Prison Fellowship believes each person impacted by crime and incarceration has intrinsic value and the capacity for change. We believe a restorative approach is the key to building a better criminal justice system. To that end, we have defined a justice framework to guide our nation's efforts to reform our ineffective, expensive, and broken criminal justice system, and we support legislation that upholds the principles of our framework.
Lead Sponsors and Status: Last session, the Senate version of the bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee on a strong bipartisan vote, but never made it to the floor. This session, Senators Portman (R-OH) and Leahy (D-VT) and Representatives Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Davis (D-IL) have reintroduced the legislation (please note, the House and Senate versions have some small differences).
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte is an original cosponsor this year. In January, the bill unanimously passed the House Judiciary Committee! Speaker Ryan has stated publicly that he plans for the full House to pass criminal justice reform this year, which may include Second Chance Reauthorization thanks to advocates like you.
What it Does: The Second Chance Act was first passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2008. Since then, states have seen dramatic decreases in recidivism rates as tens of thousands of men, women and youth returning home from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities have been served through mentoring, family-based substance abuse treatment, and other evidence-based reentry programs made available through the Second Chance Act. These critical programs may be in jeopardy if Congress does not pass the Second Chance Reauthorization Act.
How it Advances Our Values: Second Chance allows those who have completed their punishment an opportunity to transition back to their communities as law-abiding and contributing members of society. By providing the resources needed to coordinate reentry services and policies at the state and local levels, the bill encourages communities to foster acceptance of formerly incarcerated men, women, and youth and provides second chances that pay off in public safety dividends.
How You Can Take Action:
1. Write your legislator today to request that they cosponsor the Second Chance Reauthorization Act! With our easy online advocacy tool, it only takes a few clicks to make sure your voice is heard by Congress. If you want to make even more impact, call or set up a meeting with your Representative and Senators to tell them why Second Chance matters to you.
2. Spread the word: After you write your legislator using our online advocacy tool, post the link to Facebook, Twitter or through other social media and invite your friends to do likewise! Make sure to use the hashtags #cjreform and #SecondChanceAct.
3. If you belong to an organization, join the national sign-on letter in support of Second Chance Reauthorization Act. If your organization or ministry wishes to endorse or if you have any corrections to your organization’s current listing, please email Heather Rice-Minus.
4. Submit an opinion editorial to your local newspaper about why Second Chance Reauthorization Act matters to you and your community.
Prison Fellowship’s Work on Second Chance: Prison Fellowship has a long history championing the Second Chance Act and continues to be a leading organization in mobilizing the coalition supporiting the reauthorization. In November 2013, Prison Fellowship’s Senior Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, Craig DeRoche, joined Members of Congress and other key stakeholders at this kick-off briefing. We have also invited our partners across the country to join the national sign-on letter, sent our own letter to Judiciary Committee members, met with dozens of Congressional offices to encourage them to cosponsor the reauthorization and invited our supporters to do likewise. We are currently working in coalition with organizations from across the country to strategize about how to pass the reauthorization. If your organization or ministry would like to participate in coalition calls or receive coalition updates, please email Heather Rice-Minus.