The Second Chance Act, a federal bipartisan attempt to stir interest and activity in meaningful reentry programs for released prisoners, would authorize as much as $65 million in grants to state and local governments and another $15 million to community organizations to develop reentry initiatives or helping services. For an update on the status of legislation try the Reentry Council.
As an editorial in the New York Times says today, "The Second Chance Act would bolster the re-entry movement with money, training, technical assistance--and the federal stamp of approval." Even Texas has found value in giving tax credits to businesses that hire parolees, reduce recidivism and save their state money, and that is progress. Since nearly all prisoners come back to the community it seems foolhardy to encourage local communities to maintain the enormous barriers to reentry that exist for ex-offenders. Local and state governments often do not know where to begin the process. Fortunately there has been a lot of recent thinking in this area to get the U.S. out of its imprisonment binge and focused on what really counts at the moment--getting offenders reintegrated into society.
California has been trying to put some money where its mouth is in the area of parole reentry by funding various reentry projects under its Division of Community Partnerships. Time will tell whether these projects and planning grants bear fruit. There is nowhere to go but up!