Recently, the Senate eliminated funding for the Second Chance Act in their version of the FY 12 funding bill for the Department of Justice. In April 2008, the Second Chance Act passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law. Providing a common sense, evidence-based approach to improving outcomes for people returning to communities from prisons and jails, this legislation authorizes federal grants to government agencies and nonprofit organizations to provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victims support, and other services that can help reduce recidivism. Although allocated $100 million in fiscal year 2010, funding for these programs has progressively diminished. In July, the House Appropriations Committee provided $70 million in their fiscal year 2012 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill. Although funding was eliminated in the Senate bill, there is still time to restore funding for the program when the House and Senate Appropriations Committees attempt to resolve differences between the two spending bills.
Congressional leaders are expected to meet next week to come to agreement on FY12 funding levels, and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy has pledged to work to restore Second Chance Act funding through the conference process. To read more about the Senate's funding cut, click here or here. To read more about advocacy against the cut by faith leaders, click here. To reach out to your elected officials and tell them it is urgent that they include $70-100 million in funding for the Second Chance Act for FY2012, click here.