Despite the new federal Second Chance Act and other advances to help released inmates return successfully to society, “our re-entry policies are still quite primitive,” says Jeremy Travis, president of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. There is $25 million for inmate re-entry in the new federal budget for the current year, and President Obama has asked for an increase to $75 million next year, but federal spending would amount to only about $100 per released convict, he said. “If the federal government wishes to make a significant change in the experience of people leaving prison, much more money will be needed,” Travis said yesterday at a hearing of the U.S. House subcommittee that handles Justice Department appropriations.
Travis cited a number of promising re-entry programs in Boston, Chicago, Baltimore and other places that provide social services and other help to returning inmates. The Chicago project also uses law enforcers and an ex-offender who turned his life around to counsel the former inmates. Travis urged Congress “to provide funding, guidance and evaluation for these promising innovations.”