The Lamp

Where truth can be shared.

Second Chance Act Should be First Action in New Congress

Posted by thelamp on December 21, 2006

Everyone deserves a second chance. In January, Congress should make another attempt at helping former prisoners make a safe and successful reentry into society. In the Congress that just ended, the nation’s lawmakers let the first opportunity slip through their fingers, but it’s not too late to assist ex-prisoners as they find their way back into the world.

“In Matthew 25, Jesus instructed Christians to be involved in making disciples behind bars and helping those disciples as they come out of prison,” said Pastor Rod Parsley. “That responsibility does not end with welcoming them back into society. We have to stretch out a hand, particularly to those who have been changed by Christ and need a church home, a Bible study group or a mentor. We must stand by them and help complete the spiritual transformation.”

More than 7 million men and women are incarcerated in state correctional facilities across the country. When their debt to society is paid, they’ll receive a few dollars and a bus ticket. At the most basic level, people aren’t consistently getting what they need to make a fresh start.

Without transportation, a place to live or a support network, it will be difficult for most of them to create any hope for a future. The Second Chance Act would provide increased federal support to state and local governments as well as non-profit organizations.

In the United States, nearly 650,000 people are released from prisons each year and almost two-thirds of them are re-arrested for committing felonies or serious misdemeanors. These statistics reveal that continuing care for prisoners is needed to stem the tide of recidivism – the rate at which former prisoners are arrested and sent back to prison.

The Second Chance Act focuses on reducing recidivism by helping ex-prisoners find jobs and housing, providing them with mental health and substance abuse help and strengthening families. Some of the components of the bill include:

  • Grants that focus on jobs and housing;
  • Grants for treating substance abuse and mental health issues;
  • A resource center for states, local governments, faith-based organizations, corrections and community organizations to collect and disseminate best practices and provide training and support around reentry; and
  • A federal interagency task force to identify programs and resources on reentry, identify ways to better collaborate, develops interagency initiatives and a national reentry research agenda.

Instead of pumping money into paying more guards and building new prisons, it’s time to invest in people.



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