The long-pending proposed federal Second Chance Act to help former prisoners is being held up by Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions because of his concerns that it would dramatically increase federal spending on untested programs, reports the Birmingham News. Just before Congress adjourned for the year last month, the Alabama Republican asked for more time to review the bill, which passed the House in November by a wide margin and has broad bipartisan support in the Senate.
Sessions supports the goal of helping released prisoners become productive citizens, said his spokesman, Stephen Boyd. The proposal would authorize increased spending on grants for state and local governments from $16 million to $55 million. Sessions argued that some of those programs have not been fully evaluated and may duplicate existing programs. The grants can go toward helping the recently incarcerated find employment, housing, substance abuse treatment, and other assistance. Bobby Timmons, president of the Alabama Sheriffs Association, backs the Second Chance Act because prisoners need more rehabilitation than they get behind bars. “They need some kind of program to be put back into society so they don’t go back into the criminal element that put them there to start with,” he said. “If it works, they’re out of my hair and not back being a problem for me anymore.”