Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations, and Congressman Danny Davis (D-Ill.) today introduced H.R. 3465, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, with the support of Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), Congressman Howard Coble (R-N.C.) and others.

The Second Chance Act was passed by Congress with strong bipartisan support and signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2008. This legislation provides non-profit faith and community-based organizations with mentoring grants to develop support programs such as drug treatment, housing, job training, medical care and education. Re-entry services have been improved, which has resulted in a reduction in recidivism and helped ensure a successful return to society for prisoners who have completed their sentence.

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act builds on the success of the original legislation and continues to authorize funding for both public and private entities to evaluate and improve academic and vocational education for offenders in prison, jails and juvenile facilities.  

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner:
“As chairman of the Over-Criminalization Task Force, I am committed to strengthening our criminal justice system to ensure prisons serve as a deterrent and a place where people can be rehabilitated. There is overwhelming evidence that the Second Chance Act has been a resounding success by helping fully integrate prisoners back into society. Education and positive reinforcement are some of the most effective tools to prevent illegal behavior, and this law has improved re-entry services – not only saving taxpayer dollars, but changing lives, strengthening families and improving our communities. Reauthorization of these programs is important.”

Congressman Danny Davis: “The second chance law has proven to seriously help reduce recidivism and provide hope for large numbers of individuals to turn their lives around and become productive citizens who can contribute to the well-being of society.”

Congressman John Conyers: “Reauthorization of the Second Chance Act is critical to disrupting the prison pipeline which has plagued so many minority communities across the nation. By supporting community based re-entry programs, this legislation provides critical assistance to those emerging from our jails and prisons, allowing them to rebuild their families and become productive members of our society. I hope that this bipartisan effort will have success similar to our original effort in 2007, so that we can speed this to the President’s desk.”

Congressman Howard Coble: “When we authored the Second Chance Act, it was a break with the past.  No longer would we just warehouse prisoners without any hope of offering these criminals a way to change their lives.  The Second Chance Act provides those convicted of crimes with the counseling, training and education that is needed before they are released from prison.  It is a concrete program to slow the rate of recidivism and it is working.”   

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.