Bill introduced to decrease recidivism

By Frank Lewis

On Wednesday, U. S. Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, introduced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Second Chance Act, a law that supports state and local reentry programs to reduce recidivism.

Portman originally authored the Second Chance Act with the late Cleveland Democrat Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and it was passed into law in 2008.

Wednesday’s bill introduction comes as the Judiciary Committee is considering ways to reduce prison costs for federal, state, and local governments. The Second Chance Act, which was first enacted in 2008, aims to tackle those costs by improving prisoner reentry policy at the state and federal levels, ultimately decreasing the number of repeat offenders.

“Second Chance works, and that is why we have joined together to craft a reauthorization bill for the legislation that has strong bipartisan support,” Portman said. “We all want to reduce the crime and violence that plagues our communities; that we read about in the paper and see on the news every night. Rather than incarcerating repeat offenders in the same families generation after generation, we can put our taxpayer dollars to better use to break this vicious cycle and turn lives around. The ultimate goal of our criminal justice system is to make our families and our communities safer. The work done under the Second Chance Act helps us to accomplish that goal, one life at a time.”

The goal is to ensure those reentering society do not re-offend.

“As a former prosecutor, I believe strongly in securing tough and appropriate prison sentences for people who break our laws,” Leahy said. “It is also important that we do everything we can to ensure that when people get out of prison, they enter our communities as productive members of society, so we can start to reverse the dangerous cycle of recidivism and violence. The Second Chance Reauthorization Act helps break this cycle.”

Portman and Leahy joined in 2011 to introduce a similar reauthorization bill to the one they introduced today. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill.), coordinating in a bipartisan, inter-chamber effort, introduced a companion bill in the House as well.