“Second Chance Act” Celebrates 5th Anniversary

April 29,2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-29 at 9.01.54 AM[The Second Chance Act, administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), within the Department of Justice (DOJ), has provided hundreds of millions of dollars for reentry projects in every state of the union. Below, the National Reentry Resource Center, provides highlights of BJA’s administration of the “Act” (click on image on left for PDF of National Reentry Resource Center Document)]

The Second Chance Act: The First Five Years

This month marks the five-year anniversary of the Second Chance Act, the landmark legislation authorizing federal grants to support programs aimed at improving outcomes for people leaving prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities and reducing recidivism. The bill also funds research and evaluation projects and created the National Reentry Resource Center, a clearinghouse of information relating to prisoner reentry. Through its broad scope and innovative approach, the bill has had a significant impact on all stakeholders: individuals and families in need of services; communities and governments seeking strategies to increase public safety and reduce costs; researchers looking to inform, advance, and disseminate their work; and practitioners interested in enhancing their programs and sharing best practices with others in the field.

The grant program currently funds eight different types of projects: demonstration projects involving the planning and/or implementation of a reentry initiative for adults or juveniles, mentoring services for adults or juveniles, family-based substance abuse treatment for incarcerated parents, reentry courts, programs targeting individuals with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders, funding for state departments of corrections to achieve recidivism reductions through planning and capacity-building, evidence-based strategies in probation supervision, and programs providing training in technology careers. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) manages the juvenile demonstration and juvenile mentoring projects, while the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice manages all the other projects.

To date, BJA and OJJDP have awarded nearly 500 Second Chance Act grants to state, local, and tribal government agencies and nonprofit organizations across 48 states and the District of Columbia, totaling nearly $250 million. Representing a wide range in geography, size, and program design, the grantee programs display the different ways that reentry strategies can be applied in jurisdictions.

Reflecting the importance of reentry as a process that begins during incarceration, grantees must serve individuals both in pre-release and post-release stages. According to BJA’s latest performance reports on its Second Chance Act grantees, the grantees served more than 11,000 participants in pre-release programs and nearly 9,500 participants in post-release programs from July 2011 to June 2012. The vast majority of participants are assessed as medium or high risk, which is in line with research that shows that focusing services and resources on higher-risk individuals has the strongest impact on recidivism.

Some programs have already seen reduced recidivism rates among the people they serve within the first few years of the grant program. For the Harlem Parole Reentry Court in New York, which has received two Second Chance Act grants, preliminary results from an ongoing evaluation showed that the rate of reincarceration at 12 months after release of 14.7 percent for program participants was 24 percent less than a comparison group’s rate of 19.3 percent. The reentry court serves medium- and high-risk adults in Harlemand offers a combination of intensive case management, parole supervision, judicial intervention, clinical services, and other support services. Furthermore, the program employs the evidence-based practice of graduated sanctions and incentives to promote compliance and accountability.

In addition, Second Chance Act grantees have achieved positive outcomes on a number of other measures, including employment, education, family reunification, and pro-social relationships. For instance, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Oklahoma, a 2010 Adult Mentoring grantee, has found that 74 percent of the participants who received employment development services have since obtained employment.

The positive impact of the Second Chance Act can perhaps be best conveyed by the program participants themselves. Since early 2012, the Council of State Governments Justice Center has interviewed program administrators and participants and shared their individual stories in the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) website and newsletter. The people featured have included: Wade, a Los Angeles man in his fifties whose participation in the Amity Foundation’s mentoring program helped him overcome his addiction to heroin and become a mentor himself; Frankie, a father in New Mexico who enrolled in PB&J Family Services’ program while in prison and received help finding employment and parenting pre- and post-release; and Janelle, a young woman with co-occurring bipolar and substance abuse disorders who found a job and returned to school after receiving treatment from the Ohio Department of Youth Services’ Second Chance Act-funded program in Franklin County. Each of these stories represents the success and promise of the Second Chance Act and initiatives focusing on prisoner reentry across the country.

Also funded by the Second Chance Act, the NRRC has made great strides in advancing reentry work by promoting and disseminating key information for practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and others in the field. In addition to the website and newsletter, the NRRC offers webinars each month. Recent topics have included work release centers, electronic technology in supervision, and the needs of women in the criminal justice system. The NRRC also produces reports and guides to inform reentry work in practical and constructive ways. Its most recent product is a series of checklists with targeted guidance for state corrections departments and policymakers on building reentry initiatives to reduce recidivism.

The Second Chance Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on April 9, 2008, after receiving bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress. The bill authorizes up to $165 million per year in grant funds.


BJA Second Chance Grant Announced

April 1, 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 12.24.03 PMFrom the National Reentry Resource Center:

On March 27, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance released the Adult Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders Second Chance Act grant solicitation. State, local, and tribal governments are invited to apply for this funding to improve outcomes for adults with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders through the provision of appropriate evidence-based services and treatment both during and after incarceration.

To download this solicitation, click on the image to the left


“Second Chance Act” Probation Solicitation Announced

Mar. 5, 2012

“The Second Chance Act” Solicitaition, entitled, “Smart Probation: Reducing Prison Populations, Saving Money, and Creating Safer Communities.” has been announced by the Bureau of Justice Programs (BJA), with a deadline for Applications of May, 21, 2012.

The solicitation itself is aimed at probation agencies and therefore are directly related to (and in many cases subordinate to) the courts. This is a solicitation that the courts ought to be involved in as partners with probation agencies. Note a separate “Second Chance Act” Solicitation, entitiled “Adult Offender Comprehensive Statewide Recidivism Reduction Demonstration Program” is aimed specifically at State Departments of Corrections, and less likely to invove the courts.

[To access the “Probation Solicitation” and learn more about its details; click on the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) facimile on left]



Held Over 2nd Week: Get To Know the NRRC

I printed the announcement below because it’s important for you to know about funding opportunities available through the “Second Chance Act”, but also because you need to become familiar with the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), and its parent organization, the Justice Center of the “Council of State Governments”. Partly it’s because, the National Reentry Resource Center provides the most comprehensive and up to date information on reentry issues. But there’s another very good reason.

The Council of State Governments represents state governments, as well as their views. It should be obvious that decisions made by state policy makers have a critical impact on state-wide reentry systems. If the courts are to become partners in those reentry systems, it will be because of decisions made at the highest state policy-making levels.  Ultimately, we need to partner with organizations that represent state governments (like CSG), to make our case for reentry courts to the states. [to see NRRC’s website, just click on facsimile on left]

Bureau of Justice Assistance Releases Three Second Chance Act Solicitations

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) yesterday released solicitations for three Second Chance Act grant programs that will provide funding to state and local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes. Applications are due April 24, 2012.

  • Adult Planning and Demonstration grants will provide funding to help jurisdictions plan and implement programs and strategies to reduce recidivism and ensure safe and successful reentry of adults released from prisons and jails back to the community.
    • To download this solicitation, click here.
    • To watch a 2011 webinar that was held for applicants responding to this same solicitation, clickhere.*
    • To download a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation from the 2011 webinar, click here.*
  • Adult Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders grants will provide funding to establish or enhance residential dual diagnosis substance abuse and mental health disorder treatment programs in correctional facilities that include aftercare and recovery supportive services.
    • To download this solicitation, click here.
    • To watch a 2011 webinar that was held for applicants responding to this same solicitation, clickhere.*
    • To download a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation from the 2011 webinar, click here.*
  • Family-Based Substance Abuse grants will provide funding to establish or enhance residential substance abuse treatment programs in correctional facilities that include family supportive services.
    • To download this solicitation, click here.
    • To watch a 2011 webinar that was held for applicants responding to this same solicitation, clickhere.*
    • To download a PDF of the PowerPoint presentation from the 2011 webinar, click here.*

Applicants proposing to incorporate a “Pay for Success” model into their reentry program will receive priority consideration. To learn more about the “Pay for Success” model, please register for the Pay for Success and the Department of Justice’s Second Chance Act Solicitations webinar.

  • Date: Tuesday, March 6
  • Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m. ET

During the webinar, representatives from the Nonprofit Finance Fund will provide background on the Pay for Success concept; and BJA officials will discuss how to tailor your application to include a Pay for Success component. To register for the webinar, click here.

*These 2011 webinars and presentations are relevant for applicants responding to the 2012 solicitations.

[click here: with full credit to the National Reentry Resource Center for use of their text and website facsimile]

“Second Chance” Mentoring Grants Announced


On February 9, 2011, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, released the solicitation for Second Chance Act mentoring grants to nonprofit organizations (Section 211). Funding under this section is available to help nonprofit organizations and federally recognized Indian tribes implement mentoring projects to promote the safe and successful reintegration into the community of adults who have been incarcerated. The deadline for applications is April 21, 2011.

To download the solicitation, click here.

To download the Frequently Asked Questions document about this solicitation, click here.

To help potential applicants respond to this solicitation, the National Reentry Resource Center will hold a free webinar on February 17, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Representatives from BJA will participate in the webinar, explaining the details of the solicitation and answering questions from applicants.

EXTRA/ Reentry Court RFP Webinar:Tuesday


The National Reentry Resource Center will conduct a free webinar, on Tuesday, May 18, from 12 to 1:30PM to help applicants respond to the Second Chance Act’s State, Local and Tribal Reentry Courts FY 2010 Competitive Grant Announcement, which was released on April 14, 2010, by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and is due June 3, 2010.

Here’s your chance to learn about the grant application process from those most directly involved in it. Don’t miss this opportunity. To register for the Webinair with the National Reentry Resource Center, click here.

“Second Chance” Reentry Court RFP: A New Day

Note: Deadline for applications; June 3, 2010

This is the first of several articles  on the “Second Chance Act” Reentry Court Solicitation; in this analysis,  I will review the RFP from a collaborative and reintegration perspective.

We’ve been waiting for a Reentry Court “Request For Proposal” (RFP) for a long time. For me, the wait began in 1999, when I collaborated (with West Huddleston, now CEO of NADCP)  on the field’s first focus group and publication, “Reentry Drug  Courts”. The “Second Chance Act”  (Sec. 111), offers up to $500 thousand per applicant and a total invesment of $10 million for the year 2010, the first large scale funding for Reentry Courts  ( though there was limited funding for the Reentry Court Initiative).

That the field has grown little over the past decade is probably due in part to the lack of federal resources, guidance, and interest. While Drug Courts grew from an initial $6 million appropriation in 1996 to over $150 million in 2010, there has been little in the way of federal assistance for “Reentry Courts”, until the Obama Administration, the Holder DOJ, and the return of  Assistant Attorney General Laurie Robinson as head of OJP (as she was during the Clinton Administration).

All this is to say, that it’s a new day, and that people  are starting to take notice of the potential of Reentry Courts.  Interestingly, it was Jeremy Travis (now, President of the John Jay School of Justice), who first proposed the concept, as NIJ Director during the Clinton Administration,  More recently, in his book, “But They All Came Came Back”, he wrote, “Reentry Courts offer numerous advantages over our current system of reentry supervision”  ….however, the most compelling reason for moving toward a universal system of reentry courts is these court’s ability to promote reintegration.”

The need for a higher level of collaboration and reintegration on state and local levels is clearly reflected in the solicitation’s very  first paragraph. “BJA will only consider applications that demonstrate that the proposed reentry court will be administered by corrections agencies and an entity with judical authority, such as a state or local court, or probation and parole”.  The RFP goes on to state  that applications  ” are strongly urged to submit a Letter of Support from the State Chief Justice demonstrating that the proposal has been coordinated with, and is supported by, the state’s highest state court”.  This critical recognition  of state leadership, in both corrections and the courts, pushes both  state and local jurisdictions to work together in developing their reentry court model.

Drug Courts (although they should) often do not engage  the wider community. Under this solicitation, Reentry Court proposals that can “demonstrate a high degree of collaboration among a variety of public, private, and faith based organizations” will be given priority.  The RFP also gives priority to proposals that “include coordination with families of offenders”. I believe these priorities once again push the applicants to develop effective working relationships with the entire reentry community , including the offenders’ families, and their advocates.

This solicitation moves applicants toward a new ” collaborative reintegration-based model”, with collaboration mandated on state and local levels, both corrections and courts required to work closely together, and  the entire community encouraged to be an integral part of the reentry court process. More to the point, the reentry court process needs to find its place within and become  an integral part of community-wide reinintegration efforts. (For more information on the importance  of  community based reentry under the “Second Chance Act”, visit the National Reentry Resource Center).

Inquiries about this “Request For Proposal” should be directed to Dr. Gary Dennis, Senior Policy Advisor For Corrections, at (202) 305-9059 or [email protected].

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