Several dozen criminal justice organizations have written to leaders of the Senate committee that funds the Justice Department urging continued funding for the Second Chance Act, which aids prisoner re-entry programs. The committee recently voted to zero out the program, saying that more money had to be spent on the federal prison system instead. The groups, which include the American Civil Liberties Union and the Sentencing Project, said they shared concerns “about the severe overcrowding that plagues” federal prisons, but “we believe building more prisons is not the answer.”
“Rather, it is simply a continuation of a costly and failed criminal justice strategy that states and local governments around the country have already rejected in favor of sentencing reform and alternative approaches to incarceration.” The full Senate is likely to vote on the bill this week. The Second Chance program’s fate may rest with a congressional conference committee, because the House Appropriations Committee approved funds for Second Chance. The organizations wrote last week to Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and will communicate soon to the whole Senate.