Last night, the United States Senate passed U.S. Senator Rob Portman’s (R-OH) resolution to designate April 2017 as “Second Chance Month” and honor those who work to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. Portman, who is the author of the Second Chance Act, introduced the resolution in March.
“An estimated 65 million Americans have a criminal record, and 95 percent of current inmates are set to be released one day, two thirds of whom will be released in the next five years. Sadly, too many Americans who serve their time become caught up in a cycle of crime,” said Portman. “The Second Chance Act breaks that cycle through drug treatment and job training, and that makes our community safer, saves taxpayer dollars, and most importantly, helps former inmates live out their God-given potential. Since the Second Chance Act was first signed into law in 2007, thousands of Ohioans and more than 137,000 people in 49 states have received reentry services, changing thousands of lives in Ohio and across the country. The mistakes of our past don’t have to define the potential for our future. By designating April as Second Chance Month, we are supporting those who are returning from prison and want a fair shot at living an honest and productive life by increasing public awareness and getting them the help they need. I will continue my bipartisan efforts to renew and strengthen this critical law.”
“We are honored that U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) introduced this bipartisan legislation designating April 2017 as Second Chance month,” said Craig DeRoche, senior vice president of Prison Fellowship. “Together, we are working to remove unnecessary barriers that prevent those with a criminal record from becoming productive members of society. We believe people with a past can rise from their failure, repay their debt and restore and heal our communities that are affected by crime. There is no such thing as a throwaway person and by granting second chances to those who have earned them we will be contributing to the restoration of families, communities and our nation.”
NOTE: Portman continues his efforts to reauthorize the Second Chance Act along with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). Last year, he spoke at the City Club of Cleveland on the importance of giving people in our communities a second chance at success. Excerpts of his remarks are below and a full video of his remarks can be seen here.
Then-Congressman Portman originally authored the Second Chance Act with the late Cleveland Democrat Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, and it was passed into law in 2008 (P.L. 110-199). April 8 marked the 9th anniversary of this law, which created:
- grants for state and local reentry courts;
- grants for drug treatment diversion programs;
- grants to expand substance-abuse programs for prisoners and ex-offenders; and
- grants to expand the use of career training programs and mentoring programs.
This law also reauthorized the Adult and Juvenile State and Local Offender Reentry Demonstration Grant program.