Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen. Rob Portman introduce bill to reauthorize the Second Chance Act


June 5, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark O’Brien, (202)-544-5478, [email protected]


Second Chance Reauthorization Act Introduced

Bill would reauthorize and update Second Chance federal reentry grant programs

WASHINGTON, DC – Legal Action Center is pleased to report that yesterday Senator Patrick Leahy and Senator Rob Portman introduced legislation to reauthorize the Second Chance Act. Originally passed in 2008, the Second Chance Act is already reducing recidivism and improving public safety. Recidivism rates are down by 11% in Texas, 19% in North Carolina and 9% in Wisconsin. Since 2009, Second Chance programs have served over 92,000 people in 49 states and the District of Columbia. After several years of implementation and study, it’s time to reauthorize and update the law to emphasize and improve the most effective programs.

The Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2015, S. 1513, would:

  • Reauthorize the most successful Second Chance programs, including reentry demonstration grants and mentoring grants, grants for family-based substance use treatment and other substance use services, and grants for education and career preparation
  • Expand opportunities for community-based nonprofits to apply for grant programs for which they are currently ineligible to receive direct funding
  • Specifically identifies medication-assisted treatment as a supported activity for reentry courts funded by the reentry demonstration grants program
  • Expand the Second Chance careers training grant program to support programs that provide job training for a wider range of occupations
  • Require coordination among multiple federal agencies, state and local government, and service providers on federal programs and policies related to reentry
  • Expand the mentoring grants program to support employment services, substance use and mental health treatment, housing, and other transitional services

According to Paul Samuels, Legal Action Center’s President and Director, “The Second Chance Act represents an important federal investment in successful reentry. Second Chance grants support evidence-based programs that are proven to reduce recidivism as well as innovative programs that can expand our knowledge of what works in this rapidly developing field. High recidivism rates remain, harming families and communities. But Second Chance grants have been shown to reduce recidivism today and enhance our knowledge about the types of practices that work in reentry.”

“Legal Action Center has supported the Second Chance Act since it was first introduced in Congress and subsequently passed in 2008,” observed Gabrielle de la Gueronniere, LAC’s Director of Policy. “We know that successful reentry is one of the keys to stopping the revolving door to prison and ensuring people access the substance use treatment and other care and support that make communities truly safe and healthy.”

According to Senator Leahy: “Too much of our federal money goes to locking people away, meaning that we have fewer resources for programs that actually prevent crime in the first place. With more than 2 million people behind bars, and 650,000 ex-offenders being released each year, we must support and improve crucial programs that reduce crime and increase public safety. Investing in these services has been proven to reduce recidivism and bring down prison costs. It is also the right thing to do.”

According to Senator Portman, The Second Chance Act tells people “that if you want to turn your life around and become a productive member of society, we want to help. Rather than incarcerating repeat offenders in the same communities 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 this legislation is to make families and communities stronger, save taxpayer dollars, and improve the criminal justice system. The Second Chance Act helps us achieve these goals one person at a time, and I’m pleased to join Senator Leahy in renewing our efforts.”



About the Legal Action Center: The Legal Action Center is the only non-profit law and policy organization in the United States whose sole mission is to fight discrimination against people with histories of addiction, HIV/AIDS, or criminal records, and to advocate for sound public policies in these areas.

For four decades, LAC has worked to combat the stigma and prejudice that keep these individuals out of the mainstream of society. The Legal Action Center is committed to helping people reclaim their lives, maintain their dignity, and participate fully in society as productive, responsible citizens. 

For more information, visit, or follow LAC on Twitter and Facebook.

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