There are many hurdles facing the men and women returning to society from a period of incarceration. For some, there are ongoing struggles with addiction that must be addressed in order to avoid a return to prison. For others, there is a need to learn skills or trades that will help them become productive, contributing members of society. And in some cases, what is needed most is simply the support and encouragement of a mentor, letting them know that they aren’t alone and that they can succeed outside of prison walls.
Recently, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee passed the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act. The legislation seeks to provide opportunities for these men and women by implementing restorative justice principles in sentencing and offering alternatives to prolonged incarceration for non-violent, first time offenders. Now, a second bill, the Second Chance Reauthorization Act, is being discussed by the House Judiciary Committee. The bill seeks to continue funding for programs like faith-based mentoring, substance abuse treatment, and job training provided by the the Second Chance act, which was passed with bipartisan support in 2008.
Since the passage of the 2008 bill, many states have seen a reduction in recidivism, as men and women get the support necessary to become productive members of the community. But this success is at risk if the bill is not reauthorized by the current Congress.
Let your representatives know that you believe providing second chances for the formerly incarcerated is necessary to help keep prison numbers low and our communities safe. You can contact them using this simple form. The content is provided—just add your name to encourage your elected official to sign on to the bill as a co-sponsor. The more co-sponsors, the more likely the bill will advance beyond committee and to the House floor in the coming year.