U.S. Senate Panel Votes to Cut Second Chance Funding

(Washington, DC)The Crime Report, a news service that covers national criminal justice issues, reported Thursday that the Senate subcommittee that oversees the U.S. Justice Department’s budget has voted to eliminate funding for the federal Second Chance Act, which funds community reentry programs for formerly incarcerated individuals nationwide. The House appropriations committee had recently approved $70 million for Second Chance in the new fiscal year, which begins October 1.

Since fiscal year 2009, select states and localities have received Second Chance funds to support community reentry services such as drug and alcohol addiction treatment, mental health treatment, job training, education opportunities, and housing.  Second Chance funding was reduced to $83 million in fiscal year 2011, down from $100 million in fiscal year 2010.

“The Second Chance Act is critically important not only because it funds evidence-based reentry programs, but also for the groundwork it lays in terms of criminal justice policy,” said TASC President Pamela Rodriguez.

Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the Act in 2007, and it was championed by bi-partisan co-sponsors in both the House and Senate. “These leaders took important and courageous stands in protecting public safety while helping people rebuild their lives,” said Rodriguez.  “With more than 725,000 people being released from state and federal prisons every year, it is unwise to take away one of the few avenues that supports successful community reentry.”

According to the Crime Report, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who is also a member of the funding subcommittee and was one of the co-sponsors of the original legislation, said he would work to restore Second Chance funding.

YouthToday.org reported that Senator Leahy did not offer an amendment to restore some of the funding, but may seek to include it when the bill comes up for consideration by the full Senate.

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