Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Second Chance Act

This editorial from the New York Times suggests $100 million would be a good down payment on the reentry needs the Second Chance Act is designed to address.

If the programs funded are properly evaluated—third party evaluations using a control group—then program effectiveness can determine future funding and that would be a good thing.

If not, the existing pattern will hold, where funds are allocated somewhat randomly and the national recidivism rate continues to remain around 70%.

We wish them well and, as in all new ventures—though considering it is public money we would hope public leadership and the criminal justice practitioners advising them, gets it right at some point—but, time will tell.

An excerpt.

“Congress took an important step last year when it passed the Second Chance Act to help former inmates return to their communities. If properly financed and carried out, the act could cut recidivism, and ruinous prison costs for the states, by helping them develop programs to provide job placement, drug treatment, mental health care and other services that former prisoners need to build viable, crime-free lives.

“Congress does not have to look far for proven programs. New prison sentencing and re-entry policies are already taking hold in several states, thanks in part to work by the Council of State Governments’ prison policy arm, the Justice Center, with the support of the Pew Charitable Trust’s Center on the States.

“Their results have been especially impressive in Texas and Kansas, law-and-order states that were facing huge increases in their prison populations before they turned to the Justice Center for analyses and policy suggestions. Last month, representatives from both states testified about their experience before a House appropriations subcommittee.”