The Senate subcommittee overseeing the U.S. Justice Department’s budget yesterday voted to eliminate funding for the federal Second Chance Act, which helps inmate re-entry programs nationwide. The program got $100 million in fiscal year 2010, but that was reduced to $83 million this year. The House appropriations committee recently approved $70 million for Second Chance. The Senate panel, chaired by Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) did not explain the reasons for its action, but insiders said it was likely tied to the ongoing struggle between Senate and House leaders over what federal programs to cut in lean budget times.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt)., who is also a member of the funding subcommittee, complained that the appropriations bill “eliminates funding for the Second Chance Act programs’ as it it “bill throws money at our prison overpopulation problem by increasing the Bureau of Prisons’ budget while eliminating funding for a proven solution to keep people out of prison.” Leahy said he would work to restore Second Chance funding.