowship; Rebecca Project for Human Rights; Safer Foundation; The Sentencing Project; Therapeutic Communities of America; United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society Please RSVP by April 8, 2008, to [email protected]. Please join us for a widely attended reception to celebrate the passage and bill signing of the Second Chance Act of 2007. On Wednesday, April 9, 2008, President Bush will sign this first-of-its-kind legislation into law, marking an important step in shaping public policy toward improving recidivism rates. The Second Chance Act will help connect people released from prison and jail to vital mental health and substance abuse treatment and address issues that are related to reducing their recidivism. This law will also expand job training and placement services, mentoring, and facilitate transitional housing and case management services. Please email Jessica Nickel at [email protected] if you have any questions.
Wed, 04/09/2008 - 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Washington, DC
United States

Prisoner Re-Entry: Congress Passes Second Chance Act, Bill Goes to President Bush

Three years after it was first introduced, the Senate Tuesday evening passed the Second Chance Act, a measure aimed at reducing prison populations and corrections costs by reducing the recidivism rate among people released from prison. The bill would provide federal funding to develop programs dealing with job training, substance abuse, family stability, and for employers who hire former prisoners.
overcrowded prison dorm, California
Nearly 700,000 people a year are released from state and federal prisons, according to Justice Department statistics. If drug offenders, who make up about one-quarter of the prison population, are released in roughly the same proportion, that means about 175,000 drug offenders will benefit from the program each year.

Currently, an estimated two-thirds of released prisoners will find themselves in trouble with the law at some point in the future. The bill is designed to reduce that percentage.

Although the bill had passed the House in November, it had been stalled ever since by a legislative "hold" put on it by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who had expressed a number of concerns about it, including some on the cost and effectiveness of the program. He lifted his "hold" Monday night. On Tuesday, it passed both the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Senate floor vote by unanimous consent.

President Bush is expected to sign the bill shortly.

The bill will provide about $360 million for re-entry services in fiscal years 2009 and 2010. In addition to services already mentioned, the bill provides for assistance to newly released prisoners in obtaining proper identification and mandates that the federal Bureau of Prisons provide prisoners with adequate supplies of their medications upon their release.

Passage of the bill should stimulate a broader discussion of sentencing and alternatives to incarceration, said Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), one of the bill's main architects. "We add this up and the impact will be far greater than just the amount of money that gets appropriated. We know it's not a panacea," he said. "It's not close to any kind of panacea but our hope is this becomes a sort of trigger for a great deal of additional action."

There was bipartisan support for the bill, with conservative Republicans like Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback joining with Democrats to win passage. "I am very pleased that my Senate colleagues were able to pass legislation that will help combat the high rates of prisoner recidivism in America," said Brownback, who co-sponsored the bill in the Senate. "Everybody -- the ex-offender, the ex-offender's family, and society at large -- benefits from programs that equip prisoners with the proper tools to successfully reintegrate into life outside of the prison walls. I am hopeful that with this legislation we will begin to see tangible results as governments and nonprofit organizations work together to help ex-offenders."

"It is vitally important that we do everything we can to ensure that, when people get out of prison, they enter our communities as productive members of society, so we can start to reverse the dangerous cycles of recidivism and violence," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), another co-sponsor. "I hope that the Second Chance Act will help us begin to break that cycle."

"The Second Chance Act will provide an opportunity for realistic rehabilitation for the more than 650,000 inmates who return to their communities each year," said Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), another co-sponsor. "The bill's focus on education, job training, and substance abuse treatment is essential to decreasing the nationwide recidivism rate of 66%."

Now, if Congress would only do something about keeping drug offenders out of prison in the first place.

Senate Passes Second Chance Act, Awaits President's Signature

[Courtesy of The Sentencing Project]

Dear Friends,

     The Senate passed the Second Chance Act of 2007 late Tuesday, which will ease the re-entry process for individuals leaving prison by providing funding for prisoner mentoring programs, job training and rehabilitative treatment. The legislation, introduced in the Senate by Sens. Joseph Biden (D-DE), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), now awaits approval by President Bush - who in his 2004 State of the Union address advocated for a $300 million Prisoner Re-entry Initiative.  

     The legislation was passed by a voice vote after the Senate adopted a concurrent resolution, H Con Res 270, which included minor changes to the measure. The U.S. House of Representatives voted 347 to 62 to pass the Second Chance Act of 2007 in November.

     The Second Chance Act will help provide necessary services to the nearly 700,000 people leaving prison each year by increasing funding designed to protect public safety and reduce recidivism rates. The bill's provisions authorize $362 million to expand assistance for people currently incarcerated, those returning to their communities after incarceration, and children with parents in prison. The services to be funded under the bill include:

  • mentoring programs for adults and juveniles leaving prison;
  • drug treatment during and after incarceration, including family-based treatment for incarcerated parents;
  • education and job training in prison;
  • alternatives to incarceration for parents convicted of non-violent drug offenses;
  • supportive programming for children of incarcerated parents; and early release for certain elderly prisoners convicted of non-violent offenses.

     The reform bill was widely supported by civil rights, criminal justice, law enforcement and religious organizations and had broad bipartisan support in both the Senate and House of Representatives.

Washington, DC
United States

Texas Cop Says "Put Addicts in Jail Where They Belong"

Usually, drug warriors at least pay lip service to the idea that we're supposed to be helping people recover from addiction. Drug war supporters frequently feign compassion by touting their support for drug treatment, all the while defending policies that trash the lives of users and make recovery that much harder.

But today, I found a drug warrior that's willing to say what the rest are probably thinking. His name is Wayne C. Williams and he's been putting drug users in jail for 32 years. Williams was so disturbed by an op-ed from former cop/drug policy reformer Howard Wooldridge that he wrote a crazy letter to the Amarillo Globe News complaining that drug addicts don't get punished enough:
Too many people use rehabilitation as a way to stay out of jail or prison.

A person hooked on drugs won't get clean for his family, but only when he hits rock bottom and wants help for himself.

Put addicts in jail where they belong and ease up on the probation, which usually is a joke in itself. []
Rarely does one find the sheer cruelty of the drug war expressed with such unabashed self-righteousness. This man is literally insisting that we must smash victims of drug addiction in order to demonstrate the harms of drug use. It just tells you everything you need to know about the drug war and the people who carry it out on a daily basis.

In the war on drugs, one can be diagnosed with the disease of drug addiction merely by being found in possession of drugs. At that point, one is then broken down and stripped of their family and property. They are removed from their job and their home, banished into a dark brutal hole amongst violent thugs and sociopaths, and once every last thing they have has been taken away, they are asked to start acting normal.

It's really a perfect mess as far as public policies go, which is why it's so damned hard to find a defender of the drug war who isn't paid to participate in it.
United States

Reception and Screening of "Hard Road Home"

The Prison Art Gallery invites you to a reception and screening of "Hard Road Home," a new documentary about the Exodus Transitional Community prisoner reentry program. Our own music ambassador Dennis Sobin will be performing classical and jazz guitar. Sponsored by Public/Private Ventures, the event is free. Space is limited and reservations are necessary. For more information, contact [email protected].
Thu, 06/14/2007 - 5:30pm
First Street and Constitution Avenue, NE
Washington, DC
United States

Charlie Rangel on Reentry, Crack Cocaine Sentencing and the Vote

Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), a one-time drug warrior, made brief remarks on the floor of the US House of Representatives relating to criminal justice, including his support for the Second Chance Act (measures to help people coming out of prison to reenter society successfully) and for restoring the vote to people with past felony convictions, and his sponsorship of H.R. 460 to eliminate the harsher treatment that people convicted for crack cocaine offenses currently receive under the law relative to other cocaine offenses (along with other remarks that don't directly relate to drug policy). (Click here to write your US Representative in support of H.R. 460.) Nothing too huge here, but of interest, and good to see that the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee is focused on things like this.
United States

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