Photo by Matthew Fellows
NACo Executive Director Matt Chase outlines the county stake in jail and prison re-entry programs at a Capitol Hill briefing Nov. 13, organized by the Council of State Governments. The briefing was held in conjunction with the introduction of a new reauthorization measure for the Second Chance Act.
NACo has given a hearty thumbs-up to bipartisan, bicameral efforts to reauthorize legislation that aims to reduce jail and prison costs to taxpayers and improve public safety.
The bipartisan Second Chance Reauthorization Act of 2013 would improve and consolidate the programs authorized by the 2008 Second Chance Act, but reauthorize them at reduced levels to better reflect current appropriations.
First enacted in 2008, the Second Chance Act provides federal, state and local governments additional tools necessary to help incarcerated individuals more successfully re-enter their communities upon release and avoid reoffending.
“Sheriffs and jail administrators have embraced re-entry programs as part of their public safety mission and have worked with researchers to adapt evidence-based practices like risk assessment and case management to suit the complexity of the local jail setting,” NACo Executive Director Matt Chase said during a Capitol Hill briefing Nov. 13, organized by the Council of State Governments.
“Laws such as the Second Chance Act bring us closer to the best days of intergovernmental relations with model cooperation of federal, state and local officials.”
Chase noted that counties own 2,657 jails and spend $70.2 billion each year on public safety and justice services and that the Second Chance Act has provided more than $90 million to counties to explore and test common sense, evidence-based approaches to reducing crime and improving public safety.
According to the U. S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, there are more than 13 million admissions and releases annually to county jails, involving about 7 million to 10 million individuals. Many of these individuals cycling in and out of county jail have mental illness issues or substance abuse issues.
The reauthorization was introduced by Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Howard Coble (R-N.C.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Steve Chabot (R-Ohio.)