Backers of the proposed federal Second Chance Act to help states keep former inmates from returning to prison say that U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.), is the only member of the lame-duck Congress standing in the way of the bill’s passage this week. The Tulsa World reports that Justin Jones, the director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, said he was urged by others to use whatever influence he has with Coburn to try and persuade him to drop his objection to holding a vote. In the remaining few days of the congressional session, only bills with no opposition may succeed in passing.
States took money from programs that could have helped cut recidivism rates and used it to pay for more guards at the new prisons they built with federal funds, said Pat Nolan of the Prison Fellowship. “That is what this bill is to trying to reverse.” Nolan, who has met with Coburn on the bill, hopes that his conscience will persuade him to do the right thing. “I am sorry he has drawn a line on this.” Coburn, who did not comment to the Tulsa World, reportedly believes that the federal government should not be spending money on state inmate programs.