NAACP Commends President Bush for Signing Second Chance Act into Law

Prison re-entry law gives hundreds of thousands of Americans a new start in life & society

The NAACP commends President George W. Bush for signing the Second Chance Act of 2007 into law. The new law provides essential resources to assist local communities to help decrease prisoner recidivism and ease ex-offender re-entry obstacles throughout the country.

The NAACP was instrumental in working with the diverse, bi-partisan coalition of elected officials and organizations responsible for facilitating passage of this historic legislation. The U.S. Senate passed the measure by a unanimous vote March 11, after the U.S. House of Representatives passed it last November by an overwhelming 347-62 vote. 

The Second Chance Act, introduced by Congressman Danny Davis (IL) and Senators Joe Biden (DE), Sam Brownback (KS) and Patrick Leahy (VT) will provide state and local communities with $165 million in federal assistance annually to establish ex-offender re-entry projects with enhanced focus on job training, housing, substance abuse and mental health treatment, as well as programs to work with the children and families of ex-offenders. 

“The Second Chance Act will, each year, give the more than 650,000 men and women who have paid their debt to society a fresh start as they transition back into communities across the nation and strive to break the grip of recidivism,” said NAACP Interim President & CEO Dennis Courtland Hayes. “Now Congress must stand behind its commitment by acting to fully finance and assure successful implementation of the law’s intentions.”    

Studies have shown that the transition for most former inmates is difficult. Many struggle with substance abuse addiction or mental health problems and face employment and housing discrimination. Furthermore, many communities where prisoners go upon release already struggle with high poverty, unemployment, fragile families and a dearth of jobs. 

“The Second Chance Act encourages new community partnerships to help educate, train and employ those recently released who might otherwise return to a life of crime,” said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary O. Shelton. “It is only through this type of comprehensive reform, that our nation will be able to end the cycle of prison recidivism and help hundreds of thousands of Americans and their families each year as they work to re-enter our society and communities to become the constructive and contributing citizens, fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers that we need them to become.” 

Founded in 1909, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its more than half-million adult and youth members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities and monitors of equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. 

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--For more information contact: rmcintire@naacpnet.org

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