The Second Chance Act is a common-sense response to improve outcomes of people returning to our communities from prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.  Each year, more than 700,000 people are released from state prisons and approximately 9 million are released from jails. As many as 100,000 youth under the age of 18 leave secure residential facilities, including juvenile detention centers, group homes, and jails and prisons.  More than two-thirds of jail inmates are dependent on or abused alcohol or drugs. At least 95 percent of individuals in prison will be released back into communities, often without assistance and services and many don’t succeed. A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that more than two-thirds of individuals released from prisons were rearrested for a new crime within three years and more than 50 percent returned to prison for committing new crimes or for violating their conditions of supervised release.

The Second Chance Act, which authorizes $165 million in grants for state and local governments and community organizations, was signed into law on April 9, 2008.  Congress appropriated $25 million for Second Chance Act in 2009, $100 million in FY 2010, and $83 million in FY 2011.

President Obama has also requested $100 million for Second Chance Act programs in FY 2012. To ensure that these desperately needed funds are available, members of Congress need to hear from their constituents that the Second Chance Act is a high priority. Call and ask your Senators and Representative to support the Second Chance Act. Let the church be heard. Be blessed as you reach for others.

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