The Champion

May/June 2008 , Page 6 

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NACDL News

By John Cutler

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Second Chance Act Offers Hope Of Future Re-Entry Services

While criminal defense lawyers care deeply about offender reintegration, it understandably takes a back seat to the many issues that face defendants prior to any incarceration. Unfortunately, lawmakers tend to share the same focus on “front-end” issues. The Second Chance Act, signed into law on April 9, 2008, is a notable exception.

This new law authorizes funding for a wide variety of re-entry services ranging from health and substance abuse treatment to mentoring, housing assistance, and education. The programs funded by these demonstration grants will be monitored and analyzed for their effect on recidivism rates. Presumably, governments — local, state, and federal — can then use the various studies, analyses, and best practices garnered from these demonstration grants to shape their own more long-lasting re-entry policies.

The Act authorizes spending in excess of $140 million during each of fiscal

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