Yes; “Second Chance” Grants Are Available to Reentry Courts

Mar. 19, 2012

Three BJA “Second Chance Act” Demonstration Solicitations

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.


SAMSHSA makes Reentry Court Funding Available

Breaking News: Grant Deadline:June 6th

$4.4 million will be made available under this grant, with up to $400 thousand made available to individual jurisdictions.

This new grant program combines the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) drug court and offender reentry treatment services programming and funding with its mental health diversion and systems transformation programming and funding.  The grant program is open to all criminal justice and family/child dependency courts, as well as reentry courts.

[It should be noted that there are elligibility requirements that limit the use of these funds to court programs that have been in existence at least one full year]

To learn more about this opportunity, you are encouraged to participate in the free webinar hosted by SAMHSA on Tuesday, April 26, from 3 to 5 p.m. EDT. CALL: 1-888-453-4221 (Access code 676520 and then press #) LOG INTO: htttps:// (Meeting number: 572 187 472 / password: samhsa)

Second Chance funding for Reentry Courts in Doubt

April 25th

Reflecting a reduction of 17% for all Department of Justice programs, the Second Chance  Act for 2011 has been reduced to  $ 83 Millon from the $100 million budgeted for the Act in 2010. There is no word yet, whether there will be new funding for “Reentry Courts” as there was in 2010, or even continuation funds for Reentry Court programs that were funded under 2010 programs.

On Track: Reentry Court Funding For 2011

The Reentry Policy Council reports:

“In March, sixty members of the House of Representatives, led by Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Howard Coble (R-NC), and Bobby Scott (D-VA), submitted a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to request full funding for the Second Chance Act in fiscal year 2010.”

Note: $10 million for Reentry Courts remains a part of the $100 million dollar “Second Chance Act” bill for 2011.

2010 Budget Proposal Increases Reentry Court Funding

The Obama Administration’s funding proposal for law enforcement and correctional purposes is increasing substantially over 2oo9, opening up the potential for increased resources for reentry courts and other criminal justice reform programs. The budget proposal requests:

“$519 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants in FY 2011. The Byrne-JAG program, which received $518 million in FY 2010, awards grants to state, tribal and local governments to support a broad range of activities that are designed to prevent and control crime. This includes: law enforcement; prosecution, corrections, drug treatment and technology improvements. The Administration has proposed funding the COPS program at $690 million. This is an increase of nearly $300 million from the FY 2010 level of $392 million. Of that total, $600 million is set aside for law enforcement officer hiring. This would equate to roughly 2,900 officers.  In addition to these proposed funds, in December, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the “Jobs for Main Street Act” (H.R. 2847) that included $1.18 billion for COPS hiring programs. The Senate is expected to consider and act on this legislation in the near future.” (see complete article: International Association of Chief’s of Police)

It would be useful to follow this funding closely. Byrne- JAG Grant Funding is distributed largely through state governor’s Offices of Criminal Justice and also directly through grants to local jurisdictions.  Once the monopoly of law enforcement and corrections authorities, these funds have been opened up in recent years to support criminal justice and correctional reform, including, Drug Court and Alternatives to Prison. (For funding details, see: OJP/BJP website)

The $690 million budget request for COPS funding for 2010 (an increase of $300 million over last year), as well as the Billion Dollar plus under the “Main Street Act”, under consideration in the Congress, are reason enough to follow the money trail. Community policing resources, the original purpose of COPS is still very much alive as a priority, and provides the means for personnel and resources to monitor drug court participants in many communities (Richland County, Ohio, uses Community policing personnel to do home visits and monitor reentry court participants in the community)  .

California Leads with $10 Million in Reentry Court Funding

California has committed itself to  the largest prison-based reentry  demonstration project in the nation’s history. The RFP  released today through the California Emergency Management Agency (Cal EMA) provides $10 million in Federal stimulus funds for the Parolee Reentry Court Program to be administered by the California Administrative Office of the Courts.

The Parole Reentry Court Program, will provide between $1 and 1.5 million for two and one half years for up to seven prison-based reentry courts.  The demonstration grants will be open to jurisdictions that have well defined and implemented drug and mental health courts. Priority will be given to jurisdictions serving large numbers of  parolees and those with higher risks of recidivating.

For California, with its overwhelming prison overcrowding and reentry problems, this project marks a remarkable change from business as usual. For the first time, ex-prisoners  will be under the jurisdiction of the California Courts. While the Corrections Agency will decide who is elligible for the program,  once a prisoner is assigned to a Parolee Reentry Court, the reentry court judge and team ( with the assistance of a team based parole officer) will have final say  until termination from the program.

Of Note: the program requires no matching funds from the court or local jurisdicition and retired judges may be contracted to preside over the reentry court.

Applications must be filed by March 1st. (For more information, see: Parolee Reentry Court Program)

Fed “Second Chance Act” Funding: $37 Million for Reentry Demos

The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance  (BJA) released it’s RFP under Sec.101 of the “Second Chance Act”, providing $37 million in funding for Adult and Juvenile Reentry Demonstation Grants on December 22nd, (with an application deadline of March 4, 2010). We can expect more grants to come on line in the coming weeks and months. This year alone, funding under the “Second Chance Act” has increased nearly 400% to $100 million.

Dr. Gary L. Dennis, Senior Policy Advisor for Corrections, at BJA (and administrator of the “Second Chance Act”), advises  that  reentry courts are elligible as applicants for 2010 Reentry Demonstartion Grants. Even so, it may be prudent for reentry courts to accesss critical resources through government agency partners that may be more attractive applicants to BJA; such as  jails, prisons, probation, parole and rehabilitation services (remember that the 2010 “Second Chance Act” provides $10 million for reentry courts alone).

Don’t forget grant applicability to jail-based reentry courts or pre-entry courts

The  recently enacted “Second Chance Act” and other federal reentry legislation recognize the critical importance of keeping the non-violent offender out of prison in the first place. Whether called reentry/drug court, pre-entry court, or jail-based reentry court; a probation-based reentry court that places sentenced felons in custodial programs rather than prison, may access Sec.101 reentry demonstration project funds. [see Reentry/Drug Court Model]

Key Criteria For Reentry Demonstration Project funding:

1. Applicants are limited to state and local government agencies

2. Each grantee must have an active “task force” representing diverse community interests.

3. Applicants must provide description of the role of corrections agencies in reentry

4. Applicants must have a comprehensive, long-term reentry strategy

5. Applicants must provide information on how outcomes will be monitored and tracked

6. Priority  is given to applicants focused on areas with large numbers of returnees

7. Priority given to applicants providing effective case management in reentry processes.

8. Priority is given to applicants using graduated sanctions and Incentives as conditions of release or probation

[see BJA’s Complete Reentry Demomonstration Project Application/Critereia]

$10 Million Reentry Court Funding Passes Congress


On Decemeber 13th, Congress appropriated $10 million dollars for Reentry Courts under “Section 111” of the Second Chance Act.  In all, a total of $100 was appropriated under the  “Second Chance Act”.  Additionally the Department of Justice (DOJ)  provided $14 million for reentry initiatives within the Federal Bureau of  Prisons, and the Department of Labor earmarked $108 million for work/training related services. (see Reentry Policy Council press release)

“Second Chance  Act” funding is up four-fold from a year ago.   It should be noted that reentry courts and their community partners may be able to appropriately access far more than the funds made specifically available to “reentry courts”. Much of that money will be available to community based coalitions made up of government, non-profit, and  other community organizations. There may be more than $300 million available during fiscal year 2010 for community-based  coalitons that have a reentry  court as one of its partners.

Funding Alert: California


An extraordinary development for  California reentry court programs has come to our attention. The legislature has  targeted both stimulus money and and other federal and state funds to reduce reliance on prisons through four innovative programs:

  • 10 million dollars of federal  funds will  be distributed through a Parolee Reentry Accountability Program to support reentry courts.
  • $45 million of Federal funds will be distributed in support of evidence based supervision of felony offenders.
  • An undisclosed amount of funds resulting from savings in reduced felony revocation and recidivism rates will be allocated to probation  departments based on their success in reducing recidivism.
  • Under the California Risk Assessment Pilot Project, recidivism and revocations will be tracked over a three year period

This exemplary state effort will be under the direction of Adminisrative Office of the Courts Director Bill Vickrey and its program coordinator will be Judge Roger Warren (ret.), former President of the Natuional Center for State Courts.

Additional Information will be provided as it becomes available.

Spotlight on Missouri

Missouri is one the few truely innovative states in the reentry court field, with both prison and jail based reentry courts (also called reintegration courts). According to Missouri Director of Probation Services, Scott Johnson,  a single state agency that handles both probation and parole functions makes political and resource decisions less problematic. [According to Scott, over half the states have adopted a combined probation/parole state agency structure in recent years; a critical structure for your consideration]

Two programs provide split sentencing for prisoners. The first provides a four month prison term for drug abusers, requiring them to engage in a serious treatment program in prison before they are released to reentry courts and probation supervision. The second split sentence program allows all elligible offenders with a 5 years or greater sentence to be placed in a two year prison treatment program, to be released to reentry courts after that period.

The three formal pilot programs are in Kansas City, Columbia, and St.Charles. Other counties have begun to pilot reentry courts  on a less formal basis..

St. Charles County has an innovative program targeting all offenders eligible for probation, who would otherwise be sent to state prison. It is funded by the Department of Probation and Parole, and uses participant baseline data to confirm required reductions in prison sentences .  The program itself sentences offenders to treatment in jail, with in-custody offenders supervised by the drug/reentry court judge and personnel. Participants are typically released from custody within several weeks of placement and given the opportunity to be part of the out-of-custody program under the same court’s monitoring.

Missouri contact: Rick Morrisey; [email protected]  


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