TASC Public Policy Priorities

At local, state, and federal levels, TASC supports public policies that reduce incarceration and create healthier communities. Our policy priorities are to:

1. Shrink the justice system by diverting eligible people away from prosecution and incarceration and into community-based services, as soon as appropriate.

2. Create pathways for successful reentry after justice involvement, and reduce barriers that inhibit success.

3. Promote evidence-based strategies in substance use and mental health disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery.

4. Expand community capacity to treat mental health and substance use disorders, adapting to changing environments.

TASC President Pam Rodriguez serves on Governor Rauner’s Illinois State Commission on Criminal Justice and Sentencing Reform, and she has been honored by the White House for advancing system-wide justice interventions for people with substance use disorders. Rodriguez and TASC Founder Melody Heaps are featured in a White House video describing TASC as a model for reducing incarceration and increasing access to community-based healthcare and recovery.

For more information on TASC’s public policy activities, please visit our Center for Health and Justice.

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.