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By John Cutler
NACDL News columns.
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
The Act authorizes spending in excess of $140 million during each of
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