A recent phone converesation between President Obama and Eagles Football Team owner, Jeffrey Lurie, will hopefully focus attention on the need to fund the “Second Chance Act” and “reentry courts ” as a part of that legislation. According to Eagles Football Team owner, Jeffrey Lurie, President Obama made a point of thanking Lurie for giving quarterback Michael Vick a second chance after his conviction and imprisonment for a year and a half for running a dog fighting ring.
Obama’a statement in support of giving returning prisoners a second chance is symbolically important as we go into the new federal budget cycle. At this time, we have reason to believe that the Congress has only preliminarily funded the “Second Chance Act” for $50 million as opposed to the $100 million funded last year. There is also the potential that “reentry courts” will no be funded at the $10 million level they were last year, if at all.
This was the gist of Obama’s statement, according to Lurie, “’So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance. He was … passionate about it. He said it’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail. And he was happy that we did something on such a national stage that showed our faith in giving someone a second chance after such a major downfall.”
There’s reason to believe that existing reentry courts are having an even greater impact on returing offendeers that drug courts have had on drug offenders. The research supports the supposition that high risk offenders (which include most offenders returning from prison) do far better in highly structured court programs such as reentry courts than those who are not high risk. It’s critical that those with access to the Congress and the Administration make a strong pitch to fund “reentry courts” in the next funding cycle, and at the same level as last year.