Mar. 19, 2012
If you’ve read the three “demonstration Grant” Solicitations under the “Second Chance Act, you’ll find little mention of the courts. The funds referenced in last weeks article (“Three Second Chance Solicitations”), appear to primarily target state or local government agencies. That would appear to eliminate involvement of individual courts themselves (at least as to the “Planning and Demonstration Solicitation” where there is no reference to courts at all). But there’s no reason that an individual court should not be a beneficiary, along with the rest of the community, from resources made available through the “Second Chance Act”.
Note the language in the Solicitation (Second Chance Act Adult Offender Reentry Program for Planning and Demonstration, Projects; p.4)
“Within the context of this initiative, “reentry” is not envisioned to be a specific program, but rather a process that begins when the offender is first incarcerated (pre-release) and ends with the offender’s successful community reintegration (post-release), evidenced by lack of recidivism”.
There is little reason to believe that that language can be satisfactorily applied without the participation of the courts. The court sentences the offender to custody and has supervisory responsibilities for the returning offender in many cases (from jail and/or prison). So if you have a reentry court, or wish to involve your court in a community based reentry system in your locality, you have the right and even the obligation to do so.
Each Solicitation requires that the community develop a “Reentry Task Force comprised of relevant state, tribal, territorial, or local leaders and representatives of relevant agencies, service providers, nonprofit organizations, and other key stakeholders” (see Solicitation, p.5). With the understanding that the courts will not likely be the applicant nor the direct receiver of funds (at least as to “Planning and Demonstration Projects”), courts need to be “key stakeholders”, who benefit, along with the community, when resources are made available to felons under the court’s supervisory authority.