Citing the daunting financial, social, and physical and mental health challenges facing parolees re-entering society after prison, the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development and Catholic Charities USA are urging the U.S. Congress to pass the Second Chance Act (S. 1513) this session.
This Second Chance Act would increase support for collaborative programs between government agencies and nonprofit organizations that provide employment assistance, substance abuse treatment, housing, family programming, mentoring, victim support, and other services to individuals returning to the community from prison or jail. These programs have proven effective and help reduce recidivism rates.
This act would have particular impact on Texas, which accounts for a tenth of the parolees released in the United States each year. According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, of the 70,521 Texas prison and state jail offenders released in 2014, approximately 30 percent lacked housing upon release and only 15 percent had arranged an employment opportunity. Statistics from the Texas Legislative Budget Board show that without necessary support services, these parolees have a high likelihood of recidivism. In fact, state officials estimate that within three years, more than half of these men and women will be incarcerated again because of the steep hurdles to their reentry.
In a July 8th letter to the chair and ranking member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and Dominican Sister Donna Markham reiterated the words of Pope Francis, “God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life.”
In pressing for support of the Second Chance Act legislation, the pair added, “We join the pope by advocating for those who are leaving incarceration and urge Congress to pass this important legislation. It will not only enhance public safety by providing the necessary resources to address prisoner reentry and recidivism, but promote human dignity by improving the quality of life in communities across the country.”
You can get more information on theSecond Chance Actand read the full letter from Archbishop Wenski and Sister Markham athttp://bit.ly/1CpHOX2.