The 'Second Chance Act': A Plan to Help Ex-Offenders
The 'Second Chance Act' was introduced in Congress recently. Gary Fields of the Wall Street Journal reports on the bill (free online here). The bill would assist prisoners released from jail who need housing, work and even id cards, which can be tough to get.
Who will this help? People like Jacqueline Smith, who for a year has had to commute an hour after work with her daughter to sleep at an ex-offender's shelter because her conviction precludes her from living in public housing.
In the kitchen of an Applebee's restaurant in Queens, N.Y., Jacqueline Smith has been a model hire. In less than two years working as a cook, she got a promotion to supervisor, doubled her salary and won the award for employee of the year.
Nationally, 630,000 prisoners will be released this year, many after serving long sentences.
For years, the thinking among law-enforcement officials and politicians was that this was the price people should pay for breaking the law. Now there is an emerging belief that the larger price is being borne by society, since the practical barriers facing ex-prisoners make it more likely that they will slip back into a life of crime.
Enter the bi-partisan 'Second Chance Act":
The Second Chance Act, hammered out by a bipartisan group of lawmakers and introduced last month, would provide more than $80 million in grants for programs to help ex-offenders re-enter society.
Mr. Fields includes a lot of individual stories in the article. It's a good read and it underscores the need for this bill to pass.
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