Portman, Leahy Announce Second Chance Reauthorization Act to Help Ex-Offenders Incorporated into Criminal Justice Reform Package

December 12, 2018 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that their bipartisan Second Chance Reauthorization Act, has been incorporated into the First Step Act, bipartisan legislation to reform America’s criminal justice system authored by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). The Second Chance Reauthorization Act reauthorizes and amends the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism.  Then-Congressman Portman originally authored the Second Chance Act with the late-Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones in 2005, and it was later signed into law in 2008. Since 2009, more than 850 Second Chance Act grant awards have been made to government agencies and nonprofit organizations from 49 states for reentry programs serving adults and juveniles.  As of June 2018, more than 164,000 individuals have participated in these programs. In total, Ohio has received more than $39 million in Second Chance Act grants since 2009, which includes funds to assist Ohioans re-entering the community with services such as job training, drug rehabilitation, case management and mental health treatment. 

“I’m pleased that my legislation to reauthorize and strengthen the Second Chance Act has been incorporated into the bipartisan criminal justice reform bill.  This important law helps break the cycle of incarceration through drug treatment and job training programs, and it helps former inmates live up to their God-given potential.  It also makes our communities safer and saves taxpayer dollars,” Portman said.  “This law has changed thousands of lives in Ohio and across the country showing that the mistakes of our past should not define the potential for our future. I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting the First Step Act so we can renew and strengthen the Second Chance Act and help more ex-offenders become productive members of our society.” 

“The First Step Act is historic legislation representing years of bipartisan work to address some of the most egregious outcomes in our criminal justice system.  The inclusion of our Second Chance Reauthorization Act is an acknowledgement that a justice system that doesn’t offer ex-offenders a second chance is anything but just.  America is a nation of fairness, opportunity, and second chances.  I’m proud to continue partnering with Senator Portman to reauthorize these critical programs which will reduce recidivism and help ex-offenders reenter society and build productive lives,” said Leahy. 

NOTE: The Second Chance Reauthorization Act will strengthen state and local grant programs to promote successful prisoner reentry and improve public safety while reducing Bureau of Prison costs and saving taxpayer dollars. Specifically, the legislation will: 

  • Continue targeted funding through 2021 for reentry programs at the state and local level that have been proven to reduce recidivism, lead to better outcomes for those released from prison, and save prison costs.
  • Provide separate planning and implementation grants to ensure that projects are well developed at each stage and informed by research and best practices.
  • Add nonprofit organizations as allowable grantees for grants for programs promoting family-based substance abuse treatment and career training.
  • Repeal several provisions calling for studies that have been completed and removes support for programs for which other funding sources have been identified. It also consolidates the reentry court program into the Adult and Juvenile Offender State and Local Demonstration projects.
  • Require new rigorous evaluation and audits of grantees to ensure that federal dollars are spent wisely. 

This legislation has been endorsed by the National Criminal Justice Association, the International Community Corrections Association, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, FreedomWorks, the American Bar Association, the American Correctional Association, The Prison Fellowship, the American Probation and Parole Association, the Association of State Correctional Administrators, and The Sentencing Project.