Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Topic: The Second Chance Act

All About The Second Chance Act.
Currently there is a bill in Congress (S-1231 "Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2011") which MAY make changes to the Second Chance Act of 2007, and it is possible those changes will allow former sex offender to reap the benefits of this law. Right now we need to wait and see what happens as this bill winds through Congress. So review below with that in mind. 7-1-2011 eAdvocate
All About the Second Chance Act:

The Second Chance Act was passed by the 110th Congress. The name of the act pretty much explains what its purpose was, however there is a specific offender type which is excluded from the benefits of the act, they are "sex offenders"

There is no logical reason to exclude those offenders except "HATE" of the type of offense committed. If the purpose of the Act is to help former criminal offenders get reestablished in the community, why exclude sex offenders but for a hatred of them.
H.R. 1593, the `Second Chance Act of 2007,' is intended to reduce recidivism, increase public safety, and help State and local governments better address the growing population of ex-offenders returning to their communities. The bill focuses on four areas: development and support of programs that provide alternatives to incarceration, expansion of the availability of substance abuse treatment, strengthening families of ex-offenders, and the expansion of comprehensive re-entry services.
In spite of the purpose of the bill, sex offenders were excluded, see the following section within the law:
§ 17532. Responsible reintegration of offenders
(a) Eligible offenders

(1) In general In this section, the term “eligible offender” means an individual who—

(A) is 18 years of age or older;

(B) has been convicted as an adult and imprisoned under Federal or State law;

(C) has never been convicted of a violent or sex-related offense; and

(D) except as provided in paragraph (2), has been released from a prison or jail for not more than 180 days before the date on which the individual begins participating in a grant program carried out under this section.
A interesting but objectionable loophole is, if someone was convicted of a sex offense in a FOREIGN country, now living in the United States, and is released from prison following a conviction on a NON sex related crime, they are eligible for the benefits of the Act.

With that said, the Second Chance Act is wonderful for all folks convicted of non sex offenses and helps them get reestablished in the community.

There isn't much more that can be said, it is that way, and we move on.

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)

The History Behind the Second Chance Act:

This Act is the product of two bills S-1060 introduced by now VP Biden. Within that bill is this section: 231 FEDERAL PRISONER REENTRY PROGRAM. (4) ensure that priority is given to the reentry needs of high-risk populations, such as sex offenders, career criminals, and prisoners with mental health problems;... That bill was not passed, instead the House version was.

The House version HR-1593 introduced by Danny Davis of Illinois. The introduced version did not say anything about excluding sex offenders, but somewhere in the House proceedings someone added that exclusion.

Mr Davis had this to say when he introduced the bill:
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Davis) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. DAVIS of Illinois. Mr. Speaker, the United States of America has more of its people in prison per capita than any other developed nation in the world, more than 2 million. The vast majority, 95 percent, of the men and women in our prisons will eventually return to the community. This means that every year more than 650,000 offenders are released from State and Federal prisons and return back to civilian life.

These men and women deserve a second chance. Their families, spouses, and children deserve a second chance. And their communities deserve a second chance. A second chance means an opportunity to turn a life around, a chance to break the grip of a drug habit; a chance to support a family, to pay taxes, to be self-sufficient.

Today, few of those who return to their communities are prepared for their release or receive any supportive service. When the prison door swings open, an ex-offender may receive a bus ticket and spending money for a day or two. Many leave prison to return to the same environment which saw them offend in the first place. But as they return, they often face additional barriers to reentry: serious physical and mental health problems, no place to stay, and lack of education or qualifications to hold a job. As a result, two out of three will be rearrested for new crimes within the first 3 years after their release. Youthful offenders are even more likely to reoffend.

One-third of all correction departments provide no services to released offenders, and most departments do not offer a transitional program, placing a heavy burden on families and communities. Considering the cost of incarceration, as much as $40,000 per year, and all the social and economic costs of crime to the community, it is just plain common sense to help ex-offenders successfully reenter our communities and reduce recidivism.

That is why I have sponsored the bipartisan Second Chance Act of 2007, H.R. 1593, along with Representatives Cannon, Conyers, Coble, Scott of Virginia, Smith of Texas, Jones of Ohio, Forbes, Schiff, Sensenbrenner, Chabot, Jackson-Lee of Texas, Cummings, Johnson of Georgia, Clarke, and 75 other Members of Congress.

A companion bill, S. 1060, has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Biden, Durbin, Specter, Brownback, Leahy, Obama, and 10 others.

The Second Chance Act will provide transitional assistance to assist ex-offenders in coping with the challenges of reentry. It will reduce recidivism. It will help reunite families and protect communities. It will enhance public safety and save taxpayer dollars. It is the humane thing to do. It is the responsible thing to do. And, of course, it is the right thing to do.

The Judiciary Committee held hearings on the bill last month and quickly voted to send the bill to the full House. I fully expect it to pass soon. The bill has the support of more than 200 criminal justice, service provider, faith-based, housing, governmental, disability, and civil rights organizations. President Bush has signaled his support of the legislation as well.

No single piece of legislation is going to solve the reentry crisis we are facing, but the Second Chance Act is a good start. I hope that with passage of this bill, we will begin a new era in criminal justice.

Mr. Speaker, I am convinced that any serious effort to facilitate the reentry of men and women with criminal records to civil society must be prepared to do two things. First, we must be prepared to help with drug treatment on demand for everyone who requests it. Second, we need to find work for ex-offenders. Programs don't supply jobs. After ex-offenders have undergone rehabilitation and received appropriate training, employers will have to open their hearts and put these men and women back into the workforce. They do not belong in prison.

Many of them don't need prison, but they do need a second chance. Congress can give them that. And we should.
A hearing was held on the bill on 3-20-2007 (PDF file very large) and there was no mention of sex offenders being excluded, neither is there any mention in the video.

The following is what the Thomas website shows, every step the bill took in the House. The bill as it came out of committee did not contain the "exclude sex offenders" provision, but somehow it was amended ON THE FLOOR of the House on 11-13 (see note below), but who and how it was amended is not recorded on the Thomas website. This is not the only time we have seen mysterious changes made to bills that specifically affect sex offenders. There is a gremlin running around the House, making changes.

(To see where the change happens, click on bill HR 1593, then follow the "Text of Legislation" option, you will see THREE House versions: 1) As Introduced; 2) After markup by committees; 3) Engrossed. The exclusion is shown only in the Engrossed version, and on 11-13 is the comment "as amended" but there is no Floor amendments shown in the details of what occurred on 11-13.)
3/20/2007: Referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

3/20/2007: Referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.

3/20/2007: Subcommittee Hearings Held.

3/27/2007: Subcommittee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.

3/27/2007: Forwarded by Subcommittee to Full Committee by Voice Vote .

3/28/2007: Committee Consideration and Mark-up Session Held.

3/28/2007: Ordered to be Reported (Amended) by Voice Vote.

5/9/2007 4:36pm: Reported by the Committee on Judiciary. H. Rept. 110-140.

5/9/2007 4:36pm: Placed on the Union Calendar, Calendar No. 82.

5/23/2007: Sponsor introductory remarks on measure. (CR H5691)

11/13/2007 3:21pm: Mr. Conyers moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended.

11/13/2007 3:21pm: Considered under suspension of the rules. (consideration: CR H13564-13582)

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)

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