Portman, Leahy Introduce Second Chance Reauthorization Act to Help Ex-Offenders, Call for Action as Part of Criminal Justice Reform

November 16, 2018 | Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and amend 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, and it was 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.  

“The Second Chance Act helps break the cycle of incarceration through drug treatment and job training programs and makes our community safer, saves taxpayer dollars, and most importantly, helps former inmates live up to their God-given potential,” 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 am proud to continue my bipartisan efforts to renew and strengthen this law.  As the House and Senate work to pass criminal justice reform, which I support, we should reauthorize the Second Chance Act as part of that process so we can help more ex-offenders become productive members of our society.” 

“I began my career as a prosecutor on the front lines of our justice system.  I saw the challenges inmates face, many of them seemingly insurmountable, when they are released from custody.  That’s not good for them, for their families, for their communities, for any of us.  The Second Chance Act supports state and local efforts to reduce recidivism by helping ex-offenders reenter society and build stable and productive lives.  America is a nation of fairness, opportunity, and second chances.  I’m proud to again partner with Senator Portman on this legislation to reauthorize these critical programs,” 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.